Friday, January 12, 2007

Disney: Out. Miyazaki: In.

Hazel is not one for Disney movies. Dead mothers freak her out. Evil witches? Don't even go there. She loves the princess characters, and stories, but the movies she just can't handle. She loves the special qualities of each princess - Belle's bravery, Cinderella's generosity, Snow White's kindness - but she needs her T.V. time to be relaxing and mellow, not exciting and stressful.

Though Hazel's aversion to the Disney movies is a major plus for me (I freaking hate those lame movies), she's starting to feel a little left out when her friends talk about them, or want to watch them.

My solution to this Disney conundrum has been to introduce her to the magical, wonderful films of Hayao Miyazaki. His films are fantastical, mystical and good-natured. Two of our favorites are My Neighbor Totoro and Kiki's Delivery Service. Both stories feature brave, adventurous female leads and nary a dead relative in sight. Totoro chronicles the adventures of two young sisters who overcome adversity, with the help of magical forrest creatures. Kiki tells the tale of a young witch who sets out, at 13, to find her special place in the world. Spirited Away is next in our Netflix queue. There's also Whisper of the Heart, Princess Mononoke, The Cat Returns, and many more.

Hazel loves being able to introduce these characters to her friends who haven't heard of them. As I type this, she is "flying" around on a broomstick, pretending to be Kiki. Violet is perched on the back, dutifully representing Kiki's faithful black cat, Gigi. I love that she's "delivering" the folded laundry to our bedrooms, instead of pretending to get married. Not that there's anything wrong with that... but, you know. The girls in Miyazaki's stories aren't waiting to be rescued, or yearning for their "true love" (whatever that is) - they're taking charge of their destiny! They're making their own way, on their own terms. Imagine that!

Miyazaki. Check him out. Highly recommended by the Salad Family.


Blogger Stefania Pomponi Butler aka CityMama said...

Aren't they the BEST?! We love them (and I esp. love how Bun and Wallie run around shouting "TOtoro! TOtoro!" in their "Japanese" accents.) Bunny wants a haircut like Satsuki but I can't go there yet...

There is a toy store in Japan center (and a website called Jlist) which sells Totoro gear...cuz [dork alert!] I had to have the stuffed characters...and t-shirts...)

8:53 AM  
Blogger creative-type dad said...

I like his movies. Although the pacing is really slow in Kiki's, Totoro, the pig pilot one...oh, and the fox one.

4:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just want to mention that some of his other movies might be a little too intense for younger kids. Some of them dependent on your kid (e.g., Spirited Away, which my 6-year-old didn't want to watch after a certain point). And some of them I would say certainly--Princess Mononoke comes to mind, but some of the others have quite a bit of violence (Nausicaa, Howl's Moving Castle, Porco Rosso). Totoro & Kiki are certainly the most mellow and younger-kid friendly. You might want to preview them beforehand!

1:30 PM  
Blogger happygal said...

We, too are big fans of Miyazaki, although I also agree with Anonymous about "Spirited Away" being a little scarey. (or not, it depends on your child) Maybe in a couple years...

I also love how Tombo in Kiki looks exactly like Waldo ("Where's Waldo")

4:07 PM  

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