Latest Entries »

Thank you!

Thank-you for visiting our blog!


When looking up information about anime it seemed that many “parent guides” appeared in my research. At first I thought it was a joke, but there are really guides for parents to read about and make sure their child is able to watch the anime that their children may be interested in.  In the Anime Encyclopedia website, I found a write up about why there are guides for parents. It explains that anime is made for young children, but at the same time there are some directors that focus their film more for an older audience.  I would advise parents to watch the movie the child desires to see just to make sure it is appropriate for your child’s age. The article takes time to explain one aspect of anime that may come across offensive for the American culture and not so much for the Japanese culture. For example, the Japanese culture does not take offense a little nudity, non-sexual, in the anime films, whereas most of the American culture would flip out if their children saw any kind of nudity in a movie. Rather in Hollywood films, anime is able to give a more realistic feel of life and usually present an important issue that can bring awareness to the children watching. Anime directors seem to steer towards a new direction for the view on women’s roles in the Japanese culture. For anime, many of the women characters are portrayed as strong, independent, and are represented as leaders. There are a few good and bad issues that parents can find on parent guides for anime. Many of these guides can be found online. There will be a website below for you to go see how parents rate some anime films and you can get a feel for what to look for an anime film.

Website with parent guide:

Where you can find the article:

Many parents are worried about their children watching anime for various reasons, a main one… they don’t know what it is. Well if parents were to research anime they would realize that just like all other media (whether that be television shows, movies, or comics) there are some form that is appropriate for children of all ages. Before doing this project I too had no idea what anime was about, I thought it was only for those that were into Pokemon or Dragon Ball Z or other shows of this nature. Not only has this project opened my eyes to my nativity, but also so has the chapter “Two Worlds, United By Anime” written by Elizabeth Flynn from the book The Japanification of Children’s Popular Culture.

This chapter is mainly about the author growing up in Japan, speaking Japanese while only learning English from a television show aired in Japan while her siblings spoke mainly English with broken Japanese. Flynn watched television while her brothers and sisters went to school in Tokyo therefore her favorite shows were almost all anime. When she finally moved to the United States she realized that there were cartoons, but there weren’t free formed, exaggerated artistic cartoons on constantly like they were in Japan. Originally she wasn’t even able to find cartoons like this since most American artwork resembled real life. But once she did she quickly realized that they weren’t the same. They didn’t translate right. However, she still watched them and the more she watched the seemingly more there were.

Quickly it was made obvious that American cartoons were stemming from Japanese anime. Some are: Robot No 28 known in America as Gigantor, Tetsuwan Atomu known in America as Astro Boy, Eighth Man known in America as also Eighth Man, Junguru known in America as Jungle Stories which was later taken by the Disney Cooperation and turned into the popular movie: The Lion King. These are just some of the many.

So parents shouldn’t be anymore worried about anime than they are of all other films there children are watching. Especially because some of the shows their children are watching might in fact be based off of anime. The one difference between children watching American cartoons and anime is that Miyazaki is notoriously known for making his films have an important lesson for viewers, mainly younger children. Many American cartoons that are mainstream don’t hold true to this.


After watching Miyazaki’s film, Porco Rosso, I began to do a little research on the film.  I came across a journal that took a deeper look into the meaning and reason of this odd film (Porco Rosso).  The article states, “Without a doubt, Porco Ross can at first look like such an oddity, both within Miyazaki’s work and in the broader field of anime.  However, as we discuss later, it is in this unique, personal work that many of the filmmaker’s key characteristics stand out most clearly, and also perhaps relate most strongly to broader cultural issues and other types of film (Moist, Bartholow).”  After watching the film, one is better able to appreciate Miyazaki’s artistic work and different and unique approach to anime cinema.  I have come to realization that Miyazaki’s aim is not to recreate Disney films.  His aim is to show Japanese culture in a kid friendly, moralistic, and creative manner.  With this said, one is better able to enjoy and understand Porco Rosso (The Crimson Pig).

The article also took a look into the background of the film.  The film was released in 1992 in Japan and did not debut in the U.S. until 2005.  The film is based on a half pig and half human character named Porco Rosso.  Porco is famous in his village for fighting off pirates and wooing the women.  The journal article shares that the pig represents a “macho papa figure and thirties B-picture.”  The article goes on to state that this movie was probably not intended for young children like his other movies but was probably catered toward an older male population.  Moist and Bartholow emphasize, ” This clearly was not a children’s fantasy, and Miyazaki felt it was aimed primarily at ‘tired, middle-aged men who have lost touch with the golden optimism of their youth.”  This is an important point.  When I first watched the film, I was struck with concern of how this film could be considered one of Miyazaki’s “environmentally kid friendly and wholesome anime.”  But it makes more sense now.

The article also reviewed the movies artistry and the formation of the characters.  The article praised the unique and exhilarating pig flying scenes.  Moist and Bartholow states, “ However, in agreement on the movie’s richly detailed animation and its formal artistry, especially praising the thrillingly realistic flying sequences throughout the film.”  The scenes involving the airplane fights were of course full of action.  I could see why this film would cater to the middle age man or teenager.  The article also took a look into the underlying themes present throughout the film.  Moist and Bartholow agree that the film is, “A rollicking comedy–action–love story given a more serious undercurrent by Miyazaki with deeper themes about human nature, love, and politics.”  I could not agree more with this statement.  The use of Miyazaki’s characters, love stories, and underlying theme of growing as a person is present in this film and nearly all of his 9 other films.  It’s been neat to see his use of artistry and style.  It’s really cool to see some of his same themes and styles present in nearly all of his movies.  I feel that, Miyazaki’s films, have better helped me understand Anime and has earned my respect for its wholesomeness. 

By: Lindsey Pifher

Reference: Moist, Kevin M., Bartholow, Michael.  When Pigs Fly: Anime, Auteurism, and Miyazaki’s Porco Rosso.  Animation 2007 2:27.  DOI: 10.1177/1746847706068904.


In order to try to understand anime better I read an article called, “The Problem of Existence in Japanese Animation” by Susan Napier. The main goal of this article was to address the difference of anime in Japanese culture with that of Western culture. I found this to be a very important article to read, because it addresses the population that watches anime in both cultures. In Japan people of all ages from childhood through middle age enjoy animation. This is because anime is from Manga, which are like graphic novels that vary greatly in plot lines, yet they just happen to be animated. Some plots are very light hearted (a fish falling in love with a human) others are proper (etiquette lessons) while others are deep in meaning (the corruption of Japanese culture). In America usually only children watch anime since it is something that isn’t often taken seriously, this author even says that, “Americans seem uncomfortable with the notion of taking animation seriously as an art form”(72). A reason that more and more children might be showing interest in anime is because of computers and video games. Children are growing up more focused on the world on a screen, as compared to twenty years ago when children grew up focused on physical activity. This virtual world is the perfect counter part to anime. Both allow children to think outside the box. A key feature in anime: it doesn’t always follow a logical process and things that are suppose to happen based on what we are taught don’t. Audiences are often surprised about what happens at each stage of the movie. A psychologist friend of this author mentions that anime is more like dreams and the unconscious then reality. This appeals to children especially at a young age because they haven’t quite learned the world to be a sequential place yet.

After mentioning the different perceptions of animation in Japan and the Western world Napier goes on to talk about three different movies that seem simple but are really complex. One of which is by Miyazaki and has previously been discussed in this blog, Spirited Away, which is the highest grossing film in Japanese history. This story is a coming of age story that shows the vanishing of Japan’s own culture and the influence of others. In knowing that there is a sort of hidden meaning, the idea of the loss of unique culture, I now understand while adults might like the story more. Napier talks about two more movies, Ghost In the Shell and Serial Experiments Lain. The first has complex three-dimensional characters and the second is a cyber punk world, which challenges the current reality. By showing that these movies do have a serious side parents will be able to enjoy these once thought to be childish movies with their children and realize that they too are able to get something out of them.

The original article can be viewed here:


Susan Napier is a professor of Japanese language and literature at Tufts University. She became interested in Anime after eating at Chinese restaurant with her family, which was then followed by many Japanese art history lessons from her Harvard Art Historian mother. She too is Harvard educated with a degree in Japanese Literature


Miyazaki’s movies continually astound me.  “Lupin III: Castle of Cagliostro” was a gripping movie because there was action around every corner.  It was amazing how he made a couple of thieves the good guys in this movie when the bad guy was someone who made fake money.  They both had similar gigs but their motivations were different so that is why they were at odds with one another.
In “Lupin III: Castle of Cagliostro” the story begins with two thieves running off with some money they stole from a casino but they quickly find out that the money is fake.  Then they find a new adventure when they see a woman being chased by four men.  They save her from the men but for only a moment and they find a ring that she lost.  Cagliostro’s Castle is where the woman is taken and they intend to investigate why.  They then find that the castle has a fake money printer for the whole world’s currency so they try and save the girl while foiling the money-making schemes of Cagliostro.
This movie probably wouldn’t be the best film for children to watch because it’s about thievery.  There are also curse words, scenes of gambling, smoking, and other adults themes.  I enjoyed this movie though because there was never a dull moment.  It also had a good story about how even a thief could be moral.

-Matt Ellis-

Interview with Miyazaki

The above video has been posted complements of to give readers a small taste of some clips of Miyazaki’s various movies as well as Miyazaki’s own thoughts and comments about these productions

** BETH **

Within The Japanification of Children’s Popular Culture: From Godzilla to Miyazaki, Professor of Rhetoric & Vice President for Strategic Planning at J. F. Oberlin University in Tokyo, Hiroaki Hatayama, writes a chapter about the characteristic appeal of anime to American children despite its Japanese themes and culture.

Hatayama admits that he was confused by the American fad over anime  At the time, he was a graduate student at the University of North Carolina and he states, “Given my own sense of cultural disorientation when I moved to the United States, I could well imagine how hard it would be to make Japanese anime accessible to American viewers, not just because of the language differences but also because of the often unexpressed but still present Japanese values inherent in these works.”

Hatayama has since had many conversations with American fans of anime, many of them students of his Japanese language and culture courses.  It turns out that the reason that many Americans prefer anime is that anime deals with themes that are not often covered in American comics and cartoons, it uses sophisticated graphics, and portrays different patterns of conversation and behavior.  In comparing anime to American animation movies, this article places anime on a higher level than the Americanized cartoon.  American children’s movies tend to be very predictable and often have stereotypical characters as their focus (according to many American viewers of anime).

Do not take this information the wrong way; I absolutely love Disney movies.  I grew up watching movies like Aladdin and The Lion King so I am not advising you to convert your child to a 100% strictly an anime viewing capacity, but I am saying that considering throwing an anime film or two into the mix when your son or daughter begs for some TV time is probably not a bad idea.  It can provide alternative characters and storylines if nothing else.  Perhaps your child will fall in love with the style, perhaps he or she will not.  It can do no harm to try and expose your child to culture at a young age in a way that he or she will accept as entertainment.

Before you go pulling anime off of the shelves and popping it into the DVD player, you should know that many American parents believe that Japanese anime is harmful to children because some forms contain a lot of violence and sexually oriented materials and they attempt to prohibit anime from their children.  While this may be the case for some forms of anime, not all anime portrays these two aspects.  Think of it as the difference between allowing your child to watch The Simpsons versus The Disney Channel.  There are different components tied into anime depending on the age of the viewer and that is why we are reviewing many films on our blog, to let you know which ones are good and which ones should be avoided for your child.

** BETH **

Setting the angel free

Hayao Miyazaki has done more than just directed these full length films we’ve been talking about on our blog so far.  Throughout his career, Miyazaki has also done some writing, scoring, and directing of short films.  I tried to look for some of his shorts on the internet so that I could watch a few, but the only one I could find is actually a music video Miyazaki directed for a song by the Japanese rock duo Chage & Aska.  (Apparently, the two anti-corporation police in this video resemble those two men).  The video is roughly seven minutes long.

Again, following his environmentalist propaganda lead in the rest of his filmography, Miyazaki was inspired for this music video by the Chernobyl accident that happened in 1986.  There are nuclear symbols on the side of the vehicles that appear, characters in hazmat suits are visible, and an abandoned village with a nuclear facility in the center that has obviously melted down is shown near the end of the video.  The reactor is covered with a giant concrete sarcophagus.

The main character of this short story is a girl who resembles an angel with wings and white hair.  The two men rescue her from a

Returning the favor

cult-like situation.  They succeed, and she is exceptionally grateful, as is evidenced by her adoring smile at the end of the video.  The apparent idea is that she is released into this area that has been abandoned because of the nuclear meltdown, but, following in Miyazaki’s worldview, nature has taken over and managed to grow despite this tragedy.  Just like in Ponyo and Spirited Away, once people leave well enough alone, nature is able to turn everything back around.

Just a final question: The winged girl is supposed to look like Nausicaa from Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind.  Does she?

^^Watch the video here.


Posted by: Amy

Movie poster

Howl’s Moving Castle is about a young girl named Sophie who gets changed into an old, ugly woman by an even uglier old witch, the Witch of the Waste.  Sophie, realizing she can’t let anyone see her like that without prompting questions (and the curse forbids her to talk about it), leaves her mother’s house in the middle of the night to go wander the wilderness and find a way to break the curse.  She runs into a scarecrow stuck upside down in a bush, whom she rescues, and he points her in the direction of Howl’s Castle, even helping her into the back door.  Inside, Sophie meets Calcifer, a fire demon who claims to be under some kind of curse himself that is tied to the wizard Howl.  He makes an agreement with Sophie that if she helps him break his curse, he’ll help her with hers.

Howl’s apprentice soon comes to really like Sophie, and Howl keeps her on as his cleaning lady.  Sophie is a little intimidated by Howl as he is known in her town for eating the hearts of young, beautiful women.  However, she is not really that worried because she considers herself ugly, even when she wasn’t under the curse.  One day, Sophie cleans the bathroom and accidentally switches Howl’s potions around so that when he showers, he winds up dying his hair black instead of his every day blonde.  The wizard gets so upset that he throws a temper tantrum and floods the house with slime.  By then, Sophie’s had just about enough of Howl’s vanity and basically tells him to stop being so stupid.  Howl slowly digests this and gets over himself, becoming less vain and more loving than ever before.

Eventually, it is evident that Sophie has fallen in love with Howl.  When the king calls all witches and wizards to report to him for duty

Howl flying Sophie away from the soldiers

in the war they are currently waging (as laid out in their original oaths to the king), Howl avoids going in because he doesn’t agree with the war and is terrified of the king’s high wizard, his mentor.  He sends Sophie in his place to pretend she is his mother and talk him down to the king’s wizard, explaining Howl is really a very big coward who will not fight.  Howl follows along behind her to make sure she is okay, which is good because the wizard is basically setting a trap for him, knowing the two are in love and not really related.

Howl rescues Sophie from the wizard, and the Witch of the Wastes, who has now had her powers stripped by the king’s wizard, goes to live with them.  Howl starts fighting in the war, now that he “has something worth protecting (Sophie).”  The wizards who have been fighting for the king all along have turned themselves into these giant flying creatures, kind of like birds, and are now unable to change back to being human.  Howl finds himself in this predicament, but Sophie, after removing Howl’s heart from

"Grandma" Sophie - the curse

Calcifer (a highly complicated part of the story I am not even going to attempt to explain as I don’t completely comprehend it myself) is able to talk the fire demon into life, saving him, Howl, and the rest of her “family” in the process, as well as breaking the spell on herself and the scarecrow from the beginning of the story.  (This last bit brings the war to an end because the scarecrow is actually the prince from a neighboring country who has been missing for quite some time and assumed kidnapped by Howl and Sophie’s country).

There is a lot more detail to this movie, obviously, but if you want to know what it is, go watch it :).  I loved it, surprisingly, as I haven’t been a huge fan of Miyazaki’s so far.  There are some things, such as the high quantity of magic, demons, spells, curses, and some violence in this movie that parents of little children probably won’t be a fan of.  I don’t think there is anything offensive for older children or teens unless their parents are angered by magic being in stories.  Howl starts out very vain and conceited, but that soon changes.  There is a strong anti-war feeling about this movie, which could anger some people, but I really took from it that the reason Howl was so against fighting in the war was because no one would even explain why it was necessary.  I wasn’t offended, and I have strong ties to the American military.  Also, Miyazaki’s common thread of pollution being a detriment to society was kind of present in this movie at

Howl and Sophie in love

the beginning before Sophie is changed to an old woman; trains and vehicles are seen spouting tons of soot and smoke into the air.  There is also a part right at the beginning when Sophie is cornered by a couple of soldiers who kind of imply they intend on raping her when Howl shows up and flies her away to safety.  There is also a little bit of smoking, but it has bad consequences.  What I took from the movie is that it was really about being brave and standing up for what you believe in, as well as protecting those you love.

**Napier, Susan Jolliffe. Anime from Akira to Howl’s Moving Castle: Experiencing Contemporary Japanese Animation. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005. Print.**

– Posted by Amy