Miyazaki's Animism Abroad: The Reception of Japanese Religious Themes by American and German Audiences
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After winning an Oscar for Spirited Away, the Japanese director Hayao Miyazaki's animated films were dubbed into many languages. Some of the films are saturated with religious themes distinctive to Japanese culture. How were these themes, or what Miyazaki describes as "animism," received abroad, especially considering that they are challenging to translate? This book examines how American and German audiences, grounded on Judeo-Christian traditions, responded to the animism in Miyazaki's Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (1984), My Neighbor Totoro (1988), Princess Mononoke (1997), Spirited Away (2001), and Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea (2008). By a close reading of adaptations and film reviews, and a study of transitions in their verbal and visual approaches to animism, this book demonstrates that the American and German receptions transcended the conventional view of an antagonistic relationship between animism and Christianity. With the ability to change their shapes into forms easily accessible to other cultural arenas, the anime films make a significant contribution to inter-religious dialogue in the age of secularization.
(Takapan). Another reader, who considered the editorial’s metaphorical usage of polytheism and monotheism to be too extreme, asserted that a polytheistic mentality exists in the everyday life of the monotheistic Western world and that there is actually little difference between monotheism and polytheism on the level of law and government (Matsuo). By referring to his personal view of God, a Catholic reader attacked the editorial’s view of monotheistic religions on his website. Challenging the
was originally broadcast on television on August 6, 2008, to commemorate the 1945 atomic bombing of Hiroshima. The goal of the performance was to awaken the Japanese audience to the danger of nuclear power by introducing her experiences in the 1986 Chernobyl meltdown. The television performance was then posted at YouTube, and as of March 2013, around 630,000 people had accessed it. Many comments posted after the earthquake included opinions about nuclear power plants, while some focused on the
is supposedly a kami but within the ﬁlm he is not verbally articulated as such. Princess Mononoke is, however, extensively populated by animals of different kinds who are addressed as kami. In the American adaptation, the downplaying of animism becomes apparent, particularly in the translation of the animal gods and spirits. Kami is generally translated into English as “god,” “spirit,” or “deity,” but none of the translations fully capture the concept, especially as deﬁned in the Japanese
neither of the authors asks how the distinct medial quality of anime inﬂuences such references both visually and verbally. For instance, when Shinto gods and shamans are detected embedded in anime characters, or shrines and temples in the scenery, or Shinto mythology in a plot, they conclude that the anime enriches the Westerners’ understanding of unique Japanese religious tradition, without contemplating the way in which anime mediates such religious elements. Thus, Levi and Drazen do not
nature”] (Berliner Zeitung). The human and nature interaction is further reduced to the ﬁlm having “ecological concerns” (Variety) and the introduction of the ﬁlm as an “Öko-Parabel” [“eco-parable”] (Marler Zeitung) and a “hymnische Ode an die Natur” [“hymnal ode to nature”] (Arte TV ). Some reviews do refrain from alluding to coexistence. Some do not refer to the human-nature relationship for the purpose of elevating other tensions, as in The New York Times’ 2008 statement that Nausicaä