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Hayao Miyazaki

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Hayao Miyazaki

I’m assuming that the reason I do not see any Hayao Miyazaki films reviewed in this thread is because his films are an obvious choice. I did hesitate to choose his films to review because I imagine that everyone knows them, but I have a sincere love and respect for Miyazaki’s films and I think they are perfect to use in the classroom. For anyone who does not know or is not familiar with Hayao Miyazaki, he is a Japanese artist who began as an anime/manga artist and then became a writer, producer, director, etc. for many wonderful films.

For the purposes of the summer seminar, I chose “Howl’s Moving Castle” but I also love and recommend, “Castle in the Sky”, “My Neighbor Totoro”, “Kiki’s Delivery Service”, “Princess Mononoke”, “Spirited Away”, “Ponyo”, and “The Wind Rises”. With any of these films, you can do a great many activities/lessons with your students. For an English/Language Arts class, all Miyazaki films are great for identifying themes. Miyazaki is a master at presenting good versus evil (specifically) but also opposing forces (generally). As they watch, they can identify the key forces/characters, the key events, and at the conclusion, the overarching themes. Some themes are obvious and others need to come through discussion or by questioning students. It would be interesting to pair or group students to identify major themes in the film and then present to the class to see if all pairs/groups came up with the same or similar themes. “Howls’ Moving Castle” and “The Wind Rises” would be particularly good for a Social Studies class because of the depiction of war and the social/personal repercussions of war. Looking at these films, students can identify the motivation behind war, the incentives, the proposed goals of the war or what is the intended purpose of war and compare it to a war they have learned about in class. In an Art class, Miyazaki’s style can be compared throughout all of his films to see where his trademark lies, i.e. in color choice, in motion, in background sets, in character, etc. and then students can attempt to mimic his style or create a character or scene in homage to Miyazaki’s style. There can also be a compare/contrast between Miyazaki’s anime/manga work and his films or a compare/contrast between his work and another, perhaps more modern, anima/manga artist. Students could also take a beloved Miyazaki character and place it in a new environment by creating a different background set/scene for the character and writing a new short story for this character’s new adventure outside of Miyazaki’s film.
edited by crivas on 8/24/2015