BookDragon Books for the Diverse Reader

Studio Ghibli: The Films of Hayao Miyazaki & Isao Takahata by Colin Odell and Michelle Le Blanc and Satoshi Kon: The Illusionist by Andrew Osmond

Studio Ghibli and Satoshi Kon

Studio Ghibli and Satoshi Kon are together an empowering exercise in girl power: strong, independent female protagonists of all ages abound in their anime. With countless awards, including a Best Animated Feature Oscar for Spirited Away, Hayao Miyazaki is one of anime’s greatest. His Ponyo just debuted to joyful reviews in a star-dubbed English version. British film critics and coauthors of many Kamera books, Colin Odell and Michelle Le Blanc (Vampire Films; David Lynch) capture Miyazaki’s phenomenal career, intricately linked with that of his creative partner Isao Takahata, and provide an excellent overview of “the most profitable animation company in the world” outside Hollywood. Studio Ghibli, whose unique name is derived from an Italian aircraft used in World War II, was formed in 1985 by Miyazaki, Takahata, and producer Suzuki Toshio as an incubator for uncompromising artistic freedom; it has since produced “three of … the top-ten-grossing non-English-language films of all time” – including My Neighbor Totoro.

While Ghibli’s films have become well known in households with children, Satoshi Kon is gaining prominence in the adult anime market. Andrew Osmond, another British film reviewer, covers Kon’s four films (Perfect Blue, Millennium Actress, Tokyo Godfathers, and Paprika) and his television series (Paranoia Agent) with painstaking synopses, analyses, sample dialog, and production notes for each title. According to Osmond, “Kon makes us unsure of what’s real and what’s not. He’s less a magician than an illusionist of anime.” While his research is thorough – and mostly firsthand from numerous interviews – occasional repetitive overwriting makes Osmond’s the less compelling of the two titles.

Verdict: Read together, Studio Ghibli and Satoshi Kon form an ideal contemporary anime 101 self-study. While both self-admittedly contain spoilers, both will make you want to see the films (again) with fresh eyes. For a deeper – and engrossing and irreverent – look at anime from Miyazaki’s perspective, try his recent book, Starting Point 1979–1996.

Review: “Arts & Humanities,” Library Journal, October 1, 2009

Readers: Young Adult, Adult

Published: 2009



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