Who really need to introduce Miyazaki nowadays?
We all know him and alike many illustrators, I find myself since a young age loving his universe and all the great stories he created.
He's a long time inspiration, though I would have loved my work to be visually more inspired by his, he inspires me when creating stories.
So here's the few things I've personally learned from watching Miyazaki.
1- The conflict doesn't have to be against someone else.
All my childhood I kind of watched every single Disney out there, Alladin, Alice in wonderland, The sword in the stone etc.
As you may have noticed, Disney's movies follows the same type of story development with a few (a lot?) of songs in the middle and strong lead characters. The good characters are always portrayed being awesomely good and often surrounded by people who don't understand them or they live in a poor situation that they would like to escape from. On the other hand, you've got the villains, that are always portrayed as terribly wrong and mean, as if they were coming from Hell (well, one literally was...)
and Disney got us used to the characters, the same frustrating setting that they all experience and after these few La la la singing moments you've got the big conflict against the villain that you don't appreciate at all because they made it clear nothing was to love about them. They don't show you their background stories where you could understand why they became who they are and actually love them anyway. They do now though to be fair (Frozen for instance).
I know Pixar does that, I've even heard John Lasseter probably said "Nobody is genuinely bad when you know their story".
And then I've watched Kiki's Delivery Service , brilliant movie! If you've never had the chance, I really recommend you to watch it soon. I'll try not to spoil too much then.
Watching her going to new challenges in her teen, in a new town, meeting new people. There wasn't any villain in it, any quirky person, at least not in the "bad way".
When the conflict happened it wasnt against someone, and it's what I've learn and will try to implement in my ideas. The conflict was a situation. I won't tell you what happens but if you've watched it or will watch it you will understand what I mean.
What I like is that this movie painted a real situation of life (I mean not everyone can fly on a broom, we're ok with that) but in our lives, we can sometimes be in conflict against people but most of the time it's certain situations who create conflicts:
- we lost our keys and we really need to leave home soon.
-We get wet by an heavy pouring rain just after an hour of trying to start that barbecue.
I mean those are exemples that not necessarily need a whole movie for itself obviously but I'm sure there's plenty of exemples that could make it into a movie and that's the story after these situations that will be interesting, how to solve this problem? how to find what you've lost? how to not screw up this party even without a barbecue? and on the way other events will pile up, you will meet other characters to help you in your quest.
2- Silence isn't a bad thing.
Miyazaki's masterpieces are often showing moments where you take time to watch details of life, maybe the flowers moving in that forest, the rain dropping on the floor, the character walking slowly, wandering around.
I find these moments powerful in emotion but useful as well to set up the story, how the characters react to this setting too. By rainy day maybe the character goes out with a smile, jumping from puddle to puddle or maybe that character is moaning about the rain and clearly don't want to be there. These normal situations in any stories, visual or written, show us the spirit inside the character, what move them.
3- Take the old stuff and make new things.
"Spirited Away" one of the other's Miyazaki movies I really like (where there is clearly a villain in it at some point though ;) )
Like many of Studio Ghibli's movies or even Disney movies, they take old tales and make something new from it either by changing a bit the way it's told, changing elements from the story or just taking the essence of the tale and implement it in their own story. Spirited away is charged with a lot of different chinese cultural elements, in the architecture but not only, in the characters as well.
That's why we shouldn't feel wrong about getting inspired by some mythology stories, we should embrace them and try to find a new story from it.