Friday, June 08, 2007

Anime: Revealing the Soul of Japan

Japanese religious beliefs "show up" in anime to a degree that is surprising. Shinto and Liminality in Anime, a post on John Morehead's blog, includes links to two scholarly articles that articulate the role of Shintoism in Hayao Miyazaki's animated films, Spirited Away & Princess Mononoke.
Note: Miyazaki is an award winning creator of both anime movies and manga (comic books). Due to the exceptional quality of his productions, Miyazaki has gained an international audience. Ghibli Studios, co-founded by Miyazaki, has been called "the Japanese version of Disney." Spirited Away & Princess Mononoke are two of the highest-grossing films in the history of Japanese cinema. They also accurately depict the traditional, animistic Japanese world view (which has not changed that much since ancient times).

The photo above is an advertisement for the feature length anime, Spirited Away. The large building is a bath house where the 100 million gods of Japan go to get cleaned up.

The photo below is a screen capture from Princess Mononoke. The little white figures are forest gods called Kodama. According to Wikipedia: "A kodama is a spirit from Japanese folklore, which is believed to live in certain trees (similar to the Hamadryad of Greek myth). Cutting down a tree which houses a kodama is thought to bring misfortune, and such trees are often marked with shimenawa rope.

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