Review of 'Turning Point 1997-2008'

Turning Point 1997-2008 by Hayao Miyazaki

turning_point.jpg Picking up from where Starting Point left off “Turning Point” takes us into the new millennium with more interviews, poetry, and film proposals from Hayao Miyazaki, the famous Japanese animated film director. The book is divided into the following chapters:

  • Princess Mononoke (1997)
  • Spirited Away (2001)
  • Howl's Moving Castle (2004)
  • Ponyo (2008)
  • Biographical Chronology - An updated version of the chronology in the first book adding information up to 2009.

While the chapters refer to Miyazaki's major film releases of the time the sections within each chapter talk about other events around the same time such as the opening the Ghibli Museum of Tokyo in 2001 in the “Spirited Away” section and proposals for various films shown there in the “Howl's Moving Castle” section. There is no forward section but there is an “As An Afterward” section by Miyazaki himself where he says he was not thrilled about the publication of this book as he is not sure how or if the material exposes the “true” Miyazaki though he also freely admits he does not know himself who that is.

This book covers a period of Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli where they made their most successful and famous works. Miyazaki here returns again and again to themes exposed in the first book but he speaks here with far more conviction: Humans are irredeemable in both their actions and what is being done to our planet; The broken education system in Japan (here he also talks about the nursery he established at Studio Ghibli which allows children to play in a much freer way); He is still obsessed with creating great animation but is now more comfortable in doing so (he still often has little idea how a film will end when he starts production); How he continues to distance himself from his childhood hero, animator/artist/director Osamu Tezuka whom he now considers too simplistic.

There are only a few illustrations in this second volume including an assortment of cute Studio Ghibli New Year's cards at the front and a series of colour and black and white plates for his “The Fujimi Highland is Fascinating” lecture.

An interesting selection of pieces that provides glimpses of insight into the mind of the master animator Hayao Miyazaki. Though several articles are so specifically related to particular people, events or films that only those familiar with these will appreciate, with not much meaning to everyone else, it is still interesting to see a bit of how his mind works and how he is passionate about everything he does and knows. I did find several chapters quite boring, holding very little interest which, I suppose, is to be expected in this somewhat random collection of articles.

As with the “Starting Point” I think this second book will likely be only of interest to fans of Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli as it is fairly academic without any real cohesion: Bits and pieces.

“Recently I try not to think about things too far removed from me or too far off in the future. Instead, I try to do my best in a radius of five meters around me, for I feel ever more certain that what I discover there is real. It is better to make three children happy than to create a film for five million. It may not be good business, but to me this seems to be the real truth. And in doing so, I can also make myself happier.” (Hayao Miyazaki, Turning Point)

Rating: “Really good but I have some issues”

Review Date: 2024-02-22

Genre: Non-Fiction

Publisher: Viz Media

Publication Date: 2008

ISBN: 9781421560908

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