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Archive for August 25th, 2012

By Bob Clark

When looking over the entirety of an artist’s oeuvre in any medium, it’s natural to see recurring themes and archetypes from work to work, and in the case of narrative artists similar kinds of characters, settings and conflicts repeating themselves over and over. For storytellers who have worked in multiple mediums and by all accounts can said to have mastered either, the question of recurring motifs becomes an even more pressing concern, because you can no longer look at the repeating creative patterns and say they owe much of anything to the mere constraints and demands of the form of expression the artist chooses. What does one say about the way a writer’s use of language changes from form to form– Shakespeare the playwright, and the poet? Beckett’s theater and literature of the absurd? DeLillo the novelist for page, stage and sometimes screen?

In the case of Hayao Miyazaki, responsible for some of the most celebrated works of animation since the halcyon days of Disney, and recognized as a master mangaka for his epic comic-book version of Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind, the only real way to distinguish him as one thing or the other is the sheer volume of his output in either form. As a director and writer he has his mark on so many feature films, shorts and television series that it can often be hard to track down all of them. As a cartoonist, however, his body of work is relatively slimmer– yes, there’s the massive length of Nausicaa, but other than that only a handful of works compared to the better part of the Studio Ghibli efforts, and more. But among those few works of comics from the master’s hand is one that shows definite signs of precedence for anyone who values higher profile efforts like the anime or manga versions of Nausicaa or his later feature film Princess Mononoke. Standing as an ancestor to both of them, and to others in and out of the Ghibli canon, is The Journey of Shuna.

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