Seldom Scene
Movie reviews by Gerald Panio

My Neighbor Totoro (1988) & Kiki’s Delivery Service (1989) directed by Hayao Miyazaki

First, a recommendation for those of you who don’t have small children: to fully appreciate the films talked about in this month’s review you might consider borrowing one or two.  Kiki’s Delivery Service and My Neighbor Totoro are two of the best animated films for children anyone’s ever made.  Adults will enjoy them as much as youngsters, but some grownups who wouldn’t think twice about popping Quentin Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs or Mike Leigh’s Naked into their VCRs might be a bit shy about watching heart-warming children’s fantasies unaccompanied.  It’s okay.  If you’re feeling a little nervous, a couple of borrowed kids and some popcorn will guarantee hours of quality time.

Japanese animation (called anime AN-knee-may for short) can be as baffling for Westerners as Japan itself.  Anime probably first turned up in North America about fifteen years ago, largely in the form of undubbed, unsubtitled black market copies.  Today, almost every major video store has dozens (in the case of Nelson’s Reo’s Videos, hundreds) of anime titles in stock.  Three distinct currents run through much of it.

Most impressive are fantasy themes which combine astounding leaps of visual imagination in settings which defy precision of time and place:  simultaneously European and Japanese, Medieval and Victorian, Blade Runner and Leave it to Beaver, eco-paradise and cyberpunk wasteland, Lucy Maud Montgomery and George Orwell.  Least palatable in the anime catalogue are pornographic sub-genres that would make the Marquis de Sade nervous.   And in between sublime fantasy and stunning depravity is a strain of violent action-adventure which can either be as entertaining as that in any of the Indiana Jones films, or as blood-spattered, brutal and graphic as the crudest slasher film or video game.

Fortunately for everyone’s peace of mind, the brilliant animator/director Hayao Miyazaki has always been on the side of the angels.  It’s not surprising to find that his credits include animated versions of Anne of Green Gables and Heidi.  Hayao Miyazaki has sometimes been called the Walt Disney of Japan, but the comparison is misleading.  Popularity-wise, Miyazaki’s pictures might be better compared to those of Steven Spielberg.  According to one reviewer, every film that Miyazaki has directed since 1984’s Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind has been the top grossing film in Japan in the year it was released.  His latest, Princess Mononoke(1997), demolished all previous box office records for Japan.  The comparison with Disney is also misleading because it calls to mind the recent Disney formula of obtrusive sidekicks, ubiquitous musical production numbers, and gratuitous action—none of which are elements of Miyazaki productions.  (Ironically, the recent English versions of Miyazaki’s films are being produced and released in North America by, you guessed it, Disney.  Disney promised they wouldn’t touch a frame of the originals.  Judging by reviews by anime fans, they’ve kept their word.  Even the dubbing into English has earned almost universal praise. Once you’ve decided that it’s all right to watch these movies alone, however, I’d still recommend finding subtitled, letterboxed versions.)

Born in Tokyo in 1941, Hayao Miyazaki graduated from university with degrees in Political Science and Economics.  He started to work in animation when he was 29, on a feature with the distinguished title of Watchdog Bow Wow.  Since then he has developed into a master craftsman whose passion and integrity shine through both in his work and in the many detailed interviews with him available on the Web. He continues to hand-draw cells at a time when most animators are relying more and more on computers. The work is done at his own studio, Ghibli.  A typical feature will involve some 80 people working on the drawings, 40 people giving voices to the characters, and a 60-member orchestra.   Although his films lack some to the three-dimensional quality now produced through computer animation, that lack is more than made up for by incredibly realistic movement and characterization, and backgrounds of extraordinary beauty and detail.  And no computer can generate the moral heart of a Miyazaki film.

He has always wished to show young children discovering their own inner strengths and sense of self-worth, reaching towards independence, developing friendships.  His stories are fascinating without being frenetic; he had no desire to be a “Saturday Morning Animator”, someone who makes cartoons to babysit while parents sleep in late.

“We in the 1980s make animation as if it’s an in-flight meal served on a jumbo jet,” Miyazaki once lamented.  “Everything becomes a game.  Love is a game of the mind, war is a game of killing, and sports is a game which brings money….Even the deaths of the characters became games, and creators became gods and reached a dead end.”  Instead of the fashionable nihilism that he sees driving children away from animated films toward video games, where they at least have some control, Miyazaki speaks of “drawing simple and pure emotion earnestly and purely”, even at the risk of being accused of melodrama or naivete. “If…an audience can be released from the stress or sorrow in their daily lives, can release their gloomy emotion, can find unexpected admiration, honesty, or affirmation in themselves, and can return to their daily lives with a bit more energy, that is the role of a popular movie….The entrance[to a film] should be low and wide so that anyone can be invited in, but the exit should be high and purified.”

Kiki’s Delivery Service (1989) tells the story of a thirteen-year-old girl who travels to a gorgeous city by the sea to answer a question every child asks: “What’s my skill?”  It just so happens this thirteen-year-old is a witch, and her unique talent at first seems limited to flying (badly) on a broomstick.  The broomstick angle is not an invitation to rampant demonolatry; it’s a clever medium for a message about friends helping you find out who you are, and a great excuse for some astounding flying scenes—including the one with the Canada geese that Miyazaki admitted were included solely for the beauty of their movement.  Other treats include a wild bicycle ride and the climactic dirigible rescue scene.  True to Miyazaki’s philosophy, however, many of the most important gestures in Kiki are the simplest ones.  The return of a baby’s pacifier. An invitation to spend time in the country.  A hulking dog, Geoff, unexpectedly demonstrating a calm, almost Socratic wisdom.

Kiki’s city of Koriko is a wonder; Miyazaki said he modeled it on Napoli, Lisbon, Stockholm, Paris, and San Francisco.  His staff shot 80 rolls of film in Stockholm and on the Swedish island of Gotland.  Miyazaki’s research creates a kind of supra-realism: an imaginary place that every viewer feels must exist somewhere.  Even the painting which inspires Kiki to have faith in herself, in the cottage of a young woman who becomes one of Kiki’s role models, is based on one actually done by students at a special school for challenged children.

In My Neighbor Totoro (1988) two young girls, Mei and Satsuki, with their father, Tatsuo, move into an old house in the Japanese countryside.  Their mother is in a hospital in a nearby town, recovering from an unnamed illness.  The house has a bit of a haunted air to it, but the ghosts are harmless “soot sprites” that flee at the first signs of laughter.  Totoro looks truly Japanese in a way that is quite unique for anime.  The landscape is one of rice paddies, forested mountainsides, old-styled Japanese buildings, and remote Shinto shrines with strange red-bibbed, fox-headed statues. It is the Japan which still exists for the traveler who takes even the slightest of steps off the beaten path.

Miyazaki may have been so faithful in this rendering of a circa-1950’s Japan because there is an element of autobiography in Totoro.  Miyazaki’s mother spent several years in a hospital with spinal tuberculosis.  The film is both the realistic story of two children dealing with their mother’s indefinite, unsettling absence, and their imaginary encounters with the totoros, protective forest spirits which range in size from gerbils to elephants.  Describing the giant O Totoro is a challenge which I’ll shirk, although rabbit, Godzilla, hedgehog, and pillow have been tossed around by other reviewers.

On the realistic sides of things, I don’t know if anyone has mentioned the way adults in features like Kiki’s Delivery Service and My Neighbor Totoro are not just straw people whose only role is to frustrate the children or spotlight their innocence through displays of adult venality.  Like the children, Miyazaki’s adults are tolerant, warm, and possessed of unique gifts.  Mei and Satsuki’s father will never actually see a tororo, or the living Cheshire-cat-like bus that prowls the countryside, and he sleeps through the miraculous moonlight growth of the children’s acorn grove, but his love is a part of the magic of their lives. The moonlight scene is one of my favorites in Totoro, as is the first sight of the Cheshire-Cat-bus and O Totoro’s first experiments with an umbrella.

I love every frame of this fantasy, from details like the long shadows of twilight and the dust on the girls’ feet, to the great camphor tree atop which the totoros (and a few lucky children) sit and whistle in the dawn. Reviewing Princess Mononoke, Roger Ebert commented that “great animation can make the mind sing”.  It makes the heart sing also.  The person who was reading this review over my shoulder as I was putting in the finishing touches said that sounds pretty sappy.  I’m so ashamed.  Not.

Looking Back & Second Thoughts

Still magic after all these years.  Since first picking up a pirated, Japanese-language-only VHS copy of Tenkû no shiro Rapyuta {Castle in the Sky) in a hole-in-the-wall comic store in Spokane, Washington, more than 30 years ago, I’ve watched all of Miyazaki’s films on my own and with my grandchildren, and featured them on movie nights in our local Community Centre.

Twenty years after I wrote my original review of Totoro and Kiki, Japanese anime is found everywhere.  Miyazaki DVDs are on sale in Walmart; Netflix, Amazon Prime & Hulu have ever-changing anime sections; and there are numerous specialty online anime streaming services such as Funimation, Crunchyroll, and Hidive.  You’ll find everything from the sublime to the sleazy.

Two excellent collections of Miyazaki’s writings on animation and interviews have been published in English, translated by Beth Cary and Frederik L Schodt:  Starting Point 1979-1996 & Turning Point 1997-2008.  Both are published by VIZ Media.  Together, the two volumes represent almost 900 pages of insights into Miyazaki’s personal history, the history of Japanese animation, animation techniques, backgrounds on all of his films, and the director’s personal philosophy of animation. Below you’ll find some short excerpts from the first 100 pages of Starting Point.  They’ll give a you a glimpse into Miyazaki’s unique approach to anime:

“…I am talking about doing something with animation that can’t be done with manga magazines, children’s literature, or even live-action films.  I’m talking about building a truly unique imaginary world, tossing in characters I like, and then creating a complete drama using them.  Simply put, this is what animation means to me.” [1979]

“Anime may depict fictional worlds, but I nonetheless believe that at its core it must have a certain realism.  Even if the world depicted is a lie, the trick is to make it seem as real as possible.  Stated another way, the animator must fabricate a lie that seems so real viewers will think the world depicted might possibly exist.

For example, say one makes an animated film depicting the world of a bug from the viewpoint of the bug.  Such a film shouldn’t show the world from the perspective of a human using a magnifying glass, but a world where each blade of grass becomes a giant tree, where the ground is not flat, but bumpy and rough, and where water—whether in the form of rain or droplets—has a completely different character than we humans normally think of it as having.”  [1979]

“To my way of thinking, creation animation means creating a fictional world.  That world soothes the spirit of those who are disheartened and exhausted from dealing with the sharp edges of reality, or suffering from a nearsighted distortion of their emotions.  When the audience is watching animation, they are apt to feel either light and cheerful or purified and refreshed.” [1979]

“What’s really important, I think, is to have fully fleshed out characters, characters who are life-affirming and have clear hopes and goals, and then to make sure that the story develops as efficiently and simply as possible.” [1979]

“…I would hope that in animated films we can use observation and the technique of optical illusion to realize many wonderful ways of running that even live actors cannot project.

Men of strong resolve, who are wearing heavy armor and carrying swords, should run in a way that weak extras cannot.  The running of surging masses on fire with anger, the running of a child doing his best to hold back tears until he reaches his house, the running of a heroine who has forsaken everything but the desire to flee—being able to show wonderful ways of running, running that expresses the very act of living, the pulse of life, across the screen would give me enormous delight.  I dream of someday coming across a work that requires that kind of running. [1979]

“Now, I have to admit that ever since I was a child, I, too, have been a fan of military planes, warships, and tanks.  In fact, I grew up being very excited about war films an drawing military things all over the place.  I was an overly self-conscious boy and I had a hard time holding my own in fights with others, but my classmates eventually accepted me because I was good at drawing.  I expressed my own desire for power by drawing airplanes with sleek and pointed noses and battleships with huge guns.  And I found myself thrilled by the bravery of sailors who—even as their burning ships sank—continued to fire their guns until the bitter end, by the men who plunged into the hail of fire and flak spewed forth by an enemy’s formation’s gun.  It was only much later that I realized that in reality these men had desperately wanted to live and had been forced to die in vain.”  [1980]

“I like vehicles and want to continue drawing them, but I have resolved not to draw them in fashion that further feeds and infatuation with power….I thus have absolutely no desire to follow the course many other take or continuing their infantile infatuation with power, becoming mech fanatics, and finally becoming knee-jerk advocates of increasing Japan’s actual military strength.  The way I see things, in the world of cartoon films, vehicles should run over the ground, dive into the water, and fly through the air in order to liberate humanity from the things that hold us back….A moving perspective that incorporates a sense f space in the picture, that creates a sense of liberation ,and that makes our souls want to greet the wind, the clouds, and the beautiful earth we see unfolding far below—these are the wonderful scenes and machines I dream of someday depicting.” [1980]

“One toy manufacturer pays 60 percent of its advertising fees to a single animation company.  This is the same thing as turning the product into animation in order to make children buy it.  The reality is that adults are brazenly productizing animation.  And the world of anime makes its business out of themes like departing for new horizons or love, while pretending not to be conscious of this commercial reality.

Unless our work fits in well with the scheme of this commercialized reality, we cannot do anything, no matter how driven we are or how lofty our desire to create quality animation.  These are the constraints under which we live every day.”  [1982]

“I don’t think it is at all bad that the entertainment industry exists.  In our formal lives we often become exhausted and stressed, so I think we need something to give us a boost and help us forget what is unpleasant.  If entertainment didn’t exist, almost everyone would have to be sent to a mental hospital or have to go see a psychiatrist.” 1982]

“When I saw Hakujaden (The Tale of the White Sepent), it was as if the scales fell from my eyes.  I realized that I should depict the honesty and goodness of children in my work.  But parent are apt to stamp out their children’s purity and goodness.  I had another idea, that that was to create manga for the children of the world that said, ‘Kids, don’t be stifled by your parents,’ and, ‘Become independent from your parents.’

With that as my starting point, I have spent the last twenty years trying to do this.” [1982]

“One must have the clear core of what one wants to convey.  This is the trunk of the story that penetrates throughout in a strong and simple way.  What catches the audience’s eye is the treetop, the shimmer of the leaves.  What is most required of a scenario are roots that spread deep into the earth and a strong trunk hidden by the mass of shimmering leaves.  As long as there is a trunk strong enough to support branches and leaves, the rest—hanging decorations, letting flowers bloom, and adding accessories—an be accomplished by everyone sharing their ideas.

The best scenario might be one that includes the mass of leaves and even the insects that crawl among those leaves.” [

“What’s important here is not whether the film has some sort of permanent artistic value.  The viewers—and I include myself here==usually only possess a limited ability to comprehend a film and tend to overlook many important clues in it.  But they feel liberated from their daily frustrations and feelings of being overwhelmed, are able to shake off their sense of gloom, to discover a feeling of adoration, of honesty, and of something positive that they didn’t know they had in themselves, and the return refreshed to their daily realities and routines.” [1988]

“…we must make an effort to sustain the [animation] staff’s overall energy.  It is my belief that we can’t make films with just one or two animators who have brilliant ideas.  A film can’t be made without a dedicated, serious, reliable staff at tis core.  The way to keep that kind of core is for the management and studio heads to realize that the animators are the ones working to make the film a reality and treat them well….We can no longer overcome inferior working conditions by staff spirit alone.  Since we have had some financial success, we have to take the risk and reinvest what we have accumulated.  We need to hire new staff, train and nurture them, ad we also need to improve work conditions for our experienced staff.”  [1991]

“I think it is vain to think that we can confront problems of the adult world through animated films.  That is not to say that films aimed at children are easier; they can be even more difficult because they deal with origins and fundamentals.  But I think these are concepts that are especially suited to animation.  I want to depict the reality of present-day children in Japan—including their desire—and make films that will inspire heartfelt enjoyment.  This is something fundamental, something that we should never forget.  If we ever do, our studio will collapse.”  [1991]

Movie Information

Genre: Anime | Animation
Director: Hayao Miyazaki
Year: 1988 & 1989
Original Review: January 2000


Hakujaden (Tale of the White Serpent)

Released in 1958 by Toei Animation, this was Japan’s first all-color animated film and an early inspiration for Hayao Miyazaki.  This version is dubbed in English, and was the only one I could find online.

No Room for Softness: Director Zack Snyder delivers “Justice League,” the heroes we deserve

Written by Toronto columnist John Semley, this is a long-form meditation on the differences between Marvel- and DC-based films and fully lives up to its subheading: “Grim, bleak, crypto-fascist: is it any wonder audiences seem to hate Zack Snyder’s superhero fantasies?”  Ironically, after studiously avoiding Batman v. Superman, Justice League, and Man of Steel, I now want to check them out to see if their subtext is as twisted as Semley claims it is.  If Snyder and DC are indeed channeling Ayn Rand these days, we’re in even bigger trouble than I thought we were.

Cosmoetica – Cinemension

An eclectic arts website from Dan Schneider.  The cinema page has some technical glitches, but go to the alphabetical review and the Cinemension’s Great Films list for Schneider’s candid, sometimes-cranky sometimes passionate reviews of hundreds of films that should be on every movie lover’s must-see lists.  I just checked out his reviews of Dr. No, Dark City, and Yojimbo.

Rotten Tomatoes – Armond White

A thousand movie reviews from film critic Armond White.  His five most recent reviews, when I last checked in, were I am Woman, Mulan, Guest of Honour, On the Record, and Summerland.  He’s currently writes for the conservative National Review, so I wasn’t too surprised by his takedown of Atom Egoyan’s Guest of Honour.  If Donald Trump has a favorite movie review website, this is probably it.  The spirit of Ayn Rand lives on.  This is how the other half thinks.  Disturbing, but good to know.  Check out his take on Justice League:

Justice League is the Epic We Deserve

Just in case you though Armond was being ironic, here’s the subheading:  “Zack Snyder compiles his greatest hits and our era’s greatest hopes in a masterpiece that is nonetheless imperfect.”  Take that, John Semley!

Films Worth Talking About:

The Unbearable Lightness of Being, The Thin Blue Line, Tucker: The Man and His Dream, Married to the Mob, Bird, The Bear (l’Ours), Another Woman, Trop belle pour toi!, The Accidental Tourist, Die Hard, Life is a Long Quiet River, Hairspray, Three Men and a Baby, The Big Blue, Big, A World Apart, A Short Film About Killing, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Dead Ringers, A Fish Called Wanda, Salaam Bombay!, The Accused, The Last Temptation of Christ, Camille Claudel, The Vanishing, Mississippi Burning, Rain Man, Working Girl, Dangerous Liaisons, Bagdad Café, Beetlejuice, [Distant Voices, Still Lives], la Petite voleuse, Young Einstein, Scrooged, Drowning by Numbers, Coming to America, Cocktail, The Lair of the White Worm, Running on Empty, My Stepmother is an Alien, la Lectrice, [Thelonius Monk: Straight, No Chaser], A Story of Women (Une affaire de femmes)

The Bigger Picture

Films:  anything by Miyazaki; some other memorable anime: The Grave of the Fireflies (1988), Paprika (2006), Cowboy Bebop (series, 1998-99), Your Name (2016), 5 Centimeters Per Second (2007), Akira (1988), Children Who Chase Lost Voices (2011), Tekkonkinkreet (2006)

Music:  Joe Hisashi, Best of Cinema Music (and anything else by Miyazaki’s favorite composer)

Books:  (see below)

The Word on the Street

For My Neighbor Totoro:

One of the things that makes this film shine, at least for me, is that there is absolutely no antagonist role. No bad guy whatsoever, and only a genius like Miyazaki could pull that off.   [jmjolnir]

Totoro is a rare film that manages to capture the essence of a child’s emotions and vision without being filtered through the adult’s tendency to editorialize it, to insert a moral judgment, or to sugar coat it. Mei’s behavior is naked, showing raw happiness as well as anger. Her movements are strong and her voice fierce, she thinks she lives in a world without limitations and not binded by adult’s notion of etiquette. Satsuki is at a crossroads between adulthood and what remains of her innocence, we see her anxieties and we identify the world of the movie through her eyes. Totoro’s physical characteristic is actually menacing and otherworldly, and our first impression of him (through the girls’ eyes) is a natural mix of fear and amazement… the same reaction any human would have when confronting something foreign. But then something magical happens: Totoro moves and behaves just like Mei. We identify with this raw, pure energy of joy and imagination. That Studio Ghibli managed to express this idea visually, through character design, storytelling, and animation, is a rare and special accomplishment. This effect cannot be described during a script meeting with a committee of marketing execs.   [LaserBears]

I wish I could ride that cat bus. What a wild and kind imagination an artist should have to create it.   [Galina_movie_fan]

The motion picture was splendidly realized by Hayao Miyazaki , he personally corrected or redrew more than 80,000 of the film’s thousands animation cels .   [ma-cortes]

Originally in the United States, 20th Century Fox released the movie on video in the early 90s. This is the version I first saw. Then, a few years later, Studio Ghibli (who made this film in Japan) signed a deal for exclusivity with Disney. This has resulted in a more widespread release of their pictures but has also recently resulted in a new dubbed version of the movie. The Disney version has, perhaps, more realistic voices–as the children sound more like kids. However, I prefer the original voices–particularly the voice for Mei. I think it’s the same lady who does the voice of Angelica on Rugrats.
Finally, there is the original Japanese version that is subtitled into English. I am a bit compulsive and actually have seen all three versions! I think the subtitled is best because there are also a few tiny scenes that are in neither dubbed versions (not enough to change the story, but still I prefer a complete film). Of the dubbed, my loyalty is to the Fox version–it just sounds more charming and cute.   [MartinHafer]

The film is, of course, breathtakingly beautiful. The action may be small-scale but the vistas are incredible. Joe Hisaishi creates what may well be his greatest ever score, another miracle of seeming simplicity. In terms of story, design, animation, and music, this film achieves its aims so perfectly that it’s almost absurd to give it a rating. Miyazaki set the film in the remembered landscape of his own childhood. Never sentimental, never dishonest, never preaching, and never failing to acknowledge the realities of life, he has made a film with more magic in it than any number of wizards and superheroes could create. The film became so popular that Studio Ghibli adopted Totoro as the company mascot.   [toqtaqiya2]


For Kiki’s Delivery Service:

What sets Kiki’s Delivery Service apart from many of Miyazaki’s other works is the personal, rather than epic, nature of the story. It wonderfully captures the day-to-day life of an aspiring 13-year-old girl moving into the life of a bustling town. While there is plenty to please the thrill-seeking adventurous spirit, the film’s real beauty lies in its ability to portray the more introverted aspects of life. Most Western animated cinema centers around loud, pop-influenced music and a bad-guy-fighting action-oriented plot, but Kiki’s Delivery Service has a charming and understated musical score, and lacks a traditional antagonist. Life isn’t all excitement and fighting bad guys—something that this film seems to get across more than any Disney, Pixar, Fox, or other Western animated film I’ve ever seen. In fact, the doldrums of life are what form the heart of this film, as Kiki finds that she begins to lose her witch’s abilities and can no longer fly.   [mahlersoboes]

This movie is full of silent beauty. When the baker’s wife invites Kiki to move in above the bakery, you get the impression that the gruff but silent husband does not care for Kiki. But in a later scene you see that he has baked a loaf of bread shaped like a girl riding a broom and mounted it in the bakery window. Nothing is ever said about it, but you see how he appreciates her.
I have both the dubbed and subtitled version of the movie. They are both great. This movie is one of the best dubbed I have seen. The dubbed version has a lighter, funnier tone because of the wise-cracking Jiji. I felt I could appreciate the animation better in the dubbed version because I did not have to focus on reading the subtitles. In general the voice acting in the dubbed version is excellent. The subtitled version is also the letterbox version, so you get to see the full beauty of the animation. In some of the flying scenes, Jiji is humorously complaining about the flying conditions in the dubbed version, where the subtitled version lets you silently appreciate the beauty of flying. Due to licensing problems the dubbed and subtitled versions have different theme songs. I think both songs are great. I recommend getting both versions.   [panicwatcher]

It is interesting to note that this film was not written directly by Miyazaki, nor was it is based on anything of his creation. It is, atypically, adapted from the work of a different writer, and therefore some of the differences between this film and other Miyazaki works can be found to have a source.   [sol-]

“Kiki’s Delivery Service”, the first of the Disney releases of Hayao Miyazaki’s films, is a choice well made; if there were one film that typifies Miyazaki’s unique style of storytelling, then this is it. It is not the most complicated, nor the most technically impressive of his works, but it possesses a charm and warmth that can be found in all of the director’s films, before and since.   [MattGrif]

I recently reviewed Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, one of the best films I’ve ever seen, animated or otherwise. And now once again I have to marvel at another Ghibli movie, one made 30+ years ago, that features an independent girl’s personal journey, without getting overly distracted with a needless romantic subplot. This is a more laid back film, and Kiki isn’t a warrior like Nausicaä , though she is a fighter with her own share of struggles that make you root for her to succeed. She is also selfless and brave, with a kind heart and an infectious passion for life that inspires joy in those around her. If I had a daughter, or a son for that matter, they would be raised on studio Ghibli films, because as I explore Miyazaki’s collection of movies I keep finding admirable role models for girls and boys alike, coming out of an era when Disney was mass-marketing nothing but hapless princesses in need of rescue.   [jessup-86446]