Hayao Miyazaki’s latest film is a biography, based on the true life story of Jiro Horikoshi, (堀越 二郎), the man who designed the Zero fighter used by the Japanese during World War II. This may be Miyazaki’s last film, and it is an ambitious one, touching on important human issues such as war, love, art and the making of a killing machine. But is it a movie for children?
The question was addressed to Miyazaki in a recent interview embedded below. It is in Japanese, but is closed captioned in English.
At about 2:47, the following exchange between Miyazaki and the interviewer appears:
Q: The phrase “I like you so much” made an impact in this film.
Q: In your films I saw before, I did not hear romantic phrases like that, and I got surprised this time.
A: Yeah, well this that kind of film… It’s weird saying that kind of film, though… It’s a film where the characters are grownups. This isn’t a film for little children. However, I’ve always been making films that might be difficult for children. But once a film is made, somehow it all becomes understandable for children. But this time, I don’t really know. I kind of feel low teens may understand something, though.
It is amusing to think of the phrase “I like you so much” as being too much for children to understand. It is certainly much milder than what most children are exposed to these days in a Disney movie. But perhaps it is a problem with the translation. And it could also reflect differences between Japanese and American culture.
I noticed that in movies about teen romance like “Whisper of the Heart” and “From Up on Poppy Hill” the characters seldom declare their love (or liking) in an open fashion, even when they are planning to make a life together.
But besides the cultural issues, the question of what makes something a movie for children or not is an interesting one. What is it that should be off limits to children? Is something that is anime necessarily relegated to the realm of fantasy? Can important social and emotional issues be touched on in a serious anime film?
I am looking forward to seeing The Wind Rises and finding out for myself.