starlady: Sheeta & Pazu watch the world open out before them (think in layers)
[personal profile] starlady
First, via [livejournal.com profile] corneredangel, Mia Lewis on the use of ateji (kanji/okurigana divergence) in manga by CLAMP. Fascinating paper looks fascinating.


Tenkuu no shiro Laputa | Castle in the Sky.
Dir. Miyazaki Hayao. Studio Ghibli, 1986.

I've forgotten how epic and awesome this movie is. It's really beautiful too, in a way that's somewhat ineffable.

Tom Lamarre sees in this movie, in Sheeta and Pazu's principled choice to destroy the threat that Laputa's technology represents using Laputa's technology (which, let's note, looks an awful lot like magic), MIyazaki's grand statement of how to live in the world: not by putting a false faith in the idea that some people are better equipped than others to arbitrate how technology is to be used, but by recognizing that technology is a pre-existing condition from which salvation is possible, through the figure of the girl.

This pattern is clear not only in Nausicäa but also in Mononoke-hime, and both those movies arrive at the same endpoint as Laputa: for Miyazaki the solution is neither to accept nor to reject technology--because technology is already immanent, because "accepting" and "rejecting" technology imply an anthropocentric world that simply isn't true--but instead to save ourselves from technology by, in effect, re-locating humanity within Nature (and the girl's instinctive sympathy with the natural world as well as with technology is the key to doing this) in an almost post-human way. Inevitably this re-location involves destruction and even death, but at the end it's possible to go back to the valley, and live.

I have two problems with this idea, one of which I'll set aside for now; what bothers me is that Miyazaki's stories require a certain amount of, hmm, passivity from the girl in question. I think Sheeta is the worst example in this regard, but also that Laputa is the single best incarnation of Miyazaki's ideas, so the question becomes, what do we do with Sheeta? Which isn't to say that I don't love Sheeta, because I do; she's courageous and tenacious and principled, and she hits Muska over the head with a wine bottle in her first scene, FTW. But, to borrow a political phrase, the optics on her story arc are just bad--she spends a lot of her time being fought over rather than fighting, gets abducted multiple times, and lets Pazu fly the glider. Not what I want from my girl-goddess, to be blunt.

Tom Lamarre points out, in other words, that the optics on Sheeta are bad because the highly advanced technologies with which she is attuned by birth(right) look like magic, because they act at a distance; Pazu's aptitude with technology looks more active because he works with his hands. In seven hundred years, which of them will seem more technological? It might be Sheeta after all. But still, I want the girl to do more--Sophie in Howl's comes much closer to satisfying me in that regard. San in Mononoke does too, and here I'm going to point out that for MIyazaki a girl's hair going from long to short is clearly a signifier not necessarily of adulthood but of maturity: both Sheeta and Sophie lose their long hair in the course of their stories, symbolizing their development as people; it's significant that San and Kiki start out with short hair, since their struggle is not for maturity but for finding their place in the world.

Too, to save the world Sheeta has to give up her power. This is better by far than her never having had power at all, and she does so to save the world and humanity from the danger of which her power is a part, but there must be a way for a powerful woman--or girl--to keep her power and save the world. This isn't that anime, though.

Also, I was thinking that Colonel Muska seemed like a little like Roy from FMA, and then his name is revealed as Romuska, and then his last line is him screaming about his eyes, and as far as I'm concerned that subject is closed.
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