In defense of Miyazaki

From Cinephile:

Uncle Jay: Miyazaki, while I admire him, is extremely overrated! "NausicaƤ of the Valley of the Winds" (or "Warriors of the Wind" as I've known it over the years) is mediocre at best! Miyazaki has done finer work than this...

It's very drawn out, actually boring in many spots and the animation itself is rough compared to the animation of that time (since you claimed it was the "best animated Disney ever", bold statement man). But it is well-done and you can see a visionary at work here...

Give me Bakshi's early work before Miyazaki's early work anyday.

I like Bakshi's stuff for what they are--brash attacks on the establishment, and on the Powers that Be. Bold strokes, bright colors, the ambience of funk and rock.

But Bakshi doesn't have the kind of rich emotional palette Miyazaki has--subtle moments of quiet, or tenderness, or moral ambiguity worthy of Ozu or Naruse. I respect him, but I can't call him a master. And I really dislike his rotoscoped works (Lord of the Rings and American Pop, anyone?).

As for smooth animation--remember Nausicaa's budget was cobbled together from various sources, and the work farmed out to an animation studio (despite which, Miyazaki did--and is in fact famous for--doing much of the key animation himself, something rarely heard of of any animated film director). For the budget they had, I'd say it's remarkable work.

This American obsession with motion smoothness--well, all I can say is American animation usually works on a bigger budget, and emphasizes motion smoothness and lip synchronization over other values...like understated storytelling, or narrative sophistication, or emotional subtlety, for one (I'd like to see the Disney film with a figure as ambivalent as Kushana, or Nausicaa when you really study her character, or Lady Eboshi in Princess Mononoke).

If I want to look for Miyazaki's superior, I'd look elsewhere--maybe Takahata, or Yabushita, or Paul Grimault. Svankmajer is also a worthy contemporary.

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