Okay, here's a little something to know about me, I freaking love Hayao Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli films. Spirited Away, Princess Mononoke, all of them. They are wonderful films and are fountains of creativity to look upon with admiration and awe. BUT, that doesn't mean they're all sunshine and rainbows. Here are some dark things in these films that are seemingly overlooked.
4. Magic is Structured by Odd Rules in Ponyo Ponyo is a cute little story about a little fish-girl that wants to be human and be with a little boy she's falling for, like a Fisher Price Little Mermaid. Her father is a magical fish man who was once human and does not trust them, so he is fairly overprotective of his dear daughter and her sisters (swear I've heard this before). Anyway, Ponyo defies him, he calls his mom, they try to get Ponyo back from little Sōsuke (the boy she's fallen for). But for whatever reason, a deal is suddenly established where the God of Mercy (Ponyo's Granmamare/Grandmother) offers to make Ponyo a human permanently. Cool beans right? But in order for this to happen Sōsuke has to pass a test to prove his mettle, and if he fails Ponyo dies! Well she turns to seafoam(I smell another parallel). I know we need conflict in these movies, but come on, why would Ponyo's Granmamare play with her life like that? Due to obscure Magic law? Doesn't add up. At least Nemo was just chilling when his father was trying to save him. Ponyo has to help handle a tsunami and deal with an abusive Grandmother. Step your game up Disney fish.
3. The Whims of Witches/Wizards Ruin Lives Howl's Moving Castle is my favorite Miyazaki film, it's just so colorful and magical. Speaking of the magic, it's terrible. (SPOILER ALERT: In the film, one of main character Sophie's companions is a scarecrow named Turnip Head, who is the missing prince of a neighboring country.) The neighboring kingdom is so distraught at the random disappearance of their prince that they are ready to wage war with Sophie's home, which you witness throughout the film. All because someone transformed him to teach him a lesson of humility. Who gets to determine who needs said lessons? After all, Sophie was cursed just for being rude. And what about all the lives endangered by this? No fucks.
2. Take a Wrong Turn, Say Goodbye to Your Old Life I live in a world where I think everyone knows about the beauty of Spirited Away, if you don't then I need you to leave my page right now (or surrender your identity to me, whichever you prefer). This one holds a special place in my heart because it was my first Miyazaki film, which taught me two very important elements to Hayao Miyazaki and his movies. Firstly, his films are the most imaginative I've ever seen. Secondly, they are also pretty fucked up. Spirited Away could probably have a list all its own for all the fucked up things in its story, but I just want to talk about the end. Quick Synopsis: Chihiro and her familia get lost on the way to their new house, daddy finds what he believes is an abandoned amusement park. Family explores said abandoned park, much to Chihiro's lamentation. The park turns out to be a spirit world chill spot where weary spirits come to relax and melt away whatever stress you supposedly have to deal with after no longer having to worry about being fat. Chihiro's parents are cursed into piggies by the evil Spa Owner and it's up to her and Haku (a boy she meets that is totally willing to help her because of no past history between the two whatsoever) to save her mommy and daddy. (SPOILER ALERT: They totally do.) Chihiro then leaves with her family, goes back to their car, wipes off all the added debris on it from years of neglect and drive on. Wait...what? Yeah that's right. That little trip into the Spirit World that was only 2 hours for Chihiro? That was evidently a couple of years at least in the human world. Could I be wrong? Nope, the synopsis defends this point. Chihiro, her mom, and her dad, have been missing for years when they return. It's completely overlooked, but anyone who knew them probably thinks they're dead and have moved on. Hope Chihiro and her parents can do the same.
1. An Entire Race of Little People is Being Run to Extinction by Humanity In the Secret World of Arrietty there are a race of humans as big as your pinky finger called Borrowers. Borrowers have been around for as long as anyone can remember, longer than humans even. They do as their name implies, borrowing a little sugar here, wheat there, and they sustain their loved ones. However, humans unintentionally (for the most part) have been driving them to extinction like we do with any cool species eventually. A wild Borrower encounters Arrietty's family and tells them that he's only seen less than five other Borrowers on his travels. The little boy that protagonist Arrietty interacts with even tells her at one point that he just thinks that her people's time on Earth is just over. Wow, way to be a dick dude. No microscopic poon for you. *Cues Dust In The Wind*