Imagine the things I keep forgetting during the holiday season. We haven't highlighted any Miyazaki riffs in some time, so let's get back into action. This riff, like so many others, draws back to the Toei era. The screenshot we see here comes at the end of Miyazaki's classic, hilarious pirate batttle from Animal Treasure Island. I often cite this slapstick/action sequence as among Miyazaki's very best scenes, and an essential study for all students of animation. This scene should be taught in schools.
When Miyazaki and company at Telecom went into production with Sherlock Hound, it was with the enthusiasm of recapturing the thrills and spills of Animal Treasure Island, so it makes perfect sense to pay tribute in one of the episodes. The mass crowd on a sinking ship, hurling out insults, comes from the episode, "Treasure Under the Sea."
One of the great things about Miyazaki's comedy is his use of massive crowds and his comic timing. It's the hallmark of his classic, pre-Ghibli period, and it's something I truly miss from his later work. The only Ghibli movie to really aim for that comic adventure style was Laputa: Castle in the Sky, although Porco Rosso has some short moments here and there. Part of me prays for the elder statesman to revisit his youthful style just once more, although I'm more than perfectly happy with his evolution into complexity and surrealism. Hayao Miyazaki has mutated into Frederico Fellini, and it seems to suit him these days.