As promised a few days ago, here is Studio Ghibli's latest short film, Piece, directed by longtime Ghibli director Yoshiyuki Momose. This is the music video for pop singer Yui Aragaki, and it's a catchy little pop tune, in the way that many Japanese pop songs are. It stays in your head and fits the video perfectly. Or, perhaps it's better to say the video fits the song.
But Momose manages to create such enjoyable film shorts that animation and music blend together perfectly. It's a fine balance, and difficult to achieve; Hayao Miyazaki had his one music video, On Your Mark; Miyazaki's short was brilliant, but that Chage & Aska song was terrible, hideous, almost painful. Yuck. Momose, thankfully, has been blessed to work with much better talent.
Piece feels like a continuation of Momose's three Capsule videos, in spirit and mood, even though the setting is really quite ordinary. It's a very sparse story, just a girl and her shoes, walking in the sun, walking in the rain, losing herself in her romantic dreams. And it works, it works brilliantly, because we're experiencing the moment on the woman's terms. I don't think this video could come from anywhere but the world's most famously feminist animation studio.
So this begs the questions, then. Why aren't more women in America pursing animation? Why don't we see more works like this? Why is everything in Hollywood manufactured towards 14-year-old boys? Half the population is female. I'm sure they have plenty of disposable income, at least when the economy is working. We certainly have skilled artists on our shores. So what gives? What's the deal?
Studio Ghibli produces more works created from, and aimed at, a feminine perspective than any movie studio in the world. Hardly anyone else in the West seems interested in trying. And it's not for lack of trying. Sita Sings the Blues and Persepolis are two excellent examples of animation at its best. Add in Ghibli's features and short films, add in Satoshi Kon's movies - Paprika, Tokyo Godfathers, Milennium Actress - and it's pretty clear to me where the future of the medium lies.
I think Momose's Piece is a great work of animation. It feels free. It portrays imagination and romance seeping into the ordinary, everyday world. It makes me smile, and reminds me of the many times Marcela and I were caught in the rain, high in the mountains, down in the streets of Bogota. It's enough to inspire you to walk through the rain, barefoot and daydreaming.