"The Heroine Image in Anime" by Minako Saitou, Part I

Chapter 3 - Patriotic Girls: "Conan," "Nausicaa," and "Mononoke Hime"

Part I - Miyazaki Anime is the Story of "the Boys' Land vs. the Girls' Land"

We probably can't talk about contemporary animation without mentioning the successful works of director Miyazaki Hayao. His theatrical films are one explosive hit after another, and they continually set new records for profits and attendance. Is Miyazaki anime just anime, or is it a sparkling star in the world of Japanese film?

Miyazaki has written several different kinds of stories, but in this chapter I would like to concentrate on the patterns in his sci-fi adventures such as "Future Boy Conan" and "Nausicaa of the Valley of Wind." As futuristic stories of battle and heroes, they do have some points in common with "Yamato" and "Gundam." However, I am sure that many feel Miyazaki's work is different from those others. Miyazaki's films do seem a bit unlike Boys' Land stories of macho heroes, yet they're also somewhat removed from Girls' Land stories of fashionable magical girls.

The special characteristics in Miyazaki anime are the active girls. They aren't just for show; female characters with will power equal to or stronger than their male counterparts play leading and supporting roles in Miyazaki's work. One might say that Miyazaki's works have received broad support as "anime for the people" for that reason. If we examine the stories more closely however, we notice an interesting point--Miyazaki's anime is neither Boys' Land nor Girls' Land anime, but it is deeply related to both. Miyazaki anime actually depicts a battle between the Boys' Land and the Girls' Land.

As we've seen so far, the Boys' Land in anime is the military nation based totally on science and technology. The Girls' Land is the land of anti-scientific dreams. In Miyazaki anime however, those positions are slightly altered. Here, states based on science (= Boys' Land) become the enemy, but they also demonstrate some reconsideration of the excessive principles of scientific supremacy. The Girls' Land is the 'good' side. Still, it is not simply a dreamland based on an infatuation for fashion and love; it is drawn as an ecologically-motvated nation that lives cooperatively with nature. The Girls' Land too has reconsidered the standard infatuation with fashion and love. Accordingly, we can expect that there will be some reconsideration of the stereotypical female character as well.

In Miyazaki anime, the good side is the land where girls live. The other team, the enemy team, is always lead by a woman commander. Boys belong to neither of these two sides, and as members of a third land they cooperate with the girls. In short, in Miyazaki anime females are representatives for both the Boys' Land and the Girls' Land, and boys are just an extra [omake].
This kind of situation is something not found in anime before Miyazaki. However, as "Yamato" and "Gundam" make us consider the number of female characters in the 'team,' "Conan" and "Nausicaa" are connected to a more qualitative question--are the leading women able to become heroines [eiyuu]?


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