Is This the First Miyazaki Flying Machine?

This airplane makes its appearance during the closing credits of Ali Baba and the 40 Thieves, Toei Doga's feature film from 1971.  There's really no doubt who conceived it; even the most casual fan of Hayao Miyazaki knows of his love of flying machines.

Is this the first flying machine to appear in a Miyazaki anime?  I think so.  The previous films in which he played a key creative role - Horus, Prince of the Sun; Puss in Boots; Animal Treasure Island - had no flying scenes, unless you count that scene where Horus is kidnapped by a giant bird and dropped off a mountain.  His early comics during the Toei period - newspaper comics adaptations of Puss in Boots and Animal Treasure Island; the epic drama People of the Desert  - likewise included no flying.

Miyazaki's passion for vintage aircraft would emerge in the 1970s and 1980s, with Lupin the 3rd, Future Boy Conan and Sherlock Hound, and his many short-form comics for magazines like Model Grafix.  And, of course, there is Nausicaa and Studio Ghibli.

It's fascinating to see such a crucial element to Hayao Miyazaki's art emerge in 1971, when he was 30 years old.  He was already a veteran of the business, but he was still just barely beginning.


Gut Suitman said...

"Is This the First Miyazaki Flying Machine?"

I'm afraid but the answer seems to be "No", since it's highly unlikely that Miyazaki was involved with the closing credit. Actually, his sequence starts when the Genie bullys Ali Baba upon a pond of alligators, and ends when the Genie shrinks up after seeing the boss of the cat thieves.

What is so special in this sequence? Well, first of all, the characters look different from the ones in the rest of the film: Miyazaki drew them cuter than the original character designs by animation director Daikuwara Akira, who apparently chose to keep his hands away from correcting. (At one shot, Ali Baba even shows our beloved "Miyazaki grin" a la Conan!) And the movments of the characters are very ingenious. Plus, his layouts for this sequence are much more three-dimensional.

In "Starting Point", Miyazaki said of his own part in this film: "I made it too interesting, and it seemed like the whole movie was over when my scene ended." He doesn't exaggerate at all. It's one of the best slapstick works he ever did!

Daniel Thomas MacInnes said...

Great points. And of course, Miyazaki's castle chase is the highlight of the movie (although there are a couple other really good scenes).

Miyazaki was not very fond of Ali Baba when he wrote his memoirs. He was pretty dismissive of the whole project, the fact that it was low-budget and used fewer drawings than the typical full-animation Toei picture, etc. But he was on his way out the door, so I'm sure there were other factors.

Great comments! I'm just impressed that somebody else had actually seen this movie. You'll get a star to hang on your fridge.

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