From Comics to Anime - Miyazaki's Flying Machines

Here's a look at Miyazaki's ideas for flying machines from his 1983 book, Image Boards.  This is an excellent example of how many ideas are fleshed out years before finding a home in a television series or movie.  The highlight for me are the illustrations of the bug-like flying machine that eventually finds a home in Castle in the Sky in 1986.  This aircraft was very thoroughly conceived by Miyazaki; observe how he describes how the wings and the control panels work.  The bug arms are eventually removed, but that's the only change.

The bug-plane was an idea in search of a story; it's interesting to see Miyazaki test out various story ideas, all in the adventure serial mold.  Pazu is already ready to go, but why is he there?  Who is his sweetheart to romance and rescue?  A large dragon?  That's something you never see in a Miyazaki anime, but do remember that he pursued Ursela le Guinn back in the early '80s.  It's very fun to imagine just what a Hayao Miyazaki Earthsea anime would look like, but it would be a fusion of the original work with his own ideas.  How would the faithful Earthsea fans have reacted back then?  Would they have been willing to accept a radically different adaptation?  Perhaps this was one reason why le Guinn resisted any offers.

I like the cameo by Lupin the 3rd, Zenigata and Clarissa from Castle of Cagliostro.  I also like the illustration demonstrating how a flying shot is animated (stationary cel, moving background).  Naturally, pigs are everywhere.  Hayao Miyazaki was always a comic book artist at heart; I'm sure he would have been willing to forego animation if he had the freedom to create the comics he wanted.  Thankfully, Nausicaa would revive his fortunes in anime and lead to Studio Ghibli.  And many of these clever ideas would be realized on the big screen.  Lucky for us.


Ghibli said...

Ah, studying these pages gives me a great measure of delight every time I do it!
Once you mention Nausicaä, isn't that girl standing upright on a glider, which might just be the early prototype idea for Mheve. And the people on the dragonback carry a gun, which you would see in Nausicaä as well.

Daniel Thomas MacInnes said...

The Nausicaa manga began in 1982, so Mehve is already established by this point. The Image Boards book does contain some early Nausicaa designs, however, and we'll get getting to those soon. I'm just working my way through that book, cover to cover.

Cory Gross said...

Very cool stuff! After you mentioned pigs, I realized what was off about the boards: Miyazaki is depicting himself as a human this time!

Thank you for posting them!

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