A Look at "Mi Vecino Miyazaki"

Alvaro Lopez Martin and Marta Garcia Villar, the authors of the excellent new book, Mi Vecino Miyazaki, have kindly sent me a copy. I am sharing a few photos for those of you, and if you like what you see, I highly recommend purchasing a copy. The book, published in Spain, has been successful enough to warrant a second edition.

This book is an outstanding read for all Studio Ghibli fans. It begins with Hayao Miyazaki's 1984 film, Nausicaa of the Valley of Wind, and carries through the Ghibli feature films to the present day. Each movie is given its own chapter, allowing Martin and Villar to delve into great detail, dissecting and examining the various themes, topics, and points of interest.  In addition, smaller trivia notes are included on the pages, along with several capsule reviews from the many guest writers; I contributed to the book in this fashion (and you can see my page among the photos below).

Mi Vecino Miyazaki's art design is superb, very colorful and bold, packed with hundreds of color photographs that include movie screenshots and production artwork (seen in the Studio Ghibli calendars over the years). There's a great balance between text, sidebars and photographs. Text is large and easily readable (en Espanol), and each film is given considerable attention and space.

English language readers may not be able to read the text, but they can admire the art work and the visual design, and appreciate the dedication and care given to their favorite animation studio. Here is a book that celebrates Studio Ghibli, by dedicated scholars and fans. It fills a considerable void in the print realm, and establishes a standard for all future publications to follow. I certainly keep an eye on Martin and Villar as I scheme my own Ghibli volume.

There are a few omissions to this book, that I would personally like to see addressed in future editions. First, Ghibli's most recent films, Isao Takahata's The Story of the Princess Kaguya and Hiromasa Yonebayashi's When Marnie Was There, are given little or no attention. Clearly, this is because these films had yet to see release in Spain, so the authors were unable to dissect and discuss these works. I fully expect to see Kaguya and Marnie added in the future.

Second, I would also like a chapter devoted to The Story of Yanagawa Canals, the 1987 documentary directed by Isao Takahata and produced by Hayao Miyazaki. This film has never been released outside of Japan, but the DVD (and Blu-Ray on the Takahata BD Box) includes English language and subtitle tracks. I strongly recommend that the authors purchase or download a copy for review; they will discover an excellent movie that chronicles many of the broad themes of Ghibli's animated features: the struggle of civilized man and his environment; the tension between post-war Japan and its vast heritage; the challenge to preserve the past for future generations; and an appreciation for the sweeping beauty that lies around us all.  If you have wondered where Miyazaki and Takahata found the inspiration for their stories, The Story of Yanagawa Canals provides an excellent resource.

Finally, there are the Studio Ghibli short films: theatrical releases, television commercials, and movies created exclusively for the Ghibli Museum. These include many works by Miyazaki (many of which have never been introduced to a Western audience), but also by noted directors such as Yoshifumi Kondo, Yoshiyuki Momose, and Osamu Tanabe. Most of these were available on the Studio Ghibli ga Ippai Special: Short Short DVD, which is now, sadly, out of print. It would be nice to see at least one chapter devoted to these works, if only to give Western Ghibli fans a greater appreciation of the studio's output.

Overall, Mi Vecino Miyazaki is an outstanding volume, an absolute must for diehard and casual fans. Price is roughly $25USD, a bargain to be sure. This book is a wonderful addition to any movie lover's library. Bravo, bravo! More, more!

A sampling of photos lie below the jump break. My own humble contribution is included in the mix. Enjoy:


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