英語で紹介する日本文化U                       2009109

Lesson 3: Hayao Miyazaki: Master of Japanese Animation : Films, Themes, Artistry 3

(Citation from Helen McCarthy, Hayao Miyazaki: Master of Japanese Animation: Films, Themes, Artistry, Stone Bridge Press, revised edition 2002)


Castle in the Sky


Miyazaki’s world-building talents, already displayed in magical detail in Nausicaa of Valley of Wind, were used to similar effect in this film. In Castle in the Sky, he turned for inspiration to the history of man's dreams of flight, and the opening credits present a panoply(華やかな勢揃い) of magnificently dotty(点描の) eighteenth- and nineteenth-century flying machines rendered(描写する) in a graphic style and gentle color scheme reminiscent(しのばせる) of antique prints. All these were designed by Miyazaki himself, and despite their extravagant(突飛な) appearance, all are workable according to the technology on which they are based.


The flying islands themselves are also represented in detail that indicates their true function, letting the audience know that the long-lost power in the film might not be the unmixed(純粋な) blessing that the young hero and many others imagine. The airships hark(元の道) back(に戻る) to Nausicaa of Valley of Wind, cattle(家畜運)-()cars(車両) in which people are ferried(輸送する) like so much cargo through the skies. The city of Laputa itself at first looks like the ideal combination of science and nature as it might have been dreamed by Verne or Wellsseries of tranquil(静かな) gardens unfolding(広がる) around a hidden core of crystalline(結晶体からなる) power. Only as the film progress do we see that the city shows only its harsh and threatening underside(底面) to the world below, reserving the tranquility and beauty above for its own elite. Nature has gentled(やわらげる) the city's cold crystal heart not through man’s agency(作用) but by simply taking(採り) over(入れる) once he has gone, cloaking(覆う) the symbols of oppression in greenery and flowers and tangling(もつれさせる) the machinery of domination in the roots of a mighty tree.    


Fans of Japanese animation will be aware that another production about the conflict between lesser and greater technologies and the political struggle to control resources appeared in the same year as Castle in the Sky, with its story also centered on a huge tree. Windaria(ウィンダリア): Legend(童話) of() Fabulous(いた) Battle(戦史), directed by Kunihiko Yuyama and with designs by Mutsumi lnomata, has been available in the U.S. on video for some years. Large trees, especially camphor(クス) trees(ノキ), play an important role in Japanese tradition and it’s not uncommon to see them even in very recent titles for young audiences not as familiar with folklore (for example, the recent TV series Revolutionary(少女革命) Girl() Utena(テナ)). Windaria’s central tree, with an almost shamanistic(シャーマニズム的な) persona of its own, is treated as a guardian spirit by the people who live in its shadow. Laputa’s central tree is invested(帯びている) with a less superstitious(超自然的な) significance; it serves as a metaphor for the reviving and life-giving power of nature, but its seemingly miraculous(神秘的な) ability to save what is best and most beautiful about the flying city is a direct result not of magic but of its proper place in the ecosystem.


Most of the design detail is drawn from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The costumes are based on nineteenth-century fashions. The mining village where the story opens is entirely typical of the small industrial dormitories(住宅都市) dotted across northern Europe, the valve-and-turbine machinery is of a piece with its settings, and the charmingly wacky(風変わりな) railroad mingles(混ぜる) nineteenth-century technology with cartoon Westerns. The huge iron  dreadnought(ドレッドノート型軍艦) in which Pazu and Sheeta are taken to the capital and the government train  that captures them earlier are ugly, self()-important(大な) expressions of the iron(冷酷) fist() of powervery like the much more elegant black dome beneath Laputa that is revealed when its  weapons systems are activated.


Although the technology used is antique, its scale and scope are sometimes breathtaking(あっと言わせるような).  The railway in the mining community and the fortress in which Sheeta and Pazu are held have bridges, ramps, and depths as vast as anything in the classic SF film Forbidden(禁断の) Planet(惑星)that other great fable(お話) of faith in technology run madand the sense of scale adds   enormously to the epic(時代的な) feel(風合い) of the adventure. Interestingly, most of the technical engines shown in human hands in Castle in the Sky are heavy(不器)-handed(用な) and ungainly(不格好な)the cattle-car airships, the dreadnought, the elevator that brings the miners up after their shift. Only tiny, individual craft like Pazu’s skeletal(骨格の) glider, or the quirky(奇妙な) collection of junk(がらくた) that is the Dola ship, have charm and personality. Technology that works for the individual is more interesting and ultimately more useful than technology that merely organizes and channels(方向を決める) his labor. In Castle in the Sky, the natural world seems more under man’s control than in any of Miyazaki’s other films. The only animals and birds we see are tiny creatures in the exquisite(非常に美しい) parklands of Laputa and Pazu’s caged doves. Most land is either covered in houses and mines or farmed. The crashing waves of the sea are no obstacle for the huge government dreadnought. The wildest and freest thing in the film is the sky; even though man sends his airships across the heavens, clouds and storms toss(放り投げる) them about and hamper their progress and the smallest slip(間違い) can kill. Meanwhile the mines are shown as another country, a world that man can exploit(開削する) but not destroy. Once the miners have gone, the silent passages(坑道) and underground lakes remain. On the ground, man's works seem to rule the world, but above and below the ground he is still subject to forces beyond his control. The skies and the enduring(永久的な) rocks speak of a history in which mammals have made only a brief appearance, and their technology seems a puny(ちっぽけな) thing alongside such grandeur(雄大さ).


The story might seem to have an anti-technology message, but this is far from true. Miyazaki isn't against technology, but he is against blind faith in technology and the belief that it can solve all our problems. As we enter the twenty-first century, the challenge is not how to recapture the old world, as Mushka tries to do in Castle in the Sky, but how to build a new world in which humane(人道的な) values can flourish. When I put this to him he said,


  I’m not really optimistic about the next fifty years because we’re going to face more human tragedy as we human beings start to do more and more stupid and dangerous things. After that time, when we’ve tried them and they have failed, maybe we’ll move on to try better ways of doing things and things will improve.  The danger of the increasing acceptance of computers in our world right now isn’t that they are bad things in themselves, but rather that people think you can conquer(征服する) the world using computers. We’ll probably find that’s not true. Literature and so on was limited to a very few rich educated people until this century; then it started to get really widespread and common and people began to get tired of books.

That’s going to happen to computer games, animation, and all our current fads(熱中するもの), and that's when we’ll learn what will be there in the next century. On a personal level I’m not pessimistic, because I think if I can find a way to help the children I know learn what makes them feel good and what will make a better world, I can help them to deal with the future through my work.