Gods, Monsters, and Totoros: Exploring Miyazaki’s Fantasy World

Wonderful piece by Austin Gilkeson on up on Tor.com that discusses the fluid roles spirituality, nature, and folklore play within director Miyazaki’s various fictional worlds. Gilkeson observes that unlike many other fantasy stories, the drama of Miyazaki’s various works doesn’t hinge on the simple conflict of a believer (usually a child) trying to convince a typical nonbeliever (usually an adult) that magic or magical creatures are real. Instead, the magical and non-magical elements of the worlds intermingle to various degrees while characters navigate the relatable, beautiful, and complex issues we all face (pain and longing of growing up, fear of losing a parent, loving someone you can’t be with).

Last fall my 2yo daughter and I were stuck together in the house for days on end while she learned to use the potty. It was more stressful and exasperating than I’d anticipated and I found myself turning on the TV more than I’d like to admit. I felt very guilty about that. I was pretty on edge during those few days, which sounds silly looking back. Towards the end of the week, things were clicking and I felt good enough about taking my daughter on a short walk around a pond near our house. My mind was still in potty-mode and I was watching her for any signs we might need to turn around and head back. I was still pretty stuck in the lingering stress from cleaning pee up off the floor all week and the guilt of losing my patience more than usual. I looked over and noticed my daughter was picking things up off the ground and putting them into her empty snack cup. I assumed it was rocks. Both of my kids love to bring rocks inside for some reason. But then she put her hand in and pulled out an acorn and said, “Look Mommy. It’s for my Totoro.” She put the acorn in my hand. I still have it now, in a drawer, over 6 months later.

It’s not that children are pure and innocent and unquestioning—Miyazaki’s young protagonists are thoroughly human and flawed. It’s that they’re open to the spirits in ways adults are not. They don’t mediate their experience of nature and the world through the rituals of religion or calcified worldviews. Mr. Kusakabe may need to visit the camphor tree shrine to speak to Totoro, but Satsuki and Mei don’t—they can find their way to him from their own yard. Adults see what they expect to see. Children have few expectations for what is and isn’t lurking out there in the world; they’re the ones who glimpse shadows moving in the gloom of an abandoned amusement park, a goldfish returned in the shape of a girl, or a small white spirit walking through the grass.


Adafruit publishes a wide range of writing and video content, including interviews and reporting on the maker market and the wider technology world. Our standards page is intended as a guide to best practices that Adafruit uses, as well as an outline of the ethical standards Adafruit aspires to. While Adafruit is not an independent journalistic institution, Adafruit strives to be a fair, informative, and positive voice within the community – check it out here: adafruit.com/editorialstandards

Join Adafruit on Mastodon

Adafruit is on Mastodon, join in! adafruit.com/mastodon

Stop breadboarding and soldering – start making immediately! Adafruit’s Circuit Playground is jam-packed with LEDs, sensors, buttons, alligator clip pads and more. Build projects with Circuit Playground in a few minutes with the drag-and-drop MakeCode programming site, learn computer science using the CS Discoveries class on code.org, jump into CircuitPython to learn Python and hardware together, TinyGO, or even use the Arduino IDE. Circuit Playground Express is the newest and best Circuit Playground board, with support for CircuitPython, MakeCode, and Arduino. It has a powerful processor, 10 NeoPixels, mini speaker, InfraRed receive and transmit, two buttons, a switch, 14 alligator clip pads, and lots of sensors: capacitive touch, IR proximity, temperature, light, motion and sound. A whole wide world of electronics and coding is waiting for you, and it fits in the palm of your hand.

Have an amazing project to share? The Electronics Show and Tell is every Wednesday at 7pm ET! To join, head over to YouTube and check out the show’s live chat – we’ll post the link there.

Join us every Wednesday night at 8pm ET for Ask an Engineer!

Join over 36,000+ makers on Adafruit’s Discord channels and be part of the community! http://adafru.it/discord

CircuitPython – The easiest way to program microcontrollers – CircuitPython.org


Maker Business — “Packaging” chips in the US

Wearables — Enclosures help fight body humidity in costumes

Electronics — Transformers: More than meets the eye!

Python for Microcontrollers — Python on Microcontrollers Newsletter: Silicon Labs introduces CircuitPython support, and more! #CircuitPython #Python #micropython @ThePSF @Raspberry_Pi

Adafruit IoT Monthly — Guardian Robot, Weather-wise Umbrella Stand, and more!

Microsoft MakeCode — MakeCode Thank You!

EYE on NPI — Maxim’s Himalaya uSLIC Step-Down Power Module #EyeOnNPI @maximintegrated @digikey

New Products – Adafruit Industries – Makers, hackers, artists, designers and engineers! — #NewProds 7/19/23 Feat. Adafruit Matrix Portal S3 CircuitPython Powered Internet Display!

Get the only spam-free daily newsletter about wearables, running a "maker business", electronic tips and more! Subscribe at AdafruitDaily.com !



No Comments

No comments yet.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.