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Indulgence of the Imagination

by PoetryMisfit


   Close your eyes and imagine: an ancient floating castle in the clouds, a bath house for ghosts, a mighty clash between forest spirits and the realm of men, waged over the fate of Nature. These are but a few of the several visionary worlds brought to life by Hayao Miyazaki, co-founder and mastermind of the Japanese animation studio, Studio Ghibli. Though these films were originally geared towards children, there are various lessons that viewers of all ages can internalize. Namely, the lesson I would like to focus on today is the ways in which you can indulge your imagination.

   One of Miyazaki’s most notable films is called “Spirited Away”, which follows a young girl who is whisked away to the Spirit Realm. Once there, she must save her parents from the witch who imprisons them in the bodies of pigs, and find a way to escape. Amidst the captivating illustrations and whirlwind of fantastical characters, the most iconic scene ironically has no plot development. No dialogue. The protagonist rides a train alone surrounded by shadowy strangers who go about their lives entering and exiting at each stop. A melancholic melody engulfs the scene, provoking a swell of emotion and a sense of stillness. Hayazaki means to depict beauty that would otherwise go unnoticed. The focus on the protagonist fades into the scenery and the comings and goings of strangers at each stop make you wonder what sort of lives they lead. Likewise, you indulge your imagination by being aware of the world around you, pondering the lives of strangers and consequently yourself.

   Continuing henceforth, Miyazaki made another film called “Whisper of the Heart”, which is my personal favorite. This is actually one of his most underrated films that he created towards the beginning of his career at Studio Ghibli. Contrary to many of his other films,which are based in a fantasy setting, this film is set in rural Japan following the journey of an ordinary high school girl who challenges herself to write a novel. Despite its simplicity, this film taught me to pursue adventure in the mundane. One of the scenes that inspired that in me is towards the beginning where the protagonist sees a stray cat riding beside her on the train, and follows it through the neighborhood. By doing so she discovers an amazing antique shop where she meets the owner, an old man and artist at heart, who encourages her to write a novel. Now, I’m not telling you to follow stray cats to see where they lead, but I am saying that there is adventure waiting for you, and it can appear in the most unexpected way. Be open to these adventures and indulge your imagination with what awaits you on the path to trying something new.

   Now you may be thinking: what does any of this have to do with me? Well, I’m glad you asked. The most vital attribute of indulging your imagination is wonder. When you wonder, you question, and when you question, you seek answers. Your imagination in turn is often what may bring you those answers. When you take the time to observe the world around you, you wonder about the lives of others or the nature of being for places or things. Your imagination is what conjures the stories in your mind behind the lives of strangers, and allows you to see things not as they are but as they could be. You may wonder what lies in store for you on this day or in general for your life. Your imagination is what draws the roadmap for where you want to go and the adventures you can have along the way. These films have indulged my imagination by inspiring my writing, and have instilled in me the desire to encourage wonder in my readers. Miyazaki once said, “we shouldn’t stick too close to everyday reality but give room to the reality of the heart, of the mind, and of the imagination.” 


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Wed May 25, 2022 3:39 pm
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Liminality wrote a review...



Hi there PoetryMisfit!

Being someone who’s seen little tidbits of Miyazaki (but never had the chance to actually finish watching one of his films) I thought this work of yours was pretty interesting. It seems to be a hybrid between being a review recommending me Ghibli movies and also being an essay about the themes of said movies.

First, I’m going to make some comments about the points you made in the work and how you structured them. The message I take away from reading this is that Miyazaki films show how imagination can enrich ordinary life. I like the examples you chose to illustrate this and how you linked them to this theme.

The focus on the protagonist fades into the scenery and the comings and goings of strangers at each stop make you wonder what sort of lives they lead. Likewise, you indulge your imagination by being aware of the world around you, pondering the lives of strangers and consequently yourself.

I think this bit of analysis is really crucial in giving that example some context. I was finding it a bit hard to catch the point being made in that paragraph at first, but these lines I’ve quoted helped me understand.

The last paragraph puzzled me a bit. I think it’s a general rule of writing persuasively or informatively that you want to separate out different points into different paragraphs. Here, 1 and 2 seem to be different points that also haven’t been talked about before this last paragraph.
1. Your imagination is what conjures the stories in your mind behind the lives of strangers, and allows you to see things not as they are but as they could be.

2. Your imagination is what draws the roadmap for where you want to go and the adventures you can have along the way.

1 seems to be about seeing potentiality and possibility, while 2 seems to be about planning out one’s life in a more practical sense?

I also thought the first few sentences of this paragraph seemed to be introducing a new topic, ‘wonder’, which was a bit confusing, because it then leads into a summary of points from the previous paragraphs. I get that they’re all connected in some way, and I think it’s an interesting point of view. It might just be easier to understand it if the connections between wonder, imagination and its various applications / messages from Ghibli films could be made more explicit.

Now, I’m going to nitpick sentences a little bit and point out some potential typos.

This might not matter at all if you’re writing informally, but there are some places where commas don’t really seem necessary here.
Once there, she must save her parents from the witch who imprisons them in the bodies of pigs, and find a way to escape.

Since the subject (“she”) isn’t repeated after “and”, you can do without the comma. I also found this sentence a bit hard to track. There are three things going on and also three characters being introduced.
I’m also not sure if the colon after “Close your eyes and imagine” is necessary.

Hayazaki means to depict beauty that would otherwise go unnoticed.

I think you meant to type Miyazaki or Hayao Miyazaki there.

Style-wise, I most enjoyed reading your third paragraph. It has the same structure as the second paragraph, 1. Introducing the film 2. Discussing a particular scene 3. Telling the reader what lesson we can learn.
Now, I’m not telling you to follow stray cats . . . Be open to these adventures and indulge your imagination with what awaits you on the path to trying something new.

I like how you used a more conversational tone to shift into the ‘takeaway’ from the film here. It helps me see where the description of the film ends and the review/essay part begins, so the paragraph is clearer for me to read.

Overall, I think this piece fulfils the expectations for a good review (or essay). It describes the films and a brief and action-focused way, and then makes a recommendation, with some interesting thoughts along the way. The structure of the last paragraph might be a bit confusing to readers, who might expect only a summary there (or who like me, might have expected to see one more film + scene introduced because of the rule of three xD). Still, these are some interesting thoughts. Thanks for a good read!

Hope some of this helps and feel free to ask for more feedback,
-Lim




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Mon May 02, 2022 7:54 pm
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pandacow wrote a review...



Hey PoetryMisfit!

I'll be frank: I love Studio Ghibli, I grew up with it. I remember that vivid unexplainable feeling I would get as I watched my first Studio Ghibli film, Spirited Away, the illustrious elements Miyazaki used evoked an immersive experience for my young brain at the time, the scene where the protagonist and her parents arrive at the vacant market place gave me a mysterious and shadowy vibe, shrouded in the darkness, yet, the scene took place during broad daylight. Furthermore, when the parents let their hunger outweigh their morals, I oddly got a sense of annoyance (I also became hungry), as they disregarded the chef being there and, without a thought, began to devour the food. So I would say I enjoyed Spirited Away for the visuals when I was younger, but now, while still enjoying the visuals, I also enjoy your idea of how it brings you to ponder the world around you.

I love to ponder and contemplate. It's sort of my stimuli when I'm bored, as well as my conduit for ideas, but I am also a pessimist by nature, and sometimes pondering too much can be a curse for me because, in my case, the more I have time to do nothing, the more I begin to think about the world, and sometimes the thoughts are not so good. I guess it's really all about your perspective toward reality. I found that, by pondering, ignorance was a constant variable in this world as I became "aware of the world around [me], pondering the lives of strangers and consequently [myself]." I started to question people's opinions, and how they deny seeing the bigger picture sometimes, but in turn, I also became aware of my own ignorance. This also planted a new perspective into my mind: "Ignorance is the divider; Catastrophe, the uniter." My idea on that is how ignorance divides us all, and how it always takes a catastrophe to unite people together and fight as one. Sorry, I got a little too deep and wayyy off topic (sorta), but I love your idea of how these films implement the idea of how you can indulge yourself in your imagination, as well as everything around you.

:)




PoetryMisfit says...


Hi Pandacow.

I didn't watch my first Ghibli Film until high school so I can imagine watching them as a child felt... magical. I think it's cool how you connected with Spirited Away, Miyazaki does a great job of connecting with his viewers.
I completely understand and relate to the over-pondering (I'm sure that's not a word but whatever, I'm making it fit within this context). I'm intrigued by the tangent you went on there, and I can see what you mean about ignorance as a divider. We connect with each other more once we allow ourselves to understand each other and forego the ignorance. Ignorance better allows us to remove ourselves from being hurt by others or the world around us, but in the end we decide what to focus on. That is indeed something I am constantly working on in myself. Thank you for the review and I'm sorry the response took so long.

- Poetry Misfit :)




Death is only the end if you assume the story is about you.
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