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Drawing on TraditionManga, Anime, and Religion in Contemporary Japan$
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Jolyon Baraka Thomas

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780824835897

Published to Hawaii Scholarship Online: November 2016

DOI: 10.21313/hawaii/9780824835897.001.0001

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Entertaining Religious Ideas

Entertaining Religious Ideas

(p.103) Chapter 3 Entertaining Religious Ideas
Drawing on Tradition

Jolyon Baraka Thomas

University of Hawai'i Press

This chapter performs a detailed case study of several anime by director Miyazaki Hayao, showing the ways in which audience interpretations—including academic interpretations—of certain films as products deriving from directors' religious motivations or as media for imparting religious messages can be fruitfully juxtaposed with directors' reflexive statements about their own work. The specific aim is to provide a corrective for essentialist tendencies in foregoing scholarship, including the common assertion that Miyazaki's films somehow reveal a mystical understanding of religion (particularly Shintō). It proceeds on the presupposition that examining what a director and his audience s say about his oeuvre is more revealing than scouring the work for particular religious themes. Through commentary on fan sites, interviews with informants, academic literature, and citations of interviews with the director, the chapter examines how various interest groups interpret Miyazaki's films as religious while also showing how Miyazaki himself resists such descriptions.

Keywords:   Miyazaki Hayao, anime directors, audience interpretations, animated films, religion, Shintō, religious themes

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