Why Miyazakiworld Didn’t Work For Me + Studio Ghibli Movies I’ve Seen/Want to See

Thank you to netgalley and the publisher for the review copy in exchange for an honest review.


Book: Miyazakiworld: A Life in Art by Susan Napier
Release Date: September 4th 2018
Tags: Non-Fiction / Hayao Miyazak / Studio Ghibli / Anime / Animated Movies / Analyctic


When a friend pointed me out to this being a read now on Netgalley, I knew I had to give this ago. Unfortunately this book turned out not to be for me and I ended up dnf-ing it at about 30%. This problem lies in part with me and I don’t think this is a bad book at all. It just didn’t work for me.

I’m not sure what my expectations were but the analytical approach and dissection of Miyazaki’s background was not it. Susan Napier really has gone to dept with this book, drawing from all kinds of source materials like the original Miyazaki biography and various interviews by him and his peers. There has gone in a lot of work and research into this work and for that I can only applaud the author. But it didn’t make for a pleasant read for me. There was too much details in places and too much analyzing of a man’s life. Of someone who is still alive. It made me uncomfortable. There is also the underlying feeling of the situations depicted in this book that I might not like Miyazaki as a person. And I don’t think I’d like to take that way from this book. I’d rather watch his movies and not think about his person, instead appreciate his art and creativity.

I would not suggest reading this book if you haven’t seen all of his movies. There are chapters that go into his movies, that analyze them in their entirety which includes spoilers. But if you have watched them all or don’t mind spoilers and would like to go along for the ride with Susan Napier on where Miyazaki came from and how this shaped his films, this is going to be an interesting read for you.

Reading Challenge(65)

Having read part of this book however did make me want to go back and see what I have seen of Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli and I started rooting through my collection. There was a time where I was very into manga and anime. Instead of books I bought anime and manga. So I do have a small collection still of that. Including a few Studio Ghibli movies.

Ghibli Movies I Have Seen


Spirited Away
Of course I have seen Spirited Away. Who hasn’t? For a special day they even showed this in the theatres for our high school. Chihiro is just a great character and there is so much to discover in this movie.

Howl’s Moving Castle
My favorite! This is one of the rare occasions where I don’t care the book was altered to fit with the movie. Both just work so well.


Princess Mononoke
I was able to borrow this from a friend back in high school and it is such an interesting movie and I would love to rewatch this some day.

Ghibli Movies I Still Want to See


Castle in the Sky
I actually own this but never have gotten around to watching it. After reading the chapter in the book on this movie, parts of it captured my attention enough to dig it out of my closet.


Grave of the Fireflies
Another one I own but never gotten around to watching. I actually think, with the war elements, that this might be a better watch for my husband than for me.


My Neighbour Totoro
This movie has such a big following but I have never once watched it. I should be ashamed of myself, I know.


The Cat Returns
I mean, this has cats. How could this not be right up my alley?


Tales from Earthsea
This movie is an adaption from the Earthsea books and I would like to have read some of it not all of them before I head into this movie. I have heard it is very different from the actual books though…

10 thoughts on “Why Miyazakiworld Didn’t Work For Me + Studio Ghibli Movies I’ve Seen/Want to See

  1. I’m ashamed to admit that I’ve yet to watch Spirited Away, or any Miyazaki films for that matter. A thing I’ve always planned to remedy, but have yet to get around to. Which of the films would you recommend someone to start with?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I haven’t seen The Cat Returns yet, either. Elizabeth is not happy with me about that. Ha ha. 🎌

    Grave of the Fireflies is set in wartime, but it’s about a brother caring for his sister after they are orphaned. I don’t remember there being much actual battle type elements after the first scene. I think you would like it, but it is profoundly sad. 🎐

    The Earthsea film I think was done by his son? Baz and I didn’t care for it. I had read the Earthsea book and Baz hadn’t so reading/not reading the book didn’t have anything to do with our assessments. 🎋

    You have to watch Totoro! I haven’t watched it in a while, but you should watch it and see what you think about watching it with Merijn. I would say do it, but I might be forgetting if there are some scenes that might be a bit scary for a two year old. I don’t remember any though. 🎏,

    Yes, the book is written more like a college film studies text book, and I am thinking that was probably the author’s first intention for it. I have read about 10% of it. I pick it up here and there. I really like it, but then I had to read several books like it when I was taking general Cinema Studies classes for my documentary journalism major. I am hoping Baz will read it too, so we can discuss. He loves to analyze movies. 🎍

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think I got the feeling of sad from the back and as a result haven’t watched it yet.
      Yeah Earthsee movie was done by his son. I have heard a lot of people say that they didn’t care for that movie. Shame.

      I don’t think my library has it but I’ll have to check again. I do want to see it at some point.

      Yeah that would make more sense. It’s not a bad book it just didn’t turn out to be for me.


  3. This book sounds amazing! My favorite Studio Ghibli films are Kiki’s Delivery Service (cute and has a talking cat!), From Up on Poppy Hill, and Whisper of the Heart (more cats!). Castle in the Sky is good, but feels a little long for me. I did like it better the second time I watched it.

    Grave of the Fireflies is very powerful, but emotionally draining. It opens with the main character talking about death and it goes downhill from there. An important war movie, definitely, but not something I feel strong enough to rewatch right now.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think it is. It wasn’t for me but I can see so many others loving it.

      Oh Kiki, I need to watch that too. It looks so cute. And yeah I don’t think I’m ready for Grave of the Fireflies at the moment.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Hi! Graveyard of flies is a movie that I can never forget or get over. I cried buckets of tears watching this one. And although war is at the backdrop, I think the movie is all about family and siblings.

    I think my favorite Ghibli movies are Howl’s moving Castle and Spirited Way.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m glad it has such powerful themes. I am not quite ready for such an emotional movie but some day in the future. 🙂

      Both of those are just amazing.


      1. Heh I can relate with you. I’d been hearing great things about the movie for years and years but never felt the inclination to watch it because of the tragic nature. It was the death of the director of the movie that made me watch it earlier this year.

        And yeah those two are amazing. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

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