I was wrong about Miyazaki

I was going to just PM this to the person I was addressing, but I noticed that he or she hasn’t logged on in some months, so I’ll give my mea culpa to the board at large, and maybe it’ll provoke some good discussion.

Lately I’ve been watching (and re-watching some) Miyazaki films. I’ve been absolutely enraptured by them. I decided to search the board for some key terms, and I found myself saying this a few years ago:

I was wrong. I didn’t “get” them.

For whatever reason, I get them now. It’s like a whole new library of great animation has been opened to me.

In fairness to me (since I like that guy), I had been watching them with subtitles. And since minor admission of past sins is ok here last time I checked, I had been downloading them with subtitles. And in retrospect, at least in the case of Spirited Away, I believe they were fan subs. I got it before the English-language version was released, and I remember thinking (and held the opinion for years, until the other day): this movie looks kind of cool but it makes NO SENSE!

The dub I watched made perfect sense and it was great.

So, to sum up: I was wrong. Probably a little ignorant and arrogant. And Miyazaki rules.

I heard he came out of retirement to do Howl’s Moving Castle, which made me think Ponyo must surely be his last film, which made me want to commit seppuku, but then I read last night that he’s under contract for at least 2 more :D.

Cool! But…

sound of Miyazaki fans tearing their hair out over the fact that you’re watching them dubbed in the English language

Take the next step. Go back to watching the subtitles, this time the official versions. They’ll be even better!

With regard to Miyazaki, I think his work has got worse as they ears have gone by. My favourite ones all came out in the 1980’s and although I’ve liked subsequent films they’ve never seemed to me as good as his earlier output. I don’t mean to and I hope this doesn’t come across as a thread-poop.

Do people not realize that the Japanese-language versions are also essentially dubbed? In Japan, the animation is done first, then the recording.


I think Howl’s Moving Castle was a bit odd, but I think Ponyo was a true masterpiece.

His best movie, though, was Spirited Away. Don’t think he can beat that.

The process itself has nothing to do with it. The idea is that the original language is better, and that a translation will necessarily lose some flavor of the original. A dubbed translation is even worse, as it has to modify the translation to fit the mouth movements.

That said, if my choice is between subbed and dubbed, I go with dubbed. I don’t care how faithful it is to the source material. I just want to be entertained. And having to read the subtitles while trying to watch the action is not my idea of entertainment.

Right – but the story was written in Japanese, not in English, so some of the story only makes sense told in Japanese (like Chihiro’s name-change to Sen in Spirited Away: when the second character in her name is rubbed out, the first character changes from “Chi” to “Sen”).

In addition, in my opinion the Japanese voice-actors are almost always better that the American voice-actors, and have a better fit to the characters they are playing, since the characters are Japanese.

The only downside with subbed is that it’s harder work to follow the subtitles and the picture at the same time.

Ya hard me!

My Neighbor Totoro is just amazing. Spirited Away and Howl’s Moving Castle are great too. They’re all good. I should finish watching the few I haven’t seen yet.

And no, they’re not just kids movies. (stupid friends)

ETA: I IMDB’d Ponyo after reading this thread. How did that thing exist without me knowing?

I don’t know, I thought Princess Mononoke was significantly better. It seemed more… Mythic? Timeless? to me. Plus, the fact that there really were no easy answers in it: The forest was good, and the village was good, and yet they were fundamentally in conflict.

I’m not buying this, sorry.

At least the more recent, Disney-released North American releases have upped the acting quality. John Lasseter (a friend of Miyazaki, and an unrepentant fanboy) is personally in charge of the dubbing, and he takes great effort to make it right.

Inasmuch as we disagree on what audio track to use, we can at least agree that the films are damn good.

I love Miyazaki, but as far as Studio Ghibli movies go, I love Takahata’s *Pom Poko *more than anything Miyazaki has done. The moment at the end where the tanuki show the humans everything they’ve lost by destroying Tama Hills is so magical and touching … .

I used to be a subtitle (as opposed to dubbed) purist, and for the life of me I can’t remember why. I’m convinced now that it greatly hurt my enjoyment of these films. Either way it’s a translation, and the subtitles just take so much away from the visual aspect of the film-- especially films like Miyazaki’s where the visuals are extraordinarily important.

Subtitles are no more in the original language than dubs. And dubs aren’t tweaked to fit the mouth movements. Quite the opposite, these days. They now re-do the mouths to match the dubs.

Maybe when it’s the original studio doing a high-quality dub, but that’s not available for most movies. And you still have issues where a line is significantly longer or shorter in one language than another.

Personally, I’ve never found subtitles at all distracting, since I read so much that I do it anyway, and my brain seems to process it as “speech”. There have been a couple of times when I was watching a subtitled movie and have glanced away, and been momentarily surprised that I couldn’t “hear” the dialog any more.

I have absolutely no problem with subtitles in live films but, shrug, the dubs just work better for me in the Ghibli movies.

Edit: In contrast, I loved Trigun subtitled, and then I saw a dubbed episode and it annoyed the shit out of me.


I thought I was the only person who did that!

I almost always prefer the subtitles, because English voice actors tend to suck, but I have to say, some of Ghibli’s dubs are really good. As I recall, Miyazaki said his favorite audio track for Porco Rosso was actually the French dub (Jean Reno!). Anyways, if there happens to be a really good dub, I’m not gonna knock it.

Yeah, I’d say that Mononoke was his last great film. Spirited Away and after are perfectly fine films, but they lack depth or point.

Give me some advice then.

I’m not an anime fan. The genre just doesn’t click with me and a lot of the cultural differences are jarring and usually hurt my enjoyment of the films. Of Miyazaki’s work I’ve only seen Princess Mononoke and Ponyo.

I was ambivalent on both.

Mononoke was just too…Japanese, I dunno. I hated the English-speaking voice talent on the US release, haven’t seen any other.

Ponyo was the same though I enjoyed it more. It was certainly beautiful, but my perceived “weirdness” of several elements (Ponyo’s parents? A “love” story (granted it’s very innocent) between two very young children?) really took me out of the film.

I remember thinking as I left the theater that I would have been enchanted by the film…had I been five again. Then I wouldn’t have had such difficulty with strange (to me as an adult) elements, I just would have accepted them.

I can certainly appreciate why people love the work. It just hasn’t clicked for me. Is there a film in his canon that I should try, given I didn’t care too much for Monoke or Ponyo?