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Director Hayao Miyazaki ranks among the most interesting and original figures currently working in world animation. His charming children's films My Neighbor Totoro and Kiki's Delivery Service enjoy a rapidly growing audience in the U.S., and his brilliant Princess Mononoke, which broke box-office records in Japan, was released theatrically in the U.S. in November of 1999. Although storybook adaptations and a few Japanese volumes about individual films have appeared in the U.S., a major study of his work in English is long overdue. Miyazaki's many fans will enjoy Helen McCarthy's Hiyao Miyazaki and Mark Schilling's Princess Mononoke: The Art and Making of Japan's Most Popular Film of All Time, but neither is fully satisfactory.
Schilling's Mononoke is a translated and expanded version of The Art of Princess Mononoke, published in Japan in 1997. A respected journalist based in Tokyo, Schilling is a much more polished writer than McCarthy. His summary of Miyazaki's career is concise but informative. Scores of handsomely printed backgrounds, cel setups, and frame blowups trace the story of the film, but the reproductions of Miyazaki's own pencil-and-water color drawings are even more interesting. The layouts, landscapes, inspirational sketches, and early studies of the characters reveal the mind of a great artist at work.
Like McCarthy's Hiyao Miyazaki, Schilling's Princess Mononoke would have benefited from more careful proofreading; in a discussion of the use of computer animation techniques, for example, Schilling turns "morphing" into "morfing." --Charles Solomon
YA-A collection of background drawings, character sketches, cels, computer-generated images (CGI), and image boards from the film Princess Mononoke. The pictures, especially the backgrounds, are stunning in their attention to detail. The CGI are equally impressive because they blend flawlessly with the hand-drawn animation. There is a short and highly technical interview with Yoshinori Sugano, CG director, on the use of CG technology in the film. A 1995 speech by Toshio Suzuki, studio president, provides an insider's perspective on studio history. The text also includes a filmography, staff and cast credits, and several poems by Hayao Miyazaki, the film's director.The strength of the book, however, is in the many full-color pictures that trace the plot: Ashitaka, a young warrior, is cursed after killing a demon-god attacking his village. He journeys to the west to find a cure and stumbles into a battle between the gods of the forest and the ironworkers of clan Tatara. A great choice where anime is popular.
Susan Salpini, Purcellville Library, VA
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.