A lot of kids probably grew up being discouraged at least once by an authority figure from watching cartoon series and animation films. The usual claims would be: 1) they’re not real, 2) they don’t have brains, and 3) they’re a total waste of precious time best used for more worthwhile endeavors.
Growing up in a household of adults, I’ve had my fair share of those well-meant reminders. They didn’t work though since I grew up like other kids I know who enjoyed animes and cartoons of our time. Truth be told, most of the timeless stories that got stuck in my mind were of the “unreal, brainless” sort. The best things learned during those impressionable years were actually from the seemingly simple plots of animations created with so much heart and soul.
Last weekend, I had a chance to enjoy some of the greatest works I’ve seen in a long while. I ended up watching the following animation films of renowned animator, anime director, screenwriter, manga artist, etc. Hayao Miyazaki:
- Howl’s Moving Castle
- Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind
- Kiki’s Delivery Service
- Laputa: Castle in the Sky
I didn’t know who Hayao Miyazaki was. I first heard about him from a graphic designer/illustrator friend who’s a huge fan. I recall her gushing about him because of her passion for animation, but the name didn’t ring any bell. It didn’t cross my mind that Spirited Away, one of the best animation films I’ve enjoyed in recent years, was one of his works. Only after watching my sister’s collection this weekend that I fully realized and appreciated the man’s genius.
Watching his films was like a creative journey. Different worlds unfold where curiosity, imagination, possibilities, heart-tugging lessons, and glimpses of alternate realities converge. It inspires awareness of how great minds who create continue to change the world. What’s imagined can be made real. Stories told sometimes end up empowering the mind to think beyond the now and perhaps imagine a world of their own.
Japanese animation and many Walt Disney or Pixar films may not have corporeal actors but they are never less real. Essentially, there’s really no truth to what those elders said about the dangers of spending free time on animations. Ignoring those well-meaning reminders probably were one of the best things learned by kids growing up. It provided invaluable lesson on discernment on which rules need to be followed and which ones to break.
Life’s a journey of choices. Sometimes, other people would try to limit those personal choices. Choosing well is about exploring different perspectives and ideas even if they come in what others view as silly packages. Choose well and rewards in the guise of discovering geniuses and their works may just come. More often than not, inspirations are found in unexpected places. The most creative places.