Arigatou Miyazaki Senpai (Pantheon of Authors)

(Yes, I realize he’s an artist. He’s still my senpai.)

I once had someone tell me that my pacing was “different.” Like, in a place where he expected there to be a climax, I would de-escalate. He mentioned later that he understood that better after he began watching anime.

Most of the time, the cast in my brain are in anime. I built a genetic system in my novel that results in a cast with colors everything from blue to green to purple. That’s not actually something I set out to do, but rather something I had to explain away several years after the fact.

I was about 10 the first time I saw a Hayao Miyazaki film. I saw the first half hour or so of Nausicaa. A couple years later, I saw Castle of Cagliostro and Princess Mononoke, not necessarily in that order. These movies predate even shows like Naruto, which I didn’t see until I was 14 or 15. Anime in general is so much prettier and more colorful than American cartoons, but Miyazaki films are so beautiful. They’re not something that can really be described without photos, so I’m just going to talk about three big ways I see him reflected in my writing.

I really love improbable flight. My current work in progress is about air pirates and floating cities. If there’s anything I love more than walled cities, it’s floating cities. It doesn’t really even matter whether they float because of sci-fi or fantasy reasons. I read them, I watch them, I write them. Miyazaki always has beautiful flight scenes, some more probable than others. I do too.

I have less control over this one, but I love how intensely Japanese his films are. Think Totoro and Spirited Away.  This probably shows up in my writing way more than I’m aware of. As mentioned above, it shows up in my pacing. It shows up in my world building. It shows up in my character design.

I probably also resemble him in my writing process itself, because I like to discovery write the first draft. I then go back and make an outline from the discovery draft and write an official rough draft.

There are probably other ways he’s influenced me too, but those are the main ones I can think of right now. If you haven’t seen any Studio Ghibli moves yet, watch them. All of them, one of them, any of them you can get your hands on. They are so well-made and just too beautiful to miss out on.

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