Hayao Miyazaki and the Marnie Poster – does the old man have a point?

The news made the rounds last week that Hayao Miyazaki had issues, to put it mildly, with the promotional poster for Studio Ghibli’s latest offering: When Marnie Was There.

I’m still trying to wrap my head about what exactly his problem is with this particular movie poster. According to reports, Miyazaki says using pictures of a girl to get attention is “just plain outdated and cheesy.” Uhh, what? Just in case I was reading him wrong, I went back and looked at older Ghibli posters: Spirited Away, Princess Mononoke, Ponyo, Nausicaa, Arrietty. They all feature the main girl quite prominently on their covers. Perhaps not in as enticing a pose as Marnie, but prominently nevertheless.

So what exactly is Miyazaki protesting against? The very-slightly suggestive pose Marnie is striking? It’s a typical “cute girl being friendly” anime pose, but hardly as ‘come hither’ as some anime can get. Perhaps he wanted to see her standing straight up and stock still like girls in his other covers, but that doesn’t means a 15-degree tilt in posture is enough to ruin the whole idea.

Or is the problem her hair and eyes? Blonde and blue-haired foreigners in anime are often – not always, but often enough – portrayed as wild, lascivious, uncontrolled sexpots. Thus by virtue of her nationality, Marnie is already in the over-sexualized category, at least in Miyazaki’s eyes, meaning that any slight friendliness on her part can be mistaken as an overt come on. This is especially so because one of the earlier posters had “I love you” written on it. This isn’t his official opinion, by the way. I’m just trying to get into Miyazaki’s head on this issue.

Really, though, I think the truth behind the issue: money. Controversy sells. This is the first Ghibli movie to be released since Miyazaki retired (again), and maybe the studio felt they needed a little extra oomph behind their marketing. What better way to ride on the maestro’s coattails while ostensibly breaking with the past than by releasing critical – but not too critical – comments from the guru himself? I won’t go so far as to say they made up the comments for publicity’s sake, but they certainly promoted them enthusiastically enough.

When Marnie Was Here comes out in Japan in July 2014 and in the rest of the world not too long afterwards. I’m quite looking forward to it, though I still have to watch Arrietty and The Wind Rises first.

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One Response to “Hayao Miyazaki and the Marnie Poster – does the old man have a point?”

  1. Medya says:

    Oh wow. I had no idea there was a museum for that guy. Our farvoite cartoons at my house are: Spirited Away, Howl’s Moving Castle, Kiki’s Delivery Service, and The Cat Returns .you get the idea.

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