Strong Females Miyazaki

In most studio Ghibli films, the women are represented as one using the resources around themselves, and utilizing what they can to their advantage. The creator of these films, Hayao Miyazaki, created these women to represent that any woman is…

Strong Females Miyazaki



In most studio Ghibli films, the women are represented as one using the resources around themselves, and utilizing what they can to their advantage. The creator of these films, Hayao Miyazaki, created these women to represent that any woman is just as capable as their male counterparts. These women are not the type to lock themselves up and cry while they wait for someone to burst in and save them. They take action and get things done in their own manner.
The first one is Chihiro from Spirited Away, 2001. This young girl is drawn in a way to represent every average young girl. Animage, a Japanese comic book publisher had an interview with Miyazaki. During the interview they asked him about his award-winning film, Spirited Away. He starts off by saying, “I felt this country only offered such things as crushes and romance to 10-year-old girls, though, and looking at my young friends, I felt this was not what they held dear in their hearts, not what they wanted. And so I wondered if I could make a movie in which they could be heroines…” Chihiro, though timid and reliant on her parents in the beginning, quickly learns that she must find strength in herself. When she is told to find someone to give her work at the bath house, she focuses herself and immediately looks for the person who would aid her. She makes friends along the way, and gains others’ respect due to her personal charm. When she realizes that her friend, Haku the dragon, is being attacked by magical flying objects, she cheers him on to fly towards her direction. Immediately, she attempts to help him, despite him not being in his right mind at the moment. When he flies away, she chases after him, and scales the entire bath-house to reach the top where he landed. After leaving the bath-house to get Haku’s curse lifted, she follows along the train tracks by herself to make it to the train station. This scene is significant as this young girl is fully capable of handling heavy situations through her own strengths. This characteristic can be seen in another of Miyazaki’s films.
Sophie from Howl’s Moving Castle is another representation of Miyazaki’s strong women. Sophie is a woman in her twenties who works in her late father’s hat shop. Unlike her sisters, she does not dress extravagantly, nor does she wear any makeup. One day, she meets a man named Howl, a well-known womanizing wizard. Because of her encounter with this man, a witch madly in love with Howl, curses Sophie with the body of an old woman. Instead of giving up, Sophie continues to live her life. She immediately embarks on a journey to find a cure for her curse, and gets a job working as Howl’s cleaning maid. In return, she will find a way to lift her curse. Miyazaki uses the animation of Sophie to emphasize her as an average looking woman. She does everyday chores such as cooking and cleaning. One day, Howl is summoned to the castle. He begs Sophie to go in his place to play as his mother. Sophie agrees and encounters the witch who cursed her in the first place. Instead of confronting the witch, Sophie focuses on walking up the stairs instead. With Sophie being in an old woman’s body, she struggles more than she normally would. Eventually, she makes it to the top and even cheers on the struggling witch, who is also climbing up the stairs. Sophie ends up saving Howl by the end of the movie by finding his heart and returning it back to his body. Paulina Hevia, a filmmaker whoe writes for Medium Corporation, writes about Sophie, stating “This is a feminist love story, where we see Sophie learn to love herself and in the process watch Howl fall in love with the strength and courage of her character.”
Both of these films are animated to represent women of two different age groups. Chihiro is a young girl before her teens, while Sophie is in her early twenties. “Many of my movies have strong female leads- brave, self-sufficient girls that don’t think twice about fighting for what they believe with all their heart. They’ll need a friend, or a supporter, but never a savior. Any woman is just as capable of being a hero as any man.” Miyazaki is a well known feminist who questions himself before he continues on to another scene. “Every time I wrote or drew something concerning the character of Chihiro and her actions, I asked myself the question whether my friend’s daughter or her friends would be capable of doing it. That was my criteria for every scene in which I gave Chihiro another task or challenge.”
Although these two women differ in age, they face a similar task. Although their original goal is to save their parents or themselves, they end up saving their male counterparts. Haku, who was Chihiro’s first friend, gets his curse lifted after Chihiro strays off her original path to save her parents. Meanwhile, Howl, who eventually becomes Sophie’s love interest, is given back his heart before Sophie saves herself from the curse.

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