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Nature and the Smiths in Hayao Miyazaki's Princess Mononoke



Hayao Miyazaki is a keen observer of ecological problems. What he bears in mind and tries desperately to deliver, through his animated films, is a simple but critical message: to survive by coexisting with other beings. Following the steps of Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, an earlier work that depicts a way to survive nuclear bombing, Miyazaki's animated film Princess Mononoke deeply conveys the human aspiration to survive. However, the film ends with a seemingly harmonious but uncanny equilibrium, a kind of a draw between nature and the human. We are in the dark regarding what will happen next. Princess Mononoke leads the audience to ponder the future: when ecological crises have become daily fare and when the uncanny balance between nature and the human has reached a critical turning point, how can humanity survive? This question leads us to Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari's concepts of ecophilosophy and the smiths (metallurgists). The dilemma faced by the smiths in Tatara town epitomizes what human beings encounter in their daily lives. On the one hand, humans subordinate themselves to the state apparatus, whether politically, economically, or culturally, and have a tense relationship with it; on the other hand, they exploit nature regardless of the consequences such as the incessant ecological catastrophes (global warming, depletion of ozone layer, and many others). Princess Mononoke, though criticizing humanity, still portrays a sustainable coexistence of nature and mankind, showing how nature and humans are already entwined and how the smiths, though often forced by the empire to follow its orders, possess the ability to turn their arborescent space into a mediating holey space where real communication and affect can take shape. In a way, this Deleuzian route solves the conundrum of the conflict between nature and the human since the smiths function as the mediators that can unlock the fixed relationship between nature and humans.

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Parallel keywords

德勒茲 瓜塔里 宮崎駿 《魔法公主》 生態哲學 鐵匠 洞孔空間


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Akimoto, Daisuke. “Learning Peace and Coexistence with Nature Through Animated Films: Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind.” Ritsumeikan Journal of Asia-Pacific Studies, vol. 33, 2014, pp. 54-63.
Bonta, Mark, and John Protevi. Deleuze and Geophilosophy: A Guide and Glossary. Edinburgh UP, 2004.
Chisholm, Dianne. “Rhizome, Ecology, Geophilosophy.” Rhizomes: Cultural Studies in Emerging Knowledge, issue 15, 2007, www.rhizomes.net/issue15/chisholm.html.
Daniels-Lerberg, Tracey, and Matthew Lerberg. “To ‘See with Eyes Unclouded by Hate’: Princess Mononoke and the Quest for Environmental Balance.” Princess Mononoke: Understanding Studio Ghibli’s Monster Princess, edited by Rayna Denison, Bloomsbury, 2018, pp. 57-73.