June is Miyazaki Month

I just watched the trailer for Howl’s Moving Castle, the latest epic from Studio Ghibli.

I am a fan of anime. Before Saturday morning was filled with butchered dubs, my friends and I were picking up classics like Akira and watching them for hours on end. We were lost in cyberpunk. Soon, I sought out other greats of the genre, like Ranma 1/2 and The Hakkenden.

Eventually, my passion for the medium waned. I went to college and the amount of funds available for spending on $25 videotapes went away. About that same time, I discovered the comics work of Neil Gaiman. I devoured his completed Sandman epic.

Then one day I read about him rewriting the screenplay for a film titled Mononoke Hime, or Princess Mononoke. I read about the effort he was putting into it and that Disney had signed a deal to dub and release the film domestically. I was excited, but the process was long, so it would take a while for everything to be done.

I was still in Mississippi when Princess Mononoke made its way into limited release. Needless to say, it didn’t run anywhere nearby. When it finally was released on dvd, I was in awe. I already knew what the medium of anime was capable of, but the epic nature of the story and the beauty in every frame left me in awe.

When the follow up film was released, based upon the critial success of Mononoke, Spirited Away was given a wider release. I was living in Albuquerque and I watched the first showing of it, the day it opened. Again, at the end of the film, I felt different. I had watched a film that had so much to say on so many levels. Like many Miyazaki films, there were no clearcut villains. There were just people (or entities) doing their best to do what they do. In the end, the film won that year’s Oscar for Best Animated Film, a honor that made me proud to be an American fan of film.

His works are things of such exquisitness. They transcend the screen and touch your soul.

Needless to say, I will be seeing Howl’s Moving Castle and I suggest every one else does, too.

Leaving Town

I wonder sometimes why I seem like the only one to have made it out.

When I say that, I am refering to Mississippi, the state where I was born and spent most of my life. There is nothing wrong with the state, physically. It has a lot of wide open space. There are all manner of things to see from an agricultural point of view. There are beaches on the coast. The river itself is a big feature. Outside of agriculture, Mississippi is the birthplace of the blues, rock and roll and country music. They have a museum up north dedicated to the blues. Depending on where you are in the state, you are in proximity of New Orleans and Memphis. Up near Memphis, down the river and on the coast, there are riverboat casinos. There is a land based casino on the Choctaw reservation near Philadelphia. As I understand, there is a man made beach located there.

For the most part, that is the totality of unique features of Mississippi. There aren’t a lot of job opportunities there. There aren’t a lot of things to do recreationally unless you like to hunt. There aren’t a lot of things to do culturally unless you like travelling shows. Well known musical acts don’t usually stop there unless they have a direct connection to the state. It used to be different, but when the world changed, so did the entertainment industry, and their idea of how best to make money.

Given how different my interests are compared to the average person from Mississippi, I realized I wanted out at an early age. As a teenager, I had no interest in boozing it up, so I did the only other thing I could think of…I saw movies…tons of movies. My life was changed forever because of that decision. Sewn were the seeds of a desire…a desire to work in Hollywood, initially in film, but as I learned more and discovered what my talents were, I began to dream of working in television, preferably editing shows. Not just throw away series, but legitimate, well-produced shows.

It’s been a few years, but I still have that dream. I knew there was no way it could be achieved in Mississippi. My dreams were bigger than the state from which I came.

The school I went to was much smaller than those most people attend. Out of the twenty of us, there were only a few with any firm goals. As far as I know, none of them have left the state, although some have done alright for themselves there. The people who stayed quite likely lead lives that feel much more fulfilled than mine. They probably have spouses and kids. They probably own homes. They are probably content on several levels.

I, on the other hand, haven’t been satisfied yet. I am still working towards my dream. I plod along deliberately. I don’t make personal connections with people. I don’t own many things of value. I don’t have things that hold me back from making whatever move is next as I flow through jobs trying to reach a career I will love.

It’s depressing to think about sometimes, but it’s me. I will never be satisfied. I will just keep leaving one town for another, looking for my break.