By now we should have heard of the controversy Miyazaki Hayao-sensei has had to face since the film was announced, and the publication of four of his articles openly criticizing the Japanese government for its attempts to revise Article 9 in its Constitution (not using war as a means to settle international disputes), revive its military efforts, and feign ignorance of its wartime history (these articles in Japanese are still available online until August 20. I.e. next Tuesday).
Based on the trailer alone, the plot is certainly a departure from the ones I’m personally used to (『もののけ姫』 Princess Mononoke、『魔女の宅急便』 Kiki’s Delivery Service、and『千と千尋の神隠し』 Spirited Away). While it’s not as harsh as Graveyard of the Fireflies, there must be a very good reason why Miyazaki-sensei decided to approach the film in such a manner.
And why wouldn’t people be upset? This movie oozes with anti-war propaganda, although it starts harmlessly with a little boy’s dream to fly. He grows up, boldly and passionately pursuing this dream, serendipitously meets the girl of his dreams (which later ended quite terribly), and ends up completing what would become Japan’s infamous Zero Fighter planes that took down Pearl Harbor.
Reality bites, doesn’t it.
While there no indications of its release here in Singapore, as uncomfortable as it is to watch the movie, I have no doubt that it is important enough to give it the attention it deserves. No one should be unfamiliar with Miyazaki-sensei’s flawless work and magical storytelling. But here we have the opportunity of seeing the world through his eyes more directly than ever before: everyone has started with an uncomplicated, simple dream and a desire in their hearts to pursue it, and there is no lack of good, honest people regardless of race or nationality; but we need to learn from the mistakes of the past, and why it’s worth instilling in every child the will to live and rise to the occasion even when the going gets tough.
So until then, Planes, Turbo and The Smurfs 2 will have to be missed – with no regrets. This is a film worth waiting for.