Review of “What Grown-ups Can Tell Children So That They Can Live in a Happy Time” (1998)


Miyazaki Hayao (interviewee), Kōyama Norio (interviewer).

Read in 2021.

Read in Turning Point.

In our youth, at a certain time we had to “start” something, so start on something of our own volition. We felt we were expected to start something, no matter what form it took. We chose a path for our future and started on it. This is why, when creating a story, I begin it with a certain form and depict the process of the journey. That is what I have always thought films were about.

Here, Miyazaki applies his non-starter description of himself, from “Recalling the Days of My Youth” (1998), to society at large; a risky move. He connects it to media saturation: The decline in reading, his own displeasure with hearing of children watching Ghibli movies 50 times, and mass consumption of (non-literary) media in general. The interviewer throws in even photo print clubs, popular at the time, but Miyazaki is well ahead of the game and adds mobile phones instead. There is a half-formed FOMO theory at the tail end of his opening statements, where he says that in his own childhood, each kid was good at something, like fishing or drawing comics, which—in the smaller social context of the time—was enough: “I was able to find a place for myself and develop a sense of my own self-worth.” He concludes:

I myself haven’t been able to find any enlightenment, as I live steeped in impatience and irritations. But unless I claw my way, nothing will start, and unless I engage with others, nothing will start. Kindhearted young people who loathe relating to others or being a bother to others are increasing in number. This preference by these youths is a weakness held in common with the somewhat sickly otaku types.

As usual in his extended post-Mononoke press junket, Miyazaki suggests reforming nursery schools, kindergartens and elementary schools, to take academic pressure off the kids. Like the purported problem, this solution is tenuous.

References here: Turning Point: 1997–2008 (2008/2014).

text non-fiction Japanese production