As the radish spirit of time presses the up button on the cosmic elevator, and the yawning Totoro of eternity rolls over into a new decade, I realise it’s time to say goodbye to 2019.
2019 was the busiest year for the Moon Rabbit project yet. I’ve published an entire series of Studio Ghibli video talks, and started a podcast with deep conversations about film storytelling and its effects on the human psyche.
At the end of the year I like to pop into my analytics and see which posts actually resonated the most with readers, and this year I used that to compile a top ten list.
Moon Rabbit 2019 Top 10
- Studio Ghibli Secrets – this 30-page guide keeps drawing in the most people to this site so no wonder it has the top one spot year-on-year. I’ve received a lot of great feedback on it, too, so I’m thinking of doing a revamp next year.
- The Many Layers of Princess Mononoke – the talk where I analyse the Shinto folklore and mediaeval and recent Japanese history behind one of Miyazaki’s most well-known masterpieces (incidentally, of the talks I gave recently, this was also my favourite)
- Spirited Away is really about growing up in modern Japan – in a year where someone seems to post that horrible ‘fan theory’ about Spirited Away into a Ghibli group every single week, I’m glad I was invited to do a talk on what the film is actually about, including the analogy of the mystical bathhouse and the Japanese social concept of ‘honne’ and ‘tatemae’
- Howl’s Moving Castle: A film about people who don’t want to be adults – I love how Miyazaki subverts his own coming-of-age stories in this film, so this talk is about just how that is done and how that features into the ending
- How Kiki’s Delivery Service grounded the Magical Girl genre – my talk about how Kiki’s story still feels fresh after 30 years, and how it’s a commentary on the Japanese mahoushoujo genre
- The personal mythology behind My Neighbour Totoro – I’ve seen Totoro a gazillion times and I know I will still find something new in there. In this talk, I tackle the traits Totoro shares with the ancient Japanese agricultural god Inari and how Miyazaki uses symbolism for one of his most subversive scenes
- The Secret Link Between Grave of the Fireflies and My Neighbour Totoro – It’s still little-known that Studio Ghibli’s saddest film and its most life-affirming film have a lot to do with each other. In this talk I do a rundown of what these connections are and why they’re important for the two films’ interpretations.
- If you wanna pop down to the underworld, today’s the day – my singular non-video, non-podcast post this year, which I wrote for Halloween after chatting underworld myths at a Mexican restaurant
- The Prophecy of Nausicaä – an in-depth analysis of Miyazaki’s 1984 epic, including environmental messages, Ohmu therapy and how Nausicaä is basically Greta Thunberg
- The ritual origins of cinema – the first episode of the Moon Rabbit podcast where we mainly talked Miyazaki’s symbolism but also ventured off into discussing cinema-going as a ritual as well as how the animated gif is humanity’s earliest form of art.
That’s it! I’ve got a lot of things planned for Moon Rabbit in 2020 so stay tuned for more videos and podcast episodes. 🙂