A series of three short excerpts about Hayao Miyazaki talking about how his heroines work.
From Young Magazine, February 20, 1984:
“Why is Nausicaa a female?”
Question: Nausicaa, the protagonist, is a female. Is there any particular reason for that?
Miyazaki: Well, men are not in good shape these days. When a man is shooting a handgun, it’s just like he is shooting because that’s his job, and he has no other choice. It’s no good. When a girl is shooting a handgun, it’s really something. When I saw a movie Gloria, I really felt so, well, it’s not a girl, but a middle-aged woman — She shoots a handgun as if she is throwing dishes. It’s really exhilarating. The story of a man gaining independent always told though some events in which he defeats an opponent in a battle, or fights his way through a difficult situation. But in the case of woman, it’s to feel, to accept, or to cradle, something like that… Nausicaa is not a protagonist who defeats an opponent, but a protagonist who understands, or accepts. She doesn’t think about avenging her parent’s death. She is someone who lives in a different dimension. Such character is a woman rather than a man. If it’s a man, that’s too weird. I feel that men depend more on words. I felt that, for the issues concerning nature, women deal with them by feeling.
From Kikan Iichiko, October 20, 1994.
“Why are your protagonists always female?”
Question: Why do you always choose a girl as your theme?
Miyazaki: I don’t logically plan it that way. When we compare a man in action and a girl in action, I feel girls are more gallant. If a boy is walking with a long stride, I don’t think anything particular, but if a girl is walking gallantly, I feel “that’s cool.” Maybe that’s because I’m a man, and women may think it’s cool when they see a young man striding. At first, I thought “this is no longer the era of men. This is no longer the era of justification.” But after ten years, I grew tired of saying that. I just say “cause I like women.” That has more reality.
From Animage, vol 125, November, 1988.
Boys as leads versus girls as leads:
[An excerpt from a talk with Ryu Murakami, a Japanese novelist.]
Key to the dialog
Miya: Hayao Miyazaki
RyuM: Ryu Murakami
Miya: I gave up on making a happy ending in the true sense, a long time ago. I can go no further than the ending in which the lead character gets over one issue for the time being. Many things will happen after this, but this character will probably manage– I think that’s as far as I can go. From the standpoint of a movie maker, it would be easier if I could make a movie in which “everybody became happy because they defeated the evil villain.”
RyuM: Yes, that’s easier. -laughs- A lot of issues haven’t been solved, but something has ended for the time being, and probably a new thing will start. Still, this person will manage to go on somehow– those who make us feel like that are all girls, aren’t they? -laughs-
Miya: Yes. -laughs-
RyuM: And it’s a bit painful, since the depiction of girls in Miyazaki anime have such reality.
Miya: Yes. When I think about making a male a lead, it gets really intricate. The problem isn’t simple. I mean, if it’s a story like, “everything will be fine once we defeat him,” it’s better to have a male as a lead. But, if we try to make an adventure story with a male lead, we have no choice other than doing Indiana Jones. With a Nazi, or someone else who is a villain in anyone’s eyes.
RyuM: And set the time and situation around that.
Miya: We can’t do anything other than that. It’s easy to depict a boy who wants to do such a thing like, to be a hero in an adventure story, but can’t help but to live slovenly. He has more than enough energy, but he doesn’t know how or where to use it, or even if he uses such energy, he can find his way only after a long detour– I can make such a story. But people ask me “why do you always make a story about a girl?”…
RyuM: I myself get confused when I think, what if Nausicaa were a man. -laughs- In that scene in which Nausicaa was on the golden feelers of Ohmu, if she had been a man, it would be like “are you stupid!?” -big laughs- Well, Nausicaa is lovely, so…
Miya: Well, that’s… -big laughs- But while making animation, I always feel that we are making big lies. For example, could we depict an affirmative character with a so-so looking girl? What we are doing is a show in a sense, after all.
RyuM: But if they are lovely, that’s good enough, isn’t it? -laughs-
Miya: It’s difficult. They immediately become the subjects of play toys for Lolita Complex guys. In a sense, if we want to depict someone who is affirmative to us, we have no choice but to make them as lovely as possible. But now, there are too many people who shamelessly depict such heroine as if they just want such girls as pets, and things are escalating more and more. While we are talking about the human rights for women, why they can do this, I don’t want to analyze much, but…