Japanese animated films and morality
After having recently watched the films: My Neighbor Totoro, Le voyage de Chihiro or Your Name I noticed that I was missing something in these three films. After thinking about it I concluded that it was a lack of morality, because in all the French (or American) animated films that I watched, there was one at the end, one very present ( I mean like in the "Fables de Lafontaine" for example or "My Father's Glory" or "The Lion King"). So I wonder what these stories are for, the graphics are very beautiful, the animated films are magnificent.
And you what do you think about that ?
Maybe Japanese could give me an explanation?
Maybe the difference in culture?
Thanks in advance for answering.
Jun 13, 2020 5:22 PM
Comments · 5
Personally, I don't think every story needs a moral meaning attached to it, just like any other forms of art. Besides, the definition of morality depends on different cultures and history. For example, the book Lolita had huge controversy when it first published, or it still does, but it did not stop people thinking it as a masterpiece. So I guess only time can tell.
June 13, 2020
I feel that animation of Ghibli or Japanese anime always add something that people believe in the story. In my opinions it because of asian culture & religion influenced to those stories. Those stories try to add some story tale to teach children who watch it.

June 13, 2020
My quickest answer is that many Western stories are based on a Judeo-Christian worldview, where there is a binary between good and evil, or a cause-and-effect understanding of morality.

June 13, 2020
I'm only occasionally interested in animation, so I can only really compare the biggest international studios: Disney and Pixar for the West, Ghibli for the East.

I don't think morality is absent from Ghibli films, but it is more nuanced than in Disney or Pixar. Whenever there is a struggle, it isn't simply good vs evil. Even the cruel witch Yubaba isn't just evil for evil's sake. It seems to me that she's protecting the interests of a large business, and we never really get the whole story of what's going on; there's a strong hint that a great deal more is going on behind the scenes. We only see what Chihiro sees, and it's natural that she doesn't see the whole story. She just goes about her own quest one step at a time, while other things are happening around her that she doesn't understand, which is really all any of us can do.

When I finish watching a Ghibli film, I feel like many questions have been raised and few definitive answers have been given. By contrast, Disney films tend to give very obvious answers, but sometimes they aren't answers that I'm comfortable with.

For instance, I'm not persuaded that Mufasa's (and therefore Simba's) regime is any better than Scar's. Yes, Mufasa's system is more sustainable, but it's still exploitative and murderous for its subjects, the zebra and the gazelle. It's a sustained massacre, as opposed to an outright genocide; is it really obvious that one is worse than the other? The film doesn't even try to hide this dilemma, rather it treats it as a trivial joke because it undermines the 'good (sustainable) side'. We're supposed to celebrate the return of the status quo at the end, without any reservations at all, even though the 'prey' animals (like Pumbaa and Timon) will continue to be hunted. If it were a Ghibli film, the moral ambivalence in the story would be more visible, and the audience would have to make up their own mind.
June 13, 2020
Thank you Kai, Shen, JiaJia, and MRT for your explanations. I understand that asian culture is different and probably more nuanced that european, that I didn't know (by now) a lot of things of asian culture, and that morality is not essential at the end of a story (but it's help me to understand).
I am able to appreciate the beauty of the graphics immediately, but I am unable to understand all the stories...
I will continue to watch these films and learn Japanese and I am sure that step by step I will be able to understand...

June 14, 2020
Language Skills
English, French, Japanese, Russian
Learning Language
English, Japanese, Russian