Japanese animator Miyazaki opposes Charlie Hebdo

  • Gautaman Bhaskaran, Hindustan Times, Chennai
  • Updated: Feb 19, 2015 18:21 IST

The legendary Japanese animator, Hayao Miyazaki, has chosen to differ from just about the rest of the world by opposing the caricatures published in the French satirical magazine, Charlie Hebdo.

Miyazaki -- whose Studio Ghibli produced some masterly animated films like Spirited Away, Princess Mononoke and The Wind Rises thereby pushing this Japanese industry into international limelight -- feels that it was a mistake to make caricatures of others' cultures.

He told the Japanese media: "For me, I think it's a mistake to make caricatures of what different cultures worship. It's a good idea to stop doing that."

Last January, the office of Charlie Hebdo was ransacked by Muslim terrorists, who were livid that the journal had printed cartoons of Prophet Muhammad. Several cartoonists were killed in the onslaught.

Last week, an armed man attacked a meeting in Copenhagen that was discussing Charlie Hebdo.

Miyazaki added that satirists should focus on targets at home. "First and foremost, caricatures should be made of your own country's politicians; it just looks suspect to go after political leaders from other countries."

The helmer has always been outspoken. In 2003, he refused to attend the Academy Awards -- where Spirited Away won the Best Animation Picture Oscar -- because he was unhappy with America's Iraq war.

Miyazaki's 2013 The Wind Rises was clearly a political work which lambasted Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's move to amend the Constitution heralding a more hawkish foreign policy.

At the same time, liberals in Japan wondered why Miyazaki should have celebrated a World War II plane (Zero) engineer in The Wind Rises. After all, that man built killing machines.

The Wind Rises is a fictionalized biopic of engineer Jiro Horikosh.

In an interview with the Asahi Shimbum, Miyazaki had then said he had "very complex feelings" about the war. At one level, he felt that Japan had been foolishly arrogant. At another, he thought that the Japanese ought to be proud of Zero and the man who built it.

After so many decades, many Japanese still have mixed views about their country's role in the war. A debate between Japan's wartime imperialism and current democracy still rages in Japan, and continues to draw crowds.

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