This summer, I watched Laputa: Castle in the Sky, a Ghibli movie that came out in 1986, making it one of the oldest anime I’ve ever seen (Nausicaa beats it by two years.) It felt a little old, too, not just in the animation style, but in some of the tropes that were used and the pace of the film. I enjoyed it, but it definitely wasn’t as smooth as some of Studio Ghibli’s other, slightly newer works.
A lot of Miyazaki’s films feature a longing for the past, for things to be as they once were, but this one felt less like it was about nostalgia and more like it was about learning from the mistakes of the past. As much as I find some works of art that came out of ideas of the past to be very fascinating, others I definitely see as lessons to be learned from. But even though older works may not all have the qualities that appeal to my slowly shortening attention span and fondness for conciseness, many of them still convey ideas that are worthwhile, even if it takes me time to see this.
I usually watch newer anime, as opposed to older–although by no means do I think all newer anime are wonderful and amazing, either. I also tend to read newer books than old, probably because of the certain ones that I must be exposed to because of their educational value. Right now I’m really struggling with a class on Modern Irish Literature. Although what we read may essentially be novels, it doesn’t feel like they’re really about the story, but rather about artistic or philosophical expression. I slog through them because it’s hard for me to care and I’m a bit disappointed.
When I’m disappointed with older anime, it’s usually for a slightly different reason: I had heard it was really really good, and it’s not quite as good as I was expecting. I’ve seen it so many times. There’s a sense that maybe I’m missing what it is that makes everyone love them. Like I’m failing to really connect with what the creators were trying to convey.
As much as I’m cynical about some of the classics, there’s no denying that there are still people who like them, even all these years later. Under that dusty philosophy or older art styles, we still connect to the ideas of the people of the past, even when it seems like they’re very, very far away. But even though these people feel like they’re long gone, the past, present, and future are connected by ideas that remain timeless, by things that reach through the gaps.
Sometimes I feel like God is very far away. No one is older than he is. Yet through all the years of my life, I can still hear his voice reaching my heart.
Featured illustration by しーた(おとしもの) (reprinted w/permission)