To celebrate the overseas release of The Boy and the Heron (aka How Do You Live?) RJL delves into the stories that inspire animator Hayao Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli, especially
- Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind
- Howl’s Moving Castle
- My Neighbor Totoro
We’ll end with a deep dive into Kiki’s Delivery Service—the Ghibli film and the novel by Eiko Kadano.
- Kiki’s Delivery Service by Eiko Kadono (translated by Emily Balistrieri)
- Baron: The Cat Returns (manga) by Aoi Hiiragi
- The Books of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin
- The Borrowers by Mary Norton
- Earwig and the Witch by Diana Wynne Jones
- Grave of the Fireflies by Akiyuki Nosaka (translated by James R. Abrams)
- Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones
- Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (manga) by Hayao Miyazai
- The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter and Other Fantastic Stories
- “The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter” is a well-known Japanese folktale available from many sources.
- When Marnie Was There by Joan G. Roninson
Sources of Ghibli Films Not Available in English:
- The Age of the Flying Boat (manga) by Hayao Miyazaki
- From Up on Poppy Hill (manga), written by Tetsurō Sayama and illustrated by Chizuru Takahashi
- Nono-chan (manga) by Hisaichi Ishii
- Ocean Waves by Saeko Himuro
- Only Yesterday (manga) by Hotaru Okamoto and Yuko Tone.
- Whisper of the Heart (manga) by Aoi Hiiragi
- The Wind Rises (manga) by Hayao Miyazaki
Inspirations for Ghibli Films (or Their Titles):
- Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
- Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery
- Heidi by Johanna Spryi
- The Hojiki by Kamo no Chomei
- How Do You Live? by Genzaburo Yoshino (translated by Bruno Navasky)
- The Little Mermaid by Hans Christian Andersen
- The Marvelous Village Veiled in Mist by Sachiko Kashiwaba (translated by Christopher Holmes)
- Night on the Milky Way Railroad by Kenji Miyazawa
- The Tempest by William Shakespeare
This episode also mentions:
- Anne’s Cradle: The Life and Works of Hanako Muraoka, Japanese Translator of Anne of Green Gables by Eri Muraoka (translated by Cathy Hirano)*
- Astroboy by Osamu Tezuka
- The Castle in the Air by Diana Wynne Jones
- The Chronicles of Crestomanci by Diana Wynne Jones
- The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas*
- Fractured Soul by Akira Mizybayashi (translated by Alison Anderson)*
- Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift
- The House of Many Ways by Diana Wynne Jones
- Journey to the West*
- Lupin III manga
- Miyazakiworld: A Life in Art by Susan Napier
- My Neighbor Totoro (novelization) by Tsugiko Kubo
- The Odyssey by Homer
- Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lingrid*
- Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome
- Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson
- Tom’s Midnight Garden by Philippa Pearce
*This books only appear in the bonus content available to Patreon supporters.
Find Out More
Yisala Alvarez Trentini breaks down the case: “Is (My Neighbor) Totoro the God of Death?” at Medium, 2016. Studio Ghibli has denied the claim. And personally, I think the fan theory is bunk.
Leah Schnelback explains why “Studio Ghibli’s Double Feature of Grave of the Fireflies and My Neighbor Totoro Was a Terrible Idea”—but also considers why it wasn’t at Tor.com, 2017. Take a special look at the section on “Are My Neighbor Totoro and Grave of the Fireflies in Conversation?”, which is excellent.
Penguin UK explains “How a Once-Banned Japanese Children’s Book Became a Classic—and the Next Studio Ghibli Film”, 2021. Although the title is no longer correct, the article is still informative.
Eiko Kadano’s official website. Japanese language.
Other RJL Episodes of Interest:
- Episode 10: Taisho Magazines and Akutagwa’s Vision of Hell. Though it doesn’t cover manga in depth, this episode looks at the kinds of magazines central to the story of manga publishing.
- Episode 12: Japanese Literature in WWII. Discusses the context of WWII censorship as well as the life and work of Akiyuki Nosaka, author of The Grave of the Fireflies.
- Episode 21: Sexlessness in Japanese Fiction. Addresses the kinds of sexism faced by Japanese women in the workplace, in the 1970s and today—relevant to the career of Miyazaki’s wife, Akemi Ota, as discussed in Patreon bonus content.
- Episodes 24: SF! Japanese Science Fiction. Opens with “The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter,” sometimes regarded as an early work of sci-fi.Episode 28: Japanese Children’s Literature. Discusses the kind of stories that inspire Hayao Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli as well as more about the plot of How Do You Live? This episode also explores the kinds of Taisho-era children’s magazines important to the development of modern manga.
Kadano Eiko and Emily Balistrieri. “The Magic of Translation: Interviewing Kiki’s Delivery Service Author Eiko Kadono and Translator Emily Balistrieri”. Interview by Elyse Martin at Tor.com, 2020. (free)
Miyazaki Hayao. Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, Deluxe Edition, vols. 1-2. Translated by Dana Lewis and Toren Smith, Viz, 2022.