Miyazaki's Hybrid Worlds and Their Riddle-Stories: Western Tropes and Kishōtenketsu

Authors

  • Francesca Arnavas Institute of Cultural Research Research group on Narrative, Culture, and Cognition University of Tartu
  • Mattia Bellini Institute of Cultural Research Research group on Narrative, Culture, and Cognition University of Tartu

Abstract

“Fairy tales begin with conflict because we all begin our lives with conflict,” famously states Jack Zipes. And yet, this statement does not always seem to apply to non-Western story structures. An example of this is the East Asian Kishōtenketsu, which implies a story development that does not necessarily revolve around conflicts, but that interprets potential clashes more as contrasts that can be somehow harmonized. In many of Hayao Miyazaki’s movies (e.g., My Neighbor Totoro, Spirited Away, The Secret World of Arietty), it is possible to detect, on the one hand, the widespread presence of Western fairy-tale tropes, and, on the other hand, a plot strongly influenced by the Kishōtenketsu model. This article argues that: 1.) The way in which Miyazaki’s stories represent conflictual situations is less dichotomous than in the Western tradition, and conflicts in his movies are depicted in the forms of open riddles, implying an interrogative attitude, a playful and flexible state of mind; and 2.) The employment of unusual narrative patterns in Miyazaki’s movies, mixing up together Eastern and Western frames of reference, gives rise to stories that puzzle the mind of spectators, working as complex narrative riddles.

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Published

2023-12-29

How to Cite

Arnavas, F., & Bellini, M. (2023). Miyazaki’s Hybrid Worlds and Their Riddle-Stories: Western Tropes and Kishōtenketsu. Narrative Works, 12. Retrieved from https://journals.lib.unb.ca/index.php/NW/article/view/33773