Konnichiwa Minna-san!

This blog is a final project that I am completing for Critical Approaches to Literature at Trent University in Oshawa. Throughout this blog, I will be analyzing, interpreting and deconstructing Princess Mononoke (in japanese Mononoke-Hime). I will be using the theory of deconstruction to do this over the next several weeks. If I have fun with it, I may continue to analyze other works from Studio Ghibli that were created by the mastermind Hayao Miyazaki.

So what is deconstruction? The theory was first created by Jacques Derrida, though he has no idea it is now called deconstruction, to thing outside of structuralism or go beyond it. He focused on binaries which when stripping down sign systems reveal the truth (and I do not mean binary code); I mean black/white, dirty/clean, male/female, etc. From there, he attempted to reveal that “temporal flux and chaos are the common order of the world” (Humphreys, 1). This is the only the basic idea of Derrida’s theory but it is a starting point for us to work with.

So why deconstruction? I will not say because it is easy because it is not. Derrida is complicated and I am still just learning the theory myself but binaries are the one thing that is easy to see at first despite the fact I tend to see in shades of grey (and no not fifty) instead of black and white. We can see war versus peace, nature versus man; even when we do not want to. Temporal flux and chaos are normal in the world and I wanted to explore this just a bit further. I find it fascinating to think that the static truths and status quos are the anomalies in the world while chaos is the order of the world.

But why Miyazaki’s Princess Mononoke? I prefer to ask why not but that is kind of cheating. I grew up in the 1990s, that usually tips people off right there as to why I chose japanese animation, but I grew up watching Sailor Moon, Gundam Wing and many other shows that were japanese animation, otherwise known as anime. I have not stopped watching anime and continue to watch it when I need an escape from that pile of looming projects, essays and assignments awaiting to be done. I also attend anime conventions in Canada so most would call me an “otaku” but I rather do not like the connotations it has when used in Japan thus I refuse to referred as such. I still have not explained why, gomennasai. I choose Princess Mononoke after considering it against Spirited Away and Howl’s Moving Castle (if you have not seen these three movies, I highly recommend them). I could see the ability to use deconstruction throughout the movie while watching it and the despite Howl’s Moving Castle had the same, I am more familiar with Princess Mononoke. I first became acquinated with the movie when my sister (who is 10 years my senior) watched it for an environmental geography university class when she attended Queen’s. She has no love for animation but the film stuck with me (obviously). Either way, I love the film and it just made sense to look at it from deconstruction.

I do promise to keep the Japanese romanji words to a minimum but I did take Japanese in Grade 11 so I do have some working knowledge of the language (and nearly 15 years or so of watching anime in Japanese). I will at the end of each post provide a kind of dictionary if I have used any Japanese romanji words and give an explanation when possible.

Japanese to English Dictionary and Explanation

Konnichiwa means hello (if this was a phone I would say mushi-mushi when I answered, if it is evening we say konbanwa meaning good evening).

Minna-san needs to be broken down a little as it is two things. Minna is everyone or everybody in the context I have used it in. -san is a honourfic placed on names in Japan, it is a sign of respect and often shows relationships and status. -san is your basic or general prefix used between equals of any age but there is also -chan (used for endearment but often used for babies, young children, grandparents and teenage girls but can also be used for cute animals, lovers, close friends, any youthful woman or between friends), -bo (used for babies and young children but only for boys), -kun (used by persons of senior status in addressing or referring to those of junior status as well as addressing male children or teenagers and male friends but can be used for females as well as by females when they have known the male for a long time or have an emotional attachment to), -sama (is the more respectful version of san and is used mainly to refer to people much higher in rank than oneself, toward a customer and someone a person greatly admires), -senpai (used to refer to one’s senior colleagues in a school, a dojo, or sports team), -sensei (used to refer to or address teachers, doctors, politicians, lawyers and other authority figures as well is used to show respect to those who have achieved a certain level of mastery in an art form or some other skill), and -hakase (this is for my professor Dr. Sara’s benefit as this is the honourific she would be known as, as it addresses a person with very high academic expertise and translates as doctor but closer to professor).

Hime is princess.

Anime is japanese animation or “cartoons” (but do not call it a cartoon to an anime fan they usually take offence). Manga is

Otaku is in English meant to refer to an obsessive fan of anime/manga and/or Japanese culture generally, and Japanese video games. In Japan, it is slang for geek and relates to a fan of any particular theme, topic, hobby or any form of entertainment. I will also add there are negative connotations with the word otaku in Japan due to a few incidents of crime against otakus or due to otaku culture. This has also caused many who know about the negative connotations in English not to want to be referred to as such. Otakus is a similar label as trekkie, fanboy/girl, and brony (please do not ask about the last one as I will rant).

Gomennasai means I beg your pardon, excuse me; it is a kind of way to apologize or say sorry.

Ja ne is an informal way of saying see you.

Ja ne minna-san!


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