SOAS University of London

Centre for Media and Film Studies

Mizu no sekai 「水の世界」. Symbolism of Water in the Cinema of Hayao Miyazaki

Dr Raúl Fortes
Dr Raúl Fortes (Universitat de València)

Date: 17 March 2018Time: 1:00 PM

Finishes: 17 March 2018Time: 2:30 PM

Venue: Birkbeck Room: Keyness Library at Gordon Square

Type of Event: Seminar

Chair: Dr Marcos Centeno (SOAS)

As its title indicates, this lecture will focus on the peculiar screening of water in the cinema of Japanese filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki, one of whose guiding themes is precisely the presence of nature, best represented by aquatic environments, which can serve as spatial and aesthetical frameworks, as narrative devices and carnivalesque components, and as symbolic elements closely related to the psychology of the characters, to Eastern and Western mythology, and/or to religion, especially Shinto and Buddhism, thus becoming an ideal vehicle for the transmission of universal truths. The explanation will be illustrated by examples taken from Miyazaki’s different works, with main references to the films Spirited Away [千と千尋の神隠し (Sen to Chihiro no kamikakushi), 2001] and Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea [崖の上のポニョ (Gakeno ue no Ponyo), 2008], which can probably be seen as the most handsome tribute to the exalted triumph of water ever shown in the history of the Seventh Art.


Raúl Fortes Guerrero holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Audiovisual Communication and a PhD in History of Art from the University of Valencia (Spain), where he has been teaching Japanese language and culture since 2008. He has also worked as a Japanese language interpreter for his home institution, the Japan Foundation and the Consulate of Japan in Barcelona (Spain). He stayed at Waseda University (Tokyo) four times, first as an exchange student on a scholarship by the AIEJ (Association of International Education, Japan) and then as a researcher on a scholarship by the Spanish Ministry of Education and Science. Dr. Fortes Guerrero’s research focuses mainly on traditional Japanese performing arts, their influence on Japanese cinema, and Japanese animation. His several lectures, as well as his academic articles, book chapters and books, written in English or Spanish, cover a wide range of issues, such as Japanese theatre (“Invisibility, Ghostliness, Unreality, and Emptiness: Avatars of the Body in Nô Theatre”), the influence of Japanese aesthetics on Western art, and anime, especially the oeuvre of Hayao Miyazaki [Guía para ver y analizar: “El viaje de Chihiro”. Hayao Miyazaki (2001)], which was Dr. Fortes Guerrero’s thesis topic.