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behavior include the shocking scene inNausicaäin which the protag-onist kills with a sword the men who murdered her father, theconfrontation between Sheeta and the evil Muska inLaputain whichSheeta steadfastly refuses to give him her magic stone, the openingscene ofKiki’s Delivery Servicewhen the 13-year-old Kiki leaves homewavering on her broomstick to begin a new life alone in a strange city,and virtually all the actions ofPrincess Mononoke’s female protagonist,San, whose decidedly “unfeminine” behavior consists of attacking andattempting to destroy as many members of the human race as possible.The distinctiveness of these characterizations cannot be overem-phasized. While many anime heroines such as Cutey Honey or the“knights” inBubblegum Crisisare clearly constructed as “actionheroes” (albeit extremely sexy action heroes), they are usually adultwomen, and their actions tend to be essentially one note, consisting ofvarious forms of violent retribution toward evildoers. Furthermore,these more typical heroines tend to be part of a larger group (crimefighters, space patrollers, etc.), while Miyazaki’s heroines are normallyon their own. The opening scenes ofNausicaä, Laputa,andKiki’sDelivery Serviceall show the heroine alone and literally in flight. Eventhe two very young girls inMy Neighbor Totoroexplore their suppos-edly haunted house by themselves. Traditional to mythic and fairy taleconventions, the girls are often orphaned (San, Sheeta), or with absentmothers (Nausicaä, Mei, Satsuki), or without parental support (Kiki),but their active independence is unusual for most fairy tales, particu-larly in Japan, where active protagonists are almost exclusively male.Playing on traditional conventions with a contemporary twist,Miyazaki is clearly not only attempting to break down the conven-tional image of femininity but also to break down the viewer’sconventional notion of the world in general. He is forcing us tobecome estranged from what we take for granted and to open up to
126✱A N I M EF R O MA K I R AT OP R I N C E S SM O N O N O K Enew possibilities of what the world could be. By highlighting hisfemale characters and making them steadfast, empowered, and inde-pendent, Miyazaki throws these attributes into sharp relief, forcing theviewer to be aware of these qualities at a level of perception that a moreconventional male protagonist would be unlikely to stimulate. It is notsurprising that virtually all hisshojocharacters are strongly associatedwith flight because it is in images of flying that the possibilities ofescape (from the past, from tradition) are most clearly realized.This chapter examines Miyazaki’s use of theshojoin three of hismajor films:My Neighbor Totoro(Tonari no Totoro,1988),Kiki’s DeliveryService(Majo no takkyubin,1989), andNausicaä(Kaze no tani noNausicaä,1984),both in the context of theshojoimage and in terms ofthe films’ relation to the alternate realities they illuminate.In contrast to