Last week, David brought up some interesting points in his analysis of Mimi O Sumaseba. He goes into a fairly in-depth analysis of the movie, yet he somehow manages to finish by concluding that Mimi isn't nearly as good as many of the other anime that CJAS has to offer. From reading his article and seeing him write, "I'm not asking you, the Mimi-loving reader, to reject Mimi. Rather, let's all better appreciate the true gems which CJAS has to offer," it became immediately obvious that he completely missed the boat when he watched Mimi.
He mentioned that "Video Girl Ai is a strong work because of the excellence of Katsura's writing, an excellence I feel is lacking in Mimi O Sumaseba." I think that the writing in Mimi, considering that construction of the plot is by no means writing, is fairly good. Shizuku's character is well-written. We see her love of reading, her interest in translating and singing songs, the way she initially explores writing, and the distance that she, like all children at that age, places between herself and her parents. We also see how receptive of others (how much of a listener) she is when she visits the antique shop where she eventually meets Seiji. I also think that the way the writer used the cat to develop the story is fairly clever.
David then goes on to analyze various aspects of a certain anime, or any movie in particular, which make it compelling, resulting in a great work. Among the aspects he mentioned were animation artwork, soundtrack, and plot. While these things can indeed contribute to form a great work, he neglects to see just how these separate things interact with each other to create Mimi. He mentions that the art and music are there to flesh out the tale. This is not quite accurate with respect to Mimi. The art serves two critical functions. First, it helps to place the audience into the story so that they might absorb it more easily. This is why the creator chose a down-to-earth setting: the town of an average person who has an average family and who leads an average life. This function is critical; it is what brings the story to life. Without it the audience would have a hard time appreciating the spirit in the movie. Second, the artwork, along with the soundtrack, sets the mood of the story. The music doesn't simply "complement the mood," as he suggests. Rather, with the aid of the artwork, it helps to create the mood. These two elements working together, not specifically the plot, is what makes Mimi so great.
David believes that the plot is the only definitive characteristic that makes Mimi less great than Video Girl Ai, To-Y, and other CJAS offerings. In Mimi, however, the plot is relatively unimportant. I quote from The Japan Times, "...plot has never been the real point of Miyazaki's movies anyway." The plot is only present so that the spirit of the movie can be revealed.
Miyazaki made a magical story out of a basic plot. Mimi is not about a simple day in the life of Shizuku. It is about her dreams, and the story conveys a wonderfully spirited love of life and exploration of creativity. Mimi is the celebration of the creative spirit; its plot is not about a girl writing a story and falling in love with a boy.
Mimi's spirit of joy is very infectious, and that is why the CJAS audience enthusiastically gave Mimi the ovation it deserved.