Review of Hayao Miyazaki’s SHUNA’S JOURNEY

Shuna’s Journey by Hayao Miyazaki

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Am I slightly prejudiced as a die-hard fan of Miyazaki-san’s work? Yes, and I’ll freely admit it. I’ve loved his writing and artwork for as long as I can remember. And I think it only enhances how much I was swept up into this story. Because I could see influences and elements from later works appear; everything from the yakul to the desolate, wind-swept world, to the visit by an old stranger to the fire. It added nostalgia to the reading, another appreciative layer.

The story itself is every bit Miyazaki-san’s. It carries this heavy undertone of nature and humanity that you take in without realizing it as you absorb the beauty of the simple “folktale” style on the surface. You could read it a hundred times over and still find a different nuance each time. It’s beautiful storytelling at its best.

But he leaves the tale half-finished, which isn’t usual for him. There’s a hint of more to come, a promise of further adventure, but it’s left wanting. Instead of resolving the story with Shuna’s recovery and return home (or even electing not to have Shuna return), he explicitly states that further trouble remained. It’s incomplete and unfair to the readers, particularly as there’s no sequel. (I’m not a fan of “leave it to the imagination” endings)

It makes me wonder why he chose to leave things so incomplete.

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