Sunday, October 26, 2008

First Totoro's forest and now the battle over Ponyo's bay

by Chris MaGee

It's seems like every locations that Hayao Miyazaki uses for inspiration will in short order become a battleground between developers and conservationists. It's already happened with Sayama Forest, a tract of woodland outside of Tokyo that Miyazaki used for the inspiration for the woodland setting of his landmark 1988 animated feature "My Neighbour Totoro". Miyazaki set up the Totoro Forest Foundation in 1990 to help preserve the forest, a cause that Pixar story board artist Enrico Casarosa recently lent support to by organizing a charity auction in California to help raise money for the cause. Now it looks like the idyllic bayside locale that Miyazaki based his latest blockbuster "Ponyo on a Cliff by the Sea" on is in danger of disappearing as well.

The Mainichi Daily News is reporting that the local residents around the bay in Setonaikai National Park, Hiroshima Prefecture, where Miyazaki stayed while developing the story for "Ponyo" are trying to block the reclamation of the land by the prefectural government who obviously have dollar signs in their eyes when they see all this undeveloped real estate. Apparently the Japanese Minister of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, Kazuyoshi Kaneko, is now siding with the locals in their fight to preserve the bay and surrounding area.

All I have to say is good luck... and here's hoping that Miyazaki chooses a few hundred square miles of rain forest in the Amazon for inspiration for his next film. Lord knows that needs preserving too.

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