Globalized soundscapes for girls’ journeys of empowerment: A musical comparison of Kiki’s Delivery Service and Spirited Away



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With the development of globalization, anime films have become a global force. Hayao Miyazaki's animated films in particular are very well received around the world, one of the reasons for this being the soundtracks composed by Joe Hisaishi. The soundtrack can heighten the emotion of the plot, color the location of the film, and foreshadow coming scenes, and well as help to delineate characters. Elements of Hisaishi’s soundtracks have been analyzed and categorized in relation to Miyazaki’s films by scholars such as Kyoko Koizumi and Kunio Hara, however, the discussion of globalization in his work has been lacking. Hisaishi's musical background incorporates elements of Western classical music, and he narratively incorporates global sounds into his musical world-building. Gender relationships, especially the depiction of girls in Japanese animation, is another important topic that influences not only the narrative but also the soundtrack. Considering both globalization and gender representation, this study considers Kiki’s Delivery Service (1989) and Spirited Away (2001) as two films within Studio Ghibli’s offerings, twenty years apart, that address both areas. In the soundtrack of Spirited Away, he uses taiko drums and Okinawan scale patterns to create a Japanese feel. In Kiki's Delivery Service, Hisaishi used accordion and mandolin to create a continental European musical atmosphere. Both orchestration choices are not only transcultural but also have semiotic repercussions for the protagonists. In this paper, I use visual and aural synchronization analysis, as well as harmonic analysis, to help illustrate that globalization is an important factor in the films of Miyazaki.

Embargo status: Restricted until 06/2024. To request the author grant access, click on the PDF link to the left.



Hayao Miyazaki, Joe Hisaishi, Studio Ghibli, Kiki's Delivery Service, Spirited Away, Soundtrack, Gender, Transnationalism