Episode from the podcastNew Books Network

Kunio Hara, "Joe Hisaishi's Soundtrack for My Neighbor Totoro" (Bloomsbury Academic, 2020)

Released Thursday, 26th March 2020
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A beloved Japanese anime move released in 1988, My Neighbor Totoro tells the story of two sisters, Satsuki and Mei, as they deal with the separation from their mother who is in the hospital, and their adventures with the forest creatures they meet called the Totoro. In Joe Hisaishi's Soundtrack for My Neighbor Totoro Soundtrack (Bloomsbury Academic, 2020), Kunio Hara analyzes the film’s score and image song collection composed by Joe Hisaishi. The movie’s catchy theme song, along with the rest of the music, contribute to the film’s nostalgic exploration of children’s inner lives and the power of imagination to combat the very real traumas of childhood. Part of the 33 1/3 Japan Series, this short book explores the collaboration between Hisaishi and Miyazaki Hayao, the film’s creator and director. Hara considers his subject from a variety of perspectives, from a musical analysis of key sections of the score and image album to an investigation of the film’s importance as an icon of Japanese pop culture.
Kunio Hara is an Associate Professor of Music History in the School of Music at the University of South Carolina. His research centers on nostalgia, exoticism, and Orientalism in late Romantic opera and music in post-war Japan.
Kristen M. Turner, Ph.D. is a lecturer at North Carolina State University in the music department. Her work centers on American musical culture at the turn of the twentieth century and has been published in several journals and essay collections.

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