Having read and enjoyed "Starting Point," I eagerly looked forward to reading "Turning Point." The results were a bit more mixed compared to the last book. A great deal of insight is contained into the thinking and film making process behind Princess Mononoke and Spirited Away. Although a hundred pages are devoted to Howl's Moving Castle, there is very little content devoted to the actual film. At the end there is a bit devoted to Ponyo. It was very interesting and refreshing to read academic, intellectual discussions on subjects like the history of iron-towns and the forests (Princess Mononoke) or the philosophy of how to raise children (Spirited Away). The book is somewhat repetitive, and digresses at times into subjects that seem to have nothing to do with the films represented in the book. For example, at the end of the Spirited Away, there is a long chapter devoted to the history of an obscure Japanese village called Hienosoko. What this has to do with the themes of Spirited Away, I am not exactly sure. Chapters like this one bored me, quite frankly. Throughout the book, Miyazaki shares his thoughts on a wide range of subjects: the history of medieval Japan, child rearing, World War II, cinema, the nature of art, the environment, and the problem of Japan's low birth rate. He believes that children need to recapture their sense of curiosity, he espouses an old school return to nature approach and wants to make education less rigorous. Also parents need to back off and not expose their children to passive media or feel the need to take pictures all the time (Ghibli Museum). These are valid and interesting points. Sometimes he is totally off base though. For example: when Miyazaki talks about American movies. He slams American war movies, singling out Saving Private Ryan as being one of the worst because it promotes a "video game" aesthetic of film making. Dude. What are you talking about? It's more like the other way around, video games (Medal of Honor) and other movies (Black Hawk Down, Enemy at the Gates) felt the need to copy SPR's style. Is Spielberg to be blamed because he innovated some visual techniques that everyone else including makers of video games, felt the need to emulate? That's like people who complain that because he made Jaws, we had to watch crap films 20 years later like ID4. He also dismisses Apocalypse Now as an example of American Vietnam War "not understanding things" cinema, one of the funniest things I have ever read.
All in all, a great book for discussion on the themes of Mononoke and Spirited Away. Not so much on Howl's Moving Castle or Ponyo. The editors should have waited a few years, then they could have included The Wind Rises. That's only one movie though, so they can't devote an entire book to it. It would be called "Ending Point: 2014." What they should do is put out another edition of this book with an extra chapter, because I would really like to learn more about what he was thinking when he made The Wind Rises.