About English 421HM: Hayao Miyazaki

Utopian, or dystopian? From Laputa: Castle in the Sky (天空の城ラピュタ, 1986)

In our class, we study Miyazaki’s work in manga and cinema with a focus on apocalyptic storytelling, ecocriticism, climate fiction, and the Anthropocene.


English 421HM is a class at CSU Northridge, specifically a section of Selected Topics in Popular Culture. It is part of the Popular Culture Studies minor offered by the CSUN Department of English. This course, first offered in Spring 2020, is being offered again this semester, Spring 2022, to coincide with the Hayao Miyazaki exhibition at the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures (September 2021 – June 2022). Our class, taught by Prof. Charles Hatfield, includes twenty-eight participants, and runs from January to May 2022.


(From our syllabus:) Between utopian visions of nature and nightmarish dystopian visions of environmental collapse lies the work of Hayao Miyazaki, the renowned Japanese animator, filmmaker, and manga creator. This course will examine narratives by Miyazaki that focus on ecological themes, including the manga Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, the TV series Future Boy Conan, and his animated features, particularly Nausicaä, Laputa: Castle in the Sky, My Neighbor Totoro, Princess Mononoke, Spirited Away, and Ponyo. Together we will analyze Miyazaki’s work thematically and aesthetically, consider animation as a medium for fantasy and social critique, and, above all, interpret Miyazaki as an artist of the Anthropocene—that is, our current epoch, a time when the planetary ecosystem has been significantly reshaped, and threatened, by human activity. That is, we will read Miyazaki as an author of climate fiction, apocalyptic fiction, and eco-fantasy, as well as one of the most influential storytellers of our time.

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