The films of Hayao Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli covered in this course are not only excellent examples of anime cinema, but they also demonstrate how their oeuvre has developed into a unique and complicated series of aesthetic principles that unite the films. For your final paper, elaborate on the significance of theme or topic within the films of Studio Ghibli, and make a clear argument related to why you believe the filmmakers utilize the theme/topic so repeatedly. Use sources read/watched in class, but also provide additional sources from your own research.
Possible topics for papers include but are not limited to:
Chronicle the journey of a particular type of character or characters and make an argument for their significance to the messaging of Hayao Miyazaki/Studio Ghibli.
Draw attention to line or lines said in the films and how it/they are relevant to your interpretation of the Hayao Miyazaki/Studio Ghibli oeuvre.
Explain how repetition (of concepts, images, shapes, colors, objects, cinematography, words, etc.) has a metaphoric/performative significance in a film or films.
Examine from a theoretical perspective the implications of certain thematic components of a film or films. Possible lenses to consider are feminist studies, queer studies, ethnic studies, disabilities studies, environmental studies, etc.
Research and do a deeper analysis of a film or films than was covered in lecture. You may even want to explore different films from the ones brought to your attention by the professor, i.e. other Hayao Miyazaki/Studio Ghibli films in their catalog but not focused on in lecture.
Elaborate on your own journey through your experiences with the films this quarter and the self-reflective homework assignments. Please be sure to make an argument, not just chronicle your beliefs; you can believe whatever you want, but you must contextualize it within the course materials with cited source references and introduce a novel perspective.
Be specific and go deep with your analysis! Clearly indicate what your argument is with a nuanced thesis. Your argument should address what your interpretation of the films is, focusing on several detailed examples from the films that speak to proving your point. Avoid too much plot and character summary (even with films not covered in the course) or merely providing a list of examples with no argument threading them together. Also, refrain from statements like “I think” or “in my opinion,” as they weaken an argument by stating the obvious (redundant).
The paper should be 5-7 pages long and written in MLA format. This includes your name, the instructor’s name, the course, and the date (in that order) double-spaced at the top left of the first page, and your name and the page number on the top right of each subsequent page. All references from an outside source must be parenthetically cited, with a Work Cited provided on a separate final page.
The paper will be graded on originality of thought, strength of argument, and execution. Form and content will not be considered separately. In other words, if the writing is vague or grammatically awkward, the themes of the paper are not being clearly expressed. You are encouraged to either schedule a meeting with the instructor and/or TA to go over your paper in advance of the deadline, ask a friend or colleague to edit your paper, and/or seek help from the campus’ many writing centers.
Turn the paper in through Turnitin via Canvas by the deadline. There are no late submissions.
Guidelines for Writing and Editing Papers
Could the first paragraph be dropped or is it necessary to the paper? (Avoid hype and wild generalizations.)
Is there a clearly stated thesis or question set up in the first paragraph? A paper should have one controlling focus, to which everything contributes. What expectations does the opening of the paper set up for the reader?
Does the rest of the paper fulfill those expectations set up at the beginning? (e.g. does it demonstrate the thesis, or answer the question?) Or does it seem to start in one direction and end up in another? (Hey! I thought this bus was going to Los Angeles, but we’re in Chula Vista!)
Are statements within the paper clear and supported with evidence from the text? Are there confusing phrases where you are not sure what the paper-writer meant? (This is much easier to catch in someone else’s writing than in your own. Get a friend to read your paper and tell you where you are unclear.)
What are the most important or interesting points? Are they presented persuasively? Could they be strengthened in some specific way? Can you think of counterevidence or other objections to the point being made, evidence or objections which the paper needs to address as part of its strategy of persuasion? (Tip: avoid assertions that include “every,” “all,” “none,” “never,” or “always.” Your reader will immediately think up one exception, which is all that is needed to undermine your claim.)
If you include quotations or a bit of plot summary, do you use this material to make a point? Do you comment on it? Or is it just filling up space? (Avoid too much plot summary; you can assume we’ve read the play.) Just as arguments need supporting evidence, so evidence needs to be made part of an argument.
Does the paper wander off from its stated topic into irrelevant material?
Does each paragraph have a clear focus, or does it include material that does not belong there? Could that material go better in another place, or should it be cut?
Is there a logical order or reasonable flow to the series of points made in the paper? (Could you make an outline of this paper?) Or does it jump disconnectedly from one topic to another, piling up a random bunch of ideas, to the reader’s confusion?
Does the conclusion fit the paper? A conclusion should sum up but without repeating what you said at the beginning. Answer: “So what?” What have you shown, or what insight have you gained, or what does this help us understand? Again: avoid hype and wild generalizations but do broaden out to address the significance or implications of what you have said.
Spelling, word usage, grammar, punctuation. Check the meanings of a word you are not sure about; wrong usage gives readers the wrong message. If you use another book or essay or website, make sure you cite your sources and use the correct forms. (Check any writing manual for footnote forms.) Proofread and correct careless errors.
Write as one normal person addressing another; avoid extra fancy or pedantic writing, as well as writing that is too slangy or “cute.” Also avoid a correct but awkward or dull style: e.g. repetition of a phrase or idea, or lots of sentences in a row with identical structure. It helps to read your paper aloud. If you can’t get through the sentence without a pause, there should probably be a comma where you took a breath. If something sounds clumsy or dull, make it sound better. Even silent readers are affected by what they “hear” mentally.