This book is not terribly informative and not well written. I loved all of the Miyazaki films I have seen and I have nothing against his fans, but this book did nothing to help me appreciate what goes in to making one of his films. The chapters are largely a summary of each film with character analysis. The sections entitled "Art and Technique" have NOTHING about art and technique in them. After reading the book I still don't know the process Miyazaki goes through, what animation techniques he uses or developes, who does the inking? What paints do they use? They used CG on Princess Mononoke, really? Which scenes? What software? Muliplane camera? Computers? Did Miyazaki do the CG himself? Does he do everything himself? The section on technique in Kiki's Delivery Service is really more character analysis, and the chapter on Mononoke is filled with even more plot summaries of the films already summarized in the previous chapters! Mcarthy uses broad generalizations to support her views. She has a few disparaging comments to make about "PC feminists" that she does not support. She criticizes western films but is not at all specific. Its just plain crap! This is a fanzine book and offers no real intelligent insight into how Miyazaki makes his films. It makes me think that just about anyone can get a book published these days!
"Hayao Miyazaki : Master of Japanese Animation" is an OK book, and stands out only in the "beggars can't be choosers" world of English books about Miyazaki. Helen McCarthy deserves praise for getting this book out in the first place, and it is certainly not terrible.
The book is full of justifiable praise for Miyazaki, and is clearly intended to be a fan book rather than a critical analysis of his films. Each film gets its own chapter, with a heavily detailed plot synopsis of each film (completely unnecessary to those who have actually seen the films) making up the bulk of the book. Lists of characters and character backgrounds are also included. There are several blatant factual/story errors in her interpretation, which makes me think a better editor might have been useful.
There is some attempt at critical analysis, and it is appreciated, but more depth would have been better. There is a touch of history about Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli, and a smap of detail about animation technology, but not enough to provide any real insight or background. I cannot say that I came away from this book with a deeper appreciation of his films.
As a fan book, it is strangely lacking in pictures and rare information. Photographs of interesting Ghibli products would have been appreciated, or rare character sketches or anything that cannot be gleaned from the films themselves. In many ways, that is its main failing. If you have the movies, there is no need for this book.