Dream 569: River Genie

11.05.2015 § Leave a comment

It’s a classic Miyazaki movie, set in a sunny, timeless Japanese town. This one is on a river, and the narrator explains over aerial views drifting down the river that this summer there is a risk it will overflow. The story begins when a father gifts his daughter a genie. The daughter feels bad that the genie is separated from its family and friends, so her first wish is to go back to its home with it and meet all of them. I figure they probably deal with the flood somehow with her second wish, and throughout she learns more and more about the secret life of genies. In the end, something goes wrong, and the little girl’s last wish is to have never met the genie in the first place. So time is rewound and she’s placed right back at the day her dad gave her the genie. It’s unclear whether she retains the memories of her magical experience, not at all, or only partially as if waking from a dream. This time when she receives the genie it is fake, plastic, and multicolored pastel striped, and her imagination does not bring it to life, but she still adores it.

At some point there is voice over from a non-narrating character about how valued property is up on the nearby hills. This is over footage of real-life contemporary suburban riverside Japan, and no longer feels like the Miyazaki movie. It feels like it was shot with drones between ground and helicopter altitude.

Karin and I are now here in this real-life town that inspired Miyazaki to make this film. The banks of the river are blocked off, though, but we spy an opportunity to sneak in when one teacher assistant shouts “accident!” in Japanese. Karin understands so she shouts it back at the young woman working the entry booth, who responds “16 minutes!” in English, clearly indicating to us that it is a 16 minute run to the site of the accident. I shout “16 minutes, yes!” back at her. Once we’re through, we just start strolling along the water underneath the overhead highway.


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