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Miyazaki

Page history last edited by Caroline Dougherty 11 years, 9 months ago

Hayao Miyazaki

 

 

 

Introduction

 

    Hayao Miyazaki is one of the most acclaimed animators of our time, extending across seas and genres in his influence.   Considered by many to be the Japanese Walt Disney (a comparison he actually dislikes), he has created movies and characters that have touched the hearts of generations.  His work has earned over 40 international awards, including the Oscar for Best Animated Film for Spirited Away and another nomination for Howl’s Moving Castle.

 

    Whenever people tell me they hate anime because they think it has no substance or artistic integrity, I ask them to watch Miyazaki.  Without fail, they are convinced to, if not like anime, at least respect it.  I feel he is the best representation of creative and innovative animation that connects to all audiences, all regions, all ages.  His themes are universal and accessible, addressing alienation, coming of age, and the importance of connecting with others.  Although his work is certainly different and at times strange, it is unique without performing purely for shock value.  He has something to say and says it in the most interesting way he can.  His heartfelt messages and meticulously crafted deliveries are things I find missing in most popular anime right now. 

    His work his everything I feel anime should be: beautifully made, creatively written with purpose, composed with obvious devotion to his art, and seeped in the perfect mix of fantasy and reality.

 

Biography

 

 

    He was born in Tokyo on January 5, 1941.  His family owned Miyazaki Airplanes and made rudders during WWII.  He would draw planes endlessly and developed a life-long obsession with flight (which is manifested in many of his movies, most obviously Porco Rosso).  In high school,  he was first introduced to animation with the movie  Hakujaden  and developed a passion for it.  Ironically, he attended Gakushuin University, graduating in 1963 in political science and economics. 

    But immediately after college, he began working for Toei Animation, where he would work  on some of the first and founding animated TV shows and movies, starting at first with Watchdog Bow Wow.  His artistic ability and point of view shot him through the ranks until he really made a name for himself in his directorial debut in The Castle of Cagliostro (1979), which was based on the hit TV series Lupin III.

    The following movies he would write and direct all became almost instant hits.  Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (Kaze no Tani no Naushika, 1984), Laputa: Castle in the Sky (1986), My Neighbor Totoro (Tonari no Totoro, 1988),  Kiki's Delivery Service (1989), and Porco Rosso (1992).

    His next movie, Princess Mononoke in 1997, was the best selling movie in Japan until the release of Titanic, won the Japanese Best Picture Oscar and gained him international success.  After a brief retirement, Miyazaki returned to give us Spirited Away (2001), debatably his masterpiece.  Spirited Away was an international sensation, playing in mainstream movie theatre around the globe.  It to this day is the best selling movie in Japan and won Best Animated Feature in the American Academy Awards, Best Picture in the Japanese Academy awards, as well as numerous other titles around the world.

     He retired once more after Spirited, but returned again to release the popular (but not quite as successful) Howl’s Moving Castle (2004), a movie based on Dianna Wynne Jones’ novel. 

 

 

Studio Ghibli and The Western World

 

 

 

    After the release and success of Nausicaa, Miyazaki teamed up with fellow animator Isao Takahata (who had worked with him on many projects before, including Lupin and created the highly acclaimed movie, Grave of Fireflies).  Together they founded the animation studio, Studio Ghibli.

    The studio is named after the Italian scouting planes in WWII because they wanted the studio to blow in a new wind into the Japanese animation industry.  The most important thing about the studio is its role in bringing quality animation to America by its connection with Disney Studios and Miramax.  Ghibli and Disney created a distribution agreement where Disney could release many Ghibli movies in America, allowing these to be shown in main stream theatres with high quality dubbing, as well as VHS/DVD releases. 

    However, Ghibli only agreed to this through a “No editing” clause, because of a disastrous re-dubbing and editing situation with Nausicaa years before.  When they wanted to cut parts of Mononoke to make it more marketable to the western audience, Ghibli sent the American studio a katana with a note saying “No Cuts.”   

     This is a studio producing relevent, powerful, and intelligent anime in a time where many people believe such a thing does not exist.

 

 

 

 

Common Themes in his Work

Young girl heroes

Alienation and transplatation

Conseravation and our relationship with the environment

Transformation

Human interaction with animals

The spirit world

Ambiguous villians

Love/friendship

 

 

 

Noted Works

             Lupin III: Part 1 Episodes 7, 8, 10, 11, 13-23, 1971 (with Isao Takahata)

             Future Boy Conan, 1978 anime series

             The Castle of Cagliostro (Lupin III), 1979 film

             Sherlock Hound, 1982 anime series

             Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, 1984 film

             Laputa: Castle in the Sky, 1986 film

             My Neighbor Totoro, 1988 film

             Kiki's Delivery Service, 1989 film

             Porco Rosso, 1992 film

             Princess Mononoke, 1997 film

             Spirited Away, 2001 film (winner, Academy Award for Best Animated Feature,

             Howl's Moving Castle, 2004 (nominee, Academy Award for Best Animated Feature, 2005)

 

 

Lupin:

 

Nausicaa:

 

 

Laputa:

 

 

Porco Rosso:

 

Howls Moving Castle:

 

 

 

Awards

 

 

Story Lines of Some Favorites

 

My Neighbor  Totoro—

    A young girl and her sister are living in the country while coping with their hospitalized mother’s sickness and possible death.  While trying to make friends and find happiness in their new home they meet a giant panda-esqe forest spirit that befriends them and gives them strength during their hard times.

 

 

Kiki’s Delivery Service—

    To become a full-fledged witch, Kiki must perform a coming of age tradition for witches by leaving home for one year to a witchless town and learning to provide for herself.  In her process of understanding her true powers and strengths as a witch, she makes friends and becomes loved by the town she comes to call home.

 

Princess Mononoke--

    This is set in a time where giant, noble animal Gods are fighting to protect their dying lands.  Ashitaka, prince of his tribe, is infected by the demonized spirit of a boar God while protecting his people.  Tradition states he must be exiled from the tribe, never to return.  Ashitaka decides to not let the demon spirit destroy him and find a way to calm the animal God’s anger.  To do this he must go to the Spirit of the Forest, the God of all animals.

 Along the way he discovers the Gods at war with an industrialized Iron milling society that wishes to mine the forest and destroy the trees.  He also meets San, the wolf princess, who is a young girl adopted by the wolf Gods as child.  As San and the animals battle this war with the humans, Ashitaka tries to find a way to bring peace and balance to both sides, and save the Forest Spirit in the process.  This is a powerful work that speaks of ecological issues we face today, as well as alienation and persecution. 

 

 

Spirited Away—

    Miyazaki’s most famous work, this is the story of Chihiro, a young girl who has just been uprooted from her home to move to the suburbs,  gets lost at an abandoned amusement park with her parents.  Eventually she stumbles upon a bathhouse for the spirits, and the owner (a menacing witch) who has turned her parents into pigs.  The only way to save herself and possibly her parents is to sell herself into slave labor for the Witch.  At the bathhouse he meets a mysterious boy named Haku who appears to be the right hand man of the owner, and he promises that he can help her save her family.  As she lives and works more at the bathhouse, she falls for Haku and eventually must save him from being killed by the witch, while trying to free both Haku and her family.  This is an incredibly creative and beautiful movie. 

 

 

 

 

Videos

 

Three scenes from My Neighbor Totoro

 

 

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A tribute to Miyazaki

 

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Various clips from his movies (with a nice song)

 

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I really hope this has inspired you to at least rent one of his movies if you haven't seen his work before.  If you dislike anime, I promise Miyazaki can change your mind. 

 

More information:

Nausicaa.net

A comprehensive Miyazaki data base

Ghibliworld.com

A database for all Studio Ghibli works


See also: Anime 

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