Hayao Miyazaki

Hayao Miyazaki

Miyazaki at the 2008 Venice Film Festival
Native name 宮崎 駿
Born (1941-01-05) January 5, 1941
Bunkyō, Tokyo, Japan
Nationality Japanese
Years active 1964–present
Spouse(s) Akemi Ōta (m. 1965)

Hayao Miyazaki (宮崎 駿 Miyazaki Hayao, born January 5, 1941[1]) is a Japanese film director, producer, screenwriter, animator, author, and manga artist. Through a career that has spanned five decades, Miyazaki has attained international acclaim as a masterful storyteller and as a maker of anime feature films and, along with Isao Takahata, co-founded Studio Ghibli, a film and animation studio.

Born in Bunkyō, Tokyo, Miyazaki began his animation career in 1963, when he joined Toei Animation. From there, Miyazaki worked as an in-between artist for Gulliver's Travels Beyond the Moon, where he pitched ideas that eventually became the movie's ending. He continued to work in various roles in the animation industry until he directed his first feature film, Lupin III: The Castle of Cagliostro, released in 1979. After the success of his next film, Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (1984), he co-founded Studio Ghibli, where he continued to produce many feature films. While Miyazaki's films have long enjoyed both commercial and critical success in Japan, he remained largely unknown to the West until Miramax Films released Princess Mononoke (1997). Princess Mononoke was briefly the highest-grossing film in Japan until it was eclipsed by another 1997 film, Titanic, and it became the first animated film to win Picture of the Year at the Japanese Academy Awards. Miyazaki's next film, Spirited Away (2001), won Picture of the Year at the Japanese Academy Awards, and was the first anime film to win an American Academy Award.

Miyazaki's films often contain recurrent themes, like humanity's relationship with nature and technology, and the difficulty of maintaining a pacifist ethic. His films's protagonists are often strong girls or young women.[2] While two of his films, The Castle of Cagliostro and Castle in the Sky, involve traditional villains, his other films like Nausicaä and Princess Mononoke present morally ambiguous antagonists with redeeming qualities. He co-wrote films The Secret World of Arrietty, released in July 2010 in Japan and February 2012 in the United States; and From Up on Poppy Hill released in July 2011 in Japan and March 2013 in the United States. Miyazaki's newest film The Wind Rises was released on July 20, 2013 and screened internationally in February 2014.[3] The film would go on to earn him his third American Academy Award nomination and first Golden Globe Award nomination. Miyazaki announced on September 1, 2013 that The Wind Rises would be his final feature-length movie.[4][5] In November 2014, Miyazaki was awarded an Honorary Academy Award[6] for his impact on animation and cinema. He is the second Japanese filmmaker to win this award, after Akira Kurosawa in 1990.[7] In 2002, American film critic Roger Ebert suggested that Miyazaki may be the best animation filmmaker in history, praising the depth and artistry of his films.[8]

Early life

Miyazaki was born in the town of Akebono-cho in Bunkyō, Tokyo, the second of four sons born to Katsuji Miyazaki.[1][9] His father was director of Miyazaki Airplane, which made rudders for A6M Zero fighter planes during World War II.[10] During the war, when Miyazaki was only three years old, the family evacuated to Utsunomiya and later to Kanuma in Tochigi Prefecture where the Miyazaki Airplane factory was located.[lower-alpha 1] Miyazaki has said of his early life that his family was affluent, and could live comfortably during the war because of his father and uncle's profitable work in the war industry, but he has also noted that as a 4-and-a-half year old, experiencing the night time firebombing raids on Utsunomiya in July 1945 left a lasting impression on him. During his May 22, 1988 lecture at the film festival in Nagoya he retold the account of his family's hasty retreat from the burning town, without providing a ride to other people in need of transportation, and he recalled how the fires had coloured the night sky as he looked back towards the city after they had fled to a safer distance.[11]

In 1947, Miyazaki began school at Utsunomiya City elementary, completing the first through third grades before his family moved back to Suginami-ku, where he completed the fourth grade at Omiya Elementary School. For fifth grade, he went to the new Eifuku Elementary School.[9] Miyazaki graduated from Eifuku and attended Omiya Junior High. During this time, Miyazaki's mother suffered from spinal tuberculosis and was bedridden from 1947 until 1955. She spent the first few years mostly in the hospital, but was eventually able to be nursed from home.[lower-alpha 2] Miyazaki aspired to become a manga author from an early age. He read the illustrated stories in boys' magazines and acknowledges the influences of creative artists of the medium, such as Tetsuji Fukushima (福島鉄次), Soji Yamakawa and Osamu Tezuka. It was as a result of Tezuka's influence that Miyazaki would later destroy much of his early work, believing it was "bad form" to copy Tezuka's style because it was hindering his own development as an artist.[lower-alpha 3]

After graduating from Omiya Junior High, Miyazaki attended Toyotama High School. During his third year, Miyazaki's interest in animation was sparked by The Tale of the White Serpent.[9] He "fell in love" with the movie's heroine and it left a strong impression on him. As Helen McCarthy put it; "He realized the folly of trying to succeed as manga writer by echoing what was fashionable, and decided to follow his true feelings in his work even if that might seem foolish."[lower-alpha 4] His interest really began by the time he began to attend high school. He was determined to become some type of artist. His interests were mainly in anime and manga when the two were beginning to arise at the time.[14] To become an animator, with an independent style, Miyazaki had to learn to draw the human figure.[1] After graduating from Toyotama, Miyazaki attended Gakushuin University and was a member of the university's "Children's Literature Research Club", the "closest thing to a comics club in those days". Miyazaki graduated from Gakushuin in 1963 with degrees in political science and economics.[1]

Animation career

Early career and Toei Animation

In April 1963, Miyazaki got a job at Toei Animation, working as an in-between artist on the theatrical feature anime Watchdog Bow Wow and the TV anime Wolf Boy Ken. He was a leader in a labor dispute soon after his arrival, becoming chief secretary of Toei's labor union in 1964.[lower-alpha 5] He first gained recognition while working as an in-between artist on the Toei production Gulliver's Travels Beyond the Moon in 1965. He found the original ending to the script unsatisfactory and pitched his own idea, which became the ending used in the finished film.

In 1968 Miyazaki played an important role as chief animator, concept artist, and scene designer on Hols: Prince of the Sun, a landmark animated film. Through the collaborative process adopted for the project he was able to contribute his ideas and work closely with his mentor, Animation Director Yasuo Ōtsuka, whose innovative approach to animation had a profound impact on Miyazaki's work. The film was directed by Isao Takahata, with whom he continued to collaborate for the remainder of his career. In Kimio Yabuki's Puss in Boots (1969), Miyazaki again provided key animation as well as designs, storyboards and story ideas for key scenes in the film, including the climactic chase scene. He also illustrated the manga, as a promotional Tie-in, for this production of Puss in Boots. Toei Animation produced two more sequels with the 'Puss in Boots' from this film, during the 1970s, and the character would ultimately become the studio's mascot, but Miyazaki wasn't involved with any of the sequels. Shortly thereafter, Miyazaki proposed scenes in the screenplay for Flying Phantom Ship, in which military tanks would roll into downtown Tokyo and cause mass hysteria, and was hired to storyboard and animate those scenes. In 1971, Miyazaki played a decisive role in developing structure, characters and designs for Hiroshi Ikeda's adaptation of Animal Treasure Island and the adaptation of Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves by Hiroshi Shidara. Miyazaki also helped in the storyboarding and key animating of pivotal scenes in both films and made a promotional manga for Animal Treasure Island.

Miyazaki left Toei for A Pro in August 1971, where he co-directed 14 episodes of the first Lupin III series with Isao Takahata. That year the two also began pre-production on a Pippi Longstocking series and drew extensive story boards for it. However, after traveling to Sweden to conduct research for the film and meet the original author, Astrid Lindgren, permission was refused to complete the project, and it was canceled as a result.[lower-alpha 6] In 1972 and 1973 Miyazaki conceived, wrote, designed and animated two Panda! Go, Panda! shorts which were directed by Takahata.

After their move to Zuiyo Eizo, in 1974, he worked as an animator on the World Masterpiece Theater with Takahata, which included their adaptation of the first part of Johanna Spyri's Heidi novel into the animated television series Heidi, Girl of the Alps. The company continued as Nippon Animation in 1975. Miyazaki also directed the television series Future Boy Conan (1978), an adaptation of the children's novel The Incredible Tide by Alexander Key. The main antagonist is the leader of the city-state of Industria who attempts to revive lost technology. The series also elaborates on the characters and events in the book, and is an early example of characterizations which recur throughout Miyazaki's later work: a girl who is in touch with nature, a warrior woman who appears menacing but is not an antagonist, and a boy who seems destined for the girl. The series also featured imaginative aircraft designs.

Breakthrough films and Spirited Away

Miyazaki left Nippon Animation in 1979 in the middle of the production of Anne of Green Gables and moved to the TMS Entertainment subsidiary Telecom Animation Film to direct his first feature anime film The Castle of Cagliostro (1979), a Lupin III adventure film. In 1981, a delegation of TMS animators, including Miyazaki, visited the Disney animation studio in the United States where they presented a clip from The Castle of Cagliostro. That clip deeply moved and strongly influenced a young Disney animator named John Lasseter, who would become one of Miyazaki's biggest fans, and after becoming a successful director at Pixar would use his own influence to expand awareness of Miyazaki's work among American audiences.[15] During the early 1980s, Miyazaki also directed six episodes of Sherlock Hound, an Italian-Japanese co-production between TMS Entertainment and the television station RAI, which retold Sherlock Holmes tales using anthropomorphic animals. These episodes were first broadcast on TV in 1984–85. In Japan a short film based on the first two episodes had a theatrical release in March 1994.

Miyazaki's next film, Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, released on March 11, 1984, is an adaption of his manga series of the same title. A science fiction adventure in which he introduces many of the recurring themes he would go on to explore throughout his career: a concern with ecology, human interaction with and impact on, the environment; a fascination with aircraft and flight; pacifism, including an anti-military streak; feminism; morally ambiguous characterizations, especially among villains; and love. Starring the voices of Sumi Shimamoto, Yōji Matsuda, Iemasa Kayumi, Gorō Naya and Yoshiko Sakakibara, this was the first film both written and directed by Miyazaki. The film and the manga have common roots in ideas Miyazaki mulled over in the early 1980s. Serialization of the manga began in the February 1982 issue of Tokuma Shoten's Animage magazine. The plot of the film corresponds roughly with the first 16 chapters of the manga. Miyazaki continued expanding the story over an additional decade after the release of the film. The successful cooperation on the creation of the manga and the film laid the foundation for other collaborative projects.[16][lower-alpha 7]

In April 1984 the Nibariki office was started, in part, to manage copyrights. In June 1985, Miyazaki, Takahata and Tokuma Shoten chairman Yasuyoshi Tokuma founded the animation production company Studio Ghibli with funding from Tokuma Shoten. His first film with Ghibli, Laputa: Castle in the Sky (1986) recounts the adventure of two orphans, voiced by Mayumi Tanaka and Keiko Yokozawa, as they seek a magical castle-island that floats in the sky; My Neighbor Totoro (Tonari no Totoro, 1988) tells of the adventure of two girls, voiced by Noriko Hidaka and Chika Sakamoto, and their interaction with forest spirits; and Kiki's Delivery Service (1989), adapted from the 1985 novel of the same name by Eiko Kadono, tells the story of a small-town girl voiced by Minami Takayama who leaves home to begin life as a witch in a big city. Miyazaki's fascination with flight is evident throughout these films, ranging from the ornithopters flown by pirates in Castle in the Sky, to the Totoro and the Cat Bus soaring through the air, and Kiki flying her broom.

In 1992, Miyazaki directed Porco Rosso, an adventure film set in the "Adriatic" during the 1920s. The film was a notable departure for Miyazaki, in that the main character was an adult man, an anti-fascist aviator transformed into an anthropomorphic pig. The film is about a titular bounty hunter, voiced by Shūichirō Moriyama, and an American soldier of fortune, voiced by Akio Ōtsuka. The film explores the tension between selfishness and duty. Porco Rosso was released on July 19, 1992. That August, Studio Ghibli set up its headquarters in Koganei, Tokyo.[17]

In 1995, Miyazaki began work on Princess Mononoke. Starring the voices of Yuriko Ishida, Yōji Matsuda, Akihiro Miwa and Yūko Tanaka, the story is about a struggle between the animal spirits inhabiting the forest and the humans exploiting the forest for industry, culminating in an uneasy co-existence and boundary transcending relationships between the main characters. In Mononoke he revisits the ecological and political themes and continues his cinematic exploration of the transience of existence he began in Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind. Both films have their roots in ideas and artwork he created in the late 1970s and early 1980s but Helen McCarthy notes that Miyazaki's vision has developed, "from the utopian visions of Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind to the mature and kindly humanism of Princess Mononoke".[lower-alpha 8] The film was released on July 19, 1997 and was both a financial and critical success; it won the Japan Academy Prize for Best Picture. Yvonne Tasker notes, "Princess Mononoke marked a turning point in Miyazaki's career not merely because it broke Japanese box office records, but also because it, arguably, marked the emergence (through a distribution deal with Disney) into the global animation markets". Miyazaki went into semi-retirement after directing Princess Mononoke. In working on the film, Miyazaki redrew 80,000 of the film's frames himself. He also stated at one point that Princess Mononoke would be his last film.[18] Tokuma Shoten merged with Studio Ghibli that June.[17]

During this period of semi-retirement, Miyazaki spent time with the daughters of a friend. One of these friends would become his inspiration for Miyazaki's next film which would also become his biggest commercial success to date, Spirited Away. The film stars the voices of Rumi Hiiragi, Mari Natsuki and Miyu Irino, and is the story of a girl, forced to survive in a bizarre spirit world, who works in a bathhouse for spirits after her parents are turned into pigs by the sorceress who owns it. The film was released on July 2001 and grossed ¥30.4 billion (approximately $300 million) at the box office. Critically acclaimed, the film was considered one of the best films of the 2000s.[19] It won a Japan Academy Prize, a Golden Bear award at the 2002 Berlin International Film Festival, and an Academy Award for Best Animated Feature. In his book Otaku, Hiroki Azuma observed: "Between 2001 and 2007, otaku forms and markets quite rapidly won social recognition in Japan", and cites Miyazaki's win at the Academy Awards for Spirited Away among his examples.[20]

21st century

In July 2004, Miyazaki completed production on Howl's Moving Castle, based on Diana Wynne Jones' 1986 fantasy novel of the same name. Miyazaki came out of retirement following the sudden departure of Mamoru Hosoda, the film's original director. The film premiered at the 2004 Venice International Film Festival and was later released on November 24, 2004, again to positive reviews. It won the Golden Osella award for animation technology, and received an Oscar nomination for Best Animated Feature.

In 2005, Miyazaki received a lifetime achievement award at the Venice Film Festival. On February 10, 2005, Studio Ghibli announced that it was ending its relationship with Tokuma Shoten. The studio moved its headquarters to Koganei, Tokyo, and acquired the copyrights of Miyazaki's works and business rights from Tokuma Shoten.[21][22]

In 2006, Miyazaki's son Gorō Miyazaki completed his first film, Tales from Earthsea, starring the voices of Jun'ichi Okada and Bunta Sugawara and based on several stories by Ursula K. Le Guin. Hayao Miyazaki had long aspired to make an anime of this work and had repeatedly asked for permission from the author, Ursula K. Le Guin. However, he had been refused every time. Instead, Miyazaki produced Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind and Shuna no Tabi (The Journey of Shuna) as substitutes (some of the ideas from Shuna no Tabi were diverted to this movie). When Le Guin finally requested that Miyazaki produce an anime adaptation of her work, he refused, because he had lost the desire to do so. Le Guin remembers this differently: "In August 2005, Mr. Toshio Suzuki of Studio Ghibli came with Mr. Hayao Miyazaki to talk with me and my son (who controls the trust which owns the Earthsea copyrights). We had a pleasant visit in my house. It was explained to us that Mr. Hayao wished to retire from filmmaking, and that the family and the studio wanted Mr. Hayao's son Gorō, who had never made a film at all, to make this one. We were very disappointed, and also anxious, but we were given the impression, indeed assured, that the project would be always subject to Mr. Hayao's approval. With this understanding, we made the agreement." Throughout the film's production, Gorō and his father were not speaking to each other, due to a dispute over whether or not Gorō was ready to direct.[23] It was originally to be produced by Miyazaki, but he declined as he was already in the middle of producing Howl's Moving Castle. Ghibli decided to make Gorō, who had yet to head any animated films, the producer instead. Tales from Earthsea was released on July 29, 2006, to mixed reviews.

In 2006, Nausicaa.net reported Hayao Miyazaki's plans to direct another film, rumored to be set in Kobe. Among areas Miyazaki's team visited during pre-production were an old café run by an elderly couple, and the view of a city from high in the mountains. The exact location of these places was censored from Studio Ghibli's production diaries. The studio also announced that Miyazaki had begun creating storyboards for the film and that they were being produced in watercolor because the film would have an "unusual visual style". Studio Ghibli said the production time would be about 20 months, with release slated for Summer 2008.

In 2007, the film's title was publicly announced as Gake no ue no Ponyo,[24] which was eventually retitled Ponyo for its international releases. The film stars the voices of Yuria Nara, Hiroki Doi, Tomoko Yamaguchi, Kazushige Nagashima, George Tokoro and Yūki Amami. Toshio Suzuki noted that "70 to 80% of the film takes place at sea. It will be a director's challenge on how they will express the sea and its waves with freehand drawing." Ponyo was released on July 19, 2008, to positive reviews and the film grossed $202 million worldwide.

Miyazaki later co-wrote the screenplay for Studio Ghibli's next film, The Secret World of Arrietty, based on Mary Norton's 1952 novel The Borrowers. The film was the directorial debut of Hiromasa Yonebayashi, a Ghibli animator. Starring the voices of Mirai Shida, Ryunosuke Kamiki, Tomokazu Miura, Keiko Takeshita, Shinobu Otake and Kirin Kiki, the film focuses on a small family known as the Borrowers who must avoid detection when discovered by humans. The film was released on July 17, 2010, again to positive reviews, and grossed $145 million worldwide. In 2011, Miyazaki co-wrote From Up on Poppy Hill, based on the 1980 manga of the same name written by Tetsurō Sayama and illustrated by Chizuru Takahashi. The film stars the voices of Masami Nagasawa, Junichi Okada, Shunsuke Kazama and Teruyuki Kagawa. Set in Yokohama, the film's story focuses on Umi Matsuzaki, a high school student who is forced to fend for herself when her sailor father goes missing from the seaside town. The film was released on July 16, 2011, once again to positive reviews.

On December 13, 2012, Studio Ghibli announced that Miyazaki worked on his next film, The Wind Rises, based on his manga of the same name, with plans to simultaneously release it with The Tale of the Princess Kaguya.[25] The film stars the voices of Hideaki Anno, Hidetoshi Nishijima, Masahiko Nishimura and Miori Takimoto. The Wind Rises tells the story of Jiro Horikoshi, designer of the Mitsubishi A6M Zero fighter aircraft which served in World War II. The film was released on July 20, 2013.

On September 1, 2013, numerous Japanese television networks, including NHK, reported on the announcement, at the Venice Film Festival, by Ghibli President Koji Hoshino, that Miyazaki was retiring from creating feature-length animated films. Miyazaki confirmed his retirement during a press conference, in Tokyo, on September 6, 2013.[5][26]

Despite Miyazaki's retirement, it was reported that he is developing a short film, Boro the Caterpillar, which will be screened exclusively at the Studio Ghibli Museum in Mitaka, Tokyo in 2018.[27]

On November 13, 2016, Miyazaki reported that he proposed a new feature length film that August. Miyazaki also remarked that he would continue working on short films for the Studio Ghibli Museum.[28]

Manga career

Miyazaki never abandoned his childhood dream of becoming a manga artist. His professional career in this medium begins in 1969 with the publication of his manga interpretation of Puss in Boots. Serialized in 12 chapters in the Sunday edition of Tokyo Shimbun, from January to March 1969. Printed in colour and created for promotional purposes in conjunction with his work on Yabuki's animated film.

That same year pseudonymous serialization started of Miyazaki's original manga People of the Desert. Created in the style of illustrated stories he read, in boys' magazines and Tankōbon volumes, while growing up, such as Soji Yamakawa's Shōnen ōja (少年王者 shōnen ōja) and in particular Tetsuji Fukushima's Evil Lord of the Desert (沙漠の魔王 Sabaku no maō). Miyazaki's Desert People is a continuation of that tradition and a precursor for his own creations Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind and The Journey of Shuna. In People of the Desert expository text is presented separately from the monochrome artwork with additional text balloons inside the panels for dialogue. 26 chapters were serialized in Boys and Girls Newspaper (少年少女新聞 Shōnen shōjo shinbun) between September 12, 1969 (Issue 28) and March 15, 1970 (issue 53). Published under the pseudonym Akitsu Saburō (秋津三朗). His manga interpretation of Animal Treasure Island, made in conjunction with Ikeda's animated film, was serialized in the Sunday edition of Tokyo Shimbun from January to March 1971. (13 chapters, in colour).[lower-alpha 9]

His major work in the manga format is Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, created intermittently from 1981 through 1994. In Japan it was first serialized in Tokuma Shoten's monthly magazine Animage and has been collected, after slight modification, in seven tankōbon volumes, spanning 1060 pages. Nausicaä has been translated and released outside Japan and has sold millions of copies worldwide. On March 11, 1984, the anime film of the same title was released. The characters and settings of manga and film have their common roots in the image boards Miyazaki created to visualise his ideas in the late 1970s and early 1980s. The anime is an amalgamation of the first sixteen chapters of the manga. In the manga Miyazaki explores the themes at greater length and in greater depth with a greater host of characters and a more expansive universe which he continued to expand over an additional decade after the release of the film. Nausicaä panels were printed monochrome in sepia-toned ink.

Other works include The Journey of Shuna, released in 1983, and Hikōtei Jidai, first serialized in Model Graphix in 1989. Both were created in watercolour. The latter was the basis of Porco Rosso. Hayao Miyazaki's Daydream Data Notes contains short manga, essays and samples from Miyazaki's sketchbooks, bundled in book form in 1992.Shuna, in 1987, and selections from Daydream Data Notes, in 1995, were dramatised for radio broadcast.[32]

In October 2006, A Trip to Tynemouth was published in Japan. The book contains a translated collection of three of the young adult short stories written by Robert Westall, who grew up in World War II England. The most famous story, first published in a collection called Break of Dark, is titled Blackham's Wimpy, the name of a Vickers Wellington Bomber featured in the story. The nickname comes from the character J. Wellington Wimpy from the Popeye comics and cartoons (the Wellington was named for Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington, victor over Napoleon). Miyazaki worked as editor, provided the cover illustrations and created short manga for addition in the book. Miyazaki based his manga and illustrations on Westall's short stories, including parts about Blackham's Bomber, and added fictional elements of his own. Depicting a narrator, as an anthropomorphised pig, who has an imaginary meeting with Westall, depicted as a terrier, on a trip to Tynemouth. Westall's short stories themselves are translated into Japanese but are otherwise left unchanged for this publication.[33][34]

In early 2009, Miyazaki began writing a new manga called Kaze Tachinu (風立ちぬ The Wind Rises), telling the story of Mitsubishi A6M Zero fighter designer Jiro Horikoshi. The manga was first published in two issues of the Model Graphix magazine, published on February 25 and March 25, 2009.[35] Miyazaki ultimately required 9 chapters to finish the manga. The last chapter was published in the January 2010 issue of the magazine.

Following his announced retirement, it was revealed during an NHK TV broadcast that Miyazaki was serializing a currently untitled samurai manga while charging the magazine no fee for his artwork.[36]

Personal life and views

In October 1965, Miyazaki married fellow animator Akemi Ota, and together they had two sons, Gorō and Keisuke.[37] Miyazaki's dedication to his work has often been reported to have impacted negatively on his relationship with Gorō.[38] He has expressed he does not wish to create a dynasty of animators and his son has to create a name for himself.[39] Nonetheless he has shown support of his son's career in animation in recent times, co-writing the screenplay for Gorō's feature From Up on Poppy Hill and was developing the story for his son's third film as of November 2011.[40]

In a 2014 interview, Miyazaki criticized the current state of the anime industry, saying that animators are not being realistic when it comes to people. According to Miyazaki, this is a problem because in order to produce content worthy of the industry, one's work must be based off lived experience and observation of people. He goes on to say that the reason why the industry is full of otaku is because anime is produced by "humans who can’t stand looking at other humans".[41][42]


For the release of his 2013 film The Wind Rises, Miyazaki and other Studio Ghibli staff members renewed criticism of Prime Minister Shinzō Abe's policies, and the proposed Constitutional amendment to Article 96, a clause that stipulates procedures needed for revisions, which would allow Abe to revise Article 9 of the Constitution of Japan, which outlaws war as a means to settle international disputes.[43][44][45] After the release of the film he received approval as well as negative criticism online for his anti-war message. Some online critics have labeled his film, as well as his expressed opinions, as "Anti-Japanese" and have called Miyazaki a "traitor".[46][47][48] This is due to the film's subject, a young man who designs planes during World War II. Among the planes used in the film is the Mitsubishi A5M, a predecessor of the Mitsubishi A6M Zero. Since he was young, Miyazaki has had a fascination with planes, in part, due to his father's line of work on A6M Zero fighter planes during the Second World War.[49] This fascination is made obvious by the recurring use of planes in his films; from Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind to Porco Rosso and beyond. This film, however, is Miyazaki's first to be inspired by a historical figure. Despite the unexpected backlash from political viewers, The Wind Rises had the biggest opening of the year in Japan, taking in 960 million yen, or $9.78 million.

Miyazaki has expressed his opinion on politics several times in the past, including a disapproval in the discussion of the revision of the Japanese constitution, and Abe's denial of Japanese World War II crimes. Part of the controversy over The Wind Rises stems from his statement that proper compensation should be given to comfort women. While some were critical of his remarks, they were welcomed by others.[46][50] This is not his only instance of controversy. In 2003, Miyazaki won an Oscar for his film Spirited Away but did not attend the 75th Academy Awards in Hollywood, Los Angeles in protest of the United States' involvement in the Iraq War, later stating that "I didn't want to visit a country that was bombing Iraq." He did not publicly express this opinion at the request of his producer until 2009, when he lifted his boycott and attended the San Diego Comic Con International as a favor to his friend John Lasseter.[51]

Miyazaki also expressed his opinion about the terrorist attack at the offices of the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and gave his opinion about the magazine's decision to publish the content cited as the trigger for the incident. He said, "I think it's a mistake to caricaturize the figures venerated by another culture. You shouldn't do it." He asserts, "Instead of doing something like that, you should first make caricatures of your own country's politicians."[52][53]


Miyazaki stated several times over the years that he wanted to retire, but on September 7, 2013, stated that he was "quite serious" this time. Having turned 72 the previous January, he felt that after 50 years, he'd been in the industry long enough and it was time to hand the reins over to younger staff. He also added that "At my age, I can't work long hours like I used to." However, he plans on pursuing new goals, such as working on the Studio Ghibli Museum, on which he commented "I might even become an exhibit myself".[54] Studio Ghibli producer Toshio Suzuki revealed that Miyazaki will continue to illustrate manga and is currently working on a serialized samurai series.[36] Fellow animator Isao Takahata has publicly stated that he believes Miyazaki's retirement to be non-permanent. "...I think there is a decent chance that may change. I think so, since I've known him a long time. Don't be at all surprised if that happens."[55] During a New Year's Eve radio show, broadcast on Tokyo FM, on December 31, 2013, Toshio Suzuki speculated that Miyazaki might revoke his latest retirement (apparently his sixth to date).[56] On November 13, 2016, Miyazaki confirmed that he would be coming from retirement to work on a new film.[28]

A previous home that Miyazaki spent part of his childhood in has been transformed into a museum. The home's current resident, Asuko Thomas, says that she did not know that the house has once belonged to the family of the world-renowned animator. The current owner of the house has named the gallery "Hanna", meaning "bond" and "harmony". Many elements of the house have been the inspiration for scenes in several of his films. One example is the stairs in the household, very similar to the hidden stairs in My Neighbor Totoro.[57]

Themes, influences and style

Miyazaki's works are characterized by the recurrence of progressive themes, such as environmentalism, pacifism, feminism, and the absence of villains. His films are also frequently concerned with childhood transition and a marked preoccupation with flight.[lower-alpha 10]

Miyazaki's narratives are notable for not pitting a hero against an unsympathetic antagonist. In Spirited Away, Miyazaki states "the heroine [is] thrown into a place where the good and bad dwell together. [...] She manages not because she has destroyed the 'evil', but because she has acquired the ability to survive."[58] Even though Miyazaki sometimes feels pessimistic about the world, his films show an awe-inspiring, positive world view instead, and rejects simplistic stereotypes of good and evil.[59]

Miyazaki's films often emphasize environmentalism and the Earth's fragility.[60] In an interview with The New Yorker, Margaret Talbot stated that Miyazaki believes much of modern culture is "thin and shallow and fake", and he "not entirely jokingly" looked forward to "a time when Tokyo is submerged by the ocean and the NTV tower becomes an island, when the human population plummets and there are no more high-rises."[61] Growing up in the Shōwa period was an unhappy time for him because "nature – the mountains and rivers – was being destroyed in the name of economic progress."[62] Miyazaki is critical of capitalism, globalization, and their impacts on modern life.[63] Commenting on the 1954 Animal Farm animated film, he has said that "exploitation is not only found in communism, capitalism is a system just like that. I believe a company is common property of the people that work there. But that is a socialistic idea."[64] Nonetheless, he suggests that adults should not "impose their vision of the world on children."[65]

Nausicaä, Princess Mononoke and Howl's Moving Castle feature anti-war themes. In 2003, when Spirited Away won the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature, Miyazaki did not attend the awards show personally. He later explained that it was because he "didn't want to visit a country that was bombing Iraq".[66]

Miyazaki has been called a feminist by Studio Ghibli President Toshio Suzuki, in reference to his attitude to female workers.[67] This is evident in the all-female factories of Porco Rosso and Princess Mononoke, as well as the matriarchal bath-house of Spirited Away. Many of Miyazaki's films have strong female protagonists that go against gender roles common in Japanese animation and fiction.[2]

Creation process and animation style

Princess Mononoke was Miyazaki's first film to use computer graphics. In this sequence, the demon snakes are computer-generated and composited onto Ashitaka, who is hand-drawn.

Miyazaki takes a leading role when creating his films, frequently serving as both writer and director. He personally reviewed every frame used in his early films, though due to health concerns over the high workload he now delegates some of the workload to other Ghibli members.[68] In a 1999 interview, Miyazaki said, "at this age, I cannot do the work I used to. If my staff can relieve me and I can concentrate on directing, there are still a number of movies I'd like to make."

Miyazaki uses very human-like movements in his animation. In addition, much of the art is done using water colors.

In contrast to American animation, the script and storyboards are created together, and animation begins before the story is finished and while storyboards are developing.[65][69]

Miyazaki has used traditional animation throughout the animation process, though computer-generated imagery was employed starting with Princess Mononoke. In an interview with the Financial Times, Miyazaki said "it's very important for me to retain the right ratio between working by hand and computer. I have learnt that balance now, how to use both and still be able to call my films 2D."[70] Digital paint was also used for the first time in parts of Princess Mononoke in order to meet release deadlines.[71] It was used as standard for subsequent films. However, in his 2008 film Ponyo, Miyazaki went back to traditional hand-drawn animation for everything, saying "hand drawing on paper is the fundamental of animation."[72] Studio Ghibli's computer animation department was dissolved before production on Ponyo was started, and Miyazaki has decided to keep to hand drawn animation.[39]


Among Miyazaki's earliest influences are the illustrated stories he read in boys' magazines and manga Tankōbon during his childhood. He has indicated that he does not only like their subject matter and their presentation of the artwork but also that he came to appreciate the pacing of their adventures, allowing for a thorough immersion in the stories they created because the slow production rate necessitated re-reading the same work several times.

As a result, he prefers monthly serialization to the weekly format for his own works. Miyazaki has identified Soji Yamakawa's Shōnen ōja as one of the influential stories he read. Takekuma has noted that several of Miyazaki's works, in both manga and anime, have their roots in Tetsuji Fukushima's The evil Lord of the Desert. A slightly later influence Miyazaki has cited is the work of Sanpei Shirato.[lower-alpha 11]

A number of Western authors have influenced Miyazaki's work, including Ursula K. Le Guin, Lewis Carroll, Edward Blishen and Diana Wynne Jones. Miyazaki confided to Le Guin that Earthsea had been a great influence on all his works, and that he kept her books at his bedside.[73] Miyazaki and French writer and illustrator Jean Giraud (a.k.a. Moebius) have influenced each other and had become friends as a result of their mutual admiration. Monnaie de Paris held an exhibition of their work titled Miyazaki et Moebius: Deux Artistes Dont Les Dessins Prennent Vie (Two Artists’s Drawings Taking on a Life of Their Own) from December 2004 to April 2005. Both artists attended the opening of the exhibition.[59][74] Moebius named his daughter Nausicaa after Miyazaki's heroine.[75] Miyazaki has been deeply influenced by another French writer, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. He illustrated the Japanese covers of Saint-Exupéry's Night Flight (Vol de nuit) and Wind, Sand and Stars (Terre des Hommes), and wrote an afterword for Wind, Sand and Stars.

In an interview broadcast on BBC Choice on 2002-06-10, Miyazaki cited the British authors Eleanor Farjeon, Rosemary Sutcliff, and Philippa Pearce as influences. The filmmaker has also publicly expressed fondness for Roald Dahl's stories about pilots and airplanes; the image in Porco Rosso of a cloud of dead pilots was inspired by Dahl's They Shall Not Grow Old. As in Miyazaki's films, these authors create self-contained worlds in which allegory is often used, and characters have complex, and often ambiguous, motivations. Other Miyazaki works, such as My Neighbor Totoro, Princess Mononoke and Spirited Away, incorporate elements of Japanese history and mythology.

Miyazaki has said he was inspired to become an animator by The Tale of the White Serpent, considered the first modern anime, in 1958. He has also said that The Snow Queen, a Soviet animated film, was one of his earliest inspirations, and that it motivated him to stay in animation production.[76] We can see its influence on The Little Norse Prince. The villain, "Forest King", is like the "Snow Queen", design- and character-wise.[77] Yuriy Norshteyn, a Russian animator, is Miyazaki's friend and praised by him as "a great artist".[78] Norshteyn's Hedgehog in the Fog is cited as one of Miyazaki's favourite animated films.[76] Miyazaki has long been a fan of the Aardman Studios animation. In May 2006, David Sproxton and Peter Lord, founders of Aardman Studios, visited the Ghibli Museum exhibit dedicated to their works, where they also met Miyazaki.[79]

Pete Docter, director of the popular films Up and Monsters, Inc., as well as a co-creator of other Pixar works, has praised Miyazaki and described him as an influence.[80] Glen Keane, the animator for successful Disney films such as The Little Mermaid, The Rescuers Down Under, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin and Tangled, has also credited Miyazaki as a "huge influence" on his work and on Disney in general during the past two decades.[81] Bryan Konietzko and Michael Dante DiMartino have cited Miyazaki's work as having an influence on the style of Avatar: The Last Airbender.[82]

Miyazaki has also been cited as an influence on various role-playing video games. The creator of Square's Final Fantasy series, Hironobu Sakaguchi, cited Miyazaki as inspiration for elements such as the airships and chocobos featured in the series.[83] The post-apocalyptic setting of SNK's Crystalis was inspired by Miyazaki's Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind, and Crystalis in turn influenced Square's Secret of Mana.[84] The 2015 fantasy adventure game Ori and the Blind Forest was heavily influenced by Miyazaki's work, particularly one of the levels "Valley of the Wind", was a nod to Miyazaki's, Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind.[85][86]

Miyazaki has also been influenced by Akira Kurosawa. Kurosawa was successful in bringing the Western World's attention to Japanese cinematography with his 1950 film Rashomon, Seven Samurai in 1954, and Yojimbo in 1961. Another influence was Osamu Tezuka, a pioneer in new manga styles and techniques. Miyazaki said of Princess Mononoke: "I wish Osamu Tezuka could have watched it". Tezuka and Miyazaki had a somewhat uneasy relationship. Miyazaki acknowledges his influence, like the influence of an older brother or predecessor, but the influence may not have been seen as an entirely beneficial one.

As noted by Helen McCarthy, Miyazaki wrote an essay, after Tezuka's passing in 1989, in which he reflected on the influence Tezuka had on his own career in particular and the development of anime in Japan in general. Miyazaki acknowledges that Tezuka was among the creative artists who inspired him to become a manga author but he writes that he initially reacted indignantly and that he felt humiliated when it was pointed out to him that his style as a draughtsman resembled that of Tezuka.

Once he realised that the observation about the resemblance was accurate, he destroyed his sketches and decided to return to the study of basic drawing skills in order to start over. He notes that he does not share the advice that young manga artists should imitate the work of their predecessors when starting out.

In his essay he also writes that he became increasingly critical of Tezuka's role in the development of anime in Japan and he criticised, particularly other animators, for the reverential treatment, to the point of worship, given Tezuka. In Miyazaki's world view, influence is supposed to drive the medium forward and although Miyazaki markets his own name brand well, he is nevertheless also critical of the godlike status bestowed on him.

He has indicated that he sees such praise as stifling instead of encouraging the exploration of creativity and the development of a personal style in younger artists.[lower-alpha 12]


Miyazaki has won multiple awards for his animated films. The Castle of Cagliostro was his first award winner, earning the Mainichi Film Award in 1980. Of all of his films Spirited Away, and The Wind Rises have taken the most awards earned. In 2005 he was given an honorary Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival for his collective contributions to cinema. Miyazaki has also won awards outside of his film making, on November 3, 2012 he won the *Person of Cultural Merit making him the first anime director to receive the honour.[87] In 2014 he was inducted into the Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame, and he won an Academy Honorary Award at the 87th Academy Awards the following year. He is the first anime director to receive this honour, being the 4th animator to receive this award three times.[88]

Year Title Award Category Result
1979 The Castle of Cagliostro Mainichi Film Award Ofuji Noburo Award Won
1984 Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind Fantafestival Best Short Film Won
Kinema Junpo Awards Readers' Choice Award – Best Film Won
Mainichi Film Award Ofuji Noburo Award Won
1986 Castle in the Sky Mainichi Film Award Ofuji Noburo Award Won
1989 My Neighbor Totoro Kinema Junpo Awards Kinema Junpo Award – Best Film Won
Readers' Choice Award – Best Japanese Film Won
Mainichi Film Award Best Film Won
Ofuji Noburo Award Won
Blue Ribbon Awards Special Award Won
1990 Kiki's Delivery Service Mainichi Film Award Best Animated Film Won
Kinema Junpo Awards Readers' Choice Award – Best Japanese Film Director Won
1993 Porco Rosso Mainichi Film Award Best Animated Film Won
1997 Princess Mononoke Hochi Film Awards Special Award Won
The Association of Movie Viewing Groups Best Japanese Movie Won
Nikkan Sports Film Awards Best Director Won
Takasaki Film Festival Best Director Won
The Agency for Cultural Affairs Excellent Movie Award Won
Japan Media Arts Festival Grand Prize Won
Asahi Best Ten Film Festival Best Japanese Movie Won
Readers' Choice Award Won
Nihon Keizai Shimbun Award for Excellency Won
Nikkei Awards for Excellent Products and Service Won
Theater Division Award Asahi Digital Entertainment Award Won
MMCA Special Award Multimedia Grand Prix 1997 Won
Osaka Film Festival Special Award Won
The Movie's Day Special Achievement Award Won
Fumiko Yamaji Award Cultural Award Won
1998 Blue Ribbon Awards Special Awards Won
Japanese Academy Awards Picture of the Year Won
Kinema Junpo Awards Readers' Choice Award – Best Film Won
Mainichi Film Award Best Animated Film Won
Best Film Won
Readers' Choice Award – Best Film Won
2000 Annie Awards Outstanding Individual Achievement for Directing in an Animated Feature Production Nominated
2001 Nebula Award Best Script Nominated
2002 Whale Hunt Mainichi Film Award Ofuji Noburo Award Won
Spirited Away Berlin International Film Festival Golden Berlin Bear Won
Blue Ribbon Award Best Film Won
Nikkan Sports Film Award Best Film Won
New York Film Critics Circle Award Best Animated Film Won
Boston Society of Film Critics Awards Special Commendation – For artistic contribution to the field of animation Won
Cambridge Film Festival Audience Award – Best Film Won
National Board of Review of Motion Pictures Best Animated Feature Won
Cinekid Festival Cinekid Film Award Won
Durban International Film Festival Best Film Won
European Film Awards Screen International Award Nominated
Kinema Junpo Awards Readers' Choice Award – Best Film Won
Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards LAFCA Award Won
Mainichi Film Award Best Animated Film Won
Best Director Won
Best Film Won
Readers' Choice Award – Best Film Won
San Francisco International Film Festival Audience Award – Best Narrative Feature Won
Sitges Film Festival Special Mention Won
Best Film Nominated
Tokyo Anime Award Grand Prix Won
Best Director Won
Japanese Academy Award Best Film Won
Hong Kong Film Award Best Asian Film Won
2003 Academy Award Best Animated Feature Won
Online Film Critics Society Award Best Animated Feature Won
Best Foreign Language Film Nominated
British Independent Film Awards Best Foreign Independent Film Nominated
Saturn Award Best Writing Nominated
Film Critics Circle of Australia Best Foreign-Language Film Won
Chicago Film Critics Association Best Foreign Language Film Nominated
Satellite Award Best Motion Picture, Animated or Mixed Media Won
Phoenix Film Critics Society Award Best Animated Film Won
Overlooked Film of the Year Nominated
International Horror Guild Award Best Movie Nominated
Florida Film Critics Circle Best Animation Won
Dallas-Fort Worth Film Critics Association Award Best Animated Film Won
Amsterdam Fantastic Film Festival Silver Scream Award Won
Annie Award Outstanding Directing in an Animated Feature Production Won
Outstanding Writing in an Animated Feature Production Won
Cambridge Film Festival Audience Award – Best Film Won
Cinema Writers Circle Awards, Spain Best Foreign Film Won
César Award Best Foreign Film Nominated
Hugo Award Best Dramatic Presentation – Long Form Nominated
Broadcast Film Critics Association Best Animated Feature Won
2004 Argentinean Film Critics Association Awards Silver Condor – Best Foreign Film Nominated
BAFTA Award Best Film not in the English Language Nominated
London Critics Circle Film Awards Foreign Language Film of the Year Nominated
Nebula Award Best Script Nominated
Howl's Moving Castle Sitges Film Festival Audience Award – Best Feature Film Won
Best Film Nominated
Venice Film Festival Golden Lion Nominated
2005 Hollywood Film Festival Hollywood Film Award – Animation of the Year Won
Mainichi Film Award Readers' Choice Award – Best Film Won
Tokyo Anime Award Animation of the Year Won
Satellite Award Outstanding Motion Picture, Animated or Mixed Media Nominated
San Diego Film Critics Society Award Best Animated Film Won
New York Film Critics Circle Awards Best Animated Film Won
2006 Academy Award Best Animated Feature Nominated
Annie Award Best Directing in an Animated Feature Production Nominated
Best Writing in an Animated Feature Production Nominated
Broadcast Film Critics Association Awards Best Animated Feature Nominated
Online Film Critics Society Award Best Animated Feature Nominated
Saturn Award Best Animated Film Nominated
MTV Movie Awards Russia Best Cartoon Nominated
Nastro d'Argento Silver Ribbon – Best Foreign Director Nominated
Hong Kong Film Awards Best Asian Film Nominated
2007 Nebula Award Best Script Won
2008 Ponyo Venice Film Festival Future Film Festival Digital Award – Special Mention Won
Mimmo Rotella Foundation Award Won
Golden Lion Nominated
2009 Asian Film Awards Best Director Nominated
Japanese Academy Award Best Animation Film Won
Chicago Film Critics Association Awards Best Animated Feature Nominated
Hong Kong Film Awards Best Asian Film Nominated
Online Film Critics Society Award Best Animated Feature Nominated
Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association Best Animated Film Nominated
Tokyo Anime Award Best Director Won
Best Original Story Won
Animation of the Year Won
2010 Annie Award Directing in a Feature Production Nominated
2013 From Up on Poppy Hill Annie Award Writing in an Animated Feature Production Nominated
The Wind Rises Academy Awards Best Animated Feature Nominated[89]
Alliance of Women Film Journalists Best Animated Feature Won
Annie Awards Best Animated Feature Nominated
Annie Awards Character Animation in a Feature Production (for Kitaro Kosaka) Nominated
Annie Awards Writing in an Animated Feature Production Won
Asia Pacific Screen Awards Best Animated Feature Film Nominated
Boston Online Film Critics Association Best Animated Film
Tied with Frozen
Boston Society of Film Critics Best Animated Film Won
Chicago Film Critics Association Best Foreign - Language Film Nominated
Chicago Film Critics Association Best Animated Feature Won
Critics' Choice Movie Award Best Animated Feature Nominated
Dallas-Fort Worth Film Critics Best Foreign Language Film Nominated
Golden Globe Awards Best Foreign Language Film Nominated
Los Angeles Film Critics Association Best Animation 2nd place
Mill Valley Film Festival Audience Favorite — Animation Won
National Board of Review Best Animated Film Won
New York Film Critics Circle Best Animated Film Won
New York Film Critics Online Best Animated Feature Won
New York Film Festival Grand Marnier Fellowship Award for Best Film Nominated
Online Film Critics Society Best Picture Nominated
Online Film Critics Society Best Director Nominated
Online Film Critics Society Best Animated Feature Won
Online Film Critics Society Best Film Not in the English Language Nominated
Online Film Critics Society Best Adapted Screenplay Nominated
Phoenix Film Critics Society Best Animated Film Nominated
San Francisco Film Critics Circle Best Animated Feature Nominated
Satellite Awards Best Motion Picture, Animated or Mixed Media Won
San Sebastián International Film Festival Audience Award Nominated
St. Louis Gateway Film Critics Association Best Animated Feature 2nd place
Toronto International Film Festival People's Choice Award for Best Drama Feature Film Nominated
Venice Film Festival Golden Lion Nominated
Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association Best Animated Feature Nominated


  1. McCarthy notes Miyzaki's getting evacuated at age three and starting school as an evacuee in 1947. In McCarthy (1999), page 26.[10] The Nausicaa.net biography states, "Between 1944 and 1946".[9] In order to preserve accuracy of the ambiguous timeline, no synthesis will be made to state when this occurred.
  2. McCarthy (1999), p. 26.[10]
  3. Miyazaki, I parted ways with Osamu Tezuka when I saw the "Hand of God" in him., in Starting Point (2009), page 193ff.[12] McCarthy (1999), page 28.[10] Comic Box (1982), page 80.[13]
  4. McCarthy (1999), p. 29.[10]
  5. McCarthy (1999), p. 30.[10]
  6. McCarthy (1999), p. 39.[10]
  7. McCarthy (1999), p. 45.[10]
  8. McCarthy (1999), pp. 199–203.[10]
  9. McCarthy (1999), pp. 27, 219.[10] Comic Box (1982), pp. 80 and pp. 111.[13] July 1983 issue of Animage, page 172.[29] Takekuma, Kentaro, Lecture series at Kyoto Seika University.[30] Re-release announcement in Asahi Shinbun for Fukushima's graphic novel.[31]
  10. McCarthy (1999), pp. 79, 89.[10]
  11. Takekuma, Kentaro Lectures.(2008).[30] McCarthy (1999), page 27.[10] Kaku(2012).[31]
  12. Tasker (2011), page 292ff.[18] Miyazaki, I parted ways with Osamu Tezuka when I saw the "Hand of God" in him, in Starting Point (2009), page 193ff.[12] McCarthy (1999), page 28.[10] Takekuma, Kentaro Lectures.(2008)[30]


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Further reading

External links

Awards and achievements
Preceded by
Aron Warner
for Shrek
Academy Award for Best Animated Feature
for Spirited Away
Succeeded by
Andrew Stanton
for Finding Nemo
Preceded by
Patrice Chéreau
for Intimacy
Golden Bear
for Spirited Away
Succeeded by
Michael Winterbottom
for In This World
Preceded by
Stanley Donen, Manoel de Oliveira
Career Golden Lion
Succeeded by
David Lynch
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