Hayao Miyazaki is the god of animation in Japan, and It would be no stretch to call him the god of animation of the world.
Debuting in 1979 his creation of gentle, whimsical and beautiful children’s movies has become highly popular and key cultural icons.
Spirited away, is still Japan’s number one grossing film of all time. Founded in 1985 he and his company, Studio Ghibli are the Japanese version of Walk Disney and in some cases have been proven to be better and more creative.
His multilayered stories have captivated the heart of many people, Miyazaki’s films are always lush, full of little and fine details and beautiful artwork while tackling various themes such as war, man vs nature, and self-identity.
Some of Hayao’s most memorable films are – Spirited away (2001), My neighbor Totoro (1988), Princess Mononoke (1997)
Instead of animations typical cardboard villain and hero, Miyazaki’s films have created a complex lead to help us along the journey of his mystical films. He has never failed to add soul and humanity to the films he has made which connects the audience and hooks them to the storyline.
As a child, Miyazaki had been exposed to World War II and all its horrible casualties which have shaped him to be the man he is today – a pacifist, environmentalist, and feminist, which very prominently show in his films.
He is known for his very strong female characters, which were inspired a lot by his late mother.
In Japan, many animations with female leads are described as a ‘’shoujo’’ but unlike the others, his female characters are not badly hidden weak male characters, neither are they infantilized nor sexualized. He has given in-depth complex thinking and storylines to these leads which makes them stronger as the storyline progresses. In ‘spirited away’ the main character Chihiro starts out as a sulky cowardly child who learns to take care of herself while stuck working in a bathhouse due to an evil spell.
“ What my friends and I have been trying to do since 1970 is to try and quiet things down a little bit; don’t just bombard with noise and distraction. And to follow the path of children’s emotions and feelings as we make the film’’ he said in an interview in 2002 a year after Spirited away came out and blew all over the world.
He has inspired a whole new generation of animators, one of them being John Lasseter, the founder of US animation studio Pixar.
“I believe that children’s souls are the inheritors of historical memory from previous generations. It’s just that as they grow older and experience the everyday world that memory sinks lower and lower. I feel I need to make a film that reaches down to that level,” he said in 2005.
“If I could do that, I would die happy.”
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