Amazing Art & Animation: Hayao Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli


Image from My Neighbor Totoro


Image from Kiki’s Delivery Service
Image from Ponyo
Image from Ponyo

Mr. Hayao Miyazaki has hugely influenced my mural painting and writing. A superb world-builder, he creates wonderful stories and splendidly unique, detailed landscapes in a kaleidescope of colors. He’s guided his team to create animals and creatures using nature and mythology in a mix at once real and otherworldly. I’m sure many viewers of his films wish they could live in his worlds–or at least, vacation there! The genius that is Hayao Miyazaki has inspired me to create my own worlds.

A native of Japan, Mr. Hayao Miyazaki is a supremely talented and inspiring film director, animator, manga artist, producer and screenwriter. In his fifty-plus year career, he’s earned international praise for his films, created by Studio Ghibli which he founded with Isao Takahata. His film success is compared with Walt Disney. Mr. Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli have produced 18 feature films. His award-winning films  are so beautiful—and for all ages. His wonderful screenplays blend humor and adventure with themes on family, home, and parent-child relationships; loss; greed and how we reconcile nature versus technology; war and how it affects us; ecology; and heroic quests for self-identity. His films have achieved commercial success and critical acclaim, earning Studio Ghibli the reputation of being the pre-eminent anime film studio in Japan.

One of his films, Spirited Away, a quirky visual feast about a little girl who has to rescue her parents from a witch, won the Academy Award for Best Animated Film in 2003.

Some of my favorites are Kiki’s Delivery Service, My Neighbor Totoro, Ponyo, and Howl’s Moving Castle, adapted from the book of the same name by Diana Wynne Jones, but I love them all.

 Recently, Studio Ghibli released a new film: From Up on Poppy Hill, set during 1964, in which teens try to save their clubhouse from being taken down as their city prepares for the Tokyo Olympics, directed by Miyazaki’s son, Goro Miyazaki. In the last year many of the films were re-released as Blue Ray DVDs.

Unfortunately, Mr. Miyazaki announced he will soon retire, following his latest film, The Wind Rises, a fictionalized biography of Jiro Horikishi, who designed Japanese fighter planes during World War II–a film which is scenic and lovely but has received some criticism as a screenplay. The Wind Rises premiered at the Venice Film Festival in early September, 2013. I do not believe an official retirement date has been set. Though Mr. Miyazaki will be hugely missed,  he has left a great legacy, influencing many talented individuals who will continue making wonderful films in the Studio Ghibli tradition, I am sure.

I’ve found no official website, but there’s a good fan site with list of films, news, and now also a site for the new Ghibli Museum in Mitaka, Japan! I am a huge fan of Mr. Miyazaki and his legacy of art and films has inspired my own writing and art. In a Ghibli film, the real is made to seem magical, and the magical made real. The landscapes are unforgettable and beautiful–their colors brilliant, their variety of flora and fauna endless. If you haven’t seen one yet, do so as soon as you can. Each Ghibli film casts such an enchanting spell, you might find yourself wishing to enter one of those lovely worlds and never leave.

Image from Howl’s Moving Castle

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Image from Howl’s Moving Castle


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