Hayao Miyazaki is an amazing Screen writer, Director, Animator and the head of Studio Ghibli.
(Featured above: Hayao Miyazaki’s Studio Ghibli motif)
Miyazaki is arguably one of the most well known animators in the West and brought anime to a wide non-Japanese speaking audience who may not have seen it otherwise.
Miyazaki is an artist who’s focus is on nature, feminism, pacifism and the absence of a true villain. He also often returns to themes of childhood and flight.
His first two films to break through to the Western audience were Spirited Away and Howl’s Moving Castle. These films both starred female main characters making their way through magical worlds and achieving their freedom through their own deeds.
(Featured above: Spirited Away poster and watercolour art work from Howl’s Moving Castle)
These films are different to some of Miyazaki’s other films as both feature a ‘villain’ of sorts even though the motive of these characters is explained in the end and one even becomes a neutral character.
This pacifism is an extraordinary story device commonly explored in Miyazaki’s films and notably absent from most Western films which focus on extreme goodness or extreme evil (with evil always banished in the end). This makes Miyazaki’s stories more unpredictable and interesting to a Western audience who are unused to stories of this kind.
Though the stories are vastly different the styles of the films are vibrantly coloured and the colour palettes vary greatly from scene to scene. Creating an interesting contrast through out the films. Miyazaki also often combined hand painted backgrounds with animated characters (which were sometimes hand drawn and imposed over the top of the images using computers).
(Featured above: Extremely detailed scene in Howl’s Moving Castle and the vibrant combination of digital and hand drawn animation in Spirited Away)
Miyazaki’s animated films are often hand drawn which adds an element of style to the films which is immediately recognisable.
If you focus on some of his more well known films such as Howl’s Moving Castle, Spirited Away, Princess Mononoke and Ponyo the vibrancy of colour, attention to small details and character design are wonderfully imaginative and very interesting to watch in action. Miyazaki and his studio do not shy away from the challenge of animating large difficult scenes or characters and the care and talent used to capture this vision is amazing to behold.
(Featured above: Ponyo poster, a Princess Mononoke frame and a beautiful frame from Ponyo)
It is no wonder that Miyazaki’s films have captured the gaze of generations of anime fanatics and regular viewers alike as he masterfully creates works that capture both the light, beautiful, complicated and sometimes dark nature of the human condition. Allotting him a place amongst some of the most prolific creators and film makers of this age.