Hayao Miyazaki (*1941) and Studio Ghibli (*1984)

Hayao Miyazaki is one of Japan's most acclaimed filmmakers, probably the country's best in the field of animated movies. From his first movie, THE CASTLE OF CAGLIOSTRO (1979), based on a television series he had worked on, he has produced a marvelous oeuvre, each showing an immaculate world of fantasy and imagination.

He seems mostly inspired by his own childhood in post-war Japan. He often includes old characters (grandmothers), uses rain and people standing in the rain as a plot element, and probably most important of all, criticizes technology as a bringer of war and confusion. Frequently, there are objects or people flying in some way or the other.

From fairy tale to action adventure, he is at home in all the genres that animation has to offer. He founded the famous Studio Ghibli, for which he made all his movies. LAPUTA - CASTLE IN THE SKY (1986) is sometimes quoted as his best movie, though the utter charm of movies like MY NEIGHBOR TOTORO (1988) and KIKI'S DELIVERY SERVICE (1989) is hard to beat.

Miyazaki is sometimes called the "Walt Disney of Japan", but this is inappropriate, as his films clearly surpass the Disney movies in plotting, morality and sensitivity. In 2003, he won the Oscar for Best Animated Feature (an award that had been created the previous year and was given out only the second time) and finally got the world-wide recognition that his movies deserved.

To decide on his best films is nearly impossible. All of them carry the stamp of a genius, and there is not a single one that leaves anything to be desired. Choose your personal favorite out of his 9 classics, mine is KIKI'S DELIVERY SERVICE.

The filmographies below list his feature films and the (feature) films he collaborated on for Studio Ghibli. Miyazaki also made several short films in his career, most of which are shown at the Ghibli Museum in Tokyo, Japan. In the late 1960s, the 1970s and 1980s he worked a lot for television, directing and producing episodes for various series.

Selected Filmography:

Taiyo no Oki: Horusu no Daiboken (1968; anim, scene des: aka The Little Norse Prince)
Rupan Sansei: Kariosutoro No Shiro (1979; dir, scr, char des; aka The Castle of Cagliostro)
Kaze No Tani No Naushika (1984; dir, scr; aka Nausicaä of the Valley of the Winds)
Tenkû No Shiro Rapyuta (1986; dir, scr, edit; aka Laputa - Castle in the Sky)
Tonari No Totoro (1988; dir, scr; aka My Neighbor Totoro)
Majo No Takkyûbin (1989; dir, scr, prod; aka Kiki's Delivery Service)
Kurenai No Buta (1992; dir, scr; aka Porco Rosso, Crimson Pig)
Mononoke-Hime (1997; dir, scr, edit; aka Princess Mononoke)
Sen To Chihiro No Kamikakushi (2002; dir, scr; aka Spirited Away)
Hauru No Ugoku Shiro (2004; dir, scr, exec prod; aka Howl's Moving Castle)
Untitled Miyazaki Project (2008; dir, scr ... in production/filming)

Other Ghibli movies (Miyazaki's contribution as noted):

Hotaru No Haka (1988; dir by Isao Takahata; aka Grave of the Fireflies)
Omohide Poro Poro (1991; exec prod for Ghibli; aka Only Yesterday)
Umi Ga Kikoeru (1993; dir by Tomomichi Mochizuki; made for TV; aka The Ocean Waves)
Heisei Tanuki Gassen Pompoko (1994; exec prod for Ghibli; aka The Raccoon War)
Mimi wo Sumaseba (1995; scr, prod for Ghibli; aka Whisper of the Heart)
Hôhokekyo Tonari no Yamada-kun (1999; dir by Isao Takahata; aka My Neighbors the Yamadas)
Neko No Ongaeshi (2002; exec prod for Ghibli; aka The Cat Returns)
Inosensu: Kôkaku Kidôtai (2004; coprod by Ghibli; aka Ghost in the Shell 2)
Gedo Senki (2006; dir Goro Miyazaki, Hayao's son)

© Ron Altman (last update (08/30/2007)