Why animation director Hayao Miyazaki is Japan’s greatest – Movies N’ Me

Hayao Miyazaki movies n me aeco

Hello Everyone! My name is Muhammad Syafiq bin Zaidi and I’m currently studying Animation at Asia Pacific University, Malaysia.

In this article, I will share with you my love for Anime – why I enjoy it so much and my favourite Director of all time – Hayao Miyazaki.

Oscar for Best Animated Feature Film

Hayao Miyazaki
Hayao Miyazaki

Born January 5, 1941 in Tokyo, Japan, Hayao Miyazaki is Japan’s Greatest Animation Director. He’s even nicknamed “The Japanese Walt Disney” but detests it as his work is original and has no relation whatsoever with Walt Disney. He is a co-founder of Studio Ghibli, a film and animation studio. Miyazaki is a Pacifist, Environmentalist and Feminist. This is because when he was a child, Miyazaki had to run away from his town of Utsonomiya surrounded by the firebomb raids of World War Two. So growing up in post-war Japan, he witnessed first-hand rapid modernisation.

These experiences made a lasting impression on Miyazaki who injects anti-war and pro-environmental messages into his films. He is also known for his strong female lead characters while young heroines known as shoujo are common in Japanese animation. He won an Oscar for Best Animated Feature Film for the film Spirited Away at the 75th Academy Awards. He ha 120 awards to his name and has been nominated 177 times.

100% Hand-drawn Animation

Spirited Away
Spirited Away

He is admired for the beauty of the animation in his films and the fact that he is emotionally honest. His animation is also between 90 and 100% hand-drawn. The reason that most of his animation is hand-drawn is because Miyazaki believes that we humans, have the potential to draw, instead of relying on the computer to do everything. Secondly, all his famous films such as Spirited Away, My Neighbour Totoro, Princess Mononoke, Howl’s Moving Castle and Castle in the Sky, all have interesting story lines and high morale which children can appreciate and enjoy. Adults in their later stages of life can also find meaning in them.

An Author of Female Leads

To recognize Miyazaki’s work more, we apply the Auteur Theory, where the film is a reflection of the director’s artistic vision. Hence, a movie directed by the filmmaker will have recognizable, recurring themes and visual queues that inform the audience who the director is. It also shows a consistent artistic identity throughout that director’s filmography.

Miyazaki’s films can be easily recognized from his projection of female leads. If there is a male lead, it is mostly a male who is densed. Next, his films consist mostly of Nature versus Human. This is because after World War II, there is pollution everywhere and he detested it. He also thinks that Nature is more superior, so we can’t just pollute it. Another significant element that can be found in his animated films is aviation. Examples are birds , planes , flying vehicles or even flying spirits. Hence depicting his obsession for “flying objects” somewhat.

Balancing Fantasy and Realism

Spirited away 2What I like most about Hayao Miyazaki’s films is his production of quality animation. Besides the fact that they are all hand-drawn in detail, the drawings are also consistent and flawless. He is also very good in storytelling. The plot, well-arranged. His films also depict some balance between fantasy and realism – not too much of either category. The landscapes found in his films are also exquisite. This is due to his love for the environment. There is also an essence of humanity besides the blending of physical and metaphysical space. Anything bad about his films? Definitely NOT! Everything is just so perfect.

On that note, I’d like to end by sharing one of Hayao Miyazaki’s famous quotes which has been my beacon throughout:

 “Always believe in yourself. Do this and no matter where you are, you will have nothing to fear.” ― Hayao Miyazaki

Writer is a second year Diploma in Design and Media (Animation) student at Asia Pacific University whose ambition is to live and work in Japan someday in order to create his own Anime. His overwhelming interest in animation began after watching the goings on at an Anime Studio and how animators bring to life, the characters in a movie.





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