A Celebration of Hayao Miyazaki

The blank page is a canvas for artists who paint with words, but Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki, co-founder of Studio Ghibli, a Japanese animated film studio, uses the blank page to hand draw most of his movies. According to a past interview, Miyazaki said that his movies only contain 10% CGI work.

Hayao Miyazaki news.artnet.com

The animation used in his films is vivid and enchanting. Miyazaki creates new worlds for his viewers. The techniques used by his artists bring a fantasy world to life. We know the worlds don’t exist, but we want them to. The underground world in Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind could be an underground waterway here in the real world.

Themes in Miyazaki’s films are consistent. Self-discovery is manifested in various ways through the choices his characters make, and the consequences of their choices and actions unfold for the viewer, which helps to make an absence of villains in the traditional sense possible.

In my opinion, the movies gently portray conflict in a way no other studio in the world has done. In some of his films, Miyazaki contrasts the destruction caused by the misuse of technology with the possibility of healing a natural world that has been poisoned. In others, he uses the juxtaposition of light and dark aspects within his characters to tell his stories. He portrays good and evil in ways that are not so cut and dried as western pop culture makes them out to be.


Miyazaki is known for his female protagonists, whom are usually coming of age. One of the distinguishing characteristics of his heroines is the way in which they retain their soft vulnerability while drawing on their inner strength to handle crisis. His complex heroines reveal incredible depth while exhibiting high ideals. They show girls what it means to be multifaceted women.

Movies in the U.S. tend to be fast-paced, moving from one bit of action to the next, with very little down time, very little time to breathe. Miyazaki makes generous use of pauses, during which the mundane scenes from the daily lives of his characters portray a profound sense of humanity. One of my favorite scenes is from The Wind Rises, when Jiro, the focus of the biopic, makes and flies paper airplanes.

It has been confirmed that Miyazaki has chosen to come out of retirement, once again, to produce one last film. Fans of the celebrated and beloved producer, director, screenwriter, author, animator, and manga artist are thrilled to have more animated magic to look forward to.

Janet Cowden
Janet Cowden

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