Theme Times – Hayao Miyazaki

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Season 2 – Top 10

Hayao Miyazaki By Thomas Schulzdetengase 

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Hayao Miyazaki (宮崎 駿 Miyazaki Hayao, born January 5, 1941) is a Japanese animator, filmmaker, screenwriter, author, and manga artist. A co-founder of Studio Ghibli, a film and animation studio, he has attained international acclaim as a masterful storyteller and as a maker of animated feature films, and is widely regarded as one of the greatest animation filmmakers.

Miyazaki co-founded Studio Ghibli in 1985. He directed multiple films with Ghibli, including Castle in the Sky in 1986, My Neighbor Totoro in 1988, Kiki’s Delivery Service in 1989, and Porco Rosso in 1992. The films were met with commercial and critical success in Japan. Miyazaki’s film Princess Mononoke was the first animated film to win the Japan Academy Prize for Picture of the Year, and briefly became the highest-grossing film in Japan following its release in 1997 its distribution to the Western world greatly increased Ghibli’s popularity and influence outside Japan. His 2001 film Spirited Away became the highest-grossing film in Japanese history, winning the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature at the 75th Academy Awards and considered among the greatest films of the decade. Miyazaki’s later films—Howl’s Moving Castle, Ponyo, and The Wind Rises—also enjoyed critical and commercial success. Following the release of The Wind Rises, Miyazaki announced his retirement from feature films, though he returned to work on a new feature film in 2016.

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Dedicated to Angie of King Ben’s Grandma

1 – Spirited Away – 2001

In this animated feature by noted Japanese director Hayao Miyazaki, 10-year-old Chihiro (Rumi Hiiragi) and her parents (Takashi Naitô, Yasuko Sawaguchi) stumble upon a seemingly abandoned amusement park. After her mother and father are turned into giant pigs, Chihiro meets the mysterious Haku (Miyu Irino), who explains that the park is a resort for supernatural beings who need a break from their time spent in the earthly realm, and that she must work there to free herself and her parents.

2 – My Neighbor Totoro – 1988

This acclaimed animated tale by director Hayao Miyazaki follows schoolgirl Satsuke and her younger sister, Mei, as they settle into an old country house with their father and wait for their mother to recover from an illness in an area hospital. As the sisters explore their new home, they encounter and befriend playful spirits in their house and the nearby forest, most notably the massive cuddly creature known as Totoro.

3 – Howl’s Moving Castle – 2004

Sophie (Emily Mortimer) has an uneventful life at her late father’s hat shop, but all that changes when she befriends wizard Howl (Christian Bale), who lives in a magical flying castle. However, the evil Witch of Waste (Lauren Bacall) takes issue with their budding relationship and casts a spell on young Sophie, which ages her prematurely. Now Howl must use all his magical talents to battle the jealous hag and return Sophie to her former youth and beauty.

4 – Princess Mononoke – 1997

In the 14th century, the harmony that humans, animals and gods have enjoyed begins to crumble. The protagonist, young Ashitaka – infected by an animal attack, seeks a cure from the deer-like god Shishigami. In his travels, he sees humans ravaging the earth, bringing down the wrath of wolf god Moro and his human companion Princess Mononoke. Hiskattempts to broker peace between her and the humans brings only conflict.

5 – Castle in the Sky – 1986

Young orphan Sheeta and her kidnapper, Col. Muska, are flying to a military prison when their plane is attacked by a gang of air pirates led by the matronly Dola. Escaping from a mid-air collision via a magic crystal around her neck, Sheeta meets fellow orphan Pazu and the pair join forces to discover the mystical floating city of Laputa while pursued by both Muska and the pirates, who lust for the city’s myriad treasures.

6 – Ponyo on the Cliff – 2008

During a forbidden excursion to see the surface world, a goldfish princess encounters a human boy named Sosuke, who gives her the name Ponyo. Ponyo longs to become human, and as her friendship with Sosuke grows, she becomes more humanlike. Ponyo’s father brings her back to their ocean kingdom, but so strong is Ponyo’s wish to live on the surface that she breaks free, and in the process, spills a collection of magical elixirs that endanger Sosuke’s village.

7 – Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind – 1984

Far in the future, after an apocalyptic conflict has devastated much of the world’s ecosystem, the few surviving humans live in scattered semi-hospitable environments within what has become a “toxic jungle.” Young Nausicaä lives in the arid Valley of the Wind and can communicate with the massive insects that populate the dangerous jungle. Under the guidance of the pensive veteran warrior, Lord Yupa, Nausicaä works to bring peace back to the ravaged planet.

8 – The Wind Rises – 2013

A lifelong love of flight inspires Japanese aviation engineer Jiro Horikoshi (Hideaki Anno), whose storied career includes the creation of the A6M World War II fighter plane.

9 – Kiki’s Delivery Service – 1989

In this anime feature, 13-year-old Kiki moves to a seaside town with her talking cat, Jiji, to spend a year alone, in accordance with her village’s tradition for witches in training. After learning to control her broomstick, Kiki sets up a flying courier service and soon becomes a fixture in the community. But when the insecure young witch begins questioning herself and loses her magic abilities, she must overcome her self-doubt to get her powers back.

10 – Porco Rosso – 1992

In Italy in the 1930s, sky pirates in biplanes terrorize wealthy cruise ships as they sail the Adriatic Sea. The only pilot brave enough to stop the scourge is the mysterious Porco Rosso (Shuichiro Moriyama), a former World War I flying ace who was somehow turned into a pig during the war. As he prepares to battle the pirate crew’s American ace, Porco Rosso enlists the help of spunky girl mechanic Fio Piccolo (Akemi Okamura) and his longtime friend Madame Gina (Tokiko Kato).

So are you too like Angie and Ben a fan of Studio Ghibli ? Let me know below in the comments section.

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7 thoughts on “Theme Times – Hayao Miyazaki

  1. Thank you for shining the spotlight on a genius of the genre.

    It’s too bad that people get stuck on the “anime” label, because they stories are awesome! A few have been licensed by Disney with familiar voices doing the characters in English. I dont know which because I prefer to listen to the Japanese and do subtitles.

    Ben knows how to say “yes” in Japanese from watching Ghibli movies.

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