By Victoria Navarro
The entertainment industry took a step into a different realm of filmmaking with the appearance of “Humorous Phases of Funny Faces,” the first animated film in 1906. Since then, the field has grown in popularity and has served as a platform for many artists who wished to create a world of fantasy through their drawings.
In the 1980’s, Japanese director, producer, and screenwriter Hayao Miyazaki became one of the most iconic auteurs in animation history. In essence, Miyazaki brought his imagination to the screen with movies rich in serene music, colors, and human nature. Within each of his films such as “Spirited Away,” “Laputa: Castle in the Sky,” and “Howl’s Moving Castle,” Miyazaki created stories that have touched the lives of many viewers and artists.
Miyazaki’s interest in animation sparked after watching “Hakujaden,” Japan’s first color feature-length film by Toei Production in 1958. After graduating from Gakushuin University in 1963, he took the position as an entry-level animator for Toie where he learned the basics of animation. During his career with the company, he impressed producers with his work, allowing him to cooperate in a number films including “Wolf Boy Ken” and “Prince of the Sun.”
However, in 1971, Miyazaki abandoned his position at Toie and started working for other studios. With his work in the field, he began to gain recognition as an animator, and in 1984 Miyazaki directed “Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind,” his first movie. Despite the fact that the film was not critically acclaimed at the time, it earned a spot in the box office, ultimately leading to the creation of Studio Ghibli.
With Studio Ghibli, Miyazaki grew in popularity within the animation field after producing and directing several award-winning films, such as “Kiki’s Delivery Service,” “My Neighbor Totoro,” and “Howl’s Moving Castle.” His work received high recognition at an international level.
After dedicating years of his life to animation, Miyazaki established himself as an equal to Walt Disney. Everyone loves a good story, and Miyazaki never fails to bring new concepts that are molded into a unique and touching story. Within each of his films, he creates a fine mix between reality and fantasy, making his films not only alluring but heartwarming. Along with the overall plot, Miyazaki’s precision strengthens the emotional aspect of his films by encompassing human nature within the film’s characters.
Oftentimes in animated films, directors exaggerate a character’s expressions to add emphasis to their feelings. However, Miyazaki strays away from that exaggeration and mimics the raw emotions that people have in reality, allowing the audience to better connect with each of his characters. Miyazaki implements his idea of what it means to be human throughout the entirety of his films. Perhaps what makes Miyazaki’s films so compelling is his ability to create a connection between the viewer and a mere cartoon character.
With all of the work he has completed, Miyazaki has reached the top of the animation industry, setting standards for future generations. Without a doubt, Miyazaki is one of the most iconic animators to this day and will continue to touch the lives of many people with his films.