“Creating animation means creating a fictional world. That would soothe the spirit of those who are disheartened and exhausted from dealing with the sharp edges of reality.”
– Hayao Miyazaki
While there certainly are a lot of animated films and shows that come from America, it is certainly not the only country that produces great quality animation. One of the biggest players in the animation field is Japan, creating their own form of animation known as “anime.” Perhaps the most famous Japanese animator in existence and someone who has changed the game for animation (no matter what country it comes from) is Hayao Miyazaki.
This man has been creating beloved animated films for decades and has been delighting critics and audiences for that long.
Miyazaki has had a long career in directing animated films, going back to directing his first film in 1979.
After that movie, Miyazaki had his own desire to make an original animated film that would combine post-apocalyptic worlds with epic science fiction and fantasy.
After the critical and commercial success of Nausicaa, Miyazaki and a few of his comrades founded their own animation studio.
With this studio, Miyazaki has directed plenty of animated films that are considered masterpieces by critics and anime movies.
His most recent film to date was The Wind Rises, released in Japan in 2013, and in the United States in 2014.
If you’ve ever seen at least one of Hayao Miyazaki’s movies, you’ll know that they feel different than other animated films (or films in general). Part of that has to do with their stories. Many of the times it feels like the plot is not as important to his movies. In fact, Miyazaki admits they start production before even finishing the script.
In fact, Miyazaki admits they start production before even finishing the script. They just start from the broad story beats and figure out the details while making the movie.
Most of the time, the story doesn’t matter because the visuals are what people remember most. Miyazaki has a knack for putting as many amazing visuals into his animation as possible. Giving some unbelievably amazing stuff to watch in awe.
Not only does Miyazaki bring stunning animation, but also incredibly memorable characters and immersive worlds that feel so alive. He is able to bring so much wonder into his movies that it’s hard to describe if you haven’t seen them.
He also brings a lot of harsh real-world issues into his films including War, environmentalism, pacifism, growing up, identity, loss, and many others.
I feel the best word to describe Miyazaki is “imaginative.” He has built a career out of making original animated films (almost never sequels or adaptations with a few exceptions) and make them come to life with breathtaking animation, lovable characters, and imaginatively original settings.
If you haven’t seen his movies, I highly recommend them as I’m sure you will be spirited away. 😉