Saturday, January 7, 2006

Hayao Miyazaki (Studio Ghibli)

Hayao Miyazaki
Hayao Miyazaki is arguably the greatest of all directors of “anime”, Japanese animation. He is noted for such classic animated films as Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, Laupta: The Castle in the Sky, My Neighbor Totoro, Kiki’s Delivery Service, Porco Rosso, Princess Mononoke, Spirited Away and, most recently, Howl’s Moving Castle (Amazon links).

If you’re not familiar with most or any of those, it’s the fault of a narrow-minded American movie distribution system and/or Disney, who has the rights to distribute and promote Miyazaki’s films in the US, but apparently doesn’t have a clue how to do so. (To their credit, they’ve done a pretty good job with the packaging of the US DVD versions).

Miyazaki’s films are among the all-time most popular in his native Japan, and deservedly so. Filled with beautiful drawing, splendorous settings, engaging characters, adventure, mystery, charm and wit, his movies refuse to settle for clichéd “evil” villains, simplistic black and white visions of morality and the tired formulas that cripple many Hollywood animated features.

Don’t expect the super-fluid animation of classic Disney or Warner Brothers animation, it’s not a priority in Anime, instead look for amazing settings, wonderful characters, intelligent writing and a much broader range of subject matter than you will find in western animation.

My favorite of Miyazaki’s films is My Neighbor Totoro (Tonari no Totoro) (image above), a wonderful, magical animated story. For me it evokes certain aspects of childhood better than any other film (animated or otherwise): the “goes on forever” quality of a late summer afternoon, the deep fascination children can have with simple things, quiet moments that seem to reveal unspoken worlds, the terrible urgency of a lost sibling or sick parent and the blurred line between what is real and what is imagined and the (indistinguishable) wonder and delight inspired by both.

If you’re interested in Totoro, don’t buy the 20th Century Fox fullscreen edition, wait for the Disney widescreen 2-disk set due in March of 2006. There are also multi-disk sets of Miyszaki DVDs, a three pack (Spirited Away/Castle in the Sky/Kiki’s Delivery Service) and a six-pack (Castle in the Sky/Kiki’s Delivery Service/Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind/Porco Rosso/Princess Mononoke/Spirited Away).

Hayao MiyazakiMiyazaki established Studio Ghibli, a production house that produces most (but not all) of his films. Here is a link to the Studio Ghibli site (in Japanese) and the Google BETA translated version which is rough, but navigable.

Unfortunately the Studio Ghibli site doesn’t have a lot of easily accessible images. Here are some official movie sites: Princess Mononoke, Spirited Away, Howl’s Moving Castle and the (poorly done) Disney: Studio Ghibli site that is the official site for the others.

Here are some fan sites that have images:

A selection of Miyazaki film images from Planet Zot: Totoro , Kiki’s Delivery Service, Princess Mononoke, and Porco Rosso.

From WingSee’s Anime Haven: Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, Porco Rosso, Laputa: The Castle in the Sky , Kiki’s Delivery Service.

And some Totoro images from totoro.org.

The Studio Ghibli site isn’t very practical for non-Japanese speakers. For us the best source of general information on Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli is an unofficial, but excellent and extensive site called The Hayao Miyazaki Web at Nausicaa.net.

 

36 thoughts on “Hayao Miyazaki (Studio Ghibli)

  1. fourmi

    Many thanks for this information!
    Tottoro is for me the most incredible animated feature ever.
    The first time I saw it, it was in japanese (it was not so easy to have it translated) and it was sooo strong and sensitive that the pictures talked by themself!
    I’m looking forward to have this six packs in hands!

  2. Daniel Thomas

    There’s also the French Ghibli fansite, http://www.buta-connection.net, which is very likely the best Ghibli site on the internet. Nausicaa.net is the best of the English-language websites, and it’s always been a source of information for me, but clearly the French have done it better. Not surprising, considering that Miyazaki and Takahata are recognized as giants of cinema. Americans still define “animation” as “Disney childrens’ cartoons,” or worse yet, “babysitter.”

    Hopefully, last month’s series of Ghibli screenings on TCM will add to the awareness of these great movies and their unique qualitites as cinema. What’s needed now is for Takahata/Miyazaki’s great masterpieces from the pre-Ghibli era to arrive in the States. Sooner or later, someone has to release the World Masterpiece Theatre series (Heidi, Marco, Anne) here.

  3. Charley Parker Post author

    Wow! Right you are, Daniel. Buta-connection is terrific, particularly the galleries, which include large, beautiful screen shots, story boards and lots of model sheets! Thanks!

    Other readers should also check out Daniel’s own posts about several of the Studio Ghibli movies that ran on Turner Classic Movies in January. He goes into much greater detail than I do here.

    I have to say that I was immensely encouraged to see these films on American TV, particualrly Only Yesterday which I would never have expected. Somebody with taste and vision works in the programming dept at TCM. Who knows, maybe we’ll actually see Grave of the Fireflies on American cable TV!

  4. Michael

    I am a longtime fan of anime long before this term was ever used or way before westerner’s capitalized on it in the form of publications and such. I’m curious about Hayao’s son, Goro(?) and the production of Ursula’s ‘Earthsea’ adaptation into animation courtesty of Ghibli Studios under the supervision of Goro. I am hoping the so called ‘rift’ between father and son is not a publicity stunt.

  5. Charley Parker Post author

    I haven’t heard much about Miyazaki’s son, but I doubt that they would engage in a public disagreement as a publicity stunt.

    I wish we were more assured of seeing current Studio Ghibli releases here in the US.

  6. Alice

    I think Hayao Miyazaki’s films are great!
    I love all of them!
    I especially love Spirited Away, My Neighbour Totoro and Princess Mononoke.
    Princess Mononoke ounds like it’s all girly, but it is actually very serious and moving. Though all the other films are fun!

    Bye y’all
    Alice

  7. Alice ^-^

    OMG!!!!!! I love all these films!!! but my favorite would most likely be Howl’s moving castle! and spirited away! I lost track of how many times I’ve seen these two movies heh. figures.
    in love with Studio Ghibli

  8. ricardo bravo

    encantador y a la vez espectacular y mas su atmosfera envuelve y fascina… desde que descubri por casualidad “el viaje de chihiro” spirited away… no se uno que da con ganas de ver mas …. te encantan con sus historias y personajes … que quiza te llevan a tu infancia y dices que ganas de haber sido yo … maravilloso.

  9. izzy

    i love studio ghibli’s films.I have seen every one of them – but my neibour Totoro has to be my favourite- close second with spirired away.I think the story lines are genious on so many levels.I also love the artwork in the films, i love art so when years ago i was introduced the films i was in oar at the beauty or the scenes.i have a portfolio full of various copies of scenes that i have drawn from the books i have on studi ghibli.I love the animae style and one day aspyr to work in an animae company….. but i would love to work for studi ghibli some day.

  10. Alicia

    Nauiisica is a close favorite for me, but so is Kiki’s Delivery Service. And even though Miyazaki didn’t make The Cat Returns, it’s still one of my favorite movies of all time that I could literally watch 10 times over. I’ve yet to see porco rosso… everytime I try, something goes wrong!!!

  11. Madison

    i love all of the movies…my favorite movies are:Spirited Away,Kiki’s Delivery Service,Howl’s Moving Castle, and My Next Door Neighbor Totoro.My first ghibli film i saw was Spirited Away,then MY Next Door Neighbor TotoroThen i saw kiki’s Delivery Service,and then Howl’s Moving Castle.I have only seen half of Princess Mononoke and the Valley of the Wind.OMG is what i thought and said after i watched the movies.True Anime in them,i say.I like Anime and Fantasy,and I have t say all of these movies are true of both,Anime and Fantasy.GO SOPHE and Totoro!

  12. Madison

    i just wish that the book i am writing to get published,which the pictures are drawn by me and made on the computer,i just hope that my book Charmers will he as Famous as the Harry Potter books,and that Charmers will get it’s own movies,for i hope it will have like 10 sequals,and i hope that i could also make movies like these Hayao movies,that would be kind of like Charmers.

  13. Madison

    :D
    if that would happen,well,i would just…instantly…make a How To draw Anime(the way i do,that is even good) in it,so my anime style art would be passed on…lol

  14. Madison

    Charmers is about a girl named Gwen Opal who is 13 and lives in Miami Texas,that keeps having dreams about a glowing green ball of light just floating telling her that she needed to find a few things and one thing that the ball of light says is,”The Charmers have to be found,and you are one of them.You must find the Book Of~” but then Gwen would wake up and wouldn’t know what book she would have to find.Then one morning when her mom says she has to get up and get a book to read from the library because she couldnt watch cartons all weekend long.Gwen would get up,and leave the house after walking to the library,then,when in the huge library with all of its books organized by plants,space,bugs,and stuff like that,she is in the Fantasy section of the library.Did i mention that the book shelves are super long?wel they are.While in the Fantasy section of the library,Gwen sees a book on the shelf that has a yellow brown with more yellow colored spine,but on the spine there are no words.Gwen takes it off the shelf with curiosity,and there is a picture of a fairy on the front in a walking and waveing pose.the book starts glowing and then,

  15. Madison

    and then the book glows with a green forcefield type thig on it,and it is so bright Gwen drops the book and covers her eyes as well as closes them.the book turns into the ball of light nd everything stops glowiing and Gwen looks.the ball of light turns into the fairy on the cover of the book,says that Gwen is the Fairy Charmer,that the fairy(her,the light ball) is Crystal,and that Gwen must find the Angel and Dragon Charmers.

  16. Madison

    well,that is all i give u for part of chapter one in my book,Charmers.i hope u will buy it and like it.my real name is Olivia L. Putnam.so look for that name with the book.it will have Crystal,and a dragon in what looks like books on the cover of he book.if i could put pictures here,i would,and show you.*sighs* well…..cya…good night.

  17. luke reeve

    i love watching ghibli films and i love the adventure its brill!
    the best ones so far i have watched are laputa, nausicaa, totoro, spirited away, howls moving castle, grave of the fireflies, mononoke.
    the ones that i want to watch are are all of them but mostly my neighbors the yamadas.
    also i am collecting the totoro stuff and accessorys.
    Over all they are brilliant!

  18. Tiffany_long timelover of the Miyazaki showcase films.

    OMG! i love these movies. my older brother intriduced me to them like 2 years ago and i fell in love with the art work and story lines. i love fantasy and in these they have everything. its so magicle.
    ive seen, naussica and the vally of the wind, spirited away, howl’s moving castle, princess mononoka, kiki’s delivery service, laputa castle in the sky and i think thats it??im sure ive seeen one more but cant remember…any way my favourite by far is howl’s moving castle and then spirited away. i love there story lines. im yet to watch my neighbor totoro. and any more that there is….
    i would like to go to japan and visit studio Ghibli and see how it all works.
    ok i gtg bye now. i love them all so far!!

  19. Charley Parker Post author

    Miyazaki’s animation can be extremely fluid at times, but only for certain passages. Miyazaki, and Japanese animators in general, tend to de-emphasize overall fluidity (meaning essentially the number of different drawings created per minute of onscreen motion) in favor of detailed backgrounds, dramatic lighting and mood.

    You can easily see what I mean if you compare his feature length films to classic Disney features like Pinocchio or Fantasia, or the 1940’s Warner Brothers cartoons, in which hand-drawn cartoon animation reached its peak in terms of the number of drawings per minute of animation (even to the point of creating in-between frames in which two drawings would be shot together to give the illusion of blended super-fluid motion).

    I’m not talking about the number of frames per minute, which hasn’t changed (24), but the number of unique drawings per minute of animation. The technique for modern hand-drawn animation is to let one drawing repeat for two or more frames. When this effect is exaggerated to save money, as in television animation, it is called “limited animation”.

    Most anime come in somewhere between full animation and the TV version of limited animation, except for short bursts of more fluid passages.

    I absolutely love Miyazaki’s movies; and while I think his stories and characterization, atmosphere and emotional content can outdo Disney, he has never matched the Disney classics in terms of overall fluidity of motion. It is simply not a priority for him or the other Japanese animators.

  20. Eric Bowman

    Interesting I would be fortunate enough to be featured on your blog in August, then come across this post on Miyazaki’s animated film, “My Neighbor Totoro”. I did the video package cover art for it thru Dave Willardson’s studio in the early 90’s — I always assumed it was a little-known but fun picture until now. This is a great informative site — thanks again for keeping it going, Charlie!

    Eric B

  21. Marjorie

    I disagree with Commenter #26… while Disney does often do animation on the cheap (sequels, direct-to-DVD, TV shows), their feature animation, all other quibbles aside, is incredibly fluid. On the other hand, while I love Miyazaki’s films for tons of reasons, every time I sit down to watch one I am bugged for 15-20 minutes by the choppy-ness of the animation, until I get used to it.

  22. Deli

    The thing with hayoa miyazaki Is that,
    Hes such a known artist. But not a sculptrual Artist.. More of a movie artist.. One idea comes and another goes.. And with those ideas he can create Such imaginative things, Which he adds into his movies, Just so that we can enjoy them. Personally I think One of my favoraites is only yesterday. I loved it. It was one of the most touching films ive ever seen.
    So i think your feeling of ”choppy ness” Can go to hell

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  26. Omar Ibrahim

    For the dearest greatness artist how gave us lovely wonderful word of imagination thannnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnks alto for every thing

  27. Darin Frederick

    I’m always in search for nice anime related tutorials and also articles . I arrived here from Search engines . Got to appreciate you because you possess helpful articles/tutorial on anime .
    Thanks . Wish to see more interesting posts in long run !

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