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The Films of Hayao Miyazaki:
My introduction into the inventive and enrapturing world of Hayao Miyazaki dates back to
summer 1995 when I inquisitively rented a VHS copy of My Neighbor Totoro. Ive managed to collect his
entire filmography throughout the past two decades; a collection that I continuously refer to either for
creative motivation or an evening of fantastical enjoyment.
As an ardent devotee of film, animation, and mangaor Japanese comic artI was
inadvertently acquainted with Miyazakis work through various channels (i.e. many Japanese
animations, comic books, and electronic games bare the mark of his impact). As a protg of Osamu
Tezuka, a man unanimously labeled the godfather of manga, Miyazaki has in turn influenced a
generation of aspirers and imitators (the most noteworthy being Pixar Studios head honcho John
Lasseter). Thankfully, through Lasseters encouragement and Disneys marketing muscle, Miyazakis
work is attainable throughout the Western regions of the globe.
Since the 1979 theatrical release of The Castle Cagliostro, Hayao Miyazaki has exceeded the
boundaries of modern storytelling. There is a naturalness and serene quality to Miyazakis work that is
unmatched by most contemporary filmmaking. His films encompass specific attributes that are too
difficult to express verbally and can only be truly attained through multiple viewings. I am proud that
our public library has included his work to share with the community of Decorah, for in my mind there is
no greater living filmmakeranimated or otherwise.
Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind (1984) [116m] Rising from the ashes
of a collapsed Utopia, a young princess strives to preserve her serene
kingdom--secluded in a valley--sheltered from contaminated, insect-
infested forests, and opposing nations. An outstanding ecological fable
teeming with imagination and spectacle. Written and directed by
Miyazaki, adapted from his own manga (graphic novel). Note shorter
print/alternative 1986 release Warriors Of The Wind.
Laputa: The Castle In The Sky (1986) [124m] Irresistible fantasy about an
orphaned boy baring a spark of adventure and his entanglements with air
pirates, corrupt government officials, and a mysterious girl who seemingly
fell from the sky. A dazzling escapade invoking an authentic sense of awe
and wonder; an ideal companion piece to Nausicaa of the Valley of Wind.
Gorgeous Joe Hisaishi score. Alternative title: Castle In The Sky.
My Neighbor Totoro (1988) [87m] Lovingly animated coming-of-age
tale of two sisters who happen upon a giant tree spirit inhabiting a
woodland near their home in post-World War II Japan. Majestic,
compassionate, and unforgettable. A masterpiece of simplicity.
Kikis Delivery Service (1989) [105m] An adolescent witchwith flying
broomstick and little black cat in tow--honors her family tradition by
traveling to a new community where she opens a delivery business. An
absolute delight with keen observations on responsibility and self-
esteem. Written by Miyazaki adapted from a novel by Eiko Kadono.
Princess Mononoke (1997) [134m] A young prince cursed by a demon
god voyages to the western regions of feudal Japan in order to
encounter his fate. There he comes across an industrial community lead
by a woman at war with the natural world and its prized occupant: a
princess, raised by wolves, sworn to defend the forests. Miyazakis
reoccurring themes of feminism, humanism, mythology and ecology
have seldom been set to more enthralling surroundings. A master
filmmaker at the peak of his powers.
Spirited Away (2001) [124m] A prepubescent girl, willful and lethargic, is
deprived of her identity and imprisoned within a bathhouse full of spirits.
Upon custody she is coerced into labor tending to the baths and in turn
acquires humility, reliability, and companionship. A superb foray into an
enchanting world full of unforgettable sights and characters that
deservedly won the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature.
Howls Moving Castle (2004) [119m] Sprawling adaptation of Diana
Wynn Jones charming novel about a young woman, hexed with the
body of an old hag by a malicious witch, venturing into uncharted
territory in search of an antidote where she stumbles upon a handsome
sorcerer and his mobile fortress. Intrepid and overwhelming at times,
but exquisitely animated and never loses its sense of fun.
Ponyo On The Cliff By The Sea (2008) [101m] Displeased with her ocean
dwellings, and to the chagrin of her overly protective father, a goldfish
mystically transforms into a human girl and befriends the little boy caring
for her. Original, sweetly understated reimagining of Hans Christian
Andersons The Little Mermaid manages to sustain its jubilant nature
The Wind Rises (2013) [126m] Highly idealized, but no less
affectionate, animated biography of Jir Horikoshi, a passionately
driven engineer responsible for the Mitsubishi A6M Zero: an airplane
used prominently in World War II much to the dismay of its
conscientious inventor. Quietly moving and honorable examination of
one of twentieth centurys most auspicious figures though its
deliberate pacing may turn off younger viewers. Miyazakis most
personal film to date.