Similar in how I devoted multiple weeks last year to Nicolas Cage, 2013 will also see a handful of theme weeks popping up on The Cinematic Katzenjammer, starting with seven days dedicated to Hayao Miyazaki, the Japanese animator who has given us countless fairy tales and masterpieces.
Born on January 5, 1941, Miyazaki grew up in the heart of Tokyo during World War II. His father worked for his uncle at an airplane factory and Miyazaki was fascinated with airplanes at a very young age, drawing them over and over. His love for aviation can be seen in a handful of films, with Porco Rosso being the most obvious. Unfortunately, with the war going on, Miyazaki had to move a lot, attending all sorts of different schools. When he attended an American-influenced elementary school, Miyazaki fell in love with manga and really wanted to become an artist, however he wasn’t the strongest at drawing human cartoons as his only experience was with planes and other war machines. Knowing he needed to expand his talents, Miyazaki began watching countless animated films, trying to hone his craft and build on his inspirations.
Future Boy Cohan displayed the very beginning of his style of anime (both plot and visuals). Although he wasn’t the main director he pretty much did everything else including settings, character design, mechanical design, half of the storyboard and personally checked each script, storyboard, and layout done by his staff. It also influenced many famous animators that were and will be working in the industry.
After countless jobs at a handful of animation studios, including writing for Lupin the 3rd and Panda! Go Panda! (two popular animated series), Miyazaki was finally given the chance to direct his first film, Lupin the 3rd: The Castle of Cagliostro in 1979. However, it wasn’t until 1984 that Miyazaki was able to make a film based off of his own story (and actually, a comic book he wrote) with Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind. Nausicaa combined a variety of his passions, from aviation to environmentalism, and laying the blueprint for nearly all of his future films.
A year later, Miyazaki, along with other animators, founded Studio Ghibli, an animation studio that has since produced every one of his films and countless others. Releasing a new film every two years or so, Miyazaki developed the reputation of being a master of his craft and even being called “The Walt Disney of Japan”, even though he has never been a fan of that title. His films have found not only Japanese success, but with the help of the actual House of Mouse, have found their ways into the hearts and minds of a wider audience all around the world. Miyazaki is also very close friends with Disney and Pixar’s chief creative officer, John Lasseter. In 2004, Miyazaki announced his retirement after completing Howl’s Moving Castle, but has since come back into the game with Ponyo in 2008 and a couple of other releases slated for the future, including his first sequel, Porco Rosso 2.
In the following week, expect a review for nearly all of his films, features surrounding his work, and/or lists involving the characters he’s created. Below his is filmography that I will be updating with links to the reviews as they come out. If any of you readers would like to participate, feel free to email me here or comment below.
Lupin the Third: The Castle of Cagliostro (1979)
Nausicaa and the Valley of the Wind (1984)
Castle in the Sky (1986)
My Neighbor Totoro (1988)
Kiki’s Delivery Service (1989)
Porco Rosso (1992)
Princess Mononoke (1997)
Spirited Away (2001)
Howl’s Moving Castle (2004)