Hayao Miyazaki is regarded as one of the greatest creators of animated films, and his work certainly stands as some of the best the genre has to offer. Miyazaki began as a low-level animator for children's cartoons such as Gulliver's Space Travels, eventually becoming director and key animator on many films and series, including Future Boy Conan and The Castle of Cagliostro. He frequently collaborated with Isao Takahata, director of Grave of the Fireflies. Miyazaki and Takahata co-founded Ghibli Films, a name that would become synonymous with quality. Miyazaki's works with Ghibli contained more of his own personal vision. Beginning with Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind, his films took on a softer touch and often included the adventures of young girls. Nausicaa, and others including Kiki's Delivery Service, The Crimson Pig, and My Neighbor Totoro, contain elements of fantasy and often reveal humanist, ecological themes. Because of the high quality of his animation and his positive messages, Miyazaki's films were among eight from the Ghibli studio that were acquired for U.S. distribution by Disney; this includes Nausicaa, as well as Kiki's Delivery Service, Princess Mononoke, and others. Disney's agreement includes theatrical and video distribution, as well as voice dubbing using major American actors. Miyazaki once again stunned audiences worldwide with the release of Spirited Away in 2001. Acquired by Disney and released in the U.S. the following year, stateside audiences who had been enraptured by the adventures of Princess Mononoke once again found Miyazaki in top form with this tale of a young girl looking for a way back to reality after entering a mysterious parallel universe while visiting an abandoned amusement park. Winning the Oscar for Best Animated Feature at the 75th annual Academy Awards, despite recieving only a half-hearted stateside release by Disney, Spirited Away was quickly rushed back into theaters in the week following the Oscars to capitalize on its newfound status. His 2004 feature Howl's Moving Castle enjoyed a stateside release, as did his charming 2008 fantasy Ponyo, a film that recaptured the innocent child-like wonder of his earliest American successes. He wrote the screenplays for 2010's The Secret Life of Arrietty, as well as the 2011 project From Up on Poppy Hill that was directed by Miyazaki's son.
Biography by Jonathan E. Laxamana
- His father's family owned an airplane parts factory.
- Often referred to as the Japanese Walt Disney.
- Founded his own animation studio, Studio Ghibli, in 1985.
- Established himself in Western culture with the U.S. release of Princess Mononoke (1997), which won Best Picture in Japan and set Japanese box-office records.
- Refused to attend the 2003 Academy Awards as a protest to U.S. involvement in Iraq.
- Favors hand-drawn animation over computer generation.