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By Hanna Roseen, Coulee City

Born January 5, 1940, Hayao Miyazaki is a Japanese animator, director, producer, screenwriter, author, and manga artist, and one of the greatest filmmakers regardless of genre. His films are popular across the globe and with people of all ages. The vast majority of the films are drawn by hand rather than created with a computer. 

He is one of three men who started the Japanese animation studio, Studio Ghibli. Most of Miyaki’s works were created in this studio, but not all of the films that come out of Studio Ghibli are created by Miyazaki. However, he often contributes to films by other creators. The English dubs (the voices done in English) of his films are done by Disney. Miyazaki is known for frequently announcing his retirement, only to announce he is coming out of retirement to create another film. This most recently occurred in November 2021. 

Library Staff Discuss Their Experiences of Miyazaki’s Films 

“My Neighbor Totoro was introduced to me by my Japanese grandmother. I have been slowly acquiring his movies and hope to share them with my grandchildren one day.”

 Jenny Lee, Chelan

“I started watching Ghibli films just before my family moved to Japan. It helped us to understand a little bit of what our lives would look like living in rural Japan, and the magic of them helped me get over the idea that I would be marching myself across the state to live with Grandma and Grandpa instead of flying halfway around the world to live in Japan. 

I love how his films all share strong messages in often subtle ways, and have something in them that will appeal to someone of any age.

I remember being in high school when Ponyo came out, and all of us learned the main song in Japanese (I’m sure our Japanese teacher was THRILLED). 

While it’s not directly one of his films, but one by his studio, I remember having my heart absolutely ripped out when watching Grave of the Fireflies in my first period Japanese class (with a different Japanese teacher) – it’s safe to say we were all a little traumatized. However, it also helped me to understand why we always got stared down when visiting the bomb museum in nearby Nagasaki, for many people there this was their family, and this was the 9/11 scenario of their lives. 

On a happier note, it’s always a good chuckle to hear Hayao Miyazaki is coming out of retirement to do one more film… AGAIN!”

Katie McNall, Wenatchee 

“I love Ghibli films! I’ve watched them since I was a kid! My favorite part is the art. It’s just so beautiful and magical. Howl’s Moving Castle is probably my favorite movie and also inspired a love of the books it was based on.  Although some of them gave me nightmares when I was young (Princess Mononoke and Spirited Away).” 

Lily Rice, Republic and Curlew Libraries

“The slower pace to the movies invite a deeper appreciation of the beautiful animation, while the magic and wonder of ones like My Neighbor Totoro and Ponyo encourage viewers to see that in their own lives, romanticizing the every day and the natural world.” 

Hanna Roseen, Coulee City

Films

The Castle of Cagliostro. English via Hoopla. Español (1979)

When thief Lupin III and his sidekick attempt to hunt down a counterfeiter, they end up in the European country of Cagliostro and unwittingly attract the attention of the mysterious monarch who rules there.

 

Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind. English. Español (1984)

Nausicaa is the princess of a rural valley that lives at peace on the edge of a deadly fungal wasteland, until a ship carrying a weapon from a bygone industrial age crashes nearby. When warriors from a far country come to retrieve the artifact, their invasion draws Nausica?a and her people into a sprawling political conflict. Set 1,000 years after a global war that nearly destroyed all life on Earth.

Castle in the Sky. English (1986)

A young boy and a mysterious girl search for a fantastic floating castle while trying to outrun pirates, the army, and government agents.

 

My Neighbor Totoro. English. (1988)

After moving to the country to be near their ailing mother, two young sisters are befriended by a variety of mysterious creatures.

 

Kiki’s Delivery Service. English. Español (1989)

A young witch named Kiki and her chatty black cat Jiji befriend a bakery owner. Kiki is an enterprising young girl, but she must follow tradition in order to become a full-fledged witch. Landing in a far-off city, and with the help of her new friend, she sets up a high-flying delivery service and begins a wonderful experience of independence and responsibility as she finds her place in the world.

Porco Rosso. English. Español (1992)

Slouching towards middle age, Porco Rosso makes his living by flying about in his red bi-plane and fighting sky bandits who prey on cruise ships sailing the Adriatic. When he’s not engaging in dog fights, this pilot lives on a deserted island retreat. Porco was once a strapping young man, but after his entire squadron was wiped out, he is mysteriously transformed into a pig. Then he is defeated in a dogfight against a dashing American rival, who has been hired by the dastardly bandits. With his plane damaged, he finds a repair hanger near Milan where a local woman fixes his plane.

Princess Mononoke. English (1997)

A young warrior searching for a cure for a deadly curse becomes entangled in a battle between a clan of humans and the forest’s animal gods.

 

Spirited Away. English. (2001)

Chihiro and her parents accidentally wander into another world ruled by witches and monsters. When her parents are captured by the ruler of the world, she tricks the witch into hiring her so she can figure out how to free them.

Howl’s Moving Castle. English. En Español. (2004)

Sophie, a quiet girl working in a hat shop, finds her life thrown into turmoil when she is literally swept off her feet by a handsome but mysterious wizard named Howl. The vengeful Witch of the Waste, jealous of their friendship, puts a spell on Sophie. In a life changing adventure, Sophie climbs aboard Howl’s magnificent moving castle and enters a magical world on a quest to break the spell.

Ponyo. English (2008)

A young boy named Sosuke rescues a goldfish named Ponyo, and they embark on a fantastic journey of friendship and discovery before Ponyo’s father, a powerful sorcerer, forces her to return to her home in the sea. Ponyo’s desire to be human upsets the delicate balance of nature and triggers a gigantic storm. Only Ponyo’s mother, a beautiful sea goddess, can restore nature’s balance and make Ponyo’s dreams come true.

The Wind Rises. English (2013)

Jiro dreams of flying and designing beautiful airplanes, inspired by the famous Italian aeronautical designer Caproni. Nearsighted from a young age and unable to be a pilot, Jiro joins a major Japanese engineering company in 1927 and becomes one of the worlds most innovative and accomplished airplane designers. Jiro meets and falls in love with Nahoko, and grows and cherishes his friendship with his colleague Honjo. The film chronicles much of his life, depicting key historical events.

Studio Ghibli Binge Box. English

Includes Castle in the Sky, Howl’s Moving Castle, Kiki’s Delivery Service, My Neighbor Totoro, Ponyo, and Spirited Away. 

Books

The Art of Miyazaki’s Spirited Away. Print

Co-winner of the Golden Bear at the recent Berlin Film Festival, “Spirited Away” is the latest fantastical creation by animation master Hayao Miyazaki. This lavish coffee-table book features artwork, stills, sketches, storyboards, and illustrations from the movie.

The Art of Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind : Watercolor Impressions. Print

From the vaults of Academy Award-winning director, Hayao Miyazaki! Original watercolor illustrations used as concept sketches for both the manga and film versions of Nausica of the Valley of the Wind. Take a peek behind the curtain to see the creative process of the most acclaimed anime director in the world today. This full-color, over-sized, hardcover book also includes Miyazaki’s earliest sketches that eventually became the basis for some of the most beloved anime movies of the past 20 years.

Studio Ghibli : The Films of Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata. Print

The animations of Japan’s Studio Ghibli are amongst the highest regarded in the movie industry. Their delightful films rank alongside the most popular non-English language films ever made, with each new eagerly-anticipated release a guaranteed box-office smash. Yet this highly profitable studio has remained fiercely independent, producing a stream of imaginative and individual animations. The studio’s founders, long-time animators Isao Takahata and Hayao Miyazaki, have created timeless masterpieces … This … examines all their major works, including Laputa: castle in the sky, Grave of the fireflies, My neighbour Totoro, Kiki’s delivery service, Only yesterday, Porco Rosso, Pom Poko, Whisper of the heart, Princess Mononoke and Howl’s moving castle, as well as the critically acclaimed Spirited away and The tale of Princess Kaguya

My Neighbor Totoro Graphic Novels. Volume 1. Volume 2. Volume 3. Volume 4

Eleven-year-old Satsuki and her little sister Mei move into a historic country house with their dad and experience the magic of the Soot Sprites and the world of Totoro, a magical forest creature.

 

Sharing a House with the Never-Ending Man. Ebook via Hoopla

A highly entertaining memoir describing what it was like to work for Japan’s premiere animation studio, Studio Ghibli, and its reigning genius Hayao Miyazaki. A behind-the-scenes look at what it’s like for a gaijin (foreigner) to work in a thoroughly Japanese organization run by four of the most famous and culturally influential people in modern Japan.

Biblioteca Studio Ghibli: La princesa Mononoke. Ebook via Hoopla.

La princesa Mononoke es la película más desafiante e interesante de Hayao Miyazaki. Con ella, Studio Ghibli batió todos los récords imaginables en Japón y se ganó el favor de crítica y público. La historia, en torno a un guerrero obligado a abandonar su hogar después de haber sido maldito, se sitúa en el corazón del conflicto entre las fuerzas de la naturaleza y las del progreso. Hermosa, triste, y enigmática, esta obra es una carta abierta de Miyazaki al público.

Hayao Miyazaki: Master of Japanese Animation. eAudio via Hoopla

Oscar-winning director Hayao Miyazaki is the genius behind such animated classics as Princess Mononoke, Kiki’s Delivery Service, and Nautica of the Valley of the Winds. His bountiful imagination and compassion have earned him accolades the world over. Until the early 1990s, Miyazaki’s work was largely unfamiliar to American audiences. But that would soon change, and now fans of all ages eagerly await new material from the master. Setting the bar high for quality animation, Miyazaki’s films break all sorts of rules and push many of the boundaries common to Western animation. Often exploring very adult themes, Miyazaki’s films challenge audiences while remaining supremely entertaining. Helen McCarthy presents this essential introduction to Miyazaki’s life and films, providing character bios, plot outlines and critical analysis. Fans of anime, manga, or just animation in general will love this captivating look at a true genius.

Blog cover image: Hayao Miyazaki 201211 by 大臣官房人事課 is licensed under CC BY 4.0 / Image cropped, background added.

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