Hayao Miyazaki Research Paper


Michael White

Survey of Animation



Hayao Miyazaki Research Paper


Hayao Miyazaki is a Japanese film director, manga artist, and animator, born on January 5, 1941. His work has been compared with the likes of Walt Disney, and has had a significant impact on the animation industry.

Miyazaki began his career in 1963, working under the studio Toei Douga. As his artistic talents continued to develop, he began to receive more recognition. He jumped from studio to studio during the 1960s and 1970s, and in 1978, he directed his first TV series, Conan: The Boy in the Future. The following year, his directorial debut in film came in the form of Lupin 3: The Castle of Cagliostro.

During the early 1980s, Miyazaki began development on a manga series known as Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind. Within a few years, its popularity began to increase rapidly, and Miyazaki was encouraged by Animage, the magazine responsible for serializing the manga, to create a movie adaptation. With permission to direct, Miyazaki hopped on board with the project, and a Nausicaa film was released and distributed by Toei in 1984.

Nausicaa was praised for its animation and its story, widely regarded as a masterpiece for its time. Watercolor paintings were used to create a majority of the backgrounds, and details were added to the eyes and hair to make the characters look realistic; among these details are subtle changes in their hair flow as they moved around, giving the characters fluid movements.

The Nausicaa film proved to be a huge success, and it led to the decision of Miyazaki creating his own animation studio to create his works. This studio was named “Studio Ghibli” in 1985 and through it, Miyazaki released more films throughout the years. Among his successes include, Grave of the Fireflies, Kiki’s Delivery Service, Princess Mononoke, and Spirited Away, each of which have received critical acclaim and went on to becoming box-office successes. Miyazaki has gone through semi-retirement many times, but he finally decided to settle down in 2013.

Miyazaki’s art style is reminiscent of many anime styles in Japan, yet with his own twists. The eyes are bright like most other artists, but a trait of Miyazaki is having his characters stumble around, opposing the notion that every person should move normally and not make any human mistakes, such as tripping or dropping objects. A very famous trait he does is giving detail to every character’s hair, and as such, many of his films revolve around a plot involving flight. This is so he can give the characters fluid movement and also show off how well he can portray hair swaying in the breeze.

A majority of Miyazaki’s films involve recurring topics that tend to reappear. Among these topics include feminism, pacifism, realism, and environmentalism. A handful of Miyazaki films such as Nausicaa, Kiki’s Delivery Service, and Spirited Away feature strong feminine leads whose intelligence, boldness, and resourcefulness prove vital to solving the problems faced in the movie plots.

In Nausicaa, the female protagonist is a fearless princess with a heart of gold who inspires bravery into the people around her and in return they have faith in her. Instead of foolishly combating the Ohm creatures that seem to threaten her world, she tries to befriend them and get an understanding of what the Ohm’s purpose is in the world. She discovers that the problem with the fields are the pollution in the soil caused by humanity in the past, and that the Ohm creatures only respond harshly due to the harsh environment they live in that poisons the mind with foul behavior.

In Kiki’s Delivery Service, the title protagonist, Kiki, is a witch-in-training who meets a young man named Tombo who she initially scoffs off as unimportant due to her upbringing that a boy should always introduce himself and ask permission before engaging in conversation with a lady. It demonstrates Kiki’s boldness and determination to her beliefs. Throughout the first half of the movie, Kiki displays a cheerful, positive attitude toward life, and encourages people to become positive, similar to Nausicaa. However, during the movie, she becomes less of a role model and more like an ideal human. After experiencing a block from her magic, she grows depressed and melancholy, much like a real person would during a rut in their life. Later on, when she is reminded that the halt in magic will pass by in time, she begins to hope again, and the hope that she has results in her saving Tombo’s life at the end of the movie. With her hope and power restored, she is able to fly her broomstick to catch Tombo before he falls to his death, further emphasizing the sheer willpower that this protagonist has.

In Spirited Away, ten-year-old Chihiro moves to a new neighborhood with her parents, who turn into pigs after eating “spirit food”. Initially a very reluctant and shy girl, throughout the film she overcomes her fear and timidness and proves to be of great use to others as well as successful in moving the plot forward. Being young, she is used to being told how to perform tasks, and upon being thrown into a new environment, she hesitates even in doing that. By meeting more people, such as her acquaintance Haku, and learning that fear must be put aside to get the job done, she becomes a stronger character and acts on her own will, breaking out of her shell and having an impact on others around her.

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