Animation is a wonderful thing. It truly unlocks the artist’s imagination and allows them to create fantastic and beautiful moving images that are not at all bound by the constraints of reality.


A few artists have understood this medium’s potential. Walt Disney was one, John Lasseter is another, but perhaps the greatest of all the animators is Hayao Miyazaki.


Born in Japan in 1941, Hayao Miyazaki has been working as an animator and illustrator since 1963. Miyazaki worked on some features, short films, and manga comic books, but Miyazaki was destined to be a director. Anyone who makes films as good as Miyazaki is born with some sort of gift for film-making.


His first feature film, “The Castle of Cagliostro,” opened in 1979 to good reviews and a decent box office turn out. But it was in 1984, with the release “Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind” that Miyazaki’s career really took off. That film, though technically produced before the studio’s forming, is generally considered to be the start of Studio Ghibli.


It is at Studio Ghibli that Miyazaki made classic films as “My Neighbor Totoro,” “Princess Mononoke,” “Spirited Away,” “Ponyo,” and his most recent Academy Award nominated film, “The Wind Rises.”


If you are looking to check out any of Miyazaki’s movies then start with “My Neighbor Totoro.” It’s by far the most approachable, and is a children’s film that deserves to be compared to “The Wizard of Oz” and “Willy Wonka” and “The Chocolate Factory.” No film that I’ve seen has captured the wonder and joy of being a child in a new, exciting, foreign place like “My Neighbor Totoro.” Show this movie to your kid, and you will both really enjoy yourself.


If you are looking to dive right into the best of Miyazaki, consider watching “Princess Monokoke” or “Spirited Away.”  “Princess Monokoke” may be the best animation ever made and “Spirited Away” was rightly awarded the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature back in 2002.


Approaching Miyazaki is difficult for those who just can not get into anime. However, Miyazaki’s film constantly pushes the boundaries of his medium, and will, without a doubt go down as one of the greatest filmmakers of his generation.


Miyazaki recently came back from retirement; so, expect to see something from him in the future.



Have you seen anything by Hayao Miyazaki? Are you interested? Let me know in the comments below.