Hayao Miyazaki is a Japanese animator, writer and director of legendary status. Although he still does not enjoy mainstream success in his country of origin, Miyazaki's brilliant animated works are loved and cherished by all who see them. This particular entry will provide a brief biography of Miyazaki as well as a summary of his work.
About Hayao Miyazaki
Hayao Miyazaki was born in Tokyo on 5 January, 1941. His animation career started in 1963 as an animator at the studio Toei Douga (now known as Toei Animation. From the start he earned attention through his incredible ability to draw, and his seemingly endless proposals of film ideas.
In 1971, he moved to A Pro, then to Nippon Animation in 1973, where he was heavily involved in the World Masterpiece Theater TV animation series for the next five years.
In 1978, he directed his first television series, Conan, The Boy in Future, then moved to Tokyo Movie Shinsha in 1979 to direct his first movie, the classic Lupin III: The Castle of Cagliostro. In 1984 he premiered Nausicaä of the Valley of Wind, based on the manga of the same title he had started two years before. The success of the movie allowed him to start the animation studio, Studio Ghibli1, where Miyazaki has since written, directed, produced and animated countless films - all of which enjoyed critical and box office success. Princess Mononoke received the Japan Academy Award for Best Film and was the highest-grossing (around US$150 million) domestic film in Japan's history until it was taken over by another Miyazaki work, Spirited Away2.
Miyazaki also works in the manga field. His most successful work was Nausicaä, an epic tale he worked on intermittently from 1982 to 1994 while he was busy making animated films. His manga Hikoutei Jidai was later turned into his 1992 film Porco Rosso. Most of his movies are also available in manga format, allowing the fan to take their favourite films to be easily transported with them.
Hayao Miyazaki's Works
Film and Television
- Lupin III TV - 1971 and 1980 (TV)
- World Masterpiece Theater TV - 1973 (TV)
- Conan, The Boy in Future - 1978 (TV)
- Lupin III: Castle of Cagliostro - 1979
- Nausicaä of the Valley of Wind - 1984
- Laputa: The Castle in the Sky3 - 1986
- My Neighbor Totoro - 1988
- Kiki's Delivery Service4 - 1989
- Porco Rosso - 1992
- Sora Iro no Tane - 1992 (TV spot)
- Nandarou - 1992 (TV spot)
- On Your Mark5 - 1995
- Princess Mononoke - 1997
- Spirited Away - 2001
- Howl's Moving Castle6 - 2004
Enjoying Miyazaki In Your Own Language
In 1996 the Disney-Tokuma Deal agreement was made between the Walt Disney Corporation and Tokuma Publishing. As a result of this agreement, Disney was granted:
- The worldwide (including Japan, but excluding the rest of Asia) home video distribution rights to certain Studio Ghibli works7
- The worldwide (excluding Asia) theatrical distribution rights to the film Princess Mononoke.
- The worldwide distribution rights to several live action movies produced by Tokuma Publishing, such as Opium Wars and Gamera 2.
Exclusions from the original agreement:
- As mentioned above, Disney's worldwide film and video distribution rights do not include Asia (except for Japan).
- DVD rights were not included in the deal.
- Grave of the Fireflies8 is not included in the deal because Tokuma Publishing does not hold the rights to it. It was produced by a company called Shinchosha. English-subtitled and dubbed Grave is currently available from Central Park Media.
- I Can Hear the Sea/Ocean Waves9 was not included either, probably because it was a film made specifically for television.
Changes from the original agreement:
- DVD rights are now included.
- I Can Hear the Sea/Ocean Waves - released on DVD by BVHE Japan.
- Home video distribution in Taiwan through BVHE Taiwan.
Striking a Chord - Miyazaki and Joe Hisaishi
The music of Miyazaki has a very unique and whimsical feel that add to the sense of fun, drama, and love in his movies. This is no coincidence. The majority of the music in Hayao Miyazaki's films is composed by Japanese composer Joe Hisaishi.
In 1993, Hisaishi created the Image Album for Nausicaä of the Valley of Wind. Although the soundtrack was to be produced by a famous composer, Isao Takahata10, Miyazaki was so impressed with the Image Album that he often played it during production, and eventually asked that Hisaishi write the soundtrack.
Hisaishi composed the music for many Miyazaki films, including Laputa, Kiki, Porco Rosso, Mononoke Hime, Spirited Away, and Howl's Moving Castle.
The name 'Hisaishi Joe' (with the family name written first) came from 'Quincy Jones'. The kanji for 'Hisaishi' could be read as 'Kuishi', which is close to the Japanese pronunciation of 'Quincy', and 'Joe' of course came from 'Jones'. He chose the name himself when he needed a stagename.
Celebrities and Miyazaki
Over the years, the English dubbing of Miyazaki's films has attracted a few stars.
Among the most notable of these is Mark Hamill11 and Andy Dick in Castle in the Sky; Daveigh Chase12, Lauren Holly and John Ratzenberger in Spirited Away; and most recently, Christian Bale13, Emily Mortimer and Billy Crystal in Howl's Moving Castle.
The Future of Miyazaki
Miyazaki has said that he is leaving Ghibli to make way for young people. However, he also stated that he might assist in some capacity in the future, possibly by producing and writing scripts.
Miyazaki formally 'left' Ghibli on January 14th, 1998. He built a new studio, Butaya ('Pig House'), near Studio Ghibli as his retirement abode. On 16 January, 1999, Miyazaki formally returned to Studio Ghibli as Head of Office.
In 2001, Miyazaki completed Spirited Away. At a press conference held after the completion of the film, Miyazaki stated that it was to be the last feature-length film he'd direct.
Thankfully, he back-pedalled on this statement too. Miyazaki took over the director's role on Howl's Moving Castle after the original director, Mamoru Hosoda, abruptly left the project.
No matter what happens in the future of Miyazaki's filmmaking career, it seems that people will be enjoying his classic works for many years to come.