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Happy Birthday Hayao Miyazaki

Hayao Miyazak

Hayao Miyazak

Born this day in Tokyo in 1941, Hayao Miyazak, a Japanese artist, film director and animator of many popular fantasy feature films. In his fifty year career he has produced and directed over a dozen internationally acclaimed films, along with partner Isao Takahata, founded Studio Ghibli. The success of Miyazaki’s films has invited comparisons with American animator Walt Disney, and he has been named one of the most influential people by Time magazine.

The list of his more popular films is not short. These include: Tenkû No Shiro Rapyuta (Laputa: The Castle in the Sky), Tonari No Totoro (My Neighbor Totoro), Mononoke Hime (Princess Mononoke), Sen To Chihiro No Kamikakushi (Spirited Away), Hauru No Ugoku Shiro (Howl’s Moving Castle), Gake No Ue No Ponyo (Ponyo On The Cliff) and this year’s Karigurashi No Arietti (The Borrower Arrietty), which he produced.

Gake No Ue No Ponyo is said to be his last directoral project.

Born in Tokyo, Miyazaki began his animation career in 1961 when he joined Toei Animation. From there, Miyazaki worked as an in-between artist for Gulliver’s Travels Beyond the Moon where he pitched his own ideas that eventually became the movie’s ending. He continued to work in various roles in the animation industry over the decade until he was able to direct his first feature film Lupin III: The Castle of Cagliostro which was released in 1979. After the success of his next film, Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, he co-founded Studio Ghibli where he continued to produce many feature films until his temporary retirement in 1997 following Princess Mononoke.

While Miyazaki’s films have long enjoyed both commercial and critical success in Japan, he remained largely unknown to the West until the American release of Princess Mononoke. At home, Princess Mononoke was the highest-grossing film in Japan, and it proved equally popular abroad. Miyazaki returned to animation with Spirited Away, which was nominated for Best Animated Film by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (which it eventually won, among many other awards). The film topped Titanic‘s sales at the Japanese box office, also won Picture of the Year at the Japanese Academy Awards and was the first anime film to win an American Academy Award.