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Hayao Miyazaki is one of the leading figures in anime and the best known in the United States, having succeeded in making films such as My Neighbor Totoro (Tonari no Totoro, 1988), Spirited Away (Sen to Chihiro no Kamikakushi, 2001), and Princess Mononoke (Mononoke-hime, 1997) very popular with children despite the firm position of the Disney classics, The Lion King, Aladdin, etc.

Miyazaki 450

"My Neighbor Totoro" ("Tonari no Totoro", 1988)

Inspired by Disney, Miyazaki used to watch and re-watch Disney movies in order to recopy them. In 1996, Miyazaki's studio, Studio Ghibli, Inc. agreed to a distribution deal with Disney.


Miyazaki was born on January 5th, 1941 in Tokyo. He graduated from Gakushuin University in 1963 with degrees in political science and economics. The same year he got a job with Toei Animation, one of the first major animation studios in Japan. Miyazaki orginally worked as an in-betweener, but received notice in the studio when he pitched an alternate ending for the studio's film Gulliver's Travels Beyond the Moon. The ending was used and Miyazaki began moving up in the studio. For many of Toei's films after that, Miyazaki worked as a key animator, concept artitst, scene designer, storyboarder, and character developer.

In 1971, Miyazaki left Toei Animation for A Pro. At A Pro, Miyzaki worked with Isao Takahata in developing several episodes of Lupin III, Pippi Longstockings (which was never finished,) Panda! Go, Panda!, and The Castle of Cagliostro, which was a full length movie of Lupin III.

Miyazaki's directorial debut was Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind (Kaze no Tani no Nausicaa 1984). The film introduced what would become many of his staple themes throughout his directorial career: war, ecology, totalitarianism, self-reliance, coming of age, flight, gender roles, and villains who are not entirely evil. The film was adapted from Miyazaki's manga series of the same name, which he had started two years earlier. Nausicaa was so successful that Miyazaki was able to leave A Pro and found his own studio, Studio Ghibli, Inc.

Within Ghibli, Miyazaki continued producing landmark films, many of which are now considered classics in Japan. Castle in the Sky (Tenko no Shiro Rapyuta) 1986, My Neighbor Totoro 1988, Kiki's Delivery Service (Majo no Takkyubin) 1989, and Porco Rosso (Kurenai no Buta) 1992 were all greeted with success.

In 1997, Miyazaki produced one of his greatest successes, Princess Mononoke. By far his most adult film, Mononoke touches base with many of the themes he originally visited in Nausicaa, but further expands on his ideas about ecology, war, and strong females. Princess Mononoke won the award for Best Picture in the Japanese Academy Awards.

After Mononoke, Miyazaki announced his retirement. However, inspiration struck Miyazaki again during his extended vacation and he returned to Ghibli in order to produce Spirited Away. This film is considered Miyazaki's greatest achievement to date. It outgrossed Titanic in Japanese theaters and went on to win Best Picture at the Japanese Academy Awards, First Prize in the Berlin Film Festival, and Best Animated Film in the U.S. Academy Awards. Spirited Away is what truly vaulted Miyazaki into international film stardom.

Miyazaki's most recent movie was Howl's Moving Castle (Hauru no Ugoku Shiro) 2004. Based on a novel by British Writer Dianna Wynne Jones, Howl's also went on to outgross Titanic in box offices. Following Howl's, Miyazaki was awarded lifetime achievement by the Venice Film Festival. Miyazaki has announced what he intends to be his final animation project, Gake no Ue no Ponyo, which is due out in the summer of 2008.

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Some famous Miyazaki anime feature films[]