Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Tribute to Masters Series -- Hayao Miyazaki

I remember watching "My Neighbor Totoro" in theater in the late 1980s. How I wish I could bump into Totoro in a forest! (Of course, I wouldn't be as brave as the girl in the movie, who hopped onto Totoro's belly immediately and tickled his nose.) How I wish I could fly across the sky hugging onto Totoro! How I wish I could travel around inside the CatBus!

Hayao Miyazaki (宮崎 駿) once mentioned he read as many classic children's literature as possible. Some of his own biggest influence came from stories such as Ursula K. Le Guin's EarthSea series, Johanna Spyri's Heidi, Astrid Lindgren's Pippi Longstocking... etc. Artistically speaking, Jean Giraud (aka Moebius) had a big influence. This was apparent in Miyazaki's amazing manga depiction of Nausicca, Valley of the Wind.

Together with Isao Takahata (高畑 勲), the two masters set up Studio Ghibli and produced AMAZING movies over the years. Miyazaki's works include Nausicaa, Castle in the Sky, My Neighbor Totoro, Kiki's Delivery Service, Princess Mononoke, Spirited Away, Howl's Moving Castle... All are wonderful masterpieces. The earlier ones helped shape a part of me as I grew up.

What I love most about Miyazaki's work is the quietness of the story. The level of sophistication is beyond words. I read in a book that Takahata and him created the walk-towards-the-camera sequence. If you think about it, this is extremely hard to execute. Prior to that, all animations only have characters moving in a left-right direction. Their success in the moving-up-front sequence revolutionized the animation world. The famous Beauty and the Beast camera sequence derived from Miyazaki's and Takahata's technique.

Animator, director, screenwriter, manga artist, environmentalist. Hayao Miyazaki is a hard-working genius, and I continue to look forward to my idol's future works.

Hayao Miyazaki

Artwork by Hayao Miyazaki

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