Creator / Hayao Miyazaki

"In order to grow your audience, you must betray their expectations."

Hayao Miyazaki (宮崎駿) (born January 5, 1941) is both the co-founder of Studio Ghibli and the single most successful and renowned animator in Japan since Osamu Tezuka (which also makes him the most famous Japanese animator worldwide).

Miyazaki's father and uncle owned a large airplane factory, and as a child, Miyazaki mostly drew airplanes when he first learned how to draw; the influences of growing up around flying machines have resonated throughout his work since.

He began his career in the early-'60s at Toei, but came to prominence writing and directing anime for television in the '70s, including several episodes of the Lupin III (Green Jacket) TV series. This led to his first feature film work as director of an action-adventure caper flick starring the Lupin characters: The Castle of Cagliostro (which, despite its liberties with the characters, has become an acknowledged classic for both the Lupin franchise and Miyazaki). In addition to his early writing and directing work, he also lent his artistic talents to numerous anime series during this time by providing (among other things) storyboards, scene design, organisation, and occasional key animation for the early entries into the World Masterpiece Theater series.

In 1984, Miyazaki and producer Isao Takahata scraped together a staff and enough financial support to make a feature film: Nausicaš of the Valley of the Wind, based on a Miyazaki-penned manga. The film's success allowed Miyazaki and Takahata to set up their own studio — Ghibli — which became their base of operations from then onwards.

One indicator of the stature and craftmanship of Miyazaki comes from who licenses his films in the United States: Disney paid exorbitant amounts of money to become the exclusive distributor of his works in English on his terms. Nausicaa suffered both a Macekre (Warriors of the Wind) and video game derivatives that completely missed the point of the film; when he heard that Miramax would alter Princess Mononoke for American audiences, he allegedly sent the American-language version's producers a katana with a two-word note attached: "No cuts".

Miyazaki has gained notoriety for vocalizing his beliefs regardless of whom he might offend, which makes him a unique case of an executive who goes by his word. He didn't accept his 2003 Academy Award in person because America had gone to war with Iraq and he had refused to travel to the US. He also considers himself a feminist, which should make it no big surprise that nearly all of his films feature female main characters. He doesn't keep in touch in high-tech gadgets and consumer products; only his most popular titles have CG elements in them, and he later shut down Ghibli's entire CG department. (Recently, however, he has said that whether hand-drawn animation or CGI is used is not as important as the talent of the person doing the animation.) He has also openly criticized high-tech materialistic societies (he once compared the iPad to "masturbation") and has criticized the anime industry for being overrun by Otaku, who "don't spend time watching real people" and are "humans who can't stand looking at other humans."

Miyazaki currently stands alone as the only anime director recognized by Hollywood's highest honor, the Academy Award. His 2001 film Spirited Away won the Oscar for Best Animated Feature Film in 2003, improbably defeating both Ice Age and Disney's own Lilo & Stitch. The film's unprecedented — and unexpected — Oscar win caused Disney to widen the film's theatrical release for a few weeks prior to the film's DVD release; both film critics and fans of animation (Japanese or otherwise) heaped praise upon the film. (Miyazaki received a nomination for the same award in 2006 with Howl's Moving Castle and in 2013 for The Wind Rises.)

He enjoys Green Aesops, Airships, and Scenery Porn. He has an unexplained love for pigs. Animation fans consider him responsible for a fair amount of Nightmare Fuel. His films (save for Mononoke and Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea) all have flying scenes in them, further showing his affinity for airplanes.

He dislikes the simplicity of Black and White Morality (i.e. "good vs. evil"); he eschews this approach by placing both sides in the grey.

Has teased retirement since 1997, only to defy himself every couple of years with the announcement of a new film, to the point that Miyazaki announcing that each new film will be his "last one" has become a running gag among fans. As of this writing, he is currently working on his follow-up to his most recent "last" film, The Wind Rises, as well as a manga and a ten-minute long computer animated short, a break from his usual disdain of digital technology.

He has his own fan-made religion.

Television Work:

  • Hustle Punch, Toei Animation, 1965, key animation
  • The King Kong Show, Toei/Rankin/Bass, 1966, key animation
  • Sally the Witch (60's version), Toei, 1966, key animation
  • The Mouse On The Mayflower, Toei/Rankin Bass, 1968, key animation
  • The Smokey Bear Show, Toei/Rankin Bass, 1969, key animation, Miyazaki's last production at Toei
  • Lupin III (Green Jacket), Monkey Punch/TMS stationed at A-Productions, 1971, co-directed (with Isao Takahata) episode eight onwards
  • Panda! Go Panda!, TMS, 1972, Screenplay and key animation
  • "Tokyo Giants" ,TMS, 1973, key animation for the first episode.
  • Jungle Kurobe, TMS, 1973, original concept
  • Vicky The Viking, Zuiyo Eizo (now known as Nippon Animation), 1974, key animation
  • World Masterpiece Theater (pre-1977), Zuiyo Eizo/Nippon Animation, key animation
  • Lupin III (Red Jacket), Monkey Punch/TMS, 1977 (episodes did not show up until 1980) stationed at Telecom Animation Film, the two episodes he directed were compiled as Lupin III: Tales of the Wolf and localized to America
  • Future Boy Conan, Nippon Animation, 1978, writer and director
  • Ulysses 31 (pilot), TMS/DiC Entertainment stationed at Telecom, 1980, key animation
  • Tetsujin 28, TMS, 1980, key animation
  • The New Adventures of Zorro, TMS/Filmation stationed at Telecom, 1981, episode animation director
  • Inspector Gadget (pilot), TMS/Dic stationed at Telecom, made in 1982 but did not aired until 1983, key animation
  • The Littles, TMS/Dic stationed at Telecom, 1983, chief Telecom director during season 1 (Nobuo Tomizawa was the chief Telecom director during season 2) and episode animation director
  • Sherlock Hound, TMS/RAI, 1982 (aired in 1984), director, 5 episodes (people tend to say 6 episodes, however, one of said episodes ["The Sovereign Gold Coins"] is really directed by Nobuo Tomizawa)


Other Works:

Tropes within his works:

  • 10-Minute Retirement: He's come out of retirement enough time that his announcements that he's retiring and is "quite serious" this time is treated as a joke among both his fans and even his staff.
    I know Iíve said I would retire many times in the past. Many of you must think, `Once again.í But this time I am quite serious.
  • Adaptation Inspiration: Many of his works are adaptations, but he molds them into his signature style.
  • Animal Motifs: Pigs are featured in various films of his, mainly because of their likeness to people.
  • Author Appeal: Planes, pigs, cloudscapes, gorging on food, nature and strong female characters.
  • Cast of Snowflakes: It's often joked that any person who comes within five feet of him will be animated into his next movie. No two characters in his movies look alike, as all of them are based on real individuals that he's met or drawn while people-watching.
  • Central Theme: Feminism, environmentalism, pacifism, growth and redemption, effects of war, morality.
    • Other major themes are;
      • Humanity's relationship with nature and technology, the wholesomeness of natural and traditional patterns of living, the important of art and craftsmanship, and the difficulty of maintaining a pacifist ethic in a violent world.
  • Cool Plane: As mentioned above, airplanes were the first thing he learned how to draw. As such, most of his films also feature at least one fantastic flying machine or flight as a prominent theme.
  • Creator Thumbprint: He has a distinctive style that is made up of many of the tropes listed here.
  • Dull Surprise: It's unknown whether or not this is the result of the dubbing process, but there's at least one character that does this in a scene in his movies. This trope is so frequent in his filmography that fans have come to see it as a trademark of his.
  • Expressive Hair: His characters get so angry/horrified/surprised that their hair levitates.
  • Food Porn: While Miya-sensei comes from an important and affluent familynote , he did grew up in the World War II Japan and the postwar years, with their crushing poverty, and such things tend to leave their mark.
  • Ghibli Hills: The Trope Namer.
  • Good Vs Good: Except for Lupin III:The Castle of Cagliostro and Laputa:Castle in the Sky, there are no typical villains in his films. Everybody has flaws and redeeming qualities, which makes them seem realistic and believable.
  • Green Aesop: A recurring theme in his work, though he claims that it's never to encourage environmentalism, as he feels it's wrong to use his trade as a springboard for his own socio-political beliefs. In interviews, he'd usually conclude discussions about this by encouraging readers to go pick up garbage in their driveways (as he does every morning).
  • Grey and Gray Morality / White and Gray Morality: He's very big on making people empathic to both sides of an issue, expressed best with the following quote.
    Miyazaki: The concept of portraying evil and then destroying it - I know this is considered mainstream, but I think it is rotten. This idea that whenever something evil happens someone particular can be blamed and punished for it, in life and in politics, is hopeless.
  • No Antagonist: Aside from Laputa and Cagliostro his films don't really have clear cut villains. If there is one in other movies, they will still have a lot of human depth.
  • No Hugging, No Kissing: None of his films see romance ensue between the protagonists. Miyazaki notes in interviews that he dislikes the plot development, viewing it as cliché and overused, and as the only image children's media, even when targeted at girls, markets to people.
  • Ocular Gushers: Several of his films include at least one scene of a character crying massive gobs of tears the size of golf balls.
  • Odd Friendship: With his student Hideaki Anno. They've apparently hit it off so well that there once were talks of Miyazaki making him the head of Ghibli once he retires.
  • Plucky Girl: Because of his strong feminist views, many of his female leads will have strong personalities.
  • Rousseau Was Right: This is the philosophy trope Miyazaki's work seems to follow the most. The films he has directed where this trope is shown the strongest is in My Neighbor Totoro and Princess Mononoke.
  • Scenery Porn: One of his films' major characteristics.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: Despite some of its themes of war and ruining nature, his films are told from an optimistic point of view and often have a sense of magic and wonder to them.
  • Sliding Scale of Realistic Versus Fantastic: Miyazaki's films usually combine realism (complex characters will realistic movements) with something fantastical.
    • His latest film The Wind Rises is easily the most realistic and down-to-earth of his movies.
    • His next film How Do You Live? is going to be a fantasy-action-adventure-slice of life movie.
  • Start My Own: Miyazaki founded Studio Ghibli along with Isao Takahata, Toshio Suzuki and Yasuyoshi Tokuma.
  • True Companions: With Hideaki Anno, whom he met during the production of the Naussica film and helped when he suffered a Creator Breakdown during the production of the third Rebuild of Evangelion film.
  • War Is Hell: A common theme in many of his works.
  • "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue: Most of his films feature end credits, with images depicting the characters' future.
  • Woobie Species: He considers pigs to be this:
    Miyazaki: Pigs are creatures which might be loved, but they are never respected. They're synonymous with greed, obesity, debauchery. The word "pig" itself is used as an insult.