Hayao Miyazaki – Regarded as Japan’s preeminent animator and director, Hayao Miyazaki has remained a cult figure among “manga” and “anime” fans. Although he is officially retired, his works have become so prolific that even people who are unfamiliar with anime can recognize his work. This has made Miyazaki a respected director not only in Japan but all over the world.
Born January 5, 1941, in the Bunkyō ward of Tokyo, Miyazaki expressed interest in manga and animation from an early age, and he joined Toei Animation in 1963. He began his career as an in-between artist at Toei Animation and later collaborated with director Isao Takahata. Toei’s credits include Doggie March, Gulliver’s Travels Beyond the Moon, Puss in Boots, and Animal Treasure Island before moving to A-Pro in 1971, where he co-directed Lupin the Third Part I with Takahata. In 1985, he co-founded Studio Ghibli, where he directed a number of films, including Castle in the Sky (1986), My Neighbour Totoro (1988), Kiki’s Delivery Service (1989), and Porco Rosso (1990).
These films were critical and commercial successes in Japan and around the world, with ‘Princess Mononoke’ being the first animated film ever to win the Japan Academy Prize for Picture of the Year, and briefly becoming the highest-grossing film in Japan before his 2001 film Spirited Away became the highest-grossing film in Japanese history, winning the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature at the 75th Academy Awards, and is frequently ranked among the greatest animated films ever. Later projects such as Howl’s Moving Castle (2004), Ponyo (2008), and The Wind Rises (2013) also enjoyed critical and commercial success. His style as a director is quite unique, since he is a purist of some sort, preferring to use traditional animation over the use of CGI. In fact, it has been reported that he does not allow any more than 10% of any work he is doing to be computer-generated.
Nonetheless, his works have won numerous awards. Spirited Away, in particular, was so well-received that it won Best Animated Feature at the 75th Academy Awards. But that’s not all; at the 87th Academy Awards, Miyazaki became the fourth person to receive the rare and prestigious Academy Honorary Award from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS), one of only four animators to do so, joining Chuck Jones, Walter Lantz, and Walt Disney.