Monday, Apr. 18, 2005

Hayao Miyazaki

In the field of theatrical animation, where talent abounds and everyone has his or her own style, the art and creativity of Hayao Miyazaki are unrivaled. For decades, he has arguably been Japan's leading cult figure to fans of manga (comic books) and anime (animated films) — in a nation where those art forms are held in the highest regard.

Miyazaki, 64 , trained as an economist but retained his love of animation. In his twenties, he joined an animation studio as an in-betweener — adding drawings that go "between" the main ones to complete the action — and never looked back. Miyazaki moved on to other studios where his talents were quickly recognized. He became a director and eventually formed his own outfit, Studio Ghibli, where he has consistently pushed the creative envelope. Remarkably, he usually starts constructing a film without a full script. The story takes shape only as the movie is made. This, Miyazaki has said, keeps his interest up and gives his projects an exciting sense of spontaneity.

Miyazaki proved his originality in 1984 with Nausicaa of the Valley of Wind, abandoning the popular metallic look and substituting a drama of natural elements: fungus-filled forests, poisonous seas, dangerous mountaintops. Since then he has created films the world has adored, like Princess Mononoke and Spirited Away, Japan's highest grossing film of all time. Miyazaki has taken the art of anime and brought it to new heights through an inimitable vision and sense of storytelling.

Lee is the creator of Spider-Man and other superheroes

From the Archive
Amazing Anime: Princess Mononoke and other wildly imaginative films prove that Japanese animation is more than just Pokemon