The Influence of Miyazaki and Animation
With highly acclaimed animations (such as Zootopia (2016), Coco (2017), and the recent animation, Isle of Dogs (2018) by renown director Wes Anderson), the field of animation continues to excel in creating unique and compelling narratives. The most anticipated animation would be Incredibles 2 (2018) with fans waiting 14 years for the beloved Pixar movie. Based on a ranking post by ScreenRant, it ranked that Walt Disney Animations and Pixar Studio Animations as the top two highly successful animated studios–Pixar, obviously, ranking first. The third animation studio listed is Studio Ghibli. The ranking, in my opinion, was an accurate portrayal of the most successful animated studios due to their influence in Western movies. The Japanese animation studio, Studio Ghibli, has produced some of my favorite animated features while growing up– especially those written and directed by Hayao Miyazaki.
Japanese animation’s director, Hayao Miyazaki, has illuminated the film industry with his fantastical stunning imagery and emotional narratives. When we thought that Miyazaki officially retired in 2013 with The Wind Rises, he surprised his devoted fans by returning to Studio Ghibli. Recently, on March 21st, 2018, Miyazaki released his short film called Boro the Caterpillar that is played exclusively at the Ghibli Museum in Japan. Boro the Caterpillar is the first animated film after Miyazaki’s five year hiatus from the studio.
Miyazaki is currently working on his final, so he says, animation called How Do You Live?, which is based on the Japanese book in 1937 by Genzaburō Yoshino. The animation has been in works even before the studio greenlit it, however, the release date is still unknown. Despite the international release dates of Miyazaki’s current short film and future feature, they will certainly be as remarkable and heartfelt as most of Miyazaki’s work has been.
Hayao Miyazaki has directed and written a total of 11 films in his career, and is one of the more notably known directors from Studio Ghibli. His animated film that gained the studio and Miyazaki immense media attention was Spirited Away (2001). The film was a box office success in Japan, and even made its way to the US by awarding it as the Best Feature Animation in the 75th Academy Awards. Spirited Away became the first hand-drawn and non-English film to win this category, thus further showing how successful it was.
Studio Ghibli and Miyazaki have captivated viewers with their distinct artistic style and fantastical narratives. So, while there are highest-grossing and acclaimed Japanese animated features not from Studio Ghibli (such as Akira (1988) and Ghost in the Shell (1995)), Miyazaki’s animated features continue to be a contender in some of the best non-Western animated features.
Miyazaki can be coined as an auteur for animations through his consistent style that is seen in his features. While Pixar will have the Luxo ball and/or the Pizza Planet delivery truck, Miyazaki animations will have aircrafts. Miyazaki, born on January 5, 1941, grew up during the World War II era. His father influenced his love for aircrafts and flights since he manufactured fighter parts during the war, and thus inspiring Miyazaki to start drawing designs. In all of Miyazaki’s animated features, there are aircrafts and if there aren’t any (such as more fantastical settings in Spirited Away), there is always an expression of flight in the narrative.
The 77-year-old Japanese animator and director has influenced several animators and directors in Hollywood, which further demonstrates his influence. In Guillermo del Toro’s movies, there is the fantastical aspect that Miyazaki employs in his animated features. The themes of fantasy and dark themes with young protagonists that are common in Miyazaki features can be most notably seen as an influence in del Toro’s Pan’s Labyrinth.
Furthermore, Miyazaki has been stated to have influence on Wes Anderson in his recent animated film, Isle of Dogs (2018). This is not surprising considering the trailer that showed influence of Miyazaki, yet still retained the artistic visual style of Wes Anderson. In an interview with IndieWire, Anderson discussed how not only Japanese director, Akira Kurosawa, influenced his recent feature, but also the style and art of Miyazaki that played a part as well.
Anderson states, “With Miyazaki you get nature and you get moments of peace, a kind of rhythm that is not in the American animation tradition so much.” Wes Anderson further discusses how he and composer, Alexandre Desplat, hoped to emulate this rhythm by “[pulling] back from what we were doing musically because the movie wanted to be quiet. That came from Miyazaki.”
Studio Ghibli and Hayao Miyazaki influences through their artistic style and narrative have become works of cinematic masterpieces in the field of animations. Miyazaki’s influence in Western animation, more recently Isle of the Dogs (2018), conveys the magnitude of his influence as an animated director.
As we wait for the release of his short film, Boro the Caterpillar, and his supposedly last film, How Do You Live?, you can either binge watch Miyazaki greatest animated features (start with Spirited Away); or watch Wes Anderson’s Isle of Dogs to reveal the influence of one of the greatest animators of our generation.