Hayao Miyazaki (Japanese: 宮崎 駿 Hepburn: Miyazaki Hayao, born January 5, 1941) is a Japanese film director, producer, screenwriter, animator, author, and manga artist. A co-founder of Studio Ghibli, a film and animation studio, he has attained international acclaim as a masterful storyteller and as a maker of anime feature films, and is widely regarded as one of the greatest animation directors.
Disney ingeniously owns the rights to all of the studio Ghibli films.
Spirited Away – 2001
This is the highest gross film in Japanese history and widely regarded as one of the best animated films of all-time. Miyazaki’s adventure will sweep you off your feet and take you into a world far away, one of unique imagination and characters that delight, inspire, and teach the deepest of lessons.
The film is deeply fantastic, with several unique oddities in the story-line that seem to be completely original, but obviously are very well thought out.
Nausica and the Valley of the Wind – 1984
Nausica is one of the most unique adventures of all time. An entire alternate universe awaits you with heroes, allies, and enemies alike. Nausica is an inspiring, strong female lead. Her glider is iconic and accompanied, of course, by some heavy 80s synthwave. Several themes, including humanities relationship to nature, culture, and violence.
Princess Mononoke – 1997
Princess Monoke is another alternate universe for you to explore. This one is more superstitious, less technological and more magical, fantastical. But this film truly helps to define Hayao Miyazaki’s style, with rich and deeply interwoven characters. Finally, another strong female lead character dominates the inspiration in the film.
Castle in the Sky – 1986
A follow-up to Nausica, expect some seriously mind-blowing technology and battle scenes. Good never ceases to prevail in this exciting adventure with another strong, female lead. Think about the future in this incredibly complex adventure that you can watch many times, just like all of Miyazaki’s films.
Kiki’s Delivery Service – 1989
Kiki’s Delivery Service is a childhood favorite, with some of Miyazaki’s most lovable and redeeming characters. Kiki is iconic, and her witchery is continuously present throughout Miyzaki’s work, most notably Howl’s Moving Castle and Spirited Away. The themes of this film are among the most powerful that Hayao presents to his audience with his self-questions heroes finding triumph in the darkest of hours.
My Neighbor Totoro – 1988
Totoro is the coolest. This film is a classic and amazing. Probably perfect for getting little kids thinking with their imaginations. Simple and sweet character interwoven into a delicate and fantastic story. Look for common symbols throughout the adventure in nature with the animals.
Ponyo – 2008
Ponyo is a modern adaptation of the Little Mermaid, but with incredible animation. The story is inspiring in its self belief and Ponyo is a beautiful story, there is really no experience like it. The water animation is brilliant with lots of inspiration. In addition, Liam Neeson’s voice is in the movie.
Howl’s Moving Castle – 2004
Howl’s Castle is an interesting story. One of my favorites. The story develops over time. The characters are unique and very developed, the adventure itself is one of epic proportion. Have fun with these characters and a magical fantasy of a world because the adventure is deep!
The Wind Rises – 2013
This story culminates Miyazaki’s work into a final reflection upon craftsmanship, inspiration, passion, and sacrifice. The story is incredibly intricate. Ending his career, Miyazaki directed this film before his retirement in September 2013.
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In short, Miyazaki is one of the best directors of all time. He has a deep integrity to his own vision. Hayao’s deep world-building combined with his compelling characters create amazing storytelling.