Let us start the thought of 2021 with one who has brought much joy to many. One Hayao Miyazaki, whose birthday is coming up to be celebrated on 5th January.
He was born in 1941 in Bunkyo, Tokyo. His family owned an aeronautical manufacturing company that made rudders for fighter jets fro the Japanese army during the World War II. This kept his family financially above water during the crisis and sheltered Miyazaki somewhat during his early life. This experience with aviation would also influence his work later in life, manifested in the act of flying in some way included in nearly all of his films at some point.
Miyazaki graduated in economics from Gakushuin University in Tokyo in 1963 and promptly took up a position as an animator at Toei Animation and thus began a life of animated story that has won hearts and awards around the world. His earlier work was influenced by many manga artists, most of all by Osamu Tezuka, also known as the “Father of Manga”. But Miayazaki got rid of his early work that was influenced by Tezuka’s style on the grounds that it was unoriginal and in “bad form” to copy another artists style.
At Toei Animation, he met Takahata Isao and Ōta Akemi. Takahata became his long life friend and co worker and Ota, his wife. Miyazaki left Toei in 1971 and co-founded studio Ghibli with Takahata in 1985.
The year 1986 marked the first official movie by Studio Ghibli, Miyazakis “Castle in the Sky” which marked the start of an age of wonderful animated movies that would pave the road for other studios and animators for years to come.
During the period before Studio Ghibli Miyazaki worked for various studios and released his first feature release “Lupin the III; Castle of Cagliostro”. The success of his manga “Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind” inspired him and Takahata to work together more and Studio Ghibli to come about. The film adaptation for Nausicaa was made at Topcraft which Miyazaki and Takahata later bought and rebranded Studio Ghibli.
Studio Ghibli has been responsible various films that are close to the heart and souls of movie watchers and film enthusiasts. “My Nieghbor Totoro” was the first film whose success cemented the name of Studio Ghibli and in the world of animation. Then came “Kiki’s Delivery service” and “Howls Moving Castle” that received accolades and critical acclaim worldwide. But “Spirited Away” is the first movie that comes to nearly every mind when the name Hayao Miyazaki is uttered.
In 2013 Miyazaki announced retirement but guess what? He came back, amongst concerns of him being a workaholic, to work on a new film in 2016. His producer and friend Toshio Suzuki told the New Yorker that in the early days of Studio Ghibli, Miyazaki would work from 9 a.m. to 4:30 a.m.
Miyazaki himself is quoted to have said that his “idea of a vacation was a nap”
Hayao Miyazaki received an honorary Oscar in 2015 and is currently working on a new film titled “How Do You Live?” at the Studio Ghibli Headquarters in Koganei, Tokyo.