Hayao Miyazaki

Kai Eriksson

Posted on May 22 2018

‘‘The Japanese Walt Disney,’’ one of the greatest animation directors.



1941 Born in Akebono-cho, Tokyo, in 5th January
1963 Miyazaki begins his animation career at Toei Douga studios.
1965 Marries Akemi Ôta who is also an animator.
1985 Creates Studio Ghibli with business partner. The name Ghibli is derived from the Arabic sirocco the Mediterranean wind. The studio wanted to “blow a new wind through the Japanese anime industry.’’
1989 Directs Kiki's Delivery Service, based on a fiction series by Eiko Kadono.
1997 Miyazaki announces his retirement
2001 Re-emerges after his retirement with Spirited Away, a story inspired by a friend's ten-year-old daughter, on whom he based the main character, Chihiro. Spirited away was created without a script and would be the last feature-length film he'll direct.
2002 Spirited Away wins a Golden Bear and an Oscar for Best Animated Feature; the only film not made in the English-speaking world to have done so.
2003 Miyazaki did not attend the Academy Awards due to his opposition to the Iraq War (which he did not publicly explain why until 2009).
2005 Awarded a Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement at the Venice International Film Festival.
2013 Announces his retirement for the SIXTH time, following his final film, The Wind Rises.




  • Creator of Japan’s highest grossing movie of all time Spirited Away.

  • The heroes of his films are often strong girls or young women
  • The evil in his films is often greed, ill will, or delusion
  • Does not use traditional screenplays in his productions
  • Named a  Person of Cultural Merit in Japan in November 2012
  • Received the Academy Honorary Award in November 2014






  • Human's relationship with nature
  • The shrinkage of the sphere of magic by technology
  • Natural and traditional patterns of living
  • Pacifist ethic in a violent world
  • Environmentalism
  • Feminism
  • Fantasy
  • Love and family








  • Sanpei Shirato
  • Osamu Tezuka
  • Soji Yamakawa
  • Frédérick Back 
  • Lewis Carroll
  • Roald Dahl
  • Jean Giraud
  • Paul Grimault
  • Ursula K. Le Guin
  • Yuriy Norshteyn




  • Animal Farm (1945)
  • The Snow Queen (1957)
  • The King and the Mockingbird (1980)







Story of the two young daughters – Satsuki and Mei – of a professor Tatsuo and his hospitalised wife Yasuko and their interactions with friendly wood spirits in postwar rural Japan.


Miyazaki, however, has said that Totoro is not a spirit but just an animal.


When Mei plays in the yard, she sees a small, white, semi-transparent animal gathering acorns. This animal (an infant Totoro), appearing also in some of the Studio Ghibli logos, seems to have been inspired by the Finnish Moomins characters, popular in Japan.



Kazuo Oga was attached to the production as the art director of the film. Oga's style became subsequently a trademark style of Studio Ghibli.


The film is not only about the simple grace of childhood, as has been suggested. We must also disagree with the common claim that there are no threats or danger.


Behind the pleasant nature and deceptive simplicity of the film, there is however a darker undercurrent.


In essence, Totoro is about the fear of losing.


The loss of:


  • Tatsuo as he doesn't arrive on the bus the girls expect him on
  • Yasuko due to the setback in her treatment
  • Mei as she disappears


Underlying the bustle of life, there is always a deep, unsettled worry that gives meaning to life. Without it, life would be meaningless.


It is precisely this tension between zest for life and a deep concern about the fragility of life that gives the film its emotional power.


Satsuki the character who meets all the fears mentioned is of an age in which the realities of life come to prominence. Miyazaki shows that fear cannot be eliminated entirely but once a balance between fear and hope is found, the wondrous magical features of the world can be seen again.


Totoro – the character – became a beloved cultural icon in Japan and a part of Studio Ghibli company logo.


A main-belt asteroid, discovered in 1994, was named 10160 Totoro after the film's central character, and a velvet worm species, discovered in Vietnam, was named after Totoro in 2013.






  • Guillermo del Toro
  • Pete Docter
  • Glen Keane
  • John Lasseter
  • Shigeru Miyamoto
  • Hironubu Sakaguchi 





  • My Neighbour Totoro, 1988
  • Princess Mononoke, 1997
  • Spirited Away, 2001
  • Howl's Moving Castle, 2004
  • Ponyo, 2008


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