Hayao Miyazaki, born on January 5, 1941, is one of Japan’s many cinematic icons, having revolutionized the field of animation with his numerous masterpieces. Miyazaki learned the complexities of animation production early in his career after taking a few tasks at a corporate animation firm. The film “Hols: Prince of the Sun,” which received critical acclaim, was the creator’s first foray into the realm of animation. Since then, the animator has fascinated audiences worldwide with his great works. Today, we honor him and his remarkable achievements.
January 5, 1941
Hayao Miyazaki was born in Tokyo, Japan, on January 5, 1941. He was the second of four children born to his father, Katsuji Miyazaki, an aviation engineer. When Miyazaki was a child, Japan was going through World War II, making the capital city incredibly dangerous. As a result, his family relocated to Utsunomiya, where Miyazaki attended Eifuku Elementary School and Omiya Junior High. During this time, he came across ‘manga,’ a type of Japanese ‘comic,’ and fell in love with them. His passion for manga persisted even when he went to Gakushuin University, where he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in economics and political science in 1963.
After graduating, Miyazaki began working with the Japanese animation juggernaut Toei Animation. During his time there, he worked on films like “Wolf Boy Ken” and “Watchdog Bow Bow.” In 1968, Miyazaki got the chance to work on “Hols: Prince of the Sun,” an animated film in which he played the roles of principal animator and scene designer. A year later, he worked on the animated film “Puss in Boots.” By the time 1971 rolled around, Miyazaki was a seasoned animator and realized he needed a bigger platform to work from, so he switched from Toei Animation to A-Pro, where he worked on “Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves” and “Animal Treasure Island.”
Miyazaki’s later works, such as “Porco Rosso” and “Princess Mononoke,” were regarded as a departure from his early work and were widely praised. Although Miyazaki had retired by the end of the ‘90s, he returned to directing in 2004 with “Howl’s Moving Castle” after the project’s original director, Mamoru Hosoda, passed away. The film was a hit with Japanese and worldwide audiences, propelling Miyazaki back on the animation stage. Three years later, Miyazaki was back on the scene with the film “Ponyo,” which made almost $200 million at the box office in 2008. Since then, Miyazaki has written the screenplay for “The Secret World of Arrietty” (2010), worked as a scriptwriter for “From Up on Puppy” (2011), and directed the film “The Wind Rises” (2013).
Miyazaki gets a job at Toei Animation as an animator.
The animator polishes his skills on “Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves.”
For his work in films like "My Neighbor Totoro" and "Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind," Miyazaki receives his first Ofuji Noburo Award.
Miyazaki gets five awards for the film "Spirited Away” at the Annie Awards ceremony.
The film receives critical praise, wins accolades, and gets shown at the Venice International Film Festival.
Miyazaki retires from directing films and writing scripts.
Why We Love Hayao Miyazaki
He addresses societal issues
Through his works, Miyazaki has outlined several societal issues, including global warming, feminism, and war. For instance, “Howl’s Moving Castle” contains anti-war themes because Miyazaki was “greatly angered” by the devastation being caused there.
Miyazaki had a long and groundbreaking career in animation, making some of the best films in animation history. After his retirement, he continues to inspire people to pursue careers as animators.
He creates excellent animations
There's no denying that each of Miyazaki's films features fantastic animation and a compelling story. Just look at “Howl’s Moving Castle.”
5 Surprising Facts
He refused to attend the Academy Awards
Despite winning the Oscar for Best Animated Film, Hayao Miyazaki refused to join the 75th Academy Awards in 2003 because of the beginning of the war in Iraq days before the ceremony.
He directs music videos
As part of a Ghibli Experimental Theater side project, while working on Princess Mononoke in 1995, Miyazaki created and directed an animated music video for Chage and Aska's song ‘On Your Mark.’
“The Simpsons” paid homage to him
When Miyazaki announced his retirement in 2013, animators on “The Simpsons” paid homage to him with a detailed pattern that included references to nearly all of his films.
Miyazaki cooked ramen for his production team
Miyazaki made his "Poor Man's Salt-Flavored Ramen," which included instant noodles, eggs, and fresh vegetables, to improve team morale when working long hours on “Spirited Away.”
He doesn’t like working from a script
The Japanese filmmaker prefers not to create a narrative before beginning work on a new film.
Hayao Miyazaki FAQs
Why does Miyazaki not like modern anime?
Miyazaki remarked that modern anime suffers because producers “don’t spend time watching actual people.” He further states that “only people who understand and appreciate how other people behave and act can create animation.”
What is Miyazaki’s most famous movie?
“Spirited Away” (2001) is the highest-grossing film in Japan. In 2003, it received the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature, making it Miyazaki’s most successful and well-known film worldwide.
How many times did Hayao Miyazaki retire?
Miyazaki first announced his retirement in the late ‘90s. However, he came back to direct “Spirited Away” in 2001. He resigned again in 2013 but returned to work with his son on the Ghibli Museum’s “Earwig and the Witch,” which was released in 2020.
Hayao Miyazaki’s birthday dates