Hayao Miyazaki, the Japanese Walt Disney

Animator Hayao Miyazaki is often called the Japanese equivalent of Walt Disney. His prodigious imagination has given rise to Japan’s most popular manga, animated films and television series.

Hayao Miyazaki’s Early Days

Hayao Miyazaki was born in Tokyo on January 5, 1941, the second of three brothers. Miyazaki’s father owned a small airplane parts factory, which most likely inspired the future animator’s love of flight, which heavily inspired many of his films.

Throughout his youth, Miyazaki was drawn to animation, though he studied political science and economics at Gakushuin University.

After graduation, however, Miyazaki began working as an animator’s apprentice at Toei Animation. In 1963, his career took off when he was asked to work as an assistant on a feature and television series.

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Miyazaki’s Notable Accomplishments

Miyazaki quickly garnered attention not only for his artistic skills, but also for his “seemingly endless stream of movie ideas.” He went to work at Nippon Animation studio in 1973, where he helped create and directed a series of highly successful television shows, including the World Masterpiece Theater TV and “Conan, The Boy in Future.”

In 1979 Miyazaki transferred to Tôkyô Movie Shinsha, where he directed his first film, “The Castle of Cagliostro.” In 1984, Miyazaki released the postapocalyptic “Nausicaa of the Valley of Wind,” based on a seven-volume series of manga (graphic novels) he had written. “Nausicaa” was so successful it led Miyazaki to create his own studio, Studio Ghibli, where he produced his best-known films, including “My Neighbor Totoro,” “Kiki’s Delivery Service,” and “Spirited Away.”

A 2002 interview with Midnight Eye gives some insight into how Miyazaki works.

The Rest of the Story

Miyazaki’s Studio Ghibli Museum in Mitaka, Japan, is designed to show viewers the filmmaking process. The museum is geared primarily toward children and includes exhibits of props and elements from Miyazaki’s work. After his film “The Wind Rises” was released in 2013 he retired, but came out of retirement in 2017 to announce he was working on another anime full-length film, called “How Do You Guys Live.”

This article was originally written by Isabel Cowles; it was  updated January 5, 2018.