Survey of Animation
December 4th, 2015
Hayao Miyazaki (outline)
Born in January of 1941, Hayao Miyazaki was born during the beginning of World War II. His father was the director of an airplane manufacturing company, that built fighters for the Japanese military. This inspired a love of flying in young Miyazaki, which can be seen in sever of his films. After studying economics, Miyazaki began his career working at Toei animation alongside Isao Takahata. Together they worked on pieces such as Lupin Sansei and Puss in Boots. In 1985, the pair formed Studio Ghibli after the success of Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind and Castle Cagliostro previously. Most of Miyazaki’s stories revolved around his own ideals and beliefs in the world.
Miyazaki uses three core elements in most of his films stories: Feminism, environmentalism and pacifism. Feminism is seen throughout most of his works, especially in the film Princess Mononoke. The titular character, who’s real name is San, is a fierce fighter who had been raised by wolves. She has a deep hatred for humans due to their carelessness with the environment, and she works with the wolf goddess to stop them. Another character that Miyazaki animated representing this feminism was Fujiko from Lupin Sansei. Despite Fujiko not being his creation, most episodes that Miyazaki directed for the show featured her as a main character and plot point. Pacifism has been represented in his films by several characters and plot points. Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind introduced a race of beings known as the Ohm, which are guardians to the Toxic Jungle plaguing mankind. These beings have a hive mind with the other insects of the jungle, allowing them to respond to threats almost immediately as they appear. However, they despise violence, and feel compassion for all life of the world. Nausicaa, the main heroin, realized this and reached out towards the ohms to create peace between humans and insects, and to end the suffering both sides sustained. Nausicaa, besides spreading the idea of pacifism, also spread an idea of environmentalism. The Toxic Jungle was created after a nuclear holocaust occurred decades prior, in order to eliminate the planet’s radiation and poisons. Another character of Miyazaki that spreads this thought was San from Princess Mononoke. Her attitude towards humans stemmed from their treatment of the wilderness and the corruption caused by the iron they use. The portrayel of these characters comes from a unique style of hand drawn animation Miyazaki developed over the years.
Hand drawn animation is the oldest form used by animators today. It is officially known as traditional animation, and is the most common form of animation used by Miyazaki in almost all of his works. It allows him to create a fluid form with every character, and more movement in small details such as a character’s hair. A common visual seen in his films is the wind blowing through the hair and clothing of the characters. This was united with a love of using flying machines such as motorized wing gliders, biplanes and even flying with an umbrella. Each individual lock and fold move with the wind or rush depending on the situation the character faces. From observing his films it can be seen that each one has a different color scheme depending on it’s story. The darker, more adult films such as Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind and Princess Mononoke use darker colors to add a dreary look to the characters. Most characters also have similar running animations in each film. As an inverse, films such as My Neighbor Totoro and Ponyo are shot with bright colors to add a cheerful illustration that children would enjoy. However, Miyazaki was not limited to using traditional animation in his pieces. Princess Mononoke was the first of his films to use computer animation, using it for many of the evil/tainted creatures that appear in the film. However, the majority of his work remained hand-drawn for the most part, and added to that fluid movement to all of his pieces.
Hayao Miyazaki changed the world of Japanese animation entirely. He was a pioneer in creating a new breed of animation for the world to enjoy. Fans of his work have said that it deviates from typical anime films and have even referred to the films as their own genre even. Miyazaki’s films have generally kept messages inside the stories, either hidden or blatant in nature. Most of his films have left deep impacts on popular culture, both by inspiring other animators and by inspiring the audience to due whatever they dream.