Famed animator and creator of Studio Ghibli, Hayao Miyazaki's films are known for their poignant stories, beautiful animation and breathtaking landscapes. Being born and bred in the US, with practically no knowledge of anime, I'd never heard of him until eight years ago, when Turner Classic Movies devoted an entire month to featuring Miyazaki's movies...
One Saturday afternoon I came across his masterpiece Spirited Away, twenty minutes into the film. I didn't know anything about it. Not the story of the film, nor the history of Studio Ghibli or Miyazaki himself. But within five minutes, I was hooked.
|Chihiro at the bathhouse of the spirits|
Through Chihiro, we explore themes of courage, hope, maturity, and Miyazaki's trademark environmentalism. I loved his take on the spirit world, and the assortment of beings Chihiro encounters there. I've always been drawn to tales of otherworldly beings, so the spirit world explored in the movie drew me in immediately.
|OK, so the Nightwalker is from Princess Mononoke, but|
he wanted to go here and who am I to argue?
I watch more tv and movies than I should probably admit to, and I'm always blown away by how well Studio Ghibli's animation expresses the thoughts and emotions on the characters' faces (whether they be human, spirit, or something in between). In fact, I've often thought that the animated characters in a Miyazaki film are better actors than a lot of flesh-and-blood humans I've watched over the years.
|Howl's moving castle for Best Actor|
Also, if there are any Miyazaki fans who haven't yet seen the fan art of Roberto Nieto, take a look. You'll be glad you did!