Hayao Miyazaki, quite possibly the most imaginative manga and anime artist of our age, turns 74 years old today. Since this man came into the world, he has given his audiences movies that have shaped a generation. Miyazaki was born in 1941, in the midst of World War II. His father and uncle owned Miyazaki Planes, which assured that throughout the war, the family had enough money to live comfortably. However, Miyazaki’s young life was not untouched by the war. He has claimed many times that when he was four, hiding from bombs falling on his home would be one of the most traumatic experiences of his life, and it affected him greatly.
Miyazaki had always been interested in becoming an animator, but his interest spiked when he was in high school. The first animation studio Miyazaki worked at was Toei Animation. He joined them in April 1963. Through Toei, Miyazaki worked as an in-between artist. Through the years, Myazaki worked his way up through the processes of making an animated film. He eventually ended up with the company he is most famously connected with, Studio Ghibli, in 1985. Miyazaki was key in helping create Studio Ghibli and now stars in a documentary about the company.
Through Studio Ghibli, Miyazaki released the films he is most famous for. Miyazaki released his animated hit My Neighbor Totoro as well as Princess Mononoke before going into semi-retirement. He came out of this semi-retirement with the film Spirited Away, which is one of the most popular to this day. Following Spirited Away, he directed Howl’s Moving Castle, as well as Nausica and The Valley of the Wind. His later works include Ponyo in 2007, The Secret World of Arietty in 2010, Wind on Poppy Hill in 2011, and his final work The Wind Rises which was released in 2013.
Miyazaki has earned many awards for his animated features including the Japanese Academy award several times as well as an oscar for Spirited Away. His son, Goro Miyazaki, also works in animation and debuted with his film Tales of Earth Sea. Hayao Miyazaki announced his retirement from feature films, but he does plan to still work on a few smaller projects in the future. We wish Miyazaki a very happy birthday and many good years to come!