Thank You, Hayao Miyazaki

“I’ve come to the point where I just can’t make a movie without addressing the problem of humanity as part of an ecosystem.”

– Hayao Miyazaki

Dear Hayao Miyazaki,

It all started one afternoon in my uncle’s room on a hot and humid summer day in The Bronx in 1999. My uncle popped Princess Mononoke (Mononoke Hime) in the VCR and my brother, cousin and I sat in awe for 134 minutes. Then I watched it again. And again. And again. I fell in love with Princess Mononoke that day, and concurrently with everything that you breathed life into.

Mononoke was different yet so familiar, like a story I knew I always needed to hear. There was violence, industrialization and humans juxtaposed against nature, spirits and gods. But it was all beautiful.  I didn’t know who was bad and who was good. It was strange not knowing who to root for, especially at 12 years old. But then I realized that was the point. It’s rare in family films that the line isn’t distinct between the hero and the villain. Life isn’t black and white, and through your films you showed us and prepared children for the realities of the world.

After Mononoke, I devoured any and everything you made that I could get my hands on, from Porco Rosso, Spirited Away,  Laputa: Castle in the Sky and much more. Totoro, Kiki and Nausicaä represent a lot of your recurring themes such as reverence for nature, highlighting independence and encouraging pacifism but depicted in such magical ways. Disney had female characters, some strong, some not. But you are constantly representing strong female characters in your work. They were not always likable, but always real, and I respect and admire you for that. That is what young girls and boys need to see.

You are one of the worlds greatest directors of animation and writers to grace this planet. Your films tickle my soul and you make the world a better place.

Thank you, Hayao Miyazaki.

10 Comments

  1. I used Miyazaki’s films as teaching tools for my daughter. The most important thing i tried to teach her is to never let magic leave your world. Miyazaki illustrates that wonderfully.

    Reply

  2. Very well written. I know for a fact that I lucked out by catching Princess Mononoke in a theater. Namely because it was only in that theater for about a week and it was pretty much empty during the showing.

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  3. I love all Hayao Miyazaki movies. They are a source of re-birth. They are not famous enough in the US where Disney eats up everything that comes its way…

    My family and I love Totoro (probably because it’s the first one we saw) and also Arietty. We love them all. Really !

    I’m taking the pic you posted in this article to put it on my FB wall. I hope that’s okay.

    Reply

  4. Well, for me it just started today. Following a friend’s recommendation, I watched Spirited Away (Sen to Chihiro no Kamikakushi) and fell in love. I posted on Facebook my special thanks for my friend who introduced me to such good work and could give me that “awe” you say you and the boys felt when you first watched a Miyazaki film. Within 2 minutes, there was already another friend recommending a new one to watch, I am downloading it right now and.. I have a feeling that it won’t disapoint me. Btw, I’ll also watch Princess Mononoke (Mononoke Hime) later… Thanks for thanking Miyazaki, this man is great!

    Reply

  5. What a great post! I, too, love every Miyazaki film. I drove to different cities on three separate occasions just to see his movies in the theaters: Princess Mononoke, Spirited Away, & Ponyo. I’m actually very appreciative to Disney for pushing to have Studio Ghibli films released in the US & with voice acting that doesn’t diminish from the original. I still prefer to watch his movies subtitled with the original Japanese dialogue, because the changes in voice direction always make a big difference for me. I am bilingual & still recoil whenever I hear the Simpsons dubbed into Spanish, so I know that is where this bias comes from. I especially liked Ponyo’s more evenhanded give-&-take dynamic between the female & male protagonists over Disney’s the Little Mermaid where Ariel gives up everything & the guy is pretty much the same & doesn’t compromise anything or is aware of her sacrifices in the process.

    Reply

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