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Miyazaki ((Japanese: ?? ?), Its very name is hallmark in the animated world. He is widely known
as one of the greatest Japanese animation directors. Miyazaki co-founded Studio
Ghibli in 1985. He directed several films with Studio Ghibli, such as Castle in the Sky (1986), My Neighbor Totoro
(1988), and Kiki’s Delivery Service (1989). These films were met with
commercial and crucial success in Japan, even in the wordwide. Especially Spirited Away (2001), it has achieved
the highest-grossing film in Japanese history. It won a lots of awards, such as
the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature at the 75th Academy Awards and the
Golden Bear at the 2002 Berlin International Film Festival. Therefore, it is
frequently ranked among the greatest animated films. Miyazaki’s films have
completely changed people’s narrow understanding of animation films. His
creations have successfully crossed the level and age of the audience. Wildly
popular within Japan, throughout these World-renowned films, Miyazaki’s
influence has gone global, and his art is appreciated by both young and old


essay will be concentrated on the themes that presented in Miyazaki’s films and
how Hayao Miyazaki, a Japanese filmmaker, changed a nation, even the whole word
thinks about animation, heroes, women and even Japanese society. However, in
many animation films, Miyazaki holds different positions, such as director,
producer or writer. He may hold one of the positions, or play multiple roles.
So, I will only discuss the animation films which are directed by Hayao Miyazaki
in this essay.


films can be roughly divided into two themes. Firstly, it always shows the
co-existence between human and the nature, and the cruelty of the war, such as
Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind (1984), Castle in the Sky (1986), My
Neighbour Totoro (1988), Princess Mononoko (1997) and Spirited Away (2001).

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films are rife with some very mature, even adult themes. His work is dense with
layers of meaning and significance that give his films, despite their
international popularity and universal relevance, a distinctly Japanese
character. Miyazaki was born during the Second World War. His childhood
experience has always been a source of his film creation, whether it is the
vision of a beautiful pastoral, or abandoned the city, or tired of war,
environmental protection and so on, are born from here. Therefore, the cruelty
of war, the destruction and regeneration of human civilization, co-existence
between human and nature…… These topics are constantly discussed and reconsidered
in his films. For example, Nausicaa of
the Valley of the Wind (1984), which is Miyazaki’s early masterpiece. The
background setting of this story is taking place in a future post-apocalyptic
world. The film is about the story of Nausicaä, the young princess of the
Valley of the Wind. She involved in a struggle with Tolmekia, a kingdom that
tries to use an ancient weapon to eliminate a jungle of mutant giant insects.
In the end of the story, she touched everyone and the giant insects with
kindness and became the legendary savior.


is a typical “Miyazaki type” animation. Positive images of warriors and
fighting heroes are scarce in Miyazaki’s tales. His protagonists, just like
Nausicaä, usually children and female, tend to be innocent and idealistic, and
their victories are seldom achieved through violently undoing their enemies. At
the end of Miyazaki’s films, the villains will eventually be touched by the
goodness of the protagonist.


protagonists are able to save the day, due to these characteristics: innocence,
kindness, pure motives, loyalty and dedication, selfless love and a respect for
all life. Just like Nausicaä, she is the daughter of a tribal but she feels a
great respect and affinity for nature; She saved the princess who had killed
her father; Although she and her tribe’s life is threatened by the mutant giant
insects, she still saved the mutant giant insect’s little child. These
personality traits often appear on the heroine in Miyazaki’s films, this is
also commonly appearing in many Japanese anime, such as Dragon Ball, One Piece
and Fullmetal Alchemist, those protagonists have a high moral character, they
are selflessness, tolerance, love and sacred.


Miyazaki’s message of environmental awareness and conservation is delivered
through his films. His films are full of traces of industrial civilization,
such as ugly aircraft, hot boilers, strange steam trains, etc. He especially
likes to set the background of the story at the time of the Industrial
Revolution. At that time, the ambitions and desires of mankind to conquer the
world had just begun to be greatly stimulated by the rapid technological
invention. From another perspective, however, he also has a romantic and tragic
emotional tendency towards industrial civilization. Therefore, most of the
protagonists in his films are adolescents, which are the most innocent of human
beings, but have a huge contrast with the ugly background in the story. This
contrast provoked a huge tragic energy and contradictory beauty, but also one
of the most attractive place of Miyazaki’s films. Through this concept, he
emphasized the harmony between mankind and nature.


typical example is Spirited Away. The
story is about a 10-year-old little girl Chihiro in a mysterious place
wonderful experience. The main scene is in Soup House, an an exquisite
bathhouse for Gods relaxation and enjoyment. Parents became fat pigs after
having the food in the mysterious place. She met a mysterious young man, Haku
and he arranged for her to work and to save her parents. In the meantime,
Chihiro encountered met a lot of people, a customer who mistreated him as the
god of the rotting god, the lonely No-Face, a pair of twin sister and others.
Through these various kinds of weird characters, Spirited Away express that people utilize nature and pursue the
monetary substance while also losing themselves.


film most special and worth pondering, of course, is the pure and wonderful
friendship between Chihiro and Haku. Haku is the incarnation of a river. He has
disappeared in the real world, has been forgotten, but he remembered Chihiro’s
name. In return, he is also reborn through his memories of Chihiro.


addition, some of Miyazaki’s creations are the representation of Japanese
cultural values, such as Kiki’s delivery
service (1989), Ponyo (2008) and The Wind Rises (2013).


Miyazaki movies, the audience is granted a direct line of communication into
Miyazaki’s hopes, dreams, and fantasies. Through his films, the audience can
gain an invaluable insight into strains of thought that have animated the
spirit of modern Japan and continue to define her culture and her identity


Delivery Service” is a film of the 80s. Like other Miyazaki’s films, it
directly inherits the core spirit of the new wave of Japanese cinema that ended
in the 1970s: reflection on technology and review of the industrial age, as
well as the true pursuit of nature and humanity. The little witch, Kiki’s
longing for the sea, tolerance and concern between people, and to the old
oven…… These details are all revealed the Japanese characteristics. Through the
construction of Kiki, the image of a Japanese Shojo has successfully


I simply divided Miyazaki’s work into two themes in this article, in fact,
different themes in his work are involved. His creations are not just having a
single theme. For example, in the film Howl’s
Moving Castle, although the theme of the story is anti-war, but the love
story between Howl and Sophie also occupies a certain length in the film.


above movies, it is obvious to see how Miyazaki’s films reflecting the Japanese
cuntural society. In his films, many are set in the context of Japan as a
backdrop, and in the film there will be a wide range of Japanese customs set
up. The emergence of these traditional Japanese cultural elements not only
appeals to Japanese audiences, but also attracts many people who are interested
in Japanese culture.


characters in Miyazaki’s movies interact with kami (gods or spirits) because
they are placed in sacred sites or areas that facilitate this contact.


his films, many are set in the context of Japan as a backdrop, and in the film
there will be a wide range of Japanese customs set up. The emergence of these traditional
Japanese cultural elements not only appeals to Japanese audiences, but also
attracts many people who are interested in Japanese culture.


one of the obvious example is the painting. Miyazaki is a firm two-dimensional
graphic maker, he did not use advanced and popular 3D technology, which makes
his animation has a strong sense of art, not just a strong visual impact.
Moreover, Miyazaki’s animated images often have the impressionistic taste,
which is different from the characteristics of Western painting, tend to be
more emphasis on a virtual beauty. Also, Hayao Miyazaki’s characters often have
Ukiyo-e characteristics, especially when expressing their strong emotions. For
example, Haku in the Spirited Away is
a typical example. Haku is a symbol of Japanese culture. Just as James W. Boyd
and Tetsuya Nishimura observe regarding the enigmatic character of Chihiro’s
friend and protector Haku:


Haku is in some respects the embodiment of traditional
Japanese cultural values. His attire resembles that of the Heian period—he
wears something similar to a hakama, part of a Shinto priest’s formal costume.
Besides this courtly dress, his speech is formal and traditional. When he
refers to himself, he does not use the more colloquial “boku” but the more formal
“watashi.” And when he addresses Sen, he uses the ancient, more noble aristocratic
term “sonata”. The fact that Haku embodies certain traditional values, that he
is the one who helps Chihiro in the transitional world, and that Chihiro in
turn helps Haku remember his identity, invites interpretation. Perhaps Miyazaki
is affirming to contemporary viewers of this anime film some important insights
in the Shinto Japanese tradition that can be helpful in these modern times.


second is the spirit in his film. Miyazaki’s work is full of Japanese spirit.
It is a national spirit that can push perseverance and persevere toward
cruelty, while at the same time developing beauty into trembling. In the Nausicaa of the Valley of the Winds,
Nausicaa is a teenager. Her father was killed, and her tribe faced a crisis of
extinction, but she calmly stood in front of all of them in front of a raging
mutant giant insects. She is just a little girl, but she can calm down and
courageously courageously. I think no other nation except Japan can and can
hope to do.


third is music. Miyazaki music composer’s old partner is Joe Hisaishi, this is
the cooperation between geniuses, destined to great achievements. Hisaishi made
the music for Miyazaki’s works very classical, a large section of the symphony
and a large section of the vocal. The music not only did not make the work seem
dull and old, but played a finishing touch, making the works deep and have
connotation. The music boldly moves closer to the West in form, but anyone who
has been exposed to Japanese culture can not easily hear the Japanese
atmosphere soaked in. It is a beautiful, refreshing and stirring artistic


conclusion, Miyazaki reformed Japanese animation. He gave a brand new vision
for his country and let the world understand Japanese society from a very
different perspective. In the postmodern context, Hayao Miyazaki animation
while full of European characters and scene elements, but these elements are
wrapped in a Japanese soul. Due to the universal concern of war, growth and
environmental protection, the film has also made its way to Asia, Europe and
the United States while achieving success in Japan. It has won recognition and
welcome from all over the world and won a worldwide reputation. Of course,
Hayao Miyazaki’s influence on the animation industry is not limited to this, he
and his studio, has been continuously influencing Japanese society and the
world, but also inspired have inspired a new generation of animators. He is a
human treasure.






Rayna Denison. (2001) The
Global Markets for Anime: Miyazaki Hayao’s
Spirited Away. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.



Peter Schellhase. (2014) The
Conservative Vision of Hayao Miyazaki. Available online: http://www.theimaginativeconservative.org/2014/11/conservative-vision-hayao-miyazaki.html Accessed: Nov 7, 2014



Tom Mes. (2012) “Interviews:
Hayao Miyazaki.” Midnight Eye: Visions of Japanese Cinema. Available online: http://www.midnighteye.com/interviews/hayao-miyazaki/ Accessed: December 2012


Yoshida (2011) National Identity (Re)Construction in Japanese and American
Animated Film: Self and Other
Representation in Pocahontas and Princess Mononoke. Available online: http://www.japanesestudies.org.uk/articles/2011/Yoshida.html Accessed: Sept 30, 2011


Inaga (1999) Miyazaki Hayao’s Epic Comic Series: “Nausicaa? in the Valley of the Wind:” An Attempt at Interpretation.
Japan: International Research Centre for Japanese Studies, National Institute
for the Humanities


Categories: Music


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