"I believe in the power of story. I believe that stories have an important role to play in the formation of human beings, that they can stimulate, amaze, and inspire their listeners." Happy 79th birthday to Hayao Miyazaki, one of cinema's most talented and visionary storytellers! pic.twitter.com/K2TJPDZJ22
— Tribeca (@Tribeca) January 5, 2020
Miyazaki is renowned for a number of excellent movies, but my personal favorite will always be My Neighbor Totoro. If only in tribute to my personal Mai, the baby sister who resolutely refuses to accept ‘It can’t be helped’ as the global default.
It's Hayao Miyazaki's birthday! Seems like the perfect time to enjoy a Studio Ghibli classic… https://t.co/ZGHpF2hRuR
— Little White Lies (@LWLies) January 5, 2020
Hayao Miyazaki’s My Neighbour Totoro was released in Japan 30 years ago to little fanfare. Misjudged by financiers and shoehorned into a double bill with Isao Takahata’s much-anticipated Grave of the Fireflies, Totoro trod water until slowly, surely, it became one of the most beloved animated feature films of all time…
Some believe Totoro to be a Kami (a spirit tied to nature) belonging to the camphor tree which Mei falls onto the belly of while she’s out playing. The tagline on the original Japanese poster translates as, “These strange creatures still exist in Japan. Supposedly,” which summons thoughts of old souls and endless wisdom. Ultimately, you can project whatever you want onto Totoro. Even Miyazaki leaves open the possibility that the creatures in the film don’t really exist (although he solemnly believes it to be real, as do I)…
Aside from Totoro making a killing in merchandise revenue, those who are familiar with Miyazaki can trace the film’s modern success to his stubborn moral mind. Reluctant to put his characters into straightforward ‘good’ and ‘evil’ boxes, the Ghibli stalwart nevertheless rewards the pure of heart and punishes greed and gluttony. It’s a trait that wasn’t missed by Roger Ebert, who described Totoro’s small kingdom as, “the world we should live in, not the one that we occupy.”
As McCarthy explains, “[Totoro] extended the studio’s positive green and social credentials by tying itself so firmly into a simpler time and a society ruled by nature. I think Miyazaki does two very difficult things in this film with considerable delicacy and grace: he makes a film at a child’s pace and on a child’s level; and he allows death to assume a major role in the movie without demonising or personalising death. It’s also consummately beautiful. After almost thirty years of watching it several times a year, it still surprises me with its capacity to deliver images of almost heart-stopping beauty.”…
Happy Birthday Hayao Miyazaki!
“Whenever someone creates something with all of their heart, then that creation is given a soul.”
– Hayao Miyazaki pic.twitter.com/NQVzLdANDD
— 41 Strange (@41Strange) January 5, 2020
Happy birthday to Hayao Miyazaki, the person behind Studio Ghibli films! His films are mesmerizing and so engaging. Every movie I have watched of his always left me with many emotions tell amazing tales that leave you interested in the worlds! Thank you for these beautiful films! pic.twitter.com/ti1g7mMudV
— BlueJay Williams (@BlueJ630) January 5, 2020
I love My Neighbor Totoro and have probably seen it a dozen times.
Even my mom likes it.
His movies are filled with wonder. They are my daughters favourites (37yrs old). I imagine my granddaughter,Vera, will be a fan too. I will enjoy watching them with her.
I came to anime late, but have been able to get into Miyazaki films, and also bring my wife to do so, with really no effort.
Spirited Away and Kiki’s Delivery Service were the gateways. The rest will follow.
To grab another Roger Ebert idea, in thinking about Miyazaki films: Don’t treat the children in your audience like they’re stupid.
Happy to see this thread. I was privileged to work on the release of Miyazaki’s films in the US, beginning with Kiki’s Delivery Service, which Buena Vista Home Video debuted in a beautifully dubbed version on 35mm at the Seattle International Film Festival in 1998. The film was never released theatrically here but the VHS went on to win Video of the Year in Entertainment Weekly (2-page spread!), and it was followed shortly, if I recall correctly, by the Miramax theatrical release of Princess Mononoke and then Spirited Away. I think Kiki is still my favorite, but Totoro comes a close second. My favorite filmmaker.
One of my favorite directors!
If everyone was required to watch My Neighbor Totoro once or twice a year the world would be a much better place, let me tell you.
My favorites are less popular, Porco Rosso and Howl’s Moving Castle. I adore Spirited Away but keep it for special occasions like really good scotch.
Grave of the Fireflies is a great movie, but, damn, that and Totoro is a tough double feature. Reminds me of the worst double feature I saw in college: Night of the Living Dead and Children of Paradise.
Grave of the Fireflies is to date the saddest animation and one of the saddest movies I’ve even seen. I can’t imagine pairing it with, well, anything else.
My Neighbor Totoro is beautiful.
When I worked at Barnes & Noble Totoro (or sometimes Kiki’s Delivery Service) was my go-to recommendation for people desperate to find a gift for a kid that they probably would not have seen already. Sometimes it was a tough sell, because they don’t have Disney stank on them, but quite often people would come back later to rave about how much the kids liked the movies.
One guy did come back to complain. I thought, Uh-oh, here we go. But he said, “Every time I go over there I have to watch that damn movie with my grandson.”
West of the Rockies
I discovered this film world through having a child. My daughter was 4 when we were told about Totoro. She is 18 now. We’ve seen them all. Went to see Totoru on the big screen about a month ago ( Fathom Events). It was magical.
I got to take my kiddo (11F) to see Spirited Away on the big screen a couple of months ago. I’m still not sure who was more entranced…
such wonderful movies.
unabashed love of flight. incredible visual design. immaculate attention to detail.
can’t decide if ‘princess mononoke’ or ‘ponyo’ is my favorite, but his films and the work his studio puts out is rather incredible.
One of my favorite memories was discovering Miyazaki while at a conference in Marseille. I wandered into an animation festival and ended up watching Le Voyage de Chihiro subtitled in French. Between half-remembered high-school French and the perhaps 30 words of Japanese that I know from watching anime, I could barely follow the plot—and it was still awesome.
Sorry for the late thank you to Chris for the puppy pic, but we still haven’t seen Yutsy’s have we?
Why are we being denied?
spirited away is wonderful, and i can show it to my kids who get freaked out by loud scary action.
princess mononoke is still my fave tho.
The first time I saw Spirited Away, it hit me like a thunderclap. I had never seen a Miyazaki film before, and the animation, the images, were magic. Also, I knew very little about Japanese folklore, so the entire storyline, characters, and characterizations were completely new to me. I wondered how much of what I was seeing was established folklore, and how much was original with Miyazaki.
Still one of my favorite movies ever.
Miyazaki created works of such joy and delight, yet the man himself is an incorrigible curmudgeon and misanthrope, and I for one don’t blame him.
“My Neighbor Totoro” is a brilliant and beautiful children’s movie. What’s amazing about it is that the plot is extremely simple and has very little drama unlike most popular Hollywood movies. And yet it still works. It’s so gentle, like an artistic rendering of the aura of Mr. Rogers.
“Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind” is another really awesome part of Miyazaki’s body of work. It’s kind of the opposite of “My Neighbor Totoro” – fairly complex plot, sweeping action, drama, with a strong environmental and anti-war message.
And any discussion of the Studio Ghibli films has to mention Joe Hiaishi, the composer of most (all?) of the music in the films. His music is amazing!
Everything Miyazaki touches is so gorgeously animated and full of whimsy.
Castle in the Sky is my fav work of his. Also love Kiki’s Delivery Service, Spirited Away, Nausicaa, and Mononoke Hime
My daughter got into the Ghibli movies when our local children’s museum, which a friend of ours (who is far more into anime than I’ll ever be) worked at, did a Japanese language and film fest. My daughter saw Totoro, and maybe Kiki’s there, and asked us to start renting the others for her. I didn’t pay much attention until the night she watched Spirited Away. It caught my attention immediately, and I fell in love with it. It is still my favorite by far among the Ghibli movies, although there are still several I haven’t seen.
whenever someone scoffed at why I was STILL watching cartoons in my 20’s, I would ask them to sit thru Totoro with me, and then tell them THAT’S why I was still watching anime as an adult. Miyazaki translates the imagination in such a fashion that it establishes its own sense of reality. Coupled with Cowboy BeBop as an adult series, it showcased storytelling via a “different” medium and I’m still a sucker for a good story.
I recently finished reading “Howl’s Moving Castle” which the movoe was based on.
Confirmed first time I liked the movie better than the book. And the book was awesome!
Agree, but Diana Wynn Jones, the author of the book, did not like the movie.
@bmoak: Aww that’s sad
Grave of the Fireflies was a film by Isao Takahata (RIP), Miyazaki’s Studio Ghibli partner.
I have all the Studio Ghibli movies on DVD or Blu-ray. I would consider Spirited Away to be Miyazaki’s masterpiece. Always a soft spot for Totoro. I translated a script for it for Japanese class years before it had an English release, and then used that script for a showing at our fledgling anime club at Rutgers.
Bragging Rights! I’ve got a matted and framed movie poster from the Japanese theatrical release of Nausicaa hanging in my living room.
@Debbie(Aussie): my daughter would kill me if she saw this ? she is 33, my son is 37. ?
To make public transit popular, we need the cat bus from Totoro.
Bad mum! ?
Love Spirited Away and Princess Mononoke.
Spirited Away was the first of his works I saw, via my “kids” – son & DIL – and it blew me away. Still blows me away. Love Totoro and Kiki’s Delivery Service too, really should find and watch more Studio Ghibli. Yes, I’m making notes on other things ppl here like. I’ve been way too buried in the mundane for oh, the last 3+ years. Sigh. Sometimes “Fantasy” is the way back to facing the current ghastly reality with new resources, or at least some new energy.
“Belladonna” from 1973 is a classic.
When Miss E and I watched Spirited Away we couldn’t believe what we had just seen, so we saw it another 4 times in 3 different theaters, just to be sure. A transformative experience!
We went to see Ponyo, too, but we were half the audience at that theater :-(
@Debbie(Aussie): SBS World Movies has been showing many Studio Ghibli movies lately. It’s been a treat to watch many of them again.
Now that my nieces and nephews are having kids of their own, I have a new generation to give the Ghibli movies to (started this Christmas with Totoro for my grandniece).
Anyone still watching modern anime, the new winter season show Keep Your Hands Off Eizouken! is simulcast on Crunchyroll (should be available for free watch next week), and is about young ladies who fell in love with anime for similar reasons, and want to create their own. It looks like it’s going to be a wild love letter to the best previous generation of anime creation.
(I also recommend fall season’s Ascension of a Bookworm, which is delightful.)
He’s such an inspiration to me. So I blame him for me sitting here still working on formatting this short script for production.
@Mike J: Okay fine. Ya big whiner.
My daughter is 9 and has been into all things Japanese since she was about 4, when we took her to Japan at Epcot for the first time. She has watched all the Studio Ghibli movies (many times) and loves drawing her own anime characters.
Last year Fathom Events ran many of these films in theaters, which was a real treat for both of us to see. She loves Spirited Away, and when we saw it she brought along her No Face doll – much to the delight of the other theater patrons (who were nearly all adults).
Good Morning Love Captions
Good Morning everyone!! I like lot of stories by Hayao, and now my kids also like them. He is doing really great and provide best source of learning to kids.
@Yutsano: oh adorbs! I just want to snuggle with that floof!
Miyazaki’s films are among my personal favorites. Do NOT think typical Japanese anime if you have never seen a Miyazaki film. There is NO comparison. I agree on how wonderful Totoro is, I have watched it many times, when I need cheering up. I especially love the scene where the two girls sing over the plot of garden after planting the seeds with Totoro. Sheer magic. But I think my favorite Miyazaki is Castle in the Sky (Laputa). Such a marvelous adventure, with air pirates, and the young central characters are just so appealing. Great music, too, but then that is true of most of Miyazaki’s films. On YouTube you can find reams of music from his films, including symphonic performances of the highest caliber. His early success was Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind, a fable about how we are destroying the planet. I have a large poster of the central character, Nausicaa, with an Omu, framed on my downstairs study wall so I see it every time I enter the door to the study and turn toward my workstation.
I had never heard of Miyazaki until I read this post and I know nothing about Japanese animation. I am 65, live alone, and am increasingly cold and cynical. I was intrigued by the unabashed enthusiasm about Miyazaki in the comments so with nothing else to do so I downloaded Tororo and watched it tonight. It brought great joy and tears to my eyes. Thanks to you all.
Now watch Spirited Away.
Has anyone else been to the Studio Ghibli museum in Mitaka, Japan? I got to go there during my Japan trip in August 2013. Highly recommended if you have a chance to go. Its design clearly was guided by Miyazaki’s aesthetics, with a wooden/earth-toned scheme and very personal style. They request not taking photos upon entering, because of Miyazaki’s feeling that the museum is there for you to experience, not just view through a lens. Only place in the museum where photos are allowed is the rooftop garden, which sports a full-scale recreation of the robot from Laputa. Here is a small example of the museum’s aesthetics (a Jiji-adorned water faucet).
One of my favorite parts of the museum was the small movie theater, which runs a collection of Ghibli short subjects. One of these (which unfortunately wasn’t running the day I visited) was a cute short concerning the Cat-bus, and its kittens! Just the still pictures one could see from it are squee-worthy!
Howard Beale IV
Back in 2000 when Anime Central in Illinois was getting ready to be one of the big anime events in the US, the shirt that was seen by many of the attendees read: “Make sure you spay/neuter your cat bus.”
Anime Central was also home to “Sailor Bubba“….