When people think of anime many times they think of Hayao Miyazaki. Miyazaki is a Japanese animator, born in January 5th, 1941, he is an animator who works using cel animation. He uses water color painting for the background while keeping his characters in the distinctive Japanese anime style, having large, round eyes and mouths that can be as small as a dot or as big as a canvas. He is also known for giving his characters a sense of unforced realism in the way they notice details. Even though Miyazaki is well known for his use of traditional cel animation, he is also now known for incorporating digital animations into his more recent animations. Miyazaki has been an animator for fifty-one years working from 1963 till 2014 when he retired after making his last animated feature “The Wind Rises.” But before his retirement he has made sure that his studio lasts and continues to produce great animations by training and grooming the next generation of Studio Ghibli animators.
When he first started as an animator back in 1963 Miyazaki worked at Toei Doga, working on productions such as Sally the Witch, Puss ‘n Boots, The Flying Ghost Ship, and most notably Wolf Boy Ken, which is most well known as one of the first projects that both Miyazaki and Takahata Isao worked together on. After working at Toei for eight years Miyazaki left Toei to find work else where. After leaving Toei, Miyazaki began work on the movie Lupin the Third: The Castle of Cagliostro. This became Miyazaki’s big break, the animation itself was very well done packed full of action scenes and a fantastic story. He was able to achieve such great success for this movie by showing his command of the form to keep the fil engaging even at its breakneck pace. The way he was able to achieve this was by balancing finely observed, realistic details with exaggerated movement and expression. Many of Miyazaki’s films use this style of combining internal realism with distorted embellishment to give his movies a voice of their own. Exaggeration works for Lupin the Third: The Castle of Cagliostro due to the because it matches the characters’ larger than life personalities and and their roles in the glorious pulpy story.
The next film to come from Miyazaki was called Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind. This animated feature film is about a girl known as Princess Nausicaa, she lives in a post-apocalyptic world where a toxic forest has grown all throughout the world becoming homes to many dangerous and giant bugs. The forest is toxic to humans and the bugs destroy the humans that disturb the forest at all. Nausicaa goes on a journey to save her kingdom and the world from that which seeks to destroy it. Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind creates a magical and beautiful world filled with many dangers. Miyazaki creates a very strong female character, which are not seen much in movies or on television at this time. The world the Miyazaki creates is different from any other apocalyptic world that has been created in animation. He is able to create a beautiful world even making the dangers of the toxic forest into something that is beautiful. The colors that are used to create the details within the Toxic forest, the dark blues, purples, greens, and oranges help make beauty where danger resides. Also created in this feature film are the cities of humanity and the machinery they use; Miyazaki creates a futuristic world creating such tiny details into the clothing of the characters, the cities they live in, the forests they inhabit, and the machinery they use.
The animated feature Princess Mononoke is another very popular animation of Miyazaki’s, focusing on nature and the strengths of a female character. The film is about a boy who after defending his village from a raging demon gets cursed by this demon. The boy must go and find the deer god and ask him to help save him, but along the way he meets a girl, daughter to the wolf god Moro, called San. Together they adventure to help save both the gods of the woods and humanity before they destroy each other. In this animation Miyazaki focuses on the idea of humanity destroying the world and forests as well as feminine lead characters again, just like in Nausicaa. He uses his colors wisely to set the scene and mood, when characters are talking in a close up frame where the background can be seen close to them, the background then becomes very detailed and in-depth where as when a scene is happening far away to get the view of two characters the background is less detailed focusing attention on the characters in front of the viewer. The use of such detail is also present when objects are broken or scattered in the air, these objects are all animated piece by piece, moving at through the air in different directions at the same time. This is also seen in the demons present in the animation, the demons are tentacle beasts and each tentacle moves freely, however it wishes, this gives a sense of realism to the creatures and world that is created. The realism that is created in these scenes also help to make it seem more believable to the viewer and make the physics of this world seem real as well. Miyazaki makes worlds that are fantastic worlds but also have realistic aspects to them to make them more immersive and believable going so far as when a character moves or shows a type of emotion he uses the whole face to create it, making the hair fly up slightly and the body grow and tense up to show anger, or have the eyes grow wider and hair fly’s up, while the body shrinks to show fear. These emotions are all seen in this animation along with very smooth movements for when characters travel, though many scenes repeat these movements they are done so well that it is still very difficult to tell when the repeats happen during these scenes.
Animator Miyazaki has created some of the most amazing animations to come out of Japan. Using his talents of cel animation, detail, and realism he creates such unique and inspiring worlds that immerse many viewers in their beauty. His attention to the smallest of details when a character moves and seeing how their hair, clothes, and whatever other accessories they have move with them to make the world itself more believable is what make Miyazaki such an amazing animator. Even the use of drawing characters and backgrounds simplistically all have reason, be it to focus our attention on something else in the scene, or to show the calmness of a scene, every tiny detail and frame that he creates all has reason for being there. Nothing that Miyazaki creates has no reason being in a frame for a scene, it is all there for the purpose of showing and expressing his art and story that he has created.
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