Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Hayao Miyazaki and His Films

I was finally able to watch Porco Rosso, the only Hayao Miyazaki film under Studio Ghibli I have not watched when I made this list. For those of you who don’t know, Miyazaki is a superb Japanese animator. He’s like the Stephen Spielberg of animation. It was only last year when I learned about this man, but I have actually been exposed to his work earlier. You know Heidi (anak pawis sa kabundukan) and Lupin III, the Tagalized cartoons shown on ABS-CBN and GMA respectively? He worked on those cartoons.

Hayao Miyazaki. (Image is from this site.)
I like all the animated films that Miyazaki has directed, but of course I have my favorites. I wanted to make a top 10 list, but I watched only 9 Miyazaki films, so I came up only with my top 5 favorites. Before I talk about them, here are the films that did not make my list. They are still worth watching though. I guarantee you.

Kiki’s Delivery Service (1989)
Kiki (Image is from this site.)
Kiki is a witch who has to live away from her parents for a year. She finds a town where she can stay, and to make some money, she starts a delivery business. She uses her broom to fly and deliver things until one day she finds out that she can no longer fly. This movie is like Miyazaki’s version of a feel good movie.

Porco Rosso (1992)
Porco. (Image is from this site).
Porco is a pilot who becomes a pig due to a curse. He goes after seaplane pirates as a living. If you like aircrafts, you’ll definitely love this film. In 2012, Miyazaki will release a sequel to this film. I’m looking forward to it.

Spirited Away (2001)
Chihiro. (Image is from this site.)
Chihiro and her parents are on their way to their new house when they got lost. They came across this strange place where Chihiro's parents turn into pigs (must be Miyazaki’s favorite animal). Chihiro works in the strange place, which turns out to be a spirit world, as a bathhouse staff while finding a way to make her parents return to normal and for them to get back home. It’s a great film, even winning an Oscar.

Howl’s Moving Castle (2004)
The moving castle. (Image is from this site.)
This is about a castle that moves (it has feet), and the owner of the house is – guess who – Howl! Here, there are people turning into something else, too. The story is set in a war, which is perhaps why this film does not appeal to me much.

Now here are my top five faves (after the jump).

5 - Ponyo (2008)
Ponyo and Sosuke. (Image is from this site.)
This film got me into the whole Miyazaki craze. A student of mine (I edit essays written by Korean students) mentioned this film in her essay, which got me curious. I watched it and liked it. In other Miyazaki films, people turn into something else, but in this film, a fish turns into a girl, who falls in love with a boy named Sosuke. It’s a great sort-of-kilig movie!

4 - My Neighbor Totoro (1988)
Totoro (the big one). He was in Toy Story 3. (Image is from this site.)
A father and his two daughters move to a new place to be closer to the hospital where the children’s mother (and the father’s wife, duh) is confined. There, the two young girls discover strange creatures, and one of them is Totoro, thus the title. The film’s plot is simple. The only reason this film made my list is Totoro, the adorably large, hairy, and huggable bear-like creature  (reminds me of someone). Oh, the Catbus is cute, too! And in Disney’s English dub version, the mother is voiced by our very own Lea Salonga.

3 - Princess Mononoke (1997)
San, Princess Mononoke. (Image is from this site.)
San, a.k.a. Princess Mononoke, is a human raised by giant wolves. She protects the forest from people who want to destroy it. The film may be named after her, but the real hero here is Ashitaka, a lad who was cursed to have super strength that also makes him weaker each day. This film made me want to learn archery.  

2 - Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (1984)
Nausicaä, one bad ass lass from the Valley of the Wind. (Image is from this site.)
Large insects have taken over the world (or something like it), and only a few places can be inhabited by humans, one of which is Valley of the Wind. Bad guys, led by their hot, amputated leader, invades the valley for their own evil plan (which they refuse to consider as such). Nausica√§ (Nosika), the princess of the Valley of the Wind, won’t allow this to happen. She personally deals with the bad guys instead of just sitting on her throne all day (I don’t even think that she has one). Government officials can learn a lot from this film.

1 - Laputa: Castle in the Sky (1986)
Sheeta and Pazu. (Image is from this site.)
Sheeta holds the key to finding the floating city of Laputa, the castle in the sky. This film’s storyline and animation are great. There are many awesome scenes, such as when Sheeta and her friend Pazu land in Laputa. If you want to watch this, I recommend watching the original Japanese version but with English subs because some things got lost in translation in the English dub versions (there are two).

Based on his films, I can conclude that Hayao Miyazaki is a tree hugging feminist who is also a frustrated pilot. :) In most (not all) of his works, protecting the environment is a common theme, many of the protagonists are women, and there is always something flying. I like him for those things. For me, he is the best animator around. His son is also an animator, by the way.


Anonymous said...

i love hayao miyazaki films. my favorites are howl's moving castle and spirited away. i also love the soundtracks.
i think Avatar just copied the idea of the floating city from laputa: castle in the sky.

Karlow said...

hi! Thanks for visiting.
Hmmm...let's ask James Cameron about that. Hehe