Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Gateway to anime: Miyazaki

If we're looking for ways to get people into anime, there's one method that might be best above all others.  If ever there was an example of something close to mainstream anime, it would have to be the works of Hayao Miyazaki.  I don't know that anime has ever been as widely recognized and appreciated as the works of Miyazaki, especially through the Studio Ghibli efforts.  When Disney steps in to handle publishing/localization of your works, you know you've got something going for you.

Miyazaki films definitely have a lot to love, but there's a reason why they serve as a great entry into the world of anime.  Miyazaki features have a much more Western approach to their storytelling, in a sense that things are told at a much different pace than most other anime features out there.  Pacing is slow and steady until things boil over near the end in usually climactic ways.  This jives much better with how Western programming is developed, and helps ease people into the unfamiliar anime territory.

That's not to say that the stories themselves aren't amazing.  Miyazaki films have a very human-like element to them.  It's very easy to connect with the main characters and experience what they're feeling.  That element of emotion is not easy to pull off no matter what medium you're presenting it in, but it seems like something extra special when you manage to make it come through loud and clear through animation.  These sort of connections push most Miyazaki features above other anime film offerings.

Of course, we also have to make note of just how gorgeous Studio Ghibli's films are.  While some may find the design style a bit plain compared to another anime features, there's definitely something to be said for the simple yet extremely fluid animation that these films possess.  Movement appears to be very natural and smooth, all while the simple faces do a fantastic job of conveying the emotions being experienced during any given time.  Throw it all together for a very distinct look, and one that is instantly recognizable as Miyazaki.

What Miyazaki film do you find to be most enjoyable?  Have you see all of the works he was involved with, including those that weren't part of Studio Ghibli?  Miyazaki has a fantastic body of work, and it's hard to find a truly terrible film in his lineup.  If you haven't experienced all that Miyazaki has to offer, you might want to set aside a weekend or two to do so!


  1. I have seen all of Miyuzaki's feature-length works, and have yet to dislike any of his works. I wholeheartedly agree that if any work is to convince someone of anime as a valid art form, it's his works. They are great for everyone, but also contain the extra layer of depth for adults and lack anime stereotypes such as fanservice. Picking a favorite is nearly impossible, but I think Princess Mononoke eeks it out over his other greats like Spirited Away, Castle in the Sky, and Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind by just a bit.

  2. Sadly, i think totoro is the only one ive seen all the way through...but i did love it ^.^

  3. I remember watching A Month of Miyazak on Toonami. They films were ok I guess.