Happy Birthday Miyazaki!

Today is Hayao Miyazaki‘s 74th birthday!  He is most famous as co-founder of the Studio Ghibli animation studio (official website, in Japanese) and as writer and director of many of its most beloved films.

Miyazaki began working in animation in 1963, a career that came to an end 50 years later in 2013 with the release of The Wind Rises, which he said would be his last movie.  His retirement has launched a new wave of accolades, including an Academy Honorary Award at last year’s Governor Awards (see his acceptance here).

Five years earlier in 2009 Miyazaki was honored at an event by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, and here he speaks on the tension between hand-drawn and computer-aided animation:

(There are more clips from this conversation, and this bit about his villains is especially interesting for someone known for his morally ambiguous “bad” guys.)

As for what Miyazaki will do in retirement, he has started work on a serialized samurai manga set in Japan’s Warring States period, (EDIT: updated Warring States link from ancient Chinese namesake to correct Japanese version) so a return to manga like his environmental epic Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind, serialized between 1982 and 1994.  I’m actually on the last volume of this myself, so expect further thoughts on it soon…

Some of his collaborators have said it’s likely Miyazaki will come out of retirement (he’s done so before), but in the meantime, Studio Ghibli is still releasing movies, including The Tale of the Princess Kaguya (already released in Japan in 2013), directed by the other Studio Ghibli co-founder, Isao Takahata, with a markedly different animation style:

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Miyazaki Movie Marathon

Why didn’t anyone tell me about this?  The Brooklyn Academy of Music, in addition to being an occasional host to opera, also offers theater, concerts, and film…  And right now they’re halfway through a film series of Hayao Miyazaki movies!  This is the last weekend to see these movies on the Brooklyn big screen, with Porco Rosso tonight, Kiki’s Delivery Service and Howl’s Moving Castle on Saturday, and Spirited Away on Sunday.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7p_wxIleNkI&w=350&h=300]

I seriously need to catch up on my Studio Ghibli, but I don’t think they’re on Netflix?  So I might need to just head out to Brooklyn…  Cuz my local librarian probably judges me enough as is without me borrowing Kiki’s Delivery Service from them too : P  Just kidding, wear your freak flag proud!