I’ll never forget the first time I saw a Hayao Miyazaki movie. I was in college and this new animated film called Princess Mononoke was coming to theaters. The trailers looked cool and I’d tangentially heard of the filmmaker’s other films like My Neighbor Totoro—but growing up in a small town, films like that weren’t readily available. Heck, even Mononoke was being released in the U.S. two years after it was released in Japan. But I didn’t know this. I just was at that point in any film fan’s life where they eat up anything new and different. And I was about to get something really special.
So I sat down for Princess Mononoke at the Angelika Film Center on Houston Street in New York City not knowing what to expect. Two hours later I couldn’t believe my eyes. Animation so bright and vivid you want to reach out and grab it. Stories so unique and original you have no idea where they’re going. And characters so bold and vulnerable, you are instantly drawn to them. Princess Mononoke instantly became one of my favorite animated films of all time, and in the subsequent years I devoured not just the new Miyazaki films, but old ones too. Spirited Away was my favorite film of 2001. Porco Rosso touched a nostalgia I had for plane movies thanks to my grandfather. And the classics like Totoro, Kiki’s Delivery Service, and the rest just moved me to no end.
Later, when I started dating the woman who’d become my wife, I shared the films with her. And she too become wholly enamored with the worlds and work of this incredible filmmaker. Eventually, when we purchased a home, my wife and I dedicated an entire section of it to his works. Here’s a photo featuring artwork by Olly Moss, Jason Edmiston, Tom Whalen, Scott C, Craig Drake, Joshua Budich, Sam Smith, and others.
Hayao Miyazaki and his films don’t mean just one thing to me. They kind of mean everything to me in so many different ways. We’re guessing maybe you feel the same. For the legendary filmmaker’s 81st birthday, share with us below what his work means to you.
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