Today is the 73rd birthday of Hayao Miyazaki, my favorite director and japanimation artist of all time.
While this may seem like a boring fan post, I honestly have to pay homage to this man who has not just charmed children around the world through Studio Ghibli, but many adults as well. Many Japanese people would probably look at me strangely as I am, by definition, an “otaku” (おたく）. An “otaku” is a person who has an incredible obsession with something, mostly anime or manga. I happen to love anime, but it’s not something that I developed as an adult. Rather, I used to watch it when I was younger, having grown up in Asia. For some reason, I never lost the love for it.
There are some things that I just really enjoy about cartoons and anime. For one, they almost always have a good person and a bad person. There is always some sort of trial, perhaps many in those who have very long arcs. Usually there is also some form of loss in some way as well. However, it is rare that the “hero” or “heroine” or even “heroes” do not triumph. Even then, their trial process is so heart-wrenching that it resonates deep within me. Maybe I am overly idealistic or just a dreamer, but it’s so simple yet entertaining that during a rough patch (and I have had many), I would almost turn to my anime.
This was especially true during 2012 after my diagnosis. I particularly turned a lot towards Miyazaki’s films. For the bad days, I would reach for my favorites – Howl’s Moving Castle, My Neighbor Totoro, and Spirited Away. The better days were reserved for the more “adult films” like Howl’s and Spirited Away, but when I was plain ol’ down and out, I would watch My Neighbor Totoro. It reminded me of my childhood, when I didn’t have to worry so much about life, and well, I was younger and had so much life left to live. Looking back, it was probably a depressing reason to watch Totoro but for some reason it made me feel better.
Take for example, the movie Princess Mononoke. Prince Ashitaka had fallen under a curse that was eating his body. It totally fell under my category of things to watch being that I too had something that was eating my body! However, in spite of his trials, he had to fight other things, creatures and people, while still inflicted. Now I think maybe this should have been my movie of choice being that I too had to fight so many other things during my treatment. Miyazaki may have meant the movie to speak out about the conflict between the environment and the developing world, but to me, this movie hit a more personal chord.
Miyazaki was very passionate about the messages that he wanted to spread in his movies. But to go into that would be an extensive entry. Perhaps I may go into a discussion or revelation on Miyazaki’s individual works even though I’m sure many people much more famous with many more resources than I do have already completed this task. After Miyazaki formerly retired just recently last year, many people and critics were stating how Ghibli will never find someone as talented and gifted as Miyazaki, including Miyazaki’s own son – Goro. While he may have seemingly impossible shoes to fill, I personally will be appreciative and look to enjoy the work that he produces.
Happy Birthday and thank you, Miyazaki-san.
お誕生日おめでとうございます みやざき さん。