Hayao Miyazaki is one of the best animators of our time. He also likes to create a lot of drama around his work.
In 2014, when “The Wind Rises” premiered at the Venice Film Festival, he said it would be his final feature film. It was also an announcement he’d repeated several times before.
It would be fair to say that he stopped making feature films, but Miyazaki continues to work on smaller projects, such as Boro the Caterpillar.
If you’ve never had the chance to view his work, these are his best animated films.
1. Spirited Away
Several of Miyazaki’s movies can get interpreted as a riff on a classic story. This film puts the traditional “Alice in Wonderland” story into a unique package, creating a tale of childhood wishes getting fulfilled while learning how to navigate the rules of the new world.
2. Princess Mononoke
This film follows the story of Ashitaka, a young warrior banished from his village after he gets cursed. You’ll follow his voyage to the land of forest sprit, where he falls for the local princess. The tale is remarkably complex, establishing Miyazaki’s credibility as an artist globally.
3. My Neighbor Totoro
This animated film is the one most people know from Miyazaki’s work. The giant cat-rabbit creature became arguably his best merchandising and cross-over opportunity. The story is set in post-war Japan, discussing the challenges of that world that the west doesn’t often remember.
4. Porco Rosso
Although many people describe this Miyazaki film as strange, it’s his most straightforward movement. It takes on a Tintin-style feeling, following an aviation ace who earns his living as a bounty hunter. With its geographic specificity and romantic themes, there’s a lot to love about this movie.
5. The Castle of Cagliostro
This film was Miyazaki’s first feature as a director. It’s based on Lupin III, coming from an anime series that he directed several episodes for before coming to movies. Although the plot is a little heavy with some unrealistic spots, it does hit all of the right notes for this genre. How can you not love the ninja assassins?
Have you seen Hayao Miyazaki’s work in the past? What are your favorite movies from his lifetime of animation?