The man is arguably the greatest animator Japan has ever seen and anyone who has studied the Hayao Miyazaki movie list knows how beautiful his filmography is. Miyazaki has made anime films that rival and dwarf most of what the rest of the world puts out and remains a visionary that has few contemporaries, comparable to the best of live action filmmakers.
“My Neighbor Totoro” – While this may be an early entry in the Hayao Miyazaki movie list, it still holds a place as one of his best. The film follows the lives of two sisters in postwar Japan who move to a countryside and interact with a number of amazing creatures. The movie is a typical Miyazaki film, showing these girls as they face the move from innocence into adulthood and the losses incurred. The movie features some of the most beautiful animated scenery in any motion picture and dwarfs much of what was seen at the time in America.
“Princess Mononoke” – This addition to the Hayao Miyazaki movie list was at one time the highest grossing film in Japan, eclipsed finally by “Titanic.” The movie, which also attracted attention worldwide, tells the story of a prince who saves his town from an evil demon. The Prince developed a disease after the battle and set out to find a cure when he became involved in a war between forest animals and an iron mining town. The movie proved to the world that Miyazaki was a force to be reckoned with and led to his next movie, and greatest critical success, “Spirited Away.”
“Spirited Away” – Possibly the greatest addition to the Hayao Miyazaki movie list, “Spirited Away” might be his crowning triumph. It is also the movie that won over audiences all over the world and captured the Academy Award for Best Animated Film, beating American animated efforts like “Ice Age” and Disney’s “Lilo and Stitch” to capture the award. In the movie, a young girl sets out on a quest to save her parents in another lush, vividly animated film from the master.
“Howl’s Moving Castle” – This member of the Hayao Miyazaki movie list is an action adventure epic surrounding the story of a young girl cursed by an old witch and changed into an old woman. She then enters a mystical land and sets out on a Moving Castle where she takes part in adventures while trying to regain her youth once again. It is not one of Miyazaki’s best films but it is an exciting tale with a great story.
“Ponyo” – Much of America discovered the beautiful animation of “Ponyo” but had to endure an American voice cast that included Miley Cyrus’ little sister and the youngest Jonas brother. Luckily, for those of us who don’t mind subtitles, this addition to the Hayao Miyazaki movie list is also available on DVD with the original voice cast so the latest teenyboppers don’t interfere with Miyazaki’s art. The movie is similar to “The Little Mermaid” as a 5-year old boy befriends a goldfish princess who wants to be human.