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Studio Ghibli's Hayao Miyazaki reveals the wholesome source of his inspiration


Hayao Miyazaki is a Japanese animation director, most notably known for his contributions to the film canon through his work with Studio Ghibli. Films like Spirited Away, My Neighbour Totoro, Howl’s Moving Castle, Kiki’s Delivery Service, and so many more can be attributed to his genius and imagination.

His work has become a source of joy for so many children over the years—myself included, as I was obsessed with Kiki’s Delivery Service growing up. So it makes sense that this would be a part of where he finds his inspiration. Specifically, in his ability to create films that kids enjoy.

Miyazaki has said of the way children inspire the worlds he creates, revealing: “I look at them and try to see things as they do. If I can do that, I can create universal appeal. The relationship is two-way. We get strength and encouragement from watching children. I consider it a blessing to be able to do that, and to make movies in this chaotic, testing world.”

There is something beautiful and deeply wholesome about that sentiment. And it’s true what he says about creating universal appeal, as things that can reach an audience of kids can reach anybody. And a part of how he creates this universal appeal is by shaping worlds that people can easily get lost in.

He’s also said of his work, “Anime may depict fictional worlds, but I nonetheless believe that at its core it must have a certain realism. Even if the world depicted is a lie, the trick is to make it seem as real as possible. Stated another way, the animator must fabricate a lie that seems so real viewers will think the world depicted might possibly exist.” Even though it might not seem like the two are intertwined at first glance, delving into that full experience inherently captures a childlike innocence that shines through in his films.

Of course, he does manage to get a bit more specific about his ideology and how it plays into his filmmaking, like how he shapes his characters, for example. He said, “Many of my movies have strong female leads- brave, self-sufficient girls that don’t think twice about fighting for what they believe with all their heart. They’ll need a friend, or a supporter, but never a saviour. Any woman is just as capable of being a hero as any man.” And this is a great attitude to centre, especially when making content for kids, especially with the way social and societal roles are portrayed so often in media.

It’s clear that Miyazaki puts a lot of thought and care into the way that kids inspire the work, and the way that his films can inspire kids right back. Like any art form, it makes for a symbiotic relationship between the artist and the fans, which speaks to his long-running commitment to the craft. 

Like he’s mentioned before, “I would like to make a film to tell children ‘it’s good to be alive’.” And he hasn’t just done that—he’s made many of them.

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