Hayao Miyazaki’s cartoon characters are beloved around the world. CFP
The man in the photo with the grey moustache, black-framed glasses and a broad smile is beloved for the beautiful worlds of fantasy he has created.
Known as Japan’s Walt Disney, legendary animator Hayao Miyazaki is in the spotlight once again. Recently, he was honored by the Los Angeles Film Critics Association (LAFCA) with a Career Achievement Award.
“The way in which Miyazaki inspires an audience’s sense of wonder is unmatched,” LAFCA president Claudia Puig said in the announcement. “I particularly admire his depiction of determined and courageous female characters who don’t need saving.”
A famous example is the 11-year-old girl from Miyazaki’s film My Neighbor Totoro. Thirty years after its completion, it will soon hit Chinese cinemas. In the film, Satsuki, with short hair meets and befriends Totoro, a giant, furry creature. US-based website CharacTour commented the character of Satsuki that she is “cheerful, imaginative, and free-spirited, and she shows what a good sister should be”.
Miyazaki’s film Spirited Away is an inspirational story of growth and salvation. The main character is Chihiro, 10, a regular girl who is sad about moving. At the beginning of the film, she says, “The only time I got a bouquet and it’s a goodbye present. How depressing!” Later the confused girl has to fight to save her parents. After a fantastic journey, she comes to appreciate the challenges of life.
How did Miyazaki come to have his view of young females? It probably stems from his childhood. After primary school, his mother became ill. However, she refused to be down in front of the young Miyazaki. In a 2001 interview, Miyazaki called himself a pessimist, but said he “didn’t want his pessimism to rub off onto children”. That attitude probably marks the influence of his mother.
Many of his movies have strong female leads. They are brave, self-sufficient girls that don’t think twice about fighting for what they believe in. “Any woman is just as capable of being a hero as any man,” Miyazaki once said in an interview.