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Hayao Miyazaki Talks Hand-Drawn Animation at Venice

by
September 1, 2008

Hayao Miyazaki

I will forever be a fan of Hayao Miyazaki, the Japanese filmmaker responsible for many of the greatest anime movies of all-time. He just finished premiering his latest film, Ponyo on the Cliff, at the 65th Venice Film Festival and some early reviews have hit as well as some great quotes from Miyazaki himself. To me, Miyazaki is like Shigeru Miyamoto from Nintendo, a cinematic genius who has changed the world with his animation. I can't help but always feature stories about Miyazaki and today we've got another good one. Reuters reported back from the press conference with Miyazaki and his quotes on animation are wonderful to see, especially considering it's a rare treat to hear Miyazaki talk to press anyway.

"I think animation is something that needs the pencil, needs man's drawing hand, and that is why I decided to do this work in this way," Miyazaki told press at Venice. "Currently computer graphics are of course used a great deal and, as I've said before, this use can at times be excessive." Ponyo on the Cliff is Miyazaki's eight feature film and even at 67 years old, he's still hand animating films himself. "I will continue to use my pencil as long as I can," he told them. We wrote about an interview previously with Toshio Suzuki (read that here), where he mentioned that Miyazaki drew the scenes with water and waves himself because no one else could make it look exactly how he wanted. A true testament to his talent.

As for the film itself, it's getting some early positive buzz, as was expected. The Japan Times writes: "No one but Miyazaki could have created anything like these moments, with anything like his mastery. If Ponyo is the start of his artistic second childhood, I say welcome to the sandbox." LoveHKFilm.com also praises the film with an incredibly glowing review. "Ponyo on the Cliff is another Miyazaki classic that is a marvelous feast for the eyes. Like a modern day fairytale, the film tells a timeless story of friendship and love that while surely be cherished for years to come." I'm anxiously awaiting my own opportunity to catch the film. Despite its child-like story and playful theme, it still seems like it contains that same magic that Miyazaki has brought to all of his films.

As everyone probably knows, I'm a Pixar fanboy at heart as well. And while in America we've got Pixar as our animation house that continues to amaze us every year, Miyazaki continues to dazzle in Japan with every new film that Studio Ghibli produces. It's amazing to see that each one of these animation houses couldn't be more different from one another - one using advanced computer technology, the other relying on age-old hand animation techniques. It just goes to show that as long as the passion and the heart is there, the production will succeed, no matter what the medium or how it was created. Although Miyazaki certainly seems to think otherwise, considering he will always hand animate his films.

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  • I love Miyazaki films. The first time I saw Princess Mononoke I was hooked and sought out most of his other films. I will admit that I didn't like the story to Howl's Moving Castle though the animation was great. I'm glad Miyazaki is sticking to the pencil, his strength and that we'll be getting more of his films that way. Doesn't he always say he is going to retire?
  • Shige
    This one is a complete failure. Lack of story, no memorable characters and an absolute horrible ending. The theaters during its first week were almost empty.
  • vegeta
    I have to agree with the master of animation. CG-animated toons are great, but the magic of hand-drawn animation has been sorely missed in the last few years. Here's hoping that Disney finds room for both.
  • That's too bad. I was going to try to get into a screening for it. I still might though.
  • Chris
    here's hoping for princess mononoke and spirited away on blu ray!!
  • Schabrak
    @Shige: It can't be so bad? :E You've seen it in Venice? or Japan?
  • Petra
    I'm still looking forward to seeing this- if nothing else, it's a feast for the eyes. I still hope he'll wind up doing something grand again, like Spirited Away or Princess Mononoke- those are my two favorites of his. But all of his movies that I've seen are truly beautiful. I have much respect for Miyazaki.
  • Hector N
    I've seen the movie and i really liked it, is heartwarming and you can't avoid fall in love with its characters. I agree that the story isn't complex as "princess mononoke" or " nausicaa", it's more in the likes of Totoro. Animation is great as is expected to be. It's great that you publish articles on Miyazaki, i hope we can have more in the future
  • avoidz
    My favorite Hayao Miyazaki film has always been Laputa, which I first watched on TV sometime in the 1980s as a teenager. I remember it being so impressive visually and storywise compared to the other US animation fare at the time.
  • Mario Tenorio
    I've been waiting for this film so bad. Every time he releases a film it becomes an event, well at list for me and some friends. thanks for the news.
  • FAT
    KUDOS for PONYO !!!
  • Shige
    #6 Saw it here in Japan. Yes its quite bad. Perhaps the smallest children will like it but it has zero appeal to the adult audience, unlike his previous films.
  • Djo
    The advantage Pixar has over other animation companies is they insist their computer animators already have a mastery of hand-drawn animation, meaning: exaggeration of movement creates believability, and photo-realism is not as important as caricaturization, to create believable, empathetic characters. Miyazaki's work astounds, amazes, and inspires awe- always does and always will. I think a better comparison between believable use of computers and less believable would be Katsuhiro Otomo and Masamune Shirow's animated works. Otomo's work because they employ computers but only for backgrounds and engineering type drawings & movements, all other elements remaining steeply rooted in the rudiments of hand drawn animation (although he did do some work w/ CG people recently, which somehow still had his signature artistic touch); while Shirow's feature film work (not counting Stand Alone Complex) used fully rendered people that time & again were unconvincing & freakily android looking. Miyazaki uses computers to create hyper-surreal backgrounds & dream sequences, etc. What ALL of these guys have in common is using CG as a TOOL to enhance the technology of hand-drawn animation. Pixar included. They just each integrate it in different way. Moral of the story: none of these guys is dumb enough to try to re-invent the wheel.
  • I admire Miyazaki's art and I like al his films even "Totoro," and the less popular Kiki's Delivery Service and Whisper of the Heart...I might like Ponyo too even if its child-related theme, I love the feeling of being a child at heart! -I came through your site via Dneero and thanks to it, Ive been here for the last 5 hours already wacthing all the trailers lol! love it!!!
  • Besu
    Happened to be in Japan when this came out (in mid-July) and I went to see it twice. It's true the story is much simpler than his more recent works, but it's charming and adorable. The fair comparison is to set it next to Totoro rather than something like Princess Mononoke or Spirited Away. And the animation is gorgeous. Beautiful hand-animated watercolor effects, the backgrounds are full of color and life. As an artist, the second time I watched the movie I was mostly just staring in awe at the beautiful animation. I'm hoping the DVD comes out fairly soon; I have two sisters who are 5 and 10 and I know they'll just love this.
  • LS
    Will his movies ever transfer to blu-ray and be sold here in America? Does anyone know?
  • Glass
    Spare us the hellstorm Miyazaki has unleashed upon the animation world with those monstrosities he calls films. He seems to have two distinct morphs of movie, neither one very good. The first is usually just him babbling about why nature is always good and man is always evil as he forces us to hear his characters have at least one speech about how good a person they are because they defend nature. Yes, Hayao, we are destroying nature, yes we are polluting the environment, how about telling us something new? He's not making his audience think with these types of movies, he's just selling them a guilt trip. The second is his other equally bad but far less offensive movie type where a female character is just usually crying and/or doing chores or wandering around a fantasy environment like they're on the world's dullest sightseeing tour. Just look at them, Kiki, Chihiro, Sophie, they spend more than half the movie crying or doing chores, it's like he made the exact same movie at least three times and switched the setting slightly. Then he gets praised for using a “strong” female protagonist because she happens to look determined in one single scene while she cries and whines the rest of the time. Miyazaki is not being creative. He utilizes the same themes and character types in every movie with little to no variation. Everyone praises his works for looking pretty while being distracted from the utter lack of realistic or meaningful story or character.

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