Hayao Miyazaki

Our Review of the Week looks at a fascinating new biography of legendary filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki

Miyazakiworld: A Life in Art

Napier, Susan Jolliffe. Yale, 2018
305p bibl index, 9780300226850 $30.00

Book cover of Miyazakiworld: A Life in Art. Drawing of the outline of Miyazaki's face in the clouds. Blue sky background with white clouds.

Napier (rhetoric and Japanese studies, Tufts Univ.) has written the first thorough biography of master animator Hayao Miyazaki, director and animator of 11 award-winning films, including Princess Mononoke, Spirited Away, and The Wind Rises. With their detailed artistry and unique artistic vision, Miyazaki’s films are distinctive cinematic experiences. Napier explores the history and creative development of this artist through the themes that mark his anime and manga work, such as the spiritual connection to the environment, empowerment of women, nostalgia, apocalyptic disasters, perseverance, and the multilayered experience of childhood. Miyazaki was born in Japan in 1941, and his childhood and adolescent experiences are revealed in the fantasy worlds he has created as an adult. His emotionally resonant work has had a profound impact on the field of animation and led anime to become an international art form and fixture in popular culture. Those interested in anime, manga, or Japanese popular culture will enjoy Napier’s biographical exploration of the adventurous journeys and complex worlds created by Miyazaki.

Summing Up: Highly recommended. All readers.
Reviewer: C. B. Cannon, Brand Library and Art Center
Subject: Humanities – Performing Arts – Film
Choice Issue: Mar 2019