A Look at Miyazaki

By Ashley Kirsten

Hayao MiyazakiHayao Miyazaki is a machine. As if his filmography wasn’t long enough, anime powerhouse Studio Ghibli recently announced Miyazaki’s film-count will officially be up to 27 by next summer with the addition of a screen adaptation of his two-part manga series, The Wind Rises (Kaze Tachinu).

Originally serialized in Model Graphix just a few years ago, this story centers around the life of Jiro Horikoshi, a famed World War II engineer who designed the Mitsubishi A6M Zero fighter plane. Interestingly enough, each pilot in Miyazaki’s story is anthropomorphized into a pig.

Miyazaki

Does that sound a bit familiar? Some fans of Miyazaki’s Porco Rosso seem to think that The Wind Rises may actually be the sequel to the award-winning 1992 film set in World War I.

Porco Rosso

Miyazaki’s filmography shows some inclinations toward tales of anthropomorphized characters. More than a handful of his films (Porco Rosso, Pom Poko, Whisper of the Heart, and The Cat Returns, to name a few) as well as Sherlock Hound, an anime series which he directed six episodes of, all feature anthropomorphized characters.

To fuel the sequel-conspiracy fire, composer Joe Hisaishi has added his name to the Miyazaki’s latest project. If you’re not familiar with the name, you are probably familiar with his music. He’s composed the scores for the majority of Miyazaki’s films, including Porco Rosso. I’m excited to hear what direction Hisaishi takes with this movie’s soundtrack; he’s a genius when it comes to meshing different genres into a tasteful blend of music that’s delicious to the ear. (Seriously, go check out any of his compositions if you haven’t before. “One Summer Day” from Spirited Away is a great place to start.)

Regardless of its status as a sequel or an independent film, The Wind Rises is shaping up to be an excellent movie. Anything Miyazaki is associated with is usually good, but the real gold comes when he is involved in every aspect of the movie: writing, directing, and producing. Unfortunately for those of us living in the Western hemisphere who can’t read perfect Japanese, we’re going to have to wait even longer for the English adaptation of Miyazaki’s latest piece of art–most English versions come out a few years after his films hit the screens in Japan. Just this past February, the English dub of The Secret World of Arrietty was released on American soil, two years after it debuted in Japan.

Western fans of Miyazaki still have a lot to look forward to in the next couple of months while waiting for the release of The Wind Rises. Miyazaki helped animate the Playstation 3 and Nintendo DS role-playing game, Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch, slated for a release next year on January 25th. Ni No Kuni has already achieved critical acclaim, winning E3’s coveted Best Role-playing Game Award. After Ni No Kuni will come the English dub of From Up on Poppy Hill, hitting American shores in March of 2013.

Until then, I suppose I’ll spend my time curled up by the fire with a blanket and hot cocoa, reveling in Miyazaki’s colossal portfolio of entertainment.