Hayao Miyazaki: The price of being the world’s greatest animator

I have no problem in saying that Hayao Miyazaki is the greatest creator of animated movies. My Neighbor Totoro, Spirited Away, and Princess Mononoke are his best-known works, but there are many more. Currently my son is obsessed with all things Totoro, and that’s not far different from his father.

Miyazaki’s son, Goro, is the same age as me, 42.

In 2006, Goro directed Tales from Earthsea (and I’ll write more about that film later this week). While making that movie (which is not yet available in the U.S.), Goro wrote a series of blog articles that have been translated at a fan site called nausicaa.net. Goro is very plainspoken about his father in his 39th blog post:

Hayao Miyazaki, to me, is “Zero Marks as a Father, Full Marks as a Director”.

My father was almost never at home.
That’s why for me, when I was a child, my mother had to fill the place of my father.

My father came home every day in the middle of the night, after I had already gone to sleep. He was always very conscientious in this regard – apparently, no matter how late it was, he always made sure that he came home.
But almost every Saturday and Sunday he was still at work regardless. That’s why, from my earliest awareness to the present day, I hardly ever had the chance to talk to him.

More details appear in Goro’s next two blog posts. In post #41, Goro states that he studied the work of his father closely because that was the only way he could know and understand him.

When Goro was chosen to direct Tales From Earthsea based on the storyboards he created, there was a public argument between Hayao and Goro over whether or not Goro was ready to direct. Goro later states in the blogs that he and his father then avoided each other completely.

[photo of Goro and Hayao Miyazaki together at the debut of Tales From Earthsea; photo from ghibliworld, not credited]

Apparently that rift was mended after the film was released, and the picture above shows sitting Hayao and Goro together. Hayao wrote Goro a note to say that the film was made honestly, and that that was good.

It’s easy to fill in the blanks and imagine Hayao as an obsessed workaholic, often absent from home. Many of Hayao’s works deal with children and their relationship with their parents. My Neighbor Totoro, for instance, was completed in 1988, when Goro would have been in college. I don’t know Hayao at all, but it seems to me that the price he paid for releasing such wonderful films was a very steep price indeed.

One Response to “Hayao Miyazaki: The price of being the world’s greatest animator”

  1. RYoGA Says:

    This is Toshio Suzuki, productor of studio Ghibli, sitting next Goro on these pictures.

    Hayao went to Goro’s first film projection but went out of it after less than an hour. He said it was not a good movie and that feelings are not enough to lead a story/movie.

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