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Sunday, January 12, 2014

Hayao Miyazaki On The Simpsons

Coming up on tonight's The Simpsons episode is a tribute to just-retired Japanese movie director Miyazaki Hayao (surname first), who worked for Studio Ghibli.

Now... The Simpsons have done many, many Japanese tributes over the years - and I've seen every one of them, as I have been watching them from their first incarnation on the much-missed Tracey Ullman Show, but I have to admit that this is the first time I have had absolutely no clue as to what all the hubbub was about.

I don't know Miyazaki's work. Well... actually, I do... I know many of his animated movies but not enough to know who was the genius behind them:

Miyazaki helped create animated masterpieces, mostly as both writer and director such as:
  • The Castle of Cagliostro (ルパン三世 カリオストロの城  - Rupan Sansei: Kariosutoro no Shiro), which actually translates to "Lupin the Third: Castle of Cagliostro";
  • Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (風の谷のナウシカKaze no Tani no Naushika), 1984;
  • Castle in the Sky (天空の城ラピュタ - Tenkū no Shiro Rapyuta), 1986;
  • My Neighbor Totoro (となりのトトロ - Tonari no Totoro), 1988; 
  • Kiki's Delivery Service (魔女の宅急便  - Majo no Takkyūbin), which translates to "Witch's Delivery Service, 1989; 
  • Only Yesterday (おもひでぽろぽろ - Omohide Poro Poro), 1991;
  • Porco Rosso (紅の豚 - Kurenai no Buto), which means Crimson Pig), 1992;
  • Pom Poko (平成狸合戦ぽんぽこ  - Heisei Tanuki Gassen Ponpoko), lit. "Heisei-era Raccoon Dog War Ponpoko"; 1994
  • Whisper of the Heart (耳をすませば - Mimi o Sumaseba), 1995
  • Princess Mononoke (もののけ姫 - Mononoke-hime), 1997
  • Spirited Away (千と千尋の神隠し - Sen to Chihiro no Kamikakushi), which translates to "Sen and Chihiro's Spiriting Away"; 2001
  • Howl's Moving Castle (ハウルの動く城 - Hauru no ugoku shiro), 2004;
  • Ponyo (崖の上のポニョ - Gake no Ue no Ponyo), literally "Ponyo on the Cliff, 2008;
  • The Borrower Arrietty (借りぐらしのアリエッティ - Kari-gurashi no Arietti), 2010; 
  • From Up on Poppy Hill (コクリコ坂から - Kokuriko-zaka Kara), 2011 
  • The Wind Rises (風立ちぬ - Kaze Tachinu, 2013
He has also written, directed and produced many other animated movie shorts, and earlier in his career he worked on many animated movies doing scene design, some animation, storyboards and more.

My Neighbor Totoro was the first of his movies that I saw... I watched at my friend Michael Hutchison's home with his three young children, sadly and happily all grown up now... I watched it once and can still here the theme song in my head: toto-ro-to-to-ro... it was breathtaking and magical... and I thank the Hutchison family for allowing me to share the movie with them. It's funny just how much of an impression the five of them made on me in such a short period of time. I love them all.

Anyhow... I have also seen Nausicaä and Kiki's Delivery Service (I saw that one a couple of months ago thanks to a different Michael - at work)... each one is as sappy and wonderful a tale as any you are ever likely to see.

You owe it to yourself to see at least one of his timeless films... and in the meantime... watch this preview of The Simpsons...  put on YouTube by the Fox Network themselves, which will tell you how excited they are over this tribute to Miyazaki-san.

I didn't get it, but you will see Patty and Selma - both as Kiki, and Moe as the scarecrow from "Howl’s Moving Castle"; and Martin and the other nerds as tree spirits from "Princess Mononoke."

Andrew Joseph


  1. the entire K-L household are devotés of Miyazaki, especially S with her never ending love of Totoro. she's accumulated (thanks to moi) quite the assortment of T's, purses, pillows, etc -- i can't seem to be able to walk into a comic store without hunting down what big gray furry things they have for her :)

    1. Why does that not surprise me about you guys? It was a decent Simpson's episode, but because I probably am not as familiar with all things Miyazaki as you, a lot of the references floated over my head.
      So... your head seems to be functioning.. :) Welcome back to the land of the living.