Hayao Miyazaki seems to be one of the most popular and the most known Japanese animation directors out of Japan, and no wonder with movies like Spirited Away, Howl’s moving castle or Porco Rosso; movies you can, and want, to watch over and over again without ever getting sick of them. But apart from this amazing animator and his team and studio, other directors are gaining fame among manganime fans and deserve to be mentioned.
Satoshi Kon, though he passed away some time ago and therefore can no longer create new movies, was one of the first Japanese animation directors to have his movies transported to the occident. I’m sure some older fans had seen Perfect Blue when it first came out, or if not at least Paprika or Tokyo Godfathers. Satoshi Kon‘s works are heart-warming and usually have some sort of twist or double meaning. He manages to combine music, sound and picture to make astonishing masterpieces that keep you glued to the seat even after the movie has finished. His Millennium Actress is one of the best movies I’ve ever seen, counting both animation and “real people films”, and it never fails to bring a smile to my face.
I first heard of Mamoru Hosoda when I saw The Girl Who Leapt Through Time and immediately after watching it I ran to try and copy the artwork before I forgot about how lovely the characters were drawn. The backgrounds are extremely detailed and you can somehow relate to the plot and characters of his movies, as they are usually high-school teenagers in worlds similar to ours. I didn’t doubt for a second to buy his newer movies Wolf Children and Summer Wars.
Makoto Shinkai is becoming more and more known with his latest films and I dare say that his backgrounds are even more breath-taking than Hosoda-san’s ones. The pacing is usually slow and gives you enough time to enjoy the scenery; my desktop images change between the backgrounds from Shinakai’s The Garden of Words and 5 cm per Second. And the endings aren’t always predictable.
Keiichi Hara‘s works create a fine line between our reality and a world mixed with supernatural elements, therefore creating the allusion that kappas might exist (Coo’s Summer) or that once we die we can have a second chance, like in Colorful.
Hiroyuki Okiura recently presented himself to me with A Letter to Momo and I already desperately waiting for another movie of his to come to me. Definitely a promising new director.
And the list surely goes on, naming a great deal of talented directors that I won’t mention. My point in complimenting all of the above was to show that there is much more to Japanese animation than Hayao Miyazaki, who always seems to get the credit. That said, I’m now going to the movies to watch Miyazaki’s latest film, The Wind Blows, that just came out in my country.