Happy Birthday, Hayao-sensei
Hayao Miyazaki (宮崎 駿, Miyazaki Hayao) was born today in 1941, in one of the special wards (municipalities) of Tokyo, Bunkyō-ku, in Akebono-cho district. He has given us some of the most beautiful and enjoyable animated films of all time: Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (Kaze no Tani no Naushika, Princess Mononoke (Mononoke-Hime), Spirited Away (Sen to Chihiro no Kamikakushi, Howl's Moving Castle (Hauru no Ugoku Shiro), even My Neighbor Totoro (Tonari no Totoro).
Ponyo was his last, and it was a delight. The Borrower Arrietty (借りぐらしのアリエッティ, Karigurashi no Arietti) is Studio Ghibli's most recent, though I haven't seen it yet. They have two more lined up - Kokurikozaka kara (コクリコ坂から, From Kokuriko Hill) is slated for 2011. I for one can't wait, even though Miyazaki is no longer directing.
In the 'making of' feature on the DVD of Spirited Away he is shown with some junior animators, describing to them the look he wants for the dragon as it falls. Like an eel, he says, you've all seen eels. No, they confess, they haven't; they've never watched eels being killed in a restaurant. Theatrically he exclaims: "Japanese culture is doomed!"