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Tracing the prolific work of animation titan Hayao Miyazaki as LA Film Critics Association honors him with Career Achievement award

Japan's director Hayao Miyazaki smiles during the photocall of his movie
Japan's director Hayao Miyazaki smiles during the photocall of his movie "Gake no ue no Ponyo" (English title: Ponyo on the Cliff) during the 65th Venice International Film Festival at Venice Lido, on August 31, 2008.

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You can’t have a conversation about the greatest animators or animation directors of all time without mentioning Hayao Miyazaki.

His career spans four decades and his hand-drawn cartoons and manga as well as his iconic anime feature films are considered by many to be among the greatest in animation history. This year, the Los Angeles Film Critics Association has chosen Miyazaki as the recipient of its Career Achievement award, which will be presented at LAFCA’s annual awards dinner on Saturday night.

Miyazaki began working professionally as an animator in 1963, and in 1968 he met fellow animator Isao Takahata while the two were working on a film. Miyazaki and Takahata continued to collaborate in the decades following and eventually co-founded Studio Ghibli in 1985. Three years later, “My Neighbor Totoro” was released alongside a film many consider to be Takahata’s magnum opus, “Grave of the Fireflies.” Miyazaki would go on to direct other anime classics like “Porco Rosso” and “Princess Mononoke,” and in 2000 began working on “Spirited Away,” which won the 2001 Academy Award for Best Animated Feature.

In 2014, Miyazaki announced his retirement, which also meant the closing of Studio Ghibli’s offices, but Miyazaki has continued to animate and storyboard in the years since, including developing an interest in computer animation as is detailed in the 2016 documentary about him called “Never-Ending Man.” In 2017, Miyazaki’s Studio Ghibli co-founder Toshio Suzuki confirmed reports that Miyazaki had come out of retirement and was working on a new film called “How Do You Live?” which has yet to have a release date scheduled.

Ahead of Miyazaki accepting the award, Pixar Animation Studios’ Pete Docter and KPCC FilmWeek critic Charles Solomon join FilmWeek host Larry Mantle to talk about Miyazaki’s life, career and the lasting impact his work has had and continues to have on the animation world.


Pete Docter, chief creative officer at Pixar Animation Studios

Charles Solomon, film critic for KPCC, Animation Scoop and Animation Magazine