What does the animator mean to you?

Princess Mononoke was the first Miyazaki movie I saw. Image: Studio Ghibli

I will never forget the first time I saw it a Hayao Miyazaki movie. I was in college and this new animated movie called Princess Mononoke came to the cinema. The trailers looked cool and I had heard it sideways from the filmmaker’s other films, such as My Neighbor Totoro– but growing up in a small town, such films were not readily available. Heck, even Mononoke was released in the US two years after it was released in Japan. But I didn’t know this. I was just at that point in every movie fan’s life where they eat everything new and different. And I was about to get something really special.

So I sat down in front of Princess Mononoke at the Angelika Film Center on Houston Street in New York City, not knowing what to expect. Two hours later I couldn’t believe my eyes. Animation so bright and vibrant you’ll want to grab and grab it. Stories that are so unique and original that you have no idea where they are going. And characters who are so bold and vulnerable, you’re instantly drawn to them. Princess Mononoke instantly became one of my all-time favorite animated films, and over the years I devoured not just the new Miyazaki movies, but also old ones. Spirited Away was my favorite movie of 2001. Porco Rosso touched on a nostalgia I had for airplane movies thanks to my grandfather. And the classics like Totoro, Kiki’s Delivery Service and the rest just brought me to a close.

Later, when I started dating the woman who would become my wife, I shared the movies with her. And she, too, is completely charmed by the worlds and work of this incredible filmmaker. When we finally bought a house, my wife and I devoted a lot of it to his works. Here’s a photo featuring artwork by Olly Moss, Jason Edmiston, Tom Whalen, Scott C, Craig Drake, Joshua Budich, Sam Smith, and others.

The Lussier Lyons Miyazaki Nook. Photo: Germain Lussier/io9

Hayao Miyazaki and his movies don’t mean one thing to me. They actually mean everything to me in so many different ways. We suspect you may feel the same. For the legendary filmmaker’s 81st birthday, share with us below what his work means to you.

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