Only twice have I made a conscious effort to view a director’s entire filmography. One is Christopher Nolan, who I’m sure I’ll discuss plenty this summer, but considering what came out in theaters today let’s talk about the other: The be-all, end-all in the world of anime, Hayao Miyazaki. I said a lot of what I needed to about him in a piece on the films of Studio Ghibli to commemorate Arrietty‘s US release, but there are a couple of his works I didn’t cover.
His earliest thing I’ve seen, totally unrelated to Studio Ghibli, is The Castle of Cagliastro, a little adventure film starring Lupin, an enigmatic thief and popular character in Japan. I’m unfamiliar with any Lupin stuff outside of this film, but I’m pretty sure this is as good as it gets. Very great clock tower finale, and it’s a lot of fun, but I will note this is Miyazaki’s only movie where I couldn’t have told you he was involved after seeing any random ten seconds of it.
More interestingly there’s the Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind manga, all of which was written and drawn by Miyazaki over something like a dozen years. The first couple volumes cover more or less the events of the film, but then it becomes the most sweeping, epic story he’s ever told. Perhaps the most thematically similar Miyazaki films are Nausicaä and Princess Mononoke, and after reading the manga that the former was based on (which continued long after the film was released) I feel like I finally understand why. It’s like he used Mononoke to explore, in a complete animated feature, all of the more complex variants of the same themes that Nausicaä eventually grew to encompass in Manga form. It’s a hugely ambitious story, and definitely worth checking out for anyone who loves all that Miyazaki has done.