Anthony J. Pennings, PhD


The Walt Disney of Japan

Posted on | July 29, 2011 | No Comments

with Justin Restivo
Hayao Miyazaki is one of the most renowned animation creators in the world, known primarily for his classic Japanese feature-length films such as My Neighbor Totoro, Princess Mononoke, Spirited Away and the recent release, Ponyo. He founded the Japanese animation venture, Studio Ghibli. “Ghibli” is the Arabic name for the Mediterranean wind, and refers to Miyazaki’s intention for a wind of change to blow through the Japanese animation industry. Many have come to consider him to be the Walt Disney of Japan because of the memorable animated characters he created and the impact of his films.

Miyazaki was born during World War II in a suburb of Tokyo. He was fascinated with aviation as a child, and loved to draw airplanes as well as trains and automobiles. In high school, he saw the Japan’s first feature length anime film, The Tale of the White Serpent and became interested in the field of animation. Although Miyazaki obtained his college degree in economics, he began working at the Toei Animation Studio as an artist and assistant animator but maintained a strong interest in the industry, becoming the leader of their labor union.

By 1968 Miyazaki became a chief animator and concept artist for Hols: Prince of the Sun directed by Isao Takahata, who he continued to work with for the next few decades. Miyazaki left Toei Animation Studio to direct several episodes of the television show, Lupin III, an action comedy and also worked on several films at A-Pro and Nippon studios. His signature film was the feature length Lupin III: The Castle of Cagliostro which he directed.

He was developing his own oeuvre which were incorporated in his next film Nausicaa, The Valley of the Wind. His was beginning to explore issues of pacifism, feminism, a fascination with flight, and the impact of humans on the environment. Miyazaki was also concerned with exploring the morality of his characters and particularly his villians, which he infused with ambiguity. He would pursue these themes successfully after he started Studio Ghibli in 1985 with films such as Castle in the Sky, My Neighbor Totoro, Kiki’s Delivery Service and Porco Rosso. A major achievement came in 1997 with Princess Mononoke, which became Japan’s highest grossing film of all time was the first animated film to win Japan’s equivalent of “Best Picture” award.

This relationship brought global fame to Studio Ghibli as Miyazaki’s films were developing a fan base in the West. Spirited Away won ”Best Animated Feature” at the 2002 American Academy Awards and eventually surpassed Princess Mononoke‘s box office totals while Ponyo is reaching even higher levels of acclaim and revenue as the distribution partnership with Disney continues.


Anthony J. Pennings, PhD has been on the NYU faculty since 2001 teaching digital media, information systems management, and global communications. © ALL RIGHTS RESERVED


Comments are closed.

  • Referencing this Material

    Copyrights apply to all materials on this blog but fair use conditions allow limited use of ideas and quotations. Please cite the permalinks of the articles/posts.
    Citing a post in APA style would look like:
    Pennings, A. (2015, April 17). Diffusion and the Five Characteristics of Innovation Adoption. Retrieved from
    MLA style citation would look like: "Diffusion and the Five Characteristics of Innovation Adoption." Anthony J. Pennings, PhD. Web. 18 June 2015. The date would be the day you accessed the information. View the Writing Criteria link at the top of this page to link to an online APA reference manual.

  • About Me

    Professor at State University of New York (SUNY) Korea since 2016. Moved to Austin, Texas in August 2012 to join the Digital Media Management program at St. Edwards University. Spent the previous decade on the faculty at New York University teaching and researching information systems, digital economics, and strategic communications.

    You can reach me at:

    Follow apennings on Twitter

  • About me

  • Writings by Category

  • Flag Counter
  • Pages

  • Calendar

    July 2024
    M T W T F S S
  • Disclaimer

    The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect the views of my employers, past or present.