If you have always been a big fan of animation movies, the name Hayao Miyazaki shouldn’t sound unfamiliar to you. Ponyo, My Neighbor Totoro and Howl’s Moving Castle are only some of his renowned work. Spirited Away, in particular, was ranked by The NY Times as top 2 out of 25 Best Films in the 21st Century. Miyazaki never fails to work his magic in each of his films. A film director, producer, and an impressive storyteller himself might actually have a unique recipe to create his films.

In a video by Film Thoughts,  the creator analyzed the recurring themes and patterns in Miyazaki’s movies. Below are 5 main takeaways from the video that filmmakers should take note of,


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1. Young Protagonist

Most of Miyazaki’s films star female leads,  such as Chihiro in Spirited Away, Kiki in Kiki’s Delivery Service, Sophie in Howl’s Moving Castle. They are the protagonists that tell the stories. We watch and understand the stories from her perspective. You might not realize but the female lead faces some sort of obstacles and struggles in each of the movies. Miyazaki’s use of young female protagonist evokes our empathy and we are further drawn to the film.

2. Sidekick

The video points out Haku in Spirited Away and Jiji in Kiki’s Delivery Service are support characters that are always there for the protagonists while the sidekick is either a male or animal. A sidekick offers us another perspective in following the story.

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3. Love

Romance is always involved in Miyazaki’s films. As the video pointed out, the puppy love between Chihiro and Haku in Spirited Away, is filled with confusion and innocence. The video refers it as “implicit chemistry” that is not really accounted for in the film.

4. Old and Powerful Characters

Miyazaki uses one or older characters in most of his films, such as Yubaba in Spirited Away. The video explains that Miyazaki wants to emphasize the importance of the older generation. For instance, Yubaba’s twin, Zeniba is an old and wise character who helps Chihiro in Spirited Away.

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5. Beautiful Scenery

Miyazaki paints nature sceneries in most of his films and as the video points out, “Each of his films feels like it exists in its own world.” He blurs the lines between reality and dream and that’s how he drew us in the films.

6. Aviation

Miyazaki incorporates a lot of movements in his films to help with the flow of the story. Taking the example in Spirited Away, Haku finally transforms into a white dragon and remembers his true identity.