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Posted at 8:30 AM ET, 08/14/2009

Lasseter Celebrates 'Ponyo' Creator Hayao Miyazaki

By Michael Cavna

The Great Hayao Miyazaki-san & the men of Disney/Pixar. Immediately to the right of Miyazaki is Pixar founder John Lasseter. (Michael Cavna/The Washington Post)

When the legendary Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki took the stage last month at cavernous "Fanboy Hall" H -- his first visit to San Diego Comic-Con -- he received a thunderous standing overation.

Then soon, while "sneak" footage of Miyazaki's new film "Ponyo" played on the jumbo screens, the crowd, rapt, was dead-silent.

That silence -- one of awe and wonder and deep respect for the craft and the craftsman -- was its own deafening ovation.

"Ponyo" opens nationwide today, receiving the largest American release of Miyazaki's career -- roughly a thousand theaters, some reports say -- thanks largely to the concerted push by Disney/Pixar and, especially, Pixar founder John Lasseter. Miyazaki, it should be noted, is the man behind such acclaimed films as "Princess Mononoke"w and "Spirited Away."

At Comic-Con, Lasseter asked Miyazaki was his creative process is. Miyazaki, speaking through a translator, replied with characteristic self-deprecation: "My process is thinking...thinking...and thinking.

"If you have a better way," he said, pausing for effect, "please let me know."

Lasseter called Miyazaki, who is one of his animation heroes, "one of the most important filmmakers working today." Lasseter emphasized about the film's relatively large release: "This country deserves these films."

Lasseter first met Miyazaki in 1987, during work on "My Neighbor Totoro." The Pixar founder recalled visiting his hero's Studio Ghibli in Japan and being wowed by the stunningly colored storyboards. They literally were a sight to behold -- and be held.

Soon, the great Miyazaki-san and Lasseter were being presented with the Inkpot Award for their career contributions to animation. The crowd roared. Uttering a humble, softspoken thanks, Miyazaki -- like his work -- spoke volumes.

(To view the English-language trailer, click HERE.)


THE 'RIFFS INTERVIEW: "Up" co-director Bob Peterson of Pixar.

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By Michael Cavna  | August 14, 2009; 8:30 AM ET
Categories:  San Diego Comic-Con, The Animation, The Holly Word  
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Miyazaki's body of work is simply incredible. My personal favorite is "Howl's Moving Castle". I am always surprised when people mention "Totoro" as it is one of his weakest movies.

Posted by: kcghost | August 14, 2009 8:53 AM | Report abuse

My article for Publishers Weekly THE BEAT blog on Miyazaki's Q&A at Berkeley the day after he appeared in San Diego.

Posted by: metatext | August 17, 2009 1:52 AM | Report abuse

I am a big Miyazaki fan. To me, all of his films are good but Laputa: Castle in the Sky is the best. Ponyo was good, but was aimed at a much younger audience than Spirited Away or Howl's. I can see it not resonating well with U.S. children because there is a lot of mystical/spiritual activity that the characters just sort of take in stride without much explanation and there is no central villain/evil.

Posted by: decoy13 | August 17, 2009 1:58 PM | Report abuse

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