Guillermo del Toro hails Hayao Miyazaki as a ‘one-of-a-kind creator’

Guillermo del Toro hails Hayao Miyazaki as a ‘one-of-a-kind creator’

Guillermo del Toro, who has long been a fan of Studio Ghibli, has written a heartfelt tribute to famed animation director Hayao Miyazaki.

In his ode to the auteur, the Hollywood director called Miyazaki a “one-of-a-kind creator who exists fully in his art”, and the “single most influential animation director in the history of the medium”.

“Miyazaki’s work provokes that rare emotion – the shiver of recognition of a type of beauty that is impossible in the real world and thus exists only in his films. Yet he is also a brutal realist regarding greed, war, and human rage. He knows that we shape and destroy the planet and that humans are the best and the worst of our world,” del Toro wrote in a Time magazine feature naming Miyazaki among its 2024 list of the world’s most influential people .

Reflecting on how Miyazaki’s work impacted him, the Pan's Labyrinth director wrote: “I discovered Hayao Miyazaki’s Toei Animation films as a child – films like The Wonderful World of Puss ’n Boots and series like Heidi and Marco, in which his style and influence became increasingly identifiable.”

“Encountering My Neighbor Totoro as an adult, my mind snapped back to those earlier works, and I recognized how much this man had shaped my childhood.”

Guillermo del Toro has talked extensively about his love for Miyazaki’s in the past and it could especially be felt in his introduction of The Boy and the Heron at the film’s premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival.

z“We are privileged enough to be living in a time where Mozart is composing symphonies, Van Gogh is painting paintings. Because Miyazaki-san is a master of that stature,” he said to a packed auditorium.

The Boy and The Heron was billed as Miyazaki’s last movie, which he made 10 years after The Wind Rises in 2013. However, Studio Ghibli vice president Junichi Nishioka said at the Toronto festival that the legendary director was already back at the studio with new ideas.

“He is currently working on ideas for a new film. He comes into his office every day and does that. This time, he’s not going to announce his retirement at all. He’s continuing working just as he has always done,” Nishioka told CBC.

The Boy and the Heron won Miyazaki his second Oscar award after Spirited Away won in 2003.

A scene from The Boy and the Heron (AP)
A scene from The Boy and the Heron (AP)

Clarisse Loughrey of The Independent gave the film four stars and described it as a beautiful mix of the “personal, cultural and historical,” and a nod to not just “the possible future of animation, but of Japan itself”.

Aside from his admiration for Miyazaki’s work, del Toro has a personal link to the director. Child actor Mana Ashida, who played young Mako in del Toro’s 2013 monster movie Pacific Rim, couldn’t pronounce del Toro’s name and asked if she could call him Totoro-san — a reference to the film My Neighbor Totoro.

Del Toro confirmed the anecdote on X, and has previously described the film as being “absolutely staggeringly beautiful”.