For decades, the films of Studio Ghibli have enchanted audiences all around the world, and a large part of that has to do with studio co-founder Hayao Miyazaki’s vision. Drawing heavily from Japanese mythology and a permanent worldview of wonder, Miyazaki’s made an indelible mark in the movie world and in the hearts of people everywhere.
As today is the animation maestro’s 75th birthday, we’ve rounded up 75 of the most wonderful things about his films. Just kidding — but we can spotlight seven:
1. Every single underwater scene in Ponyo
Miyazaki’s films are always spectacular showcases of natural imagery, but Ponyo is the first and sadly only one to really dive beneath the waves. Its story is one of his strangest in premise, but it’s perfectly complemented by breath-taking depictions of the underwater world.
2. Calcifer’s bacon and eggs in Howl’s Moving Castle
The food in Studio Ghibli films has its own fandom at this point, but perhaps the crown jewel of Ghibli food moments is the scene where Howl and the demon Calcifer make bacon and eggs. Just look at that sizzle! Those perfect sunny-side up eggs! (This film is also the source of the best movie line of all time.)
3. The bus stop scene in My Neighbor Totoro
Totoro is one of Miyazaki’s most universally-beloved films, and this rainy scene is one of the movie’s most poignant, beautifully-composed moments. It also introduced the world to the ridiculously adorable and strange Catbus, AKA everybody’s favorite mode of transportation.
4. The relationship between Kiki and her cat Jiji in Kiki’s Delivery Service
Now that witches are “in” again, it’s time to revisit one of the most positive portrayals of witches ever — the adorable, inquisitive Kiki, and her black cat sidekick Jiji. Their relationship is basically #CatLadyAspirations: Part sassing, part worrying, and part perfect harmony together.
5. The visit to Zeniba’s house in Spirited Away
Spirited Away’s Oscars success catapulted Miyazaki from niche fame to worldwide acclaim, and its reputation is well-deserved. One of its most moving moments: When Chihiro, No Face, Boh, and Yubaba’s bird take the train to the maternal figure Zeniba. It’s a masterful moment of redemption and reflection for so many of the characters and the viewer as well.
6. The relationship between San and Ashitaka in Princess Mononoke
The majority of Miyazaki’s protagonists are girls, but in Mononoke, the film initially follows the banished prince Ashitaka and then weaves in San, the princess alluded to in the film’s name. The at times confrontational, but strong bond between the two is the perfect exemplar of Miyazaki’s refreshing take on male/female relationships in general:
7. Miyazaki’s reflections on his legacy in The Kingdom of Dreams and Madness
We’re technically cheating here: Dreams and Madness isn’t a Ghibli or Miyazaki film, but instead a documentary on the man himself, right before he released his last directorial effort. As pensive and beautifully rendered as his own efforts, Dreams and Madness asks: When you’ve built an empire, what do you do afterward? Miya-san’s answers, as well as the anecdotes and insights he provides about his own work, are as perfect as anything he’s created.
Images courtesy of Studio Ghibli/Tumblr.