Founder Editor in Chief: Octavian-Dragomir Jora ISSN (print) 2537 - 2610
ISSN (online) 2558 - 8206
Contact Editorial Team PATRON The Idea
The Soft Power of Manga

The Soft Power of Manga Japanese pop art – MIND(s that filled) THE GAP(s) [XX]

Hayao Miyazaki helped popularize anime (i.e. cartoons drawn in a Japanese style) outside of Japan, playing a significant role in increasing global interest in this genre of animation. Studio Ghibli, his creations, has influenced not just the content of anime, but also the way this industry is perceived and appreciated around the world as a producer of art. And not only the anime industry, it also played an important role for manga, which are Japanese comic books which often inspire anime movies and series.

His personality combined with the strict rules of Japanese society gave rise to a unique man. A man who could never be satisfied with his, or with other people’s efforts, someone who would have given everything for his passion and his work.

He was always fascinated by this idea of drawing. He was especially drawing planes in the childhood. His family had military involvement, since they owned a company that built parts for fighter planes – Miyazaki Aircraft Company – and this is why he was so interested in them. The Miyazaki family received special treatment because of their company – everyone in the family was exempted from the responsibility of going to war. And they were quite rich.

When Hayao Miyazaki was 4 years old, during the Second World War, he witnessed an event that marked him for the rest of his life. He always felt somehow guilty because his family had certain privileges and he watched around him as other people suffered.

When the area where they lived in Ibaraki Prefecture was attacked, the family decided to run away and ignore the neighbors who begged them to help them escape as well. Which marked Hayao Miyazaki for life.

Although he had a certain attraction for airplanes and flying machines. On the other hand, he could never agree that his father was in charge. It was as if his father had encouraged the war to continue.

When he realized that his father had no remorse for what he was doing and didn’t even think about the impact of his actions, it hurt him even more.

Reinventing himself

Hayao Miyazaki had internal struggles from a young age. Everything became even more complicated when his mother fell ill and although he was not the oldest of his brothers, he felt responsible to help with the household chores and taking care of the family as much as possible. Often in his animated films we can often see a child character who is looking for his goal in life, a child who does chores like an adult, a little human who can understand a lot - the reflection of himself. Hayao Miyazaki has this idea that children can understand and they are capable of much more than we think. That’s why he is hiding a lot of meaning and shows more complex scenes in his creations. He trusts the young ones to understand in the same exact way he was able to.

And his mother, although she was sick, was a strong figure and an example worth following. She was a muse for her son, as we can notice later in his work. He would always create such strong and independent female characters that he stands out compared to the usual treatment of women in anime or in Western Disney-style films, who are passive and in need of saving. Miyazaki was already creating female characters who became their own heroes.

Time passed and although it all started with a small passion for drawing airplanes as a child, he became more and more passionate about animations and drawings. In high school he had all kinds of internal struggles. At that time, everyone thought that anime and manga were made strictly for children and had no point. That’s why, not being considered something honorable to do for your future and especially as a result of discussions with his father, Hayao Miyazaki continued his higher education pursuing a more “serious” field. So he had to go to the faculty of political and economic sciences.

But the passion for drawing did not die out even then and he continued to participate in clubs and all kinds of extra activities in order to develop his creative side.

The first animation studio he worked at was Toei Animation. And this was just the beginning of his endless adventure. Endless adventure because it continues even today. This man has so much to share with the world that even now after his retirement he cannot quench his thirst to draw and draw continuously.

After he started working as a draftsman at the age of 22 full-time at Toei, he continued to change studios one after another because his principles did not match those of the people he worked with.

He always wanted to advance, to be able to let his ideas flow. He is not a person who is only comfortable drawing other people’s ideas. He is a man who wanted to leave his mark on the story. To be someone who has the power to make decisions, who can change the story and give it a different energy.

Laying foundations

In 1985 Studio Ghibli was established. It was founded by Hayao Miyazaki along with Isao Takahata and Toshio Suzuki. And it became the “home” of Hayao Miyazaki, the place where he could dedicate himself to creating his masterpieces and turning creative ideas into reality. Therefore, at the age of 42, he wanted to risk everything to create a movie, even though it could even mean the end of his career. He had this sense of the entrepreneur that allowed him to have the courage to risk everything for art. His biggest fear was to make low quality animation so he pushed his colleagues as much as he pushed and forced himself.

As they say - stay in my house, live by my rules - some very strict rules were proposed in the studio.They had a poster hanging somewhere in the studio with all the rules, so that all the employees could see them every day.

Conditions for Employees. We’d ask to quit:

- Employees who do not think independently;

- Employees who can’t do anything unless they are told;

- Employees who quickly rely on others for help;

- Employees who are quick to place the blame on the others;

- Employees who are not motivated;

- Employees who always complain;

- Employees who are frequently absent or late.

Perhaps these rules seem extreme from the outside, seen from a culture as tolerant as ours. But in Japanese culture these types of rules are not unusual. It is very common among the Japanese to be asked the impossible at work. What is curious is the fact that Hayao Miyazaki was so dedicated that he probably wouldn’t have needed these rules, given how involved and dedicated he was. But thanks to these rules he managed to create this “house” where everyone would be the way he is. Everyone gave their best and, if not, people would be free to leave at any time.

He had a gift. He studied a lot about certain places and landscapes that he wanted to add to his anime movies. Landscapes that would remain forever on the screens of the multitude of people who appreciated the art and work of Hayao Miyazaki.

The first anime directed by him was Lupine the 3rd. And it is considered to be the first complex story that directs its ideas towards a mature audience. A story made for adults but also for children at the same time. That’s what he actually wanted. To change the idea that anime are stories for children. Because it was a real art and it was a shame that people stayed with this idea. The potential of anime and manga would have been wasted.

Hayao Miyazaki is a passionate person so he transformed the character of Lupin. He took it to another level. Lupin became a person who is trying to find the meaning of life, to find his place, who is frustrated by the way society works. Hayao was criticized for bringing such serious issues into an anime film.

He was spending not only the days but also the nights in the studio to complete this project. Unfortunately this drove him towards neglecting his family, his wife and two children. In Japan’s society you need to choose between having a healthy life or a healthy work life. And you can become somebody only if you choose the second choice.

Every time he was not busy with an important animation project, he used to draw manga. So he could save all his ideas somewhere, later transforming them in movies or stories that became well known globally.

Even if there are some people who did not have the chance to watch, for sure they heard of titles like: My Neighbor Totoro, Grave of the Fireflies, Whisper of the Heart, Princess Mononoke, Spirited Away (Oscar Award for Best Animated Feature 2003), Howl’s Moving Castle and many others.

Somehow the way in which he grew up never allowed him to create a film or a story where he didn’t address the problems of humanity, such as: war; the problem of ecology; humanity’s tendency to destroy the environment; humanity’s relationship with nature; militarism.

All these themes and problems fully represent Hayao Miyazaki as a human. The way he grew up, and the opinions strongly developed since childhood.

Besides his great films, he also created some lighter ones. These stories were always broadcast in the Ghibli museum. The museum was created to give fans and visitors the opportunity to enter the magical world of animated films produced by Studio Ghibli.


Therefore Hayao Miyazaki, as the co-founder of Studio Ghibli, has played an important role in shaping the landscape of Japanese animation and promoting Japanese culture globally. Through his visionary storytelling, unique animation style, and a deep connection to nature and humanity, Miyazaki has created timeless masterpieces that resonate with audiences of all ages and cultures. Through his contributions, he changed the destiny of today’s Japan, bringing it the soft power which it might not have had without the popularity of anime and manga.

Photo source: PxHere



The Market For Ideas Association

The Romanian-American Foundation for the Promotion of Education and Culture (RAFPEC)

Amfiteatru Economic