The Artistic Bond of Joe Hisaishi and Hayao Miyazaki

From left to right: No Face (Spirited Away), Mei Kusakabe (My Neighbor Totoro), Mini Totoro (My Neighbor Totoro), a Soot Sprite (Spirited Away), Totoro (My Neighbor Totoro), Kiki (Kiki’s Delivery Service), Jiji (Kiki’s Delivery Service), Ponyo (Ponyo) Chihiro Ogino (Spirited Away), Satsuki Kusakabe (My Neighbor Totoro), Mini Totoro (My Neighbor Totoro) and Sen (Princess Mononoke).

From Howl’s Moving Castle to My Neighbor Totoro, the movies produced by Studio Ghibli have been known for their stunning animation, talented voice cast, and memorable film scores. All but one of these movie soundtracks have been scored by a single man known as Joe Hisaishi, who is widely considered “the most acclaimed Japanese composer to have ever worked in film.”.

Hisaishi and Miyazaki have had a long partnership dating back to their first film project, Nausicaa: Valley of the Wind in 1984. They have kept this relationship strong, and Hisaishi will even be the composer for the upcoming Studio Ghibli film How Do You Live?, which Miyazaki left retirement to work on with his son, Goro. In the linked podcast, I discuss the relationship between Hisaishi and Miyazaki, the importance of Hisaishi’s music in Miyazaki’s films, and the ways in which the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures could have utilized their space to better incorporate Hisaishi’s music in the Hayao Miyazaki exhibit.

“Merry-Go-Round of Life” by Joe Hisaishi, which was on the soundtrack for Miyazaki’s Howl’s Moving Castle.

Works Cited

“Composer: Hildur Guodnadottir.” Academy Museum,

Dazed. “Joe Hisaishi: The Genius Composer Who Gave Studio Ghibli Its Sound.” Dazed, 21 Jan. 2020,

Gerber, Brady. “The John Williams of Japan: Joe Hisaishi in 9 Songs.” Pitchfork, 10 Jan. 2017,

Hara, Kunio. “Joe Hisaishi’s Soundtrack for My Neighbor Totoro.” Bloomsbury, Bloomsbury Publishing, 2020.

Laaninen, Mark. “The Spirit of a Composer: An Analysis of the Works of Joe Hisaishi.” SUNY Open Access Repository (SOAR), 1 May 2020,

Napier, Susan. Miyazakiworld. Yale University Press, 2020.

Pappas, Anthony. “Why Joe Hisaishi’s Music for Studio Ghibli Tugs at OUR HEARTSTRINGS.” Flypaper, Soundfly, 23 Dec. 2021,

Wyse, Alex. “10 Studio Ghibli Movies with the Greatest Scores.” ScreenRant, 14 May 2020,,bring%20you%20to%20tears%2C%20its%20score%20certainly%20will.

TB and MZ Talk: Miyazaki and Aviation and Flight

In this podcast, Taylor Bongiovi and Marja Ziemer discuss aviation and flight in four Miyazaki films. Some issues brought up include: romance and aviation, the magical joy of flight, gender roles and aviation, and the commodification and weaponization of flight.

Still from The Wind Rises