As part of Asian Sensation, the Doris Duke Theatre will screen four films by animation genius Hayao Miyazaki. He won an Oscar for best animated feature in 2003 for “Spirited Away,” and got a nomination in 2006 for “Howl’s Moving Castle” (that’s a still from “Howl’s” at left). Both films are part of the Miyazaki series that kicks off on July 12 with “My Neighbor Totoro.”
What makes Miyazaki so great? Read on for the answer from series curator and anime aficionado Steve Mobley.

“In an age when people have fallen in love with computer-generated images, some call Hayao Miyazaki the last of a breed that draws every frame of animation by hand,” says Mobley, who is also manager of the Doris Duke Theatre. “But the 40-year reputation of Japan’s great manga artist and animation director is built on the solid foundation of his drawing talent, his observational eye for humor, and his moral integrity.”

According to Mobley, an anime aficianado, “You can easily spot the elements that make Miyazaki’s films unique. There is always some flying going on. The landscapes seen from above reflect the beauty of the natural world. His stories have themes of ecological preservation and appreciation for traditional cultures, which is usually portrayed in contrast to overly complicated machinery and sprawling cities built by modern man. Children are often Miyazaki’s main characters, and someone always enters a hidden or forbidden world, where hard work is required of them, but it is well rewarded. Frequently in the course of a story a character will acquire a new name, or a curse will be lifted.”