To be a great animator like Hayao Miyazaki, you need to be able to notice the tiniest things. The power of observation is key in drawing. Masaaki Endo, who worked on My Neighbor Totoro as a key animator, recently told a story explaining just how good Hayao Miyazaki was at picking up small details.
Endo recalled how after he submitted the key animation for Totoro, Miyazaki called him over, saying, “Hey the art is distorted. Your glasses prescription is wrong, isn’t it?”
“I don’t think it is,” Endo replied to Miyazaki, adding, “I’ll get it checked out anyway.”
Not exactly convinced by Miyazaki’s armchair diagnosis, Endo went to the eye doctor. He got his eye check out, and low and behold, Miyazaki was right: the vision in one of Endo’s eyes had gotten worse.
He got the prescription in his glasses fixed and returned to the studio to tell Miyazaki that he was right. After that, Endo continued, the distortion vanished and there was no similar issue with the key animation. The animator realized that the eyes were so important that even a trivial thing could make a big impact on the art.
That’s a good realization to have, no doubt, but more importantly, it just goes to show how observant Miyazaki was—and is. That power of observation comes through in his films and illustrations, of course, but also in the ways he brings his characters to life, whether that’s how they walk, the expressions on their faces, or how they talk.
As a key animator, Endo has worked on a number of iconic anime, including, Castle in the Sky, Akira, Kiki’s Delivery Service, and Neon Genesis Evangelion. More recently, he’s worked on Boruto: Naruto The Movie and Sword Art Online The Movie.