Everyone loves Ghibli movies, and for good reason. But since Miyazaki retired (or not, depending on how he feels this week), people have wondered – who will be his spiritual successor?

There’s good reason to believe it’ll be Mamoru Hosoda.

Hosoda broke into anime back in the early 90’s animating on Yu Yu Hakusho and Sailor Moon, and even worked on a few Dragon Ball Z projects. After animating for the Digimon series, he got his directorial break with Digimon the Movie in 2000 and One Piece: Baron Omatsuri and the Secret Island in 2005.

Then he surprised audiences with the amazing The Girl Who Leapt Through Time. The film received high praise and won the Japanese Academy Prize for Animation of the Year in its inaugural year.

After winning an award like that, he seemed destined for the big leagues. Not so much. Though TGWLTT was dubbed and released in the West in 2008, the film failed to capture much attention outside Japan.

Hosoda instead used his domestic success to bring his own stories to life. He wrote and directed Summer Wars, Wolf Children, and The Boy And The Beast, which all received stellar reviews, but also failed to make a splash when released internationally.

Rumor has it, Miyazaki’s rise to fame made it difficult for other anime directors to break into the western market. Ghibli had built a huge reputation and it seemed there was only room for one anime director to be a household name. That’s a shame. Hosoda films hold their own against the likes of Princess Mononoke, My Neighbor Totoro, and even Spirited Away.

But with Miyazaki retiring, the position is open and Hosoda is the leading candidate.

Mark Schilling of The Japan Times said,

The future king of Japanese animation may be with us; Hosoda steps out of Miyazaki’s shadow with dazzling new film[s].

That’s high praise and could mean Hosoda will be Japan’s next internationally acclaimed storyteller. So whether or not Miyazaki stays retired, rest assured we have someone who can (possibly) fill his shoes.

Anyone agree that Hosoda movies are a worthy successor to Miyazaki and team Ghibli?

Featured image: Wikipedia/Paul Katzenberger

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