Miyazaki Hayao (1941-present) is a master of anime (animation). He is a prominent director of many popular animated feature films. He remained largely unknown to the West, outside of animation communities, until Miramax released his 1997 Princess Mononoke. By that time, his films had already enjoyed both commercial and critical success in Japan and Central Asia. For instance, Princess Mononoke was the highest-grossing film of all time in Japan. His later film, Spirited Away, had that distinction as well, and was the first anime film to win an Academy Award.
Miyazaki's films often incorporate common themes, such as humanity's relationship to nature and technology, and the difficulty of maintaining a pacifist ethic. The protagonists of his films are often strong, independent girls or young women; the villains, when present, are often morally ambiguous characters with redeeming qualities.