“Miyazaki’s Characters Look Like Him” by Marlo Meekins

For more of Marlo’s comics and observations, visit Marlo Meekins.com


  • SKent.

    This aspect of his character designs has always bothered me somewhat. But I googled it, and it’s not true. Miyazaki doesn’t actually have the ‘empty space’; his mouth is positioned between his nose and his chin pretty much to the same proportions as 90% of humanity.

    By contrast, a lot of western designs put the mouth too close to the nose. Often coupled with a jutting chin and a smug smirk. Glen Keane is especially guilty.

    • Ryan

      Character designs are malleable you silly sausages! It’s all drawing & sculpting “cartoons”. Faces & things are very articulate-able [or should be] e.g; Mouths can be tiny one moment in one frame & HUGE taking up most of the face in another. Change of shapes & appearance of position & size within a broader shape, contrasting poses implying moment & change & the “ANIMATION” of the underlying design, etc. So when a character is sad and their mouth drops, it can literally drop to be far lower on their facial area than it possibly could in reality, simply for graphic clarity & humor. Designs/motifs are like a skin or rubber coating that can be stretched over any shape or form. Playing around with scaling & morphing parts of the characters proportions to add contrast and emphasis to certain emotions/moods/physicality/forces/things and basically enhancing visual elements that tie in with aspects of personality or circumstance in order to convey happening & help us derive meaning. This sort of thing is why the freedom & loose tangibleness of drawn frame by frame 2D really excels and why rigged flash/toonboom symbols & 3D are a bit more limited because they generally don’t push things or cheat enough for the betterment of the image.

  • Sha’dynasty

    The earth will stop spinning the day Marlo gets an observation about a face wrong.

    Great work Meekins, keep pumping it out and slathering it all over my screen

    • SKent.

      It’s a follow on to her ‘get hot with face hair’ post. Look up a photo of Miyazaki and you’ll see that whatever ‘empty space’ there was has been filled.

  • Van

    I just browsed through a few “Art of” Miyazaki books and would have to disagree with Marlo’s caricatures as well. Most of the drawings of Miyazaki’s character mouths are spaced evenly between the nose and chin as SKent stated above. There only a few instances where I saw the mouth close to the chin and that was done deliberately to show some sort of puzzled or befuddled look.

    On a personal note, I find Miyazaki’s style to be very appealing. I also dig the Glen Keane overbite designs as well. In short, these master animators have made these designs their own…that’s why I dig them.

    • SKent.

      I dunno, he does have weird little eccentricities. I don’t really get the way he draws old characters… it’s like he’s drawing in a different language to how he draws kid characters.

      But these are observations rather than criticisms. If you were to correct them they’d become that bit more generic and lose their charm.

      • http://voyagesextraordinaires.blogspot.com Cory Gross

        “I don’t really get the way he draws old characters… it’s like he’s drawing in a different language to how he draws kid characters.”

        That sounds like it would be a pretty reasonable approach to take. Children are not small adults.

      • Matt

        But old people in general aren’t as short, wide-eyed, overly-wrinkly and warty as Miyazaki draws them.

  • Billy Batz

    Why does everybody make fun of the Japanese and their animation? They are the greatest!

    • Nic

      For what it’s worth, I really think this comes more from a place of affection than dislike.

  • Mister Twister

    I chuckled.

  • Richard

    The mouths look more like Dr. Seuss to me.

  • David

    What a mean spirited caricature. Angry much?

    • http://Batsam.blogspot.com Sam

      Its neither mean angry or envy. Marlo is a fan of miyazaki. She also is an amazingly perceptive caricature artist. And she picks up on subtle things with her pro eye lense and magical brain you norms can’t see. This is meant to be silly. Lighten up y’all.

  • Scarabim

    ^I think the question might be “envy much?”

  • David

    People like Hirschfeld, Tee Hee and Mort Drucker were never mean spirited with their caricatures. I find this one a bit mean. If that makes me a so called “normal” I’m sorry.