San Diego Comic-Con International 2009
Hayao Miyazaki with Disney-Pixar

by Zac Bertschy,

The absolutely jam-packed Hall H was abuzz with excitement Friday as the Disney-Pixar Animation panel began, hosted by Pixar head honcho John Lasseter. The first two-thirds of the panel consisted of Lasseter introducing a variety of upcoming Disney projects, including The Princess and the Frog and Toy Story 3, bringing out each film's director to talk about the film.

The last director Lasseter introduced was, of course, Hayao Miyazaki. After some soaring platitudes about his life and work, Miyazaki took the stage to thunderous and enthusiastic applause. Lasseter, referring to him as “Miyazaki-san”, then asked a few simple questions about Miyazaki's creative process, which received typical brief but amusingly cranky and/or vague answers. They then introduced an extended clip from the “tsunami” sequence from Ponyo, which drew gasps from the audience. Afterward, a Comic-Con representative came out with two coveted Inkpot Awards, which are presented to captains of industry who have made a serious contribution to the world of popular culture.

Lasseter then introduced comedian and actor Patton Oswalt to moderate the fan Q&A session, which was brief thanks to the main presentation starting late and running long. All but a few of the questions were for Miyazaki, who gave again very brief answers. The final question came from a man reading a question from his wife, mentioning her appreciation for Miyazaki's heroines, and asked why he always had female leads; Miyazaki's simple response was “Women are strong and beautiful.” And with that, the panel ended.

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