here) I've been a big Miyazaki fan ever sense a friend of mine lent me his laserdisk copies of Nausicaa, Laputa,Totoro, and Kiki's Delivery Service. Back then it was very difficult to find his films with any kind of english translation, so we watched them without understanding a word of what was being said. Years later when I watched fan-dubbed copies, I was impressed to find that except for a few small details, I had understood his films completely. That's a big credit to Miyazaki's visual story telling skills.
Miyazaki is great at capturing what something feels like. He has a sequence in Kiki's Delivery Service where the main character Kiki is lying in the grass. He really captured what that feels like, or when one of the little girls grabs a hold of a fuzzy Totoro tail in My Neighbor Totoro. It really feels like a big soft tail on a big huge creature. Great stuff.
Miyazaki story boarded his films by himself. I have collected the Japanese DVDs where you can step in between Miyazaki's story boards and the final film. To my surprise they look almost exactly the same. Same timing, same posing, almost the same drawings, just cleaned up a bit. You can't say that about most animated films.
Disney has been re-translating and re-dubbing his films and have been re-releasing them in the states. Unfortunately, they have not been doing the best job of it. I don't have any real complaints about Disney's dubbing job, their casing of the voices is pretty weird, but I kinda expect odd voices in a dubbed foreign film. My big complaint is with Disney's translation. Disney has become more concerned with how long it takes to speak a line how important the line is in the film. Disney's translation of Kiki's Delivery Service is the worst translation I have ever seen in any foreign film. Somehow they decided that kids wouldn't be able to understand what is happening on screen, so they decided to add a lot of lines to describe the visual. This is the biggest cardinal sin of film making (not just in translating films): You either say something or you show it, you never say and show it, ever! Disney should know better.
They have gotten better at translating some of Miyazaki's later films, but if your looking to watch any of Miyazaki's films the best rout is to buy the Japanese Studio Gibli DVDs. They have a lot more extras then the Disney DVDs and the subtitles have a much better translation (no dub, sorry). You'll need a reign free DVD player, but it's worth it.
Even with Disney's terrible translation I think Miyazaki is a great visual story teller and I think I'll enjoy Howl's Moving Castle quite a lot. I can't wait until its out! It hits America June 10th!