Hayao Miyazaki is leaving the world of film animation.
That’s according to Studio Ghibli President Koji Hoshino, who announced this past Sunday at a press conference at the Venice Film Festival in Italy that the world-famous anime director will “retire from the production of feature-length films.”
This isn’t the first time we’ve heard this story, though. After completing Princess Mononoke in the late 1990s, Miyazaki announced he would no longer be directing anime feature films in the same obsessive, time-intensive way he’d done up to that point, which was widely reported as Miyazaki’s “retirement” at the time.
Since then, he’s routinely announced his retirement in some form or fashion after the completion of each of his recent films, starting with 2001’s Spirited Away.
Is this time going to be different? Hoshino declined to answer any questions about Miyazaki’s reasons for retirement from film animation, deferring instead to a news conference Miyazaki will be holding September 6th in Tokyo.
Miyazaki, born in 1941, began his career in animation at age 20 when he joined Toei Animation. It was at Toei that he first worked with Isao Takahata, with whom would later found Studio Ghibli. In the 70s, Miyazaki directed several episodes of the first Lupin the Third series, as well as Future Boy Conan (1978), his first major mark on the world of Japanese animation.
Miyazaki’s first film as director was Castle of Cagliostro, the second and best-regarded of the Lupin feature films. Following the success of Cagliostro, Miyazaki created the manga, and eventual film, Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind. Released in 1984, Nausicaa helped jump-start the careers of composer Joe Hisaishi, who has scored every Miyazaki film since, and the aforementioned Hideaki Anno.
The following year, Miyazaki, Takahata and producer Toshio Suzuki founded Studio Ghibli, the home of all Miyazaki’s subsequent films, most if not all of which have become anime classics, including My Neighbor Totoro, Kiki’s Delivery Service, Princess Mononoke, and Spirited Away.
According to Anime News Network, in an interview from an episode of Japanese TV channel TBS’ Ō-sama no Brunch, Miyazaki did leave the door open for a possible film sequel to Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, but said he would not be involved in directing it. That honor would go to Neon Genesis Evangelion director Hideaki Anno, who collaborated with Ghibli on the carnage-filled “Giant God Warrior Appears in Tokyo” short that was shown at theatrical screenings of Evangelion 3.0 earlier this year. He also voiced the lead role in The Wind Rises.
This announcement flies in the face of reports from July, when Miyazaki denied that The Wind Rises would be his last film. However, as is often the case, Miyazaki’s language left room for interpretation. It should be noted that two recent Ghibli efforts, The Borrower Arrietty and From Up on Poppy Hill, while helmed by younger directors, both featured Miyazaki as lead screenwriter, hinting at a direction his career may take.
Does this mean Anno is the man who will take Miyazaki’s place in the director’s chair? Will the throne at Ghibli go empty? Or is this just another false alarm?
What do you think?