Hayao Miyazaki, the legendary Oscar-winning Japanese animator known for directing several amazing Studio Ghibli classics such as Spirited Away, Kiki’s Delivery Service, and My Neighbour Totoro, will announce his retirement at a press conference next week in Tokyo.
Koju Hoshino, current Studio Ghibli president, announced the director’s plans for retirement this past Sunday at the Venice Film Festival in Italy. The studio president declined to take questions, referring to the press conference next week. “He wants to say goodbye to all of you,” Hoshino said.
It looks like The Wind Rises, which is currently in competition in Venice, will be Miyazaki’s last film. Kaze Tachinu, as it’s known in Japan, is the fictionalized biography of Jiro Horikoshi, the man who designed the Mitsubishi Zero aircraft used in World War II.
Miyazaki directed eleven feature films in total, including my personal favorite Howl’s Moving Castle, and also acted as producer and writer on other Studio Ghibli films such as Whisper of the Heart and Arrietty.
The famed animator, who also co-founded Studio Ghibli in the late 80’s, leaves a legacy of great storytelling that often held recurring themes, such as humanity’s relationship with technology and nature, the struggle for pacifism, and environmentalism.
Remaining faithful to traditional, hand-drawn animation, Miyazaki’s imagery gives his movies their own unique and unforgettable style. His human characters are not much more than giant-eyed dolls with stiff legs, as if walking clumsily on stilts.
The landscapes in Miyazaki’s films are ravishing, to say the least, creating beautiful backdrops that emphasize environmentalism and the Earth’s fragility. No one else will be able to recreate the worlds that Miyazaki has conceived.
Hironobu Sakaguchi, creator of the Final Fantasy video game series, cited Miyazaki as inspiration for elements such as the airships and chocobos featured in the franchise. Influencing countless others, Miyazaki isn’t going to be forgotten for a long time.