Hayao Miyazaki Retires From Filmmaking, Fans Shocked

Written by Alain Littaye. Posted in Features

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Published on September 04, 2013 at 4:00 am with 19 Comments

We have some major but very sad news out of Japan where Hayao Miyazaki, the animation genius, has announced that he is set to retire. His upcoming film, The Wind Rises, will be his last animated movie.

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Hayao Miyazaki, is undeniably one of the greatest director of animated movies of all time.  Acclaimed the world over for lovingly directed films such as Spirited Away, My Neighbor Totoro, Princess Mononoke, Ponyo, Howl’s Moving Castle and many others. While his box office was nearly all Japanese, he has a loyal and growing fan base here in the United States as well, including nearly ever animator we’ve ever met.  John Lasseter refers to Miyazaki as his God.

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His last movie Kaze TachinuThe Wind Rises in english – is currently in competition at Venice Film Festival where the movie was acclaimed after the screening. Miyazaki, 72, couldn’t attend Venice film festival but he announced that a press conference will be organized soon in Japan where ”The Wind Rises” has already been released to huge success.

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“The Wind Rises” told the true story of a plane engineer – Jiro Horikoshi – who designed the famous war plane Mitsubishi “Zero” that was used by the Japanese during WW II. When he was a child, Jiro dreamed to fly and to design planes inspired by those of Italian engineer Italo Caproni. Because he couldn’t be a pilot, due to his myopia, he landed in the engineering division in 1927 and became one of the most brilliant airplane designers in the world. He then fell in love with Nahoko, a young woman that he previously encountered in a chance meeting years before.

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Hayao Miyazaki wrote and directed the film based upon a manga comic book by Tatsuo Hori. It recounts major points in the 20th century, including the 1923 earthquake at Kanto, the Great Depression, the deadly tuberculosis epidemic and the entrance of Japan in World War II.

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“The Wind Rises” will be released in Europe and in the U.S in 2014 and appears to be an epic animated movie. I may be wrong, but i have the feeling that Miyazaki has created an epic romantic movie set in among historic events, along the lines of “Doctor Zhivago”. As a huge fan of Miyazaki myself, I can’t wait to see “The Wind Rises,” but I’m filled with sorrow that he is retiring. Below, you’ll find the trailer for his last film.

If you’ve never watched any of Miyazaki animated movies, and you are a lover of animation, you MUST see these films. All of them are masterpieces, but my personal favorites are “Spirited Away” and “Princess Mononoke”. To have a genius of this altitude announcing that he will not direct anymore is a great loss. Hopefully, his Studio Ghibli will continue to produce animated movies, much as the Walt Disney Company carried on without Walt. But no one can replace a genius 2D animation director like Miyazaki. It’s the end of an era.

Are you a Miyazaki fan? How did this news strike you? What are your favorite Studio Ghibli films?

About Alain Littaye

Alain is the author of Disneyland Paris: From Sketch to Reality and a long time Disney historian and blogger. His book is known the world over as one of the best Disney theme park books ever assembled. You'll often find his work featured in the MiceChat Weekend Update and can find his latest musings on his personal blog: Disney and More Blog.

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19 Comments

Comments for Hayao Miyazaki Retires From Filmmaking, Fans Shocked are now closed.

  1. Best animation filmmaker since Walt, although that’s selling him short. He’s on the very, very short list of world’s best filmmakers since the 1980′s.

    Richest and most imaginative animation backgrounds in the medium’s history. No contest.

  2. I’m stunned and heartbroken, Miyazaki was a wizard of animation. I love the exotic nature of his films and how he weaves Japanese lore and the supernatural into his stories. But it’s the rich visuals which have captured my heart. Ponyo, Howl’s Moving Castle and Spirited Away are my favorites.

    Here’s hoping he reconsiders his decision or at least consults at his studio to ensures that high quality hand animated films continue to be made. . . especially since Disney has given up hand drawn.

    • I look forward to seeing “The Wind Rises” and imagine it will be very patriotic to his homeland, and would be surprised if it’s not his swan song. I admire Miyazaki and his bravery to blaze his own path and own style, and not Americanize his pieces. While he will be missed, I’m thankful he produced 10 full length animated features and a dozen or so shorts. His works are the reason I bought a blu-ray player.

  3. It is sad Hayao Miyazaki is retiring, my favourites of his films are Howl’s Moving Castle, Spirited Away and Kiki’s Delivery Service. I have some of his “art of” books, purchased from amazon and they are absolutely beautiful.

    It will be interesting to see what Studio Ghibli does next, I hope if his son continues the studio he stays with the distinctly Japanese styles of the majority of the Ghibli films, as good as Tales of Earthsea is I find it too European in it’s art design.

    The Tale of Princess Kaguya will be released in a couple of months, originally it was supposed to be released simultaneously with The Wind Rises but there was a delay. The film is directed by Isao Takahata who also directed My Neighbors the Yamadas and Pom Poko for Studio Ghibli so I think Studio Ghibli is in good hands and will continue to be a force in the art of animation.

  4. Go out on top! He’ll be missed.

  5. Good for him for retiring while he is still young enough to enjoy time with his family and friends! I’m sure he is leaving his studio in good hands – he has built a great organization of creative people to carry on his work for generations to come, and I hope he can relax and enjoy the things that he probably hasn’t had time for in recent years.

    As a side note, it was kind of interesting to read the Bob Gurr piece that was posted right before this and contrast it with this very different look at glider/plane history – one thing can represent a lot of different memories and ideas!

  6. It would be great if John Lasseter could convince him to do one last film for the Disney Company that has a more mainstream American-friendly storyline. While I LOVE his films just the way they are, there’s no doubt that he didn’t gain wider fame because most Americans just can’t embrace the foreign concepts.

    He deserves a swan song. Something that teaches Americans what they are missing by not watching his films.

  7. Sorry, I’ve seen his movies and they should be appreciated for what they are. They are not Disney movies. His movies are designed for teens and adults, not children. The animation, while beautiful at times, are crude in motion. The characters are grotesque and strange. The storylines are inconsistent and run out of steam half way thru (or a bit more).

    Any John Lasseter collaboration would be a mistake for there is absolutely no logical reason for them to be associated. Why should Miyazaki he get wider fame? He has all the fame he needs. To get more fame means his style will be compromised and I don’t see how compromise honors him. No, he deserves retirement with the body of work that he has. That he worked to old age means something.

    • To each his own. But just about ANY animator would tell you they don’t agree with you. Miyazaki is widely beloved in animation circles and there is a reason why he is regarded as the Japanese Walt Disney.

  8. Love Miyazaki! Especially liked Howl’s & Spirited Away. All of his movies are a little odd by American movie standards – but that’s part of what I love about them. The Japanese have such a different taste level – but, again, that’s part of the charm. Ponyo was a little much too weird and cutsie – but I will really miss his beautifully made films.

  9. Castle in the sky is may favorite studio ghibli, heck its up there with my favorite animated movies of all time.

  10. Even when I don’t quite understand the films, I am entranced by the visuals.

    To be congratulated for lifetime achievement in animation. My life is richer for having seen these movies.

    Howl’s Moving Castle resonates most with me.

    Wow…

  11. He’s not 100% done by the look of things. IMDB has him writing for a Lupin the Third TV series – if you’ve never seen Castle of Cagliostro, I recommend it highly. It’s not *quite* the Lupin of the original TV series, but I’m ok with the changes in pretty much every way.

  12. Most of His movies are so rich and deep it’s a shame more Americans don’t watch him. If he was younger I think his continuing success could carry 2D animation through the dark time it’s going through. I have to agree with DustySage and say one last swan song to introduce America to his brilliance would be amazing. Shoot even if Pixar convinced him to executive produce a Pixar film would be beyond amazing If they did it in the art style of Paperman! One can dream….

  13. Miyazaki is a genius and I have been watching his films since he began producing them. I’ve seen them in raw Japanese and loved them. I’ve seen them fansubbed and loved them even more. I have seen them professionally subbed and dubbed and been in awe at their subtlety. I’ve watched them on every kind of screen and in every video and film format available.They lose none of their power or substance in any language, resolution or venue. Have there been missteps? Of course, no genius is infallible, but they remain both strong and gentle at the same time. They make no excuses for themselves. They have their own world-view and for all that I thank Miyazaki-Sensei. He has allowed us into a wonderful and amazing world… and if you truly bathe yourself in it, you are forever changed by his work.

  14. Hayao Miyazaki is the most imaginative and stylish animation filmmaker since Osamu Tezuka, who single-handedly made comic books and animation films/TV series possible in Japan. I don’t consider Walt Disney as comparable in terms of creativity. Walt made his films mostly using adaptations (Snow White, Cinderella, Peter Pan, Pinocchio, Alice in Wonderland, Mary Poppins, 20,000 leagues under the sea are all adaptations of other people’s work), but Tezuka and Miyazaki created everything from nothing.

    I believe Studio Ghibli will continue to produce animated films even in his retirement, just as Pixar is not all about any one person. I hope they will also be able to enjoy more freedom in their creation, because right now whoever is directing a Studio Ghibli movie, the characters all have the same look and feel, a style that originiated from Miyazaki. The new directors should create their own style.

  15. I wish Hayao Miyazaki well in his retirement. His films are little windows into the world of Japan, fantasy and otherwise.
    One of my favorites is film he wrote and produced, but did not direct. It is called Whisper of the Heart and it is a coming of age story concerning a Japanese schoolgirl and a boy. She first takes notice of the boy when she discovers they have been checking out the same books from the library. He has a passion for music as large as her passion for writing. It’s a sweet simple story and when I first saw I thought how wonderful it was to see a story of teenagers were sex was not the first thing on their minds. (I know that’s not the case in all stories, but you get my drift.) I recommend everyone to check it out, it’s quite enjoyable.