“I think that ‘Princess Mononoke‘ will be the last (feature-length) movie that I make in this way,” director Hayao Miyazaki said more than a decade ago, citing his age and the arduous production of that 1997 film as two factors for his stepping away from the drawing desk. In 1998 he even left Studio Ghibli altogether, apparently to make way for younger talent, but returned almost exactly a year later. But it wasn’t long before he was back to work once again. So what are we to make of Miyazaki’s latest announcement that he’s packed it in?
Well, it’s certainly more enigmatic this time around. Firstly, the word doesn’t come from Miyazaki, but from Studio Ghibli president Koju Hoshino, who told press assembled in Venice for the premiere of “The Wind Rises” (our review) simply, “He wants to say goodbye to all of you.”
So, who knows what this actually means—maybe he’ll make shorts, produce, team with Steven Soderbergh on an opera or really step away from from moviemaking altogether. But for now, it’s a quick farewell from an animator and filmmaker who will go down as a legend with countless films—the aforementioned ones plus “Spirited Away,” “My Neighbor Totoro” and more—that will certainly be regarded as classics.
“The Wind Rises” will be seen stateside via Disney who will release the film through their Touchstone Pictures banner, though no date has been set. And for all your Miyazaki needs, here’s an extensive 90-minute conversation with the filmmaker from 2010 when he received the Berkeley Japan Prize, a lifetime achievement award given by the Center for Japanese Studies. Watch below.