Legendary Animator Hayao Miyazaki Retires

Photo courtesy of Thomas Schulz, Wikipedia

Hayao Miyazaki, the renowned visionary and king of Japanese animation, has retired from creating feature length films which gained him global success to move on to new forms of storytelling.

Miyazaki announced his retirement over the summer, stating that he would no longer create feature length animated films, but he has now revealed that he will continue to create short films. These short pieces will be shown exclusively at the Studio Ghibli museum in Tokyo. Studio Ghibli is the legendary animation studio founded by Miyazaki in 1985.

While this is great news for Japanese fans of Miyazaki, his constantly growing American fanbase will have trouble seeing these new short films.

Miyazaki has also announced that he will be working on a new manga series about the samurai.

“I was very dissatisfied with the way that era was depicted in fiction and film, so I wanted to draw something that would reflect the way I thought that era should look … the great director Akira Kurosawa filmed his films in large, open spaces like golf courses, and there weren’t those large, open spaces in Japan,” the director said in an interview with the LA Times.

Miyazaki has crafted dozens of beautifully drawn pieces of animation, but there are some that stand out above the rest.

In 1988, Studio Ghibli released “My Neighbor Totoro.” The film tells the story of two young girls who move into a country home with their father. Soon after arriving, the girls meet the curious Totoros, a group of woodland spirits taking the form of a cat and rabbit-like creatures. The film is a masterpiece of animation and storytelling, and is still one of the studio’s most popular works to date, spawning thousands of remakes and parodies starring a number of other characters.

In 1997, “Princess Mononoke” was released. Widely considered the best of Miyazaki’s film, it tells the story of nature vs. industry in a way that only Studio Ghibli could pull off. The theme of nature being dominant over mankind is a prominent one in Miyazaki’s work, and “Princess Mononoke” displays this perfectly.

In 2001, “Spirited Away” would become Miyazaki’s most critically acclaimed film, earning him the Oscar for Best Animated Feature, the first Japanese film to win this honor. In this Alice In Wonderland-inspired tale, a young girl accidentally wanders into the spirit world hiding in the shadows, and must find her way back to the world of the living before time runs out.

More recently, Miyazaki released “The Wind Rises,” his final animated feature film. Unlike his other projects, “The Wind Rises” is not a fantasy film, but instead an autobiography of Jiro Horikoshi, the man who designed Japanese fighter planes during World War II. Flight has always been another prevalent theme in Miyazaki’s work. The English dub of this film features the voice talents of Joseph Gordon-Levitt, John Krasinski, and Emily Blunt in this fitting farewell for the director.

While Miyazaki’s reign as the king of anime is coming to a close, revisiting his past works will provide hours of adventure into the beauty of Studio Ghibli’s masterfully crafted animated worlds, and while this may be goodbye, it is certainly not the end for Hayao Miyazaki.