Fans of Hayao Miyazaki are sure to be delighted with The Simpsons' whimsical tribute to the legendary animator.
The long-running animated comedy, which was renewed for a historic 26th season last October, features Homer encountering characters from Miyazaki's films, including the scarecrow Turnip-Head (Moe) and the castle (the Kwik-E-Mart) from Howl's Moving Castle, the Catbus (Otto) from My Neighbor Totoro, and the witch Kiki (Patty and Selma) from Kiki's Delivery Service. There are also multiple references to Spirited Away, including No-Face and the dragon Haku (Jimbo, Kearney, and Dolph), as well as Krusty as Jigo and Martin, Wendell, and Database as the kodama (tree spirits) from Princess Mononoke. If you missed a reference, the folks over at Slate created an annotated video of all the films in the clip.
Studio Ghibli president Koju Hoshino announced Hayao Miyazaki's plan to retire at the Venice Film Festival in August, which Miyazaki confirmed in a press conference the following week. The 73-year-old said that his retirement was not linked to criticism of his final film, The Wind Rises, but that it was due to his desire to pursue other things.
"When you reach my age there are many moments when you just can't stand [at the drawing board] anymore," he said. "When that happens I put my pencil down and I just go home… I've reached my limit and can't go further.
Miyazaki also said that directing another animated film would take six to seven years, which he considered too long. The Wind Rises took Studio Ghibli five years to create, much longer than it would have it earlier in his career.
"[In the past,] we could make films in four and five months. But, during that time, my staff and I were younger and we often said that creating these movies was a 'once in a lifetime' event," he said.
"Now, you can't demand your staff work at this pace forever, because people get older and they have to choose between work and family."
The Simpsons' Hayao Miyazaki tribute airs Sunday, January 12.