Legendary animator Hayao Miyazaki has confirmed his retirement from making feature films.
Studio Ghibli president Koju Hoshino announced Miyazaki’s plan to retire last Sunday at the Venice International Film Festival, but declined to take questions at the time.
Miyazaki held a press conference in Tokyo Friday and said that the reasons for his retirement weren’t related to the criticism of his most recent, and now last, film, The Wind Rises, also released as Kaze Tachinu. The movie is based on the manga of the same name and is a fictionalized biography of Jiro Horikoshi, designer of the A6M Zero fighter aircraft used in World War II. RIght-wing Japanese claimed the film carried a subtle anti-war message.
Miyazaki said the decision to retire was due to his desire to “do other things” and his failing eyesight.
“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 said his “days of making feature films were done” and that, if he were to direct another animated movie, it would take six to seven years, which he considered too long. The Wind Rises took Studio Ghibli five years to create, he said.
“[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,” he added.
Reporters pointed out that Hayao Miyazaki said he was only retiring from making feature films, and not from the animation industry in general. The 72-year-old had previously announced that he was retiring in 1997 after completing Princess Mononoke, but continued to work for over 15 years after that.
“My retirement this time is for real,” Miyazaki said, adding that he might still be involved with Studio Ghibli — which he co-founded in 1985 — on a voluntary basis.
Hayao Miyazaki received a lifetime achievement award at the Venice Film Festival in 2005. He has worked on over two dozen films over the course of his career. Eight of Studio Ghibli’s films are among the 115 highest-grossing anime movies made in Japan, with Spirited Away claiming the top spot. The 2001 film won an Academy Award for Best Animated Feature in 2002.