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Watch A Video of Hayao Miyazaki Announcing His Retirement From Feature Animation

Earlier today in Tokyo, Japanese animation legend Hayao Miyazaki held a press conference attended by over 600 journalists to formally announce his retirement. He acknowledged that he has said he would quit before: “I’ve mentioned that I would retire many times in the past, so a lot of you must be thinking ‘Oh, not again.’ But this time I am quite serious.”

Miyazaki explained his reasons for why he no longer wants to direct animated features:

I’m not sure you all know exactly what an animation director does. And even if you say ‘animation director’ everyone has their own way of working. I started as an animator, so I have to draw. If I don’t draw, I can’t express myself.

So what happens is, I have to take my glasses off and draw like this. I would have to do that forever. No matter how physically fit and healthy you are, it’s a fact that year after year the amount of time you’re able to concentrate on that decreases. I have experienced this personally, so I know. So, for example I leave my desk 30 minutes earlier compared to during Ponyo. Next I guess it’ll be one hour earlier than that.

Those physical issues that occur with age, there’s nothing you can do about them, and hating them doesn’t make a difference. There’s the opinion that i should just do things a different way, but if I could do that I would have already done a long time ago, so I can’t. Therefore, all I can do is persist in doing things on my terms, and I made the call that feature films would be impossible.

Miyazaki is leaving feature animation on a high note. His new film Kaze Tachinu (The Wind Rises) is Japan’s top-grossing film of 2013. At the conference, Miyazaki said that he will continue going into the studio “as long as I can drive and commute back and forth between my home and the studio.” He expects to work for at least another ten years on projects of his choosing, but refused to divulge what those might be, other than hinting that he would become more involved with organizing exhibitions at the Ghibli Museum.

In a self-effacing moment, one of many during the conference, he related what happened when he told his wife that he was retiring:

So, this is the way the conversation about my retirement with my wife went—I said, “Please keep making my bento,” and she said, “Hmph…at your age it’s unheard of to have someone still making your lunch everyday.” So I said, “I am terribly sorry, but I’ll still leave it to you.” I don’t know if I said it that politely.

  • Keen Bean

    The space he leaves in the field of animation leaves room for new talent to grow

  • akira

    John Lassetter replaced him with another director.

  • Michael Marveloso

    This had some really good nuggets in it, he’s passing the studio over to the younger generation, that’s amazing.

  • Mapache

    As much as I love Studio Ghibli films, I do belive they can still grow artistically. They nned other directors’ points of view.

    And I other than Miyasaki Goro or Kondo Yoshifumi, rest in peace, that,; I would never say they got to the director’s chair through nepotism (in fact their films are my favourite ghibli films) but still had that sense of familiarity and shared a lot of artistic conventions with Miyasaki/Takahata.

  • davidsm

    I have not seen The Wind Rises, but I wouldn’t say it’s a lesser effort just because it is not much of a fantasy.

  • davidsm

    Will miss him. Favorite feature is Princess Mononoke and Porco Rosso

  • I’ve absolutely loved the works of Miyazaki the Elder and Studio Ghibli in general, more than I can even properly express. 72 is a good, ripe old age to retire and his body of work has been incredible, so I don’t feel any particular twinge of sadness about his retirement from other things besides shorts and manga. There’s no sense in which he is being “taken too soon.”

    What I was really glad to see is his own recognition that Studio Ghibli needs to get out from under him to succeed. The studio was built on the creative visions of himself and Takahata, and it will only succeed when it finds people with their own creative visions. Just trying to ape Miyazaki’s style hasn’t really been working.

  • Mike

    Indeed, Porco Rosso is probably the least fantastic of Miyazaki’s directorial efforts, and is one of my favorites.

    Not to mention, this goes completely against the general consensus thus far on The Wind Rises.

  • Skip

    If Sylvain Chomet is moving over to live action, and Miyazaki is retiring, than who’s going to replace them, meaning who’s left to Direct 2D features?

  • Pedro Nakama

    I hope he has a great retirement.

  • LiveALot

    I can well believe that Lassiter replaced him. Shame on Lassiter and shame on Disney/Pixar.Their greed knows no bounds. Miyazaki was produced some of the best animation to hit Disney in recent years. It is a misfortune that Disney has the rights for Studio Ghibli in the US. We are going to be deprived of a great artist before his time..

    I’ve seen the other Japanese manga films and they are nothing special. I’m sorry but they just seem flat to me. There’s already alot of talent out there and I don’t watch their stuff or buy it. When I do I’m disappointed.
    Miyazaki combined east with west and he was accessible to both. His later films have stunning visual imagery. The moods evoked are beautiful, soulful and haunting. The plot and dialogue are OKay, it’s average but the artistry is exquisite just like the japanese woodblock prints. I hope that he has mentored enough younger artists that someone can bring along the same beautiful art and soul that Miyazaki put into his art. And it is a shame to throw him away when he could still be producing or directing films up to his 80s.