This might be hard to believe, but the first time Hayao Miyazaki announced his retirement from making feature-length animated films happened in the late 90s. A year later, he returned to Studio Ghibli with the story idea for what would become Spirited Away which went on to win the 2002 Academy Award for the best-animated feature. Miyazaki has changed his mind recently, as he announced his last Studio Ghibli film, which is inspired by the novel ‘How Do You Live?’
Miyazaki has announced his retirement on multiple occasions, the latest being in 2013, after having directed 11 features in 34 years. His latest film is based on the 1937 novel of the same name by Genzaburo Yoshino. The exact plot details of the film are a mystery, only to be described as “fantasy on a grand scale” by producer and former Studio Ghibli resident Toshio Suzuki to the New York Times. The novel follows a 15-year-old boy in Tokyo, whose father has recently died. How Do You Live? is reportedly Miyazaki’s favorite childhood book.
In the English translation by Bruno Navasky published in October, the boy gazes out at the city and is overwhelmed. ‘The watching self, the self- being watched, and furthermore the self-becoming conscious of all this, the self-observing itself by itself from afar, all those various selves overlapped in his heart, and suddenly he began to feel dizzy.’ The book deals with perspective, the structure of society, and how Koperu views how he fits in.
Miyazaki’s last official film was 2013’s The Wind Rises. When asked why he decided to return in the first place, Miyazaki kept his answer simple:
“Because I wanted to.”
His son Goro spoke about how his father basically needed to create something in order to live when questioned about his father’s unexpected return to filmmaking. Goro explained his mum has come to accept the fact he cannot stop creating, so she’ll be like:
“Okay, if you’d rather create until the end of your life, then go to the studio, go to the office every day.”
Miyazaki has been creating anime for decades, helping to create Studio Ghibli in 1985 following decades of work within the field. This would hardly be the first time that Hayao has come out of retirement, having done so before, though this certainly seems as though it might be the last. On a positive note, Goro Miyazaki is continuing his father’s legacy via directing projects of his own, leading the recent movie for the Studio in Earwig and the Witch.
The NY times article is relatively vague about most of the details surrounding the movie, but it makes implications that this could be the last film for Miyazaki, and perhaps for Studio Ghibli as a whole. The producer and former president of Studio Ghibli, Toshio Suzuki, also kept the finality of the film vague, stating:
“In the West, we always need to know how things end. At Ghibli, the last scene is often a mystery.”
In the world of anime, there is no name more synonymous with quality and craft than Hayao Miyazaki who has created some of the biggest crossover successes in the genre of all time, including Howl’s Moving Castle, Ponyo and My Neighbour Totoro. But the question remains, will this really be Miyazaki’s final film?
Hayao Miyazaki is also known for creating animated locations and food that we all want to visit and eat. Japan has now sent a press release announcing the creation of a campsite that transports you into Emishi Village inspired by his acclaimed film Princess Mononoke. Read here to find out more about this enchanting camp-site!