World Renowned Animator and Filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki Puts Down his Pen

BUSAN, South Korea — World-renowned Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki has announced his retirement, bringing an end to an illustrious film career which spanned over fifty years.

News of his coming retirement broke at the recent Venice Film Festival, where the 72-year-old Miyazaki’s latest work, The Wind Rises, was being shown, but on Friday, he made it official.

And it looks as though he is going out with a bang here in East Asia where The Wind Rises hit screens with wartime controversy.

In an unusual departure, the film steers away from Miyazaki’s usual family-oriented themes, instead offering viewers a fictionalized biopic of Jiro Horikoshi, a designer of several WWII planes, including the infamous Mitsubishi A6M Zero, a craft most well known for its role in the bombing of Pearl Harbor and its kamikaze missions towards the end of the war.

Miyazaki, an ardent pacifist whose two previous films Nausicaä and Princess Mononoke feature strong anti-war themes, has found himself caught in the middle of two vastly differing interpretations of The Wind Rises. Critics inside Japan have denounced the film as Anti-Japanese, while critics outside of Japan, specifically in South Korea, say it’s pro-Japanese.

Despite the wide-ranging socio-political interpretations of his latest work, Miyazaki will long be remembered as a brilliant artist, not as a political pacifist waging war against regional nationalists movements.

For Real?

The iconic director has retired before, but it has never stuck. At a two-hour press conference Friday in Tokyo, Miyazaki spoke at length on everything from Italian cuisine to war. And, of course, the legitimacy of his retirement.

‘I know I’ve said I would retire many times in the past. Many of you must think, ‘Once again.’ But this time I am quite serious.’

Miyazaki says the work has simply become too taxing.

‘You may wonder what we animation directors do, but I’m an animator first, and I have to draw. I have to take off my glasses like this,’ he said, bending forward as if he was working at his desk. ‘It’s quite strenuous.’

International Appeal

Worldwide, Miyazaiki’s films have earned him high critical acclaim and commercial appeal since his 2001 Academy Awarding winning film, Spirited Away, which took in nearly $275 million worldwide. Miyazaki’s latest film, The Wind Rises, has already earned an estimated $80 million last month in Japan alone.

According to Time Magazine, his last four films grossed nearly $750 million and Miyazaki’s success has helped Japan remain one of the world’s largest markets for animation.

Miyazaki’s gorgeously animated productions often feature elements of fantasy and mysticism, as well as recurring themes focused on humanity’s relationships with nature and technology.

You can read more from Wilkine Brutus at The Vanguard Element

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