Hayao Miyazaki — the legendary Studio Ghibli director, artist, and producer — is set to retire. At the Venice Film Festival, Studio Ghibli president Koju Hoshino announced Miyazaki’s intention to retire. Hoshino didn’t provide details, as a press conference in Tokyo will be held this week to provide more fanfare and give Miyazaki the spotlight he deserves.
Miyazaki’s movie catalog is borderline ridiculous. The animated films he has directed include My Neighbor Totoro, Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, Castle in the Sky, Kiki’s Delivery Service, Princess Mononoke, Spirited Away, Howl’s Moving Castle, Ponyo, and so much more. He has entertained and delighted millions of children (of all ages) from all over the world. With so many amazing movies, it’s tough to pick a Miyazaki favorite. I have a soft spot in my heart for Porco Rosso; it’s delightfully strange (though easy to understand) and has so much heart.
Many American reporters have called Hayao Miyazaki “The Japanese Walt Disney.” Certainly both mens’ careers have parallels, but stylistically they’re very different. Disney’s movies were modern fairytales and today many of them are criticized for various issues (racism, weak portrayals of women, etc.). Miyazaki’s movies are generally more cerebral. Several of them deal with the futility of war, something that stems from his childhood during World War II. Environmentalism is a theme in several of his films. Many of his movies have strong female characters that are a stark contrast to the numerous “Disney Princess” characters. While both men have made movies that were critically acclaimed and are loved worldwide, the comparison always felt funny to me.
Anyway, how do you feel about Hayao Miyazaki’s retirement? Any of you getting misty eyes by the animation master putting down his pencil? What’s your favorite Miyazaki movie? Leave a comment below and let me know (please!).