Hayao Miyazaki Announces That He is Retiring from Directing

Published 2 years ago by

hayao miyazaki retirement Hayao Miyazaki Announces That He is Retiring from Directing

Hayao Miyazaki has a strong cult following here in the States, as the animation filmmaker’s work tends to draw critical raves without bringing in boffo returns at the U.S. box office. However, over in Miyazaki’s native Japan, it’s another story altogether, with three of the directorial efforts – Spirited Away, Howl’s Moving Castle and Princess Mononoke – ranking in the top five all-time highest grossing titles in the country.

Miyazaki’s new feature, The Wind Rises, has sat atop the Japanese box office for over a month, well ahead of its updated theatrical run in the U.S. (with Disney once again distributing). The film is a fictional biography of Mitsubishi A6M Zero fighter aircraft designer Jiro Horikoshi, and early word of mouth from those who’ve attended a screening of the traditionally-animated (read: 2D) project – at either the 2013 Telluride or Venice International Film Festival – is largely positive.

The 72-year old Miyazaki announced his retirement from feature-length directing, in a press conference at the ongoing festivities in Venice. Similar to when Miyazaki entered semi-retirement after he completed Princess Mononoke, the filmmaker will continue to work at Studio Ghibli in what is expected to be a supervisory capacity. However, given his age and legacy, there is a better chance that Miyazaki will stick to his promise to step away from the filmmaking spotlight than there was some 15 years ago (though short film directing is an option that remains on the table).

Question is, will Disney now give Wind Rises an Oscar-qualifying limited theatrical run in 2013? The studio has additional incentive to push the film during this year’s impending awards season, since it’s poised to be the swan song to Miyazaki’s esteemed career. Spirited Away secured the Best Animated Feature Oscar back in 2003, but Wind Rises‘ chances of bringing its director his second Academy Award have improved significantly following his retirement announcement.

hayao miyazaki spirited away Hayao Miyazaki Announces That He is Retiring from Directing

Having said that: it was inevitable that Miyazaki would step aside from directing, but the news is disappointing to hear regardless. The filmmaker’s animation output from the past three decades – My Neighbor Totoro, Kiki’s Delivery Service and so forth – has truly been one of a kind, with memorable characters (including, several multi-faceted female protagonists), imaginative world designs, rich storytelling, gorgeous impressionistic animation, and having adult thoughtfulness blended with a childlike sense of wonder and innocence.

It’s always important for an artist to know when to put their (figurative a/o literal) paintbrush down, so if Miyazaki feels that it’s his time to step aside then good on him for recognizing that. Moreover, if the Wind Rises trailer is anything to go by, then the filmmaker will conclude his career on a note of integrity and creative accomplishment that he can be proud of.


The Wind Rises doesn’t have an official U.S. theatrical release date yet.

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  1. Sad news but…

  2. A bit saddened by the news, was hoping he’d re-visit some of his earlier classics and make sequels (Princess Mononoke, my fav). Simply a legend. His style will be missed.

    • We are two. Princess Mononoke is my favorite animation of all time

  3. This man’s work is what got me into Anime all those many years ago (Nausicaa to be specific). I hope he enjoys his retirement.

  4. Very grateful for all the movies Miyazaki has given to the world. I remember watching Spirited Away when I was just a little girl and still believed the world was full of magic. His movies represent a large part of my childhood and I know that I will show them to my kids one day.

  5. His films are a hit and miss for me but so is anime as a whole. Clearly he is the best.Im gonna go watch porco rosso then howls moving castle

  6. It’s very sad news, hopefully his son will grow as a director… his first effort, Tales of Earthsea, is good but not great as we’ve come to expect from Ghibli.

    End of an era….

  7. What a shame, the guy hasn’t made a disappointing movie ever.


    But if the guy wants to retire, he’s earned a break.

  9. Cant wait to see Wind Rises. I LOVE his other films.

  10. A sad loss to movie making everywhere. He’s made so many of my favourite films in Nausicaa, Laputa, Porco Rosso, Princess Mononoke, Spirited Away, Howels Moving Castle and even Arietti. Can’t wait to see Wind Rises, there’ll never be another director like him.

    It’s a bit much to call any anime of the last 10+ years “traditionally animated”, it’s a long time since hand drawn cell’s were used and there’s a considerable amount of computer animation involved these days. The likes of Shingeki no Kyojin (Attack on Titan) are more impressive than Pixar these days.

  11. Few can say there the G.O.A.T. in their profession.

  12. Could this lead to Disney buying out Studio Ghibli?

  13. Very grateful for all the movies Miyazaki has given to the world. I remember watching Spirited Away when I was just a little girl and still believed the world was full of magic. His movies represent a large part of my childhood and I know that I will show them to my kids one day.

  14. This is at least the fourth time he’s “retired.”

    The first was in ’98, after the release of Mononoke Hime and Yoshifumi Kondou’s sudden, premature death. That scared him, but in the end, without Kondou, and with Isao Takahata (five years older than Miyazaki) winding down as well, the studio needed Miyazaki.

    The second was after Sen to Chihiro no Kamikakushi, which was supposed to be his final film. Once again, though, with Takahata being inactive, it would have left Ghibli without and active director.

    The Third was after Howl’s Moving Castle, when they tried to transition to his son Gorou. Tales from Earthsea put an end to that experiment.

    Even after Ponyo, I think it was widely believed that he was done directing, if not necessarily writing.

    He’ll be back yet again, because Ghibli still doesn’t have anyone else. Gorou has been on a short leash ever since the Earthsea debacle. Hiromasa Yonebayashi has directed, but lacks writing credentials. It says something about the studio’s prospects that Takahata has his first film since 1999 coming out in November, by which time he’ll be 78.

    Unless and until Ghibli can find a competent successor, he’ll keep getting dragged back into the productions. He’ll probably die making films.

    • I knew he had “retired” before, I didn’t know it had happened 4 times tho. I will be reeeeeally excited if he comes back. I love his stuff. Its more likely that he will come back seeing as how he isn’t even “retiring” he’s just not directing any more, he’ll still be at Ghibli. Perhaps he’ll be roped into directing once again.