Few filmmakers, in any medium, have garnered as much universal acclaim and love from devoted fans as Japan’s Hayao Miyazaki. The anime master has made 11 feature films and numerous shorts, not to mention television animation as well, in his 30+ year career and he announced earlier this year that he’d be retiring from making feature films, which many thought would mean his retirement from things altogether… But that is apparently not the case.
Over the weekend, Miyazaki was in Los Angeles to receive an Honorary Oscar for Lifetime Achievement from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, a very well-deserved statue for the 73-year-old filmmaker, and he was interviewed by a number of outlets on his future and retirement, and perhaps the rumors of him stepping down from anime have been greatly exaggerated. In fact, he said the words “I’m going to continue making anime until I die.” Can’t get more definitive than that.
In an interview with the Associated Press, Miyazaki said, through a translator, he’s going to focus his attention on making animated short films. “It became very difficult for me to concentrate for such a long time that it takes to make a whole film, to concentrate that much,” he said. “I loved making feature-length films to be shown in theaters and making animation films, and my thought was to hand that over to the next generation.”
These short films will be shown at the Studio Ghibli museum in Tokyo, and Miyazaki says he’s happy not to have the pressure of a film of his being either financially viable or even a hit with fans. “One of the good points of making such short films is that I don’t have to worry about it having financial success,” he said. “The people who come to the museum are forced to see this film when they go into the little theater there. So even if it’s a little bit boring, they’ll probably sit through it and not raise a fuss.”
It was also announced in a recent LA Times piece, that Miyazaki will also be working on a new manga series about samurai in the 16th Century fighting battles, something he’d wanted to do since he was a student. “I was very dissatisfied with the way that era was depicted in fiction and film, so I wanted to draw something that would reflect the way I thought that era should look. … The great director Akira Kurosawa filmed his films in large, open spaces like golf courses, and there weren’t those large, open spaces in Japan.”
So, fans of Hayao Miyazaki, do not take his leaving feature films as him saying his done telling stories. Clearly he isn’t, and he’s got a lot of canvases on which to paint.
Below, you’ll find John Lasseter’s lovely introduction of Miyazaki at the MPAA Governor’s Ball, followed by the master’s speech.
For still more Miyazaki, be sure to read my series chronicling each of his feature films.