Oscar-winning Japanese animator to take it easy

Agence France-Presse
Hayao Miyazaki, beloved icon of anime, announces retirement again

ELEGANCE. Miyazaki's last (he says) animation, 'The Wind Rises.' Still from the film's Facebook

TOKYO, Japan – Oscar-winning animator Hayao Miyazaki said Friday, September 6, he was retiring from feature-length movies because he could no longer maintain the pace – but would still go to work every day apart from Saturday.

The acclaimed 72-year-old director said he had become too old for the kind of craftmanship and physical work required for major commercial projects.

“In the past, I have said many times I would quit. This time, it’s for real,” Miyazaki told a Tokyo press conference, packed with some 600 reporters, including 70 television camera crews, from around the world.

“Now, I am free. Free to do things, free not to do things,” he said.

NOW IT'S OVER? Animation is a labor of love for Miyazaki. Photo by Toshifumi Kitamura/AFP

Miyazaki has won hearts and accolades around the world in a career that began in the 1960s, blazing a trail for the genre of Japanese cartoons known as “anime.”

He will leave behind a legacy of commercial and artistic successes unmatched by contemporaries.

His most famous works internationally have been “Princess Mononoke” and “Spirited Away,” which helped him make the transition from an already widely acclaimed career in Japan to a far broader audience.

“Spirited Away” won an Oscar for best animated feature, the first Japanese film to do so, and scooped the Golden Bear at the Berlin International Film Festival, among other major prizes.

Cult following

Miyazaki began his career in 1963 as a staff animator. His first feature-length film was “The Castle of Cagliostro,” released in 1979.

He gained critical acclaim and a cult following for “Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind” (1984), and co-founded Studio Ghibli, which has become Japan’s premier animation studio.

His latest work, “The Wind Rises” has been seen by nearly 7.5 million people and has so far grossed 9.23 billion yen ($92.7 million) in its first 7 weeks.

Here’s the trailer:

Despite his latest retirement announcement, Miyazaki said he will continue to commute to the studio with a lunch box prepared by his wife, but will try to take a break on Saturdays.

A heavy smoker, Miyazaki said he has “various” health problems, but declined to discuss details.

Looking back at his career, he said making films was a continuous struggle filled with agony – in sharp contrast to the joy and vitality of his animation, as complemented by the musical score and other elements.

He said he had always asked himself whether his movies are worth making – or whether he can finish his projects at all.

He has also become slower in drawing storyboard, and said he cannot labor through physical tasks like he did as a young professional, Miyazaki said.

“I want to work for another 10 years. But I cannot keep working in the same way. – Rappler.com

Here are singer Takako Minekawa and Oscar-winning film scorer Ryuichi Sakamoto (on keyboards), with a bossa nova rendition of the score to Miyazaki’s ‘Nausicaa’:

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