In a huge shock for anime fans, it has been announced that Miyazaki Hayao (72) is to retire. Which means that “Kaze Tachinu” (The Wind Rises), his first film in five years, will be his last. The film is now competing at the Venice Film Festival, but Miyazaki is not attending and is expected to hold a press conference in Tokyo. The news was announced at the festival on Sunday by Hoshino Koji, head of Studio Ghibli.
“Kaze Tachinu” tells the story of World War 2 fighter plane designer Horikoshi Jiro, who as a child dreamt of becoming a pilot and went on to design the famous Mitsubishi Zero fighter. “This is the first of Miyazaki’s films that has as its protagonist a real historical figure,” Hoshino told reporters. The film paints a vivid portrait of many of the key historical events in early 20th-century Imperial Japan as well as the evolution of airplane design. It doesn’t entirely forsake the fantasy of Miyazaki’s other works, with dream sequences allowing the protagonist to fly in fantastical airplane designs. The theme will be familiar to Ghibli fans, as planes and flying have been central to such films as “Kurenai no Buta” (Porco Rosso) and “Kaze no Tani no Nausica” (NausicaÃ¤ of the Valley of the Wind).
Miyazaki is sometimes described as the Walt Disney of anime, as his works have won legions of fans and scores of awards worldwide. “Sen to Chihiro no Kamikakushi” (Spirited Away) was the first anime to win an Academy Award in 2003. Miyazaki’s began his animation career in 1963 working on “Wanwan Chushingura” (Watchdog Bow Wow), while his first feature-length film was “The Castle of Cagliostro” in 1979). Among his other best known features are “Mononokehime” (Princess Mononoke) and “Tenku no Shiro Laputa” (Castle in the Sky).
Read the Japan Zone profile of Miyazaki Hayao.