Japanese filmmaker retires…again

Hayao Miyazaki.

This name makes many fans squeal in delight and immediately begin discussing his films. This past year he retired from directing/making feature films. His last one came out in 2013 and was called “The Wind Rises.” It’s about Jiro Horikoshi who creates a beautiful plane that ends up being used for war. This film actually relates to Miyazaki’s childhood.

He was born on Jan. 5, 1941 and was his parents’ second child. His father was in a business with Miyazaki’s uncle, Miyazaki Airplane, where they made wingtips and rudders for Japanese Zero fighter planes as well as the planes themselves.

In 1944, his family was forced to evacuate Tokyo and didn’t return until Miyazaki was six or seven, which contributed to him having to go to three different elementary schools.

During his schooling up until sixth grade, his mom was in bed sick with spinal tuberculosis.

Miyazaki continued on to finish high school, and in his last year, the first-ever Japanese feature-length color anime came out, Hakujaden. This movie possibly inspired Miyazaki to be an animator as a career. He went to Gakushin University to get his degrees in Political Science and Economics. There, he was in the closest thing they had to a comics club: children’s literature research club.

In 1963, after college, Miyazaki went on to score a job at Toei Animation, the same company who produced Hakujaden. He was an in-betweener, meaning he filled in set scenes for a better flow. The next year he became the Chief Secretary of the labor union at Toei Animation; he also began to date a fellow animator, Akemi Ota.

Miyazaki worked on a feature film, “Prince of the Sun,” with Takahata, Ota and Yasuo Otsuka. These four minus Ota made a pact to do “Prince of the Sun” together as long as they could.

In Oct. of 1965, Miyazaki and Ota got married. They didn’t finish “Prince of the Sun” until 1968; they have two sons.

In 1971, Miyazaki left Toei Animation and switched to A-Pro studio, where Takahata was also animating. They both left in 1973 and moved to Zuiyo Pictures. Here, Miyazaki directed his first films.One of these was entitled “Future Boy Conan.” The next year Tokyo Movie Shinsha hired him to direct an anime version of the manga “Lupin III.” The movie was entitled “Castle of Cagliostro.”

Seeing what he could make animation become and a longing for greater freedom, Miyazaki and Takahata founded Studio Ghibli. They made their first movies, which were all successes. In 1997, Miyazaki created “Princess Mononoke” (PM), which became Japan’s highest grossing domestic film in Japanese history. This was until “Spirited Away” (SA), beat it. After PA Miyazaki retired, but returned for SA in 2001.

PM is about a prince, Ashitaka, with a demon curse looking for a cure. To find this cure he must find help from the Great Forest Spirit. In the forest is a lady, San, who was raised by wolves and has a hatred for humans. Ashitaka finds refuge in Irontown. San attacks the town, but falls unconscious, so Ashitaka takes her away. They flee into the forest. Many things happen there, and eventually both look for the Great Forest Spirit. For information on SA please refer to the short review below.

He went on to make many more films until 2013 when he announced his retirement. After a long and successful career, he’s still not quite done. He is possibly working on a new manga set in Japan’s “Warring States” period.

It is unknown if he’ll return to directing again. One thing is for sure: Miyazaki’s films are known world-wide, and he will remain a legend in Japanese animation.