Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki isn't ready to retire just yet

At 83, Japanese animation studio founder Hayao Miyazaki isn’t ready to retire just yet

/ 05:34 PM March 12, 2024

Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki

Oscar-winning Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki appears on the screen expressing his gratitude to the festival for receiving the Donostia lifetime achievement award, in recognition of his prestigious film career, during the opening gala of the 71st edition of the San Sebastian Film Festival in the northern Spanish Basque city of San Sebastian on Sept. 22, 2023. Miyazaki, who at 83 was the oldest director ever nominated in 2024 Oscars feature animation category, won’t rule out making another film, even if his next project is a short instead of a full-length feature. ANDER GILLENEA / AFP

TOKYO—Ghibli, the Japanese studio that just won its second Oscar for feature animation for “The Boy and the Heron,” hasn’t said yet what it plans next.

But founder Hayao Miyazaki, who at 83 was the oldest director ever nominated in that category, won’t rule out making another film, even if his next project is a short instead of a full-length feature.


Miyazaki, according to a longtime confidante, is a bit embarrassed about having pronounced a decade ago that he would no longer make movies, citing his age.


“He regrets having announced to the world he won’t make another film,” producer Toshio Suzuki, the co-founder of Studio Ghibli, said after the latest win.

When the Oscar was announced early Monday in Japan, a cheer went up in the tiny, humble building that houses the studio on the fringes of sprawling Tokyo where dozens of invited media had crammed in to watch the ceremony on a big screen.

It was a big day for Japanese filmmaking, with “Godzilla Minus One” winning the award for best visual effects, marking Japan’s first win in that category.

Japanese media heaped praise on both the Ghibli and Godzilla films, noting that a double win at the Oscars hadn’t happened for the country since 2009. An editorial Tuesday in the mass-circulation Yomiuri newspaper heralded “a new page in the history of Japanese filmmaking.”

Japan is also very much in the backdrop of “Oppenheimer,” which won seven Oscars, including best picture. The biopic centers on an American scientist working on the atomic bomb. The film has yet to be released in Japan.

“Perfect Days,” Wim Wenders’ touching film about a sanitation worker, was nominated in the international feature film category but did not win. Japanese actor Koji Yakusho, who portrays a gentle and lonely man who takes photos and cares for plants, won best actor for his performance at Cannes in May last year.


“War Is Over,” which won for short animation, was inspired by Yoko Ono and John Lennon’s music. Their son Sean, who co-wrote the film, gave a shout-out to his mother, who is Japanese, at the Academy Awards.

Miyazaki celebrated his Oscar win in private at his atelier and did not attend the studio event, Suzuki said. When asked why Miyazaki had shaved off his trademark beard, Suzuki said: “He doesn’t want to look important.”

Suzuki said he spent time analyzing why Ghibli’s latest film was chosen, wondering if it was because of the Old Testament references in the storyline, which centers on a young boy dealing with his mother’s illness and death, and the relationship he develops with a talking bird. Suzuki said Ghibli’s hand-drawn illustrations were more effective than computer graphics in portraying the bird’s metamorphosis.

Ghibli didn’t do much publicity for the film, choosing instead a low-key approach for a work that was 10 years in the making and released after Miyazaki was supposedly retired.

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“We thought it was OK to make something we really wanted to make,” said Suzuki.

TAGS: animation, Hayao Miyazaki, Japan, Oscars

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