Why Hayao Miyazaki Has Withdrawn His Retirement From Anime

Anime fans everywhere are thrilled that Hiyao Miyazaki has withdrawn from his retirement. He wants to make a new film dedicated to his grandson. There are plenty of rumors about the new project. But, Miyazaki recently announced the film’s title and concept himself. He was speaking at Waseda University, Tokyo at the Natsume Soskei Memorial Museum.

Miyazaki plans to title the film Kimitachi wa Dou Ikiru Ka. The title is translated into English as “How are You Living?” or “How Do You Live?”. Journalist Genzaburo Yoshino wrote the 1937 book which gives the film its title. Yoshino was the chief editor of the progressive magazine, Sekai. Miyazaki said that the film will include a protagonist whose life has been influenced by this specific book.

Yoshino’s book tells the story of how a teenage boy grows psychologically due to the experiences he shares with his uncle and his friends. Miyazaki’s film will reach younger audiences, as did Yoshino’s books for children. Miyazaki has said that the project will take three to four years to complete. According to some accounts, Miyazaki’s grandson should be a teenager by the time the film is released.

This new film may become the crowning achievement of Miyazaki’s career. His films have always taken inspiration from philosophical and political themes, and this film promises to embrace his pacifist views. His work tends to reflect on how difficult it is to maintain pacifist ethics within the context of violence.

Some controversy has erupted over Miyazaki’s reason for creating this new film. Skeptics point to his strained relationship with his first son Gorō. When Gorō was a student in high school, he believed that he would never achieve the level of skill his father has. For this reason, he pursued a career in landscape agriculture, graduating from Shinshu University. He not only took designed the rooftop for the Mitaka Ghibli Museum, but he also was its director for 4 years.

Gorō created his first animated film, Tales from Earthsea, in 2006. It is an adaptation of Ursula Le Guin’s series of books. The film became a point of conflict between father and son. Hayao was not complimentary about his son’s abilities, and Gorō’s film received widely mixed reviews. Word was that father and son did not speak to each other while the film was in progress.

Fans who remember the very public family friction have been quick to post their opinions that the elder Miyazaki is only concerned with retaining his position as the best Japanese animator. Withdrawing from his retirement, once again, is the way he can do that. They don’t believe that his last feature film will be in honor of his grandson. Others simply view his work ethic as emerging from traditional Japanese society; where workers devote long hours to producing their very best work on every project.

Miyazaki has a second son named Keisuke. Keisuke’s woodcut print is seen in a book in the film Whisper of the Heart.  Regardless of public opinion, he has said that while his children were growing up he created his anime to please them.

Part of an affluent family, he felt guilt over the fact that his family profited from World War II, while so many suffered during it. They owned a company which made Zero fighter wingtips. His films have flying scenes because he loves to fly and has a passion for old airplanes. As a young person, he believed in the idealist goal of a democratic Japan. He embraced Marxism when young, but eventually decided that it was wrong. His films now focus instead on optimism.

The master animator’s eye sight is not as good as it once was, and he’s been leaving his work desk earlier as time progresses. But, Miyazaki has stated that he will continue his work at the studio as long as he can drive. He also is hesitant to make public promises about what he will and will not do. In his seventies now, he hopes to work for another decade. But, he’s told the Japanese press that he wants to do other work than animation.

Miyazaki built his retirement studio near Studio Ghibli. He named it “Butaya” (Pig House) because he is obsessed with pigs. He includes them often as characters in his films. He remains the consummate animator, focused on the film he wants to make. Fans will need to wait awhile for him to complete it. It will be worth the wait.

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