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Miyazaki To Retire (Again)

Anne Marie here, with some news I have been trying desperately to ignore all weekend: Hayao Miyazaki is officially retiring. It's worth noting that this isn't the first time the master animator has announced his retirement. But each time he threatens to leave, a little color goes out of the world.

My feelings at this exact moment.

Miyazaki is one of those unique artists who sees the extraordinary in the ordinary, and draws from a seemingly inexhaustable wellspring of imagination. My favorite film is Princess Mononoke only because it was the first Miyazaki film I saw, and I was thus completely overwhelmed by the movie.

What's your favorite Miyazaki film? Do you fear this retirement is the permanent one?

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Reader Comments (9)

Not directed by Miyazaki, but it's from Studio Ghibli, "Grave of the fireflies" (one of my top ten movies). Being a fan of anime (or at least I was), I was never a big fan of him until I got older to appreciate better his movies (and now ironically through his films I'm getting into some animated Japanese gems again).

September 4, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMe34

I've seen ALL of his movies, one of a handful of directors whose complete body of work I've seen. With the exception of Porco Rosso, which I found a big snore, I loved every movie he has made to varying degrees. On any given day, my favorite switches from one movie to another. Today, this is my list:

1. Castle in the Sky: The design of that castle is impeccable and so detailed I was in constant awe of it. Miyazaki frequently (sometimes to his films' detriment, I think) makes the villain have a change of heart later in the film and that switch sometimes feel jarring. Here, the sky pirates never feel judged or haphazardly drawn. Still the most effective villain switcheroo in his filmography.
2. My Neighbor Totoro: I love Catbus. The end.
3. Spirited Away: These three movies change on a daily basis, but most of the time they are my three favorites. Spirited Away is kind of a given considering how much of a landmark, i think, it is in how people interpret animated cinema. The mix of western and eastern story tropes seem crazy and sometimes I don't think all parts of the story makes sense (that scene with Haku and Chihiro in the bridge where Haku uses his powers still strikes me as kind of out of place), but nevertheless it is a breathless piece of entertainment.
4. Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind: It's his most intelligent film and probably the one with the heftiest message.
5. Princess Mononoke: As far as action films, this is the most exciting film he's made, full of very interesting visual choices. It also is the peak of the action anime films
6. Howl's Moving Castle: Joe Hisaishi's music is vital to all of Miyazaki's films, but for sheer beauty I think this is his most accomplished score.
7. Kiki's Delivery Service - cute in a heartwarming way
8. Ponyo: even cuter but less intriguing concepts
9. Porco Rosso: Just dull. I'm afraid I won't like The Wind Rises because of its historical drama genre because of this film/

September 4, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterClarence

Princess Mononoke was also my first and favorite Miyazaki. It's also the only one I haven't watched with my little sisters. I've loved showing them his movies because they are endlessly inventive, intelligent, and beautifully animated. Also the characters are always well written and complex(especially the females). It's rare to find all those qualities in entertainment for children. Even though his films are certainly not just for kids. It's sad to know he's retiring ,but the world of cinema is much richer for the contribution he has made. I hope he will still be involved with studio Ghibli's productions in some capacity.

September 4, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterTy

Mine is "Spirited Away". It was the first Miyazaki film I ever saw, and I was completely blown away by its richness and particular universe... I've been blown away again by most of his films that I saw afterwards... But we always remeber the first time fondly :-)

I hope he'll get bored after two years of retirement and will decide to return, as Takahata is doing right now...

September 4, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterCCA

I don't know if I can handle a world in which Miyazaki isn't still working. That being said, I don't think Miyazaki can handle that world either, so we'll probably all be fine.

September 4, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJoe K

I don't think it was the first movie I ever watched but "My Neighbor Totoro" is the first movie I remember watching beginning to end and the first movie I fell in love with. I cannot imagine my childhood without Totoro, the cat-bus, the dust bunnies or Mei's giant mouth; nor can I imagine life without his collection of masterworks.

September 4, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJJsDiner

I was first introduced to Miyazaki decades ago when I began importing Japanese laser discs (!) and had heard great things about him. My first Miyazaki film was "Tonari no Totoro" and though I only understood about three words of Japanese I still fell in love with the film. It wasn't until years later when they began subbing/dubbing them for U.S. markets that I actually discovered what they were saying. Either way, I looked forward to one day having a child of my own to share that movie with (and many years later I did!).

After Totoro I imported KiKi, which was a little harder to understand exactly what was going on without knowing the language. After that point his films began to appear in America so it was easier to find them. My wife and I went to see "Princess Mononoke" when it played at a local art house cinema, which is how that film should be watched. The big screen suited the size of the animal gods and the ancient forests, and we drove home in contemplative silence at the epic we had just watched. Since then we've viewed and loved the rest of his releases ("Spirited Away" a big favorite), and my 10 years-old daughter still regularly picks out a Miyazaki DVD to settle down for the night with. I hope that his retirement is merely a rest - the world needs at least one more Miyazaki film!!!

September 4, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterOld Oscar

So happy to read all this Miyazaki love! I saw The Wind Rises in Telluride and was so disappointed with the anemic turnout. I got there 2.5 hours early because I was afraid I wouldn't get in and the theater ended up only being about half full for the film. I told my husband I guess I just live in a little bubble where Miyazaki is considered a god, but I'm glad to see other people live in that bubble too! The Wind Rises was a different style (as one would suspect from the plot) although still utterly fantastic. If I had to nitpick, I would just say it seemed a bit too long. Loved it although Totoro will probably always be my favorite.

September 4, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterHannahlily

Totoro is my favorite, with Spirited Away a close second.

September 4, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRC

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