Hayao Miyazaki: The never-ending story
Last week, an NHK documentary chronicling Hayao Miyazaki’s retirement and un-retirement, “Never-Ending Man: Hayao Miyazaki” opened in select theaters across the United States. The same day on the other side of the world, his 1988 classic “My Neighbor Totoro” was released for the first time in theaters across China — 6,000 of them.
Next month, Miyazaki will receive the Los Angeles Film Critics Association’s Career Achievement Award. In 2019, also in LA, the largest-ever exhibition of his work will inaugurate the prestigious Academy Museum of Motion Pictures.
Meanwhile, in Japan, Tokyo’s Shinbashi Enbujo Theater will stage a kabuki version of “Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind,” Miyazaki’s 1984 sci-fi epic. And 2020 (or soon after) will see the premiere of “How Do You Live?,” his 12th feature film, followed by the opening of a Studio Ghibli theme park near Nagoya.
Miyazaki held a press conference to announce his retirement in September 2013.
“Through the years I have frequently talked about retiring, so many of you are perhaps wondering if this time I am really sincere,” he said. “I am.”
The Japanese anime and film industries were convulsed by the news.
Commercially, no more Miyazaki meant no more bankable nationwide summer releases in Japan for major film distributor Toho Cinemas, or DVD and subsidiary sales overseas for global partners like Disney. Artistically, Miyazaki was the last living master of a craft being trampled by technology — hand-drawn 2D animation. No more him meant the end of an art form.