VENICE, ITALY – Famed director Hayao Miyazaki, the anime master and manga artist who has been compared to Walt Disney, is retiring after a four-decade career, the head of his production company said at the Venice film festival Sunday.
“Miyazaki has decided that ‘Kaze Tachinu’ will be his last film and he will now retire,” Koji Hoshino, head of Studio Ghibli, co-founded by Miyazaki, told reporters in Italy.
The feature-length film, entitled “The Wind Rises” in English, tells the fictional story of a fighter jet designer and is one of 20 movies competing for the Golden Lion award at the festival on the floating city’s Lido island.
Hoshino did not give any further details, saying only that Miyazaki would hold a press briefing in Tokyo. The director himself was not at the film festival.
The 72-year-old Miyazaki has won hearts and accolades around the world in a career that began in the 1960s.
His most famous works internationally have been “Princess Mononoke” and “Spirited Away,” which helped him make the transition from an already widely acclaimed career in Japan to a far broader audience.
“Spirited Away” won an Oscar for best animated feature, the first Japanese film to do so.
He began his career in 1963, working on the anime “Wanwan Chushingura” (“Watchdog Bow Wow”).
His first feature-length film was “The Castle of Cagliostro” (1979), featuring fictional master thief Arsene Lupin invented by manga artist Monkey Punch.
His latest and final work, “The Wind Rises,” has already been well received in Japan but got mixed reactions at the festival.
It centers around the life of Jiro Horikoshi, a wartime fighter plane designer who as a child dreamt of becoming a pilot and went on to design the legendary Mitsubishi A6M Zero fighter aircraft.
“This is the first of Miyazaki’s films that has as its protagonist a real historical figure,” Hoshino said.
Horikoshi’s life “inspired” Miyazaki, he said.
Hoshino drew attention to finely observed historical details in the animation and said it was intended for a wider audience, not just for children.