Rich, famous, semi-retired people commonly take up good causes (based on whatever they define as "good"), but animation maestro Hayao Miyazaki does things differently.

Instead of penning an op-ed or speaking at a rally, he recently invited members of the The Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan to his studio in Tokyo's Higashi Koganei neighborhood for a freewheeling Q&A, in which he expressed opposition to nearly everything Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's government is doing: from Constitution revision to the construction of a U.S. Marine Corps base in Henoko, Okinawa.

"(Japan is) going in the completely wrong direction," Miyazaki said.

Given that prominent figures in Japanese show business rarely express controversial views on anything, Miyazaki deserves credit for speaking out, though repercussions from his remarks are likely to be minimal. At this stage in his career, it's like Zeus hurling thunderbolts from Olympus. Who can touch him?

I was more impressed by what I recently saw in Mami Sunada's "Yume to Kyoki no Okoku" ("The Kingdom of Dreams and Madness"), her 2014 documentary on Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli. In the film, Miyazaki shows Sunada an album of photos that he shot in his Tokyo neighborhood, mostly of ordinary people doing ordinary things — including cleaning the local river — and he casually mentions that he pitches in on his days off. Hearing that, I wondered how many other Oscar winners, here or anywhere, spend their Sundays picking trash from a river.

That I don't know, but I do know this: It's high time for this film critic to put his waders on.