Sunday's abrupt announcement that noted film director Hayao Miyazaki, 72, will retire drew quick and widespread public attention, with some paying tribute to the decades-long master of animation while others were in disbelief over his decision.

"Miyazaki has decided that 'Kaze Tachinu' ('The Wind Rises') will be his last film and he will now retire," Koji Hoshino, head of Studio Ghibli, co-founded by Miyazaki, told reporters at the Venice film festival Sunday.

"The Wind Rises" features the real-life story of the young aircraft designer Jiro Horikoshi. Set in the 1930s, the film depicts an expansionist Japan as it recovered from the devastating 1923 Kanto Earthquake and marched blindly toward war. Horikoshi designed the famed Mitsubishi A6M "Zero" fighter.