Legendary Director Hayao Miyazaki Returns from Retirement for New Film

Miyazaki is famous for powerful, girl-centric movies such as Spirited Away and Princess Mononoke.

Japanese media giant NHK aired a recent television special, Owaranai Hito Miyazaki Hayao (“The Man Who Is Not Done: Hayao Miyazaki”). In the special, iconic Japanese film director and animator Hayao Miyazaki announced his return to the world of animation with a brand new film. Miyazaki officially retired three years ago, after directing the biographical anime The Wind Rises.

San from "Princess Mononoke"
San from “Princess Mononoke”

“Many of my movies have strong female leads — brave, self-sufficient girls that don’t think twice about fighting for what they believe with all their heart,” he said. “They’ll need a friend, or a supporter, but never a savior. Any woman is just as capable of being a hero as any man.”

That philosophy led Miyazaki to create some of the most enduring young female protagonists in the history of cinema. Chihiro who saves her parents in Spirited Away, San, raised by wolves, who protects the forest from the encroachment of men who would destroy nature, or Mei and Satsuki, two sisters who befriend the spirits that live all around them without fear in My Neighbor Totoro.

Unlike Disney’s female-led films, Miyazaki felt that romance did not need to be an integral part of stories featuring girls and women.

Mei and Satsuki from "My Neighbor Totoro"
Mei and Satsuki from “My Neighbor Totoro”

“I’ve become skeptical of the unwritten rule that just because a boy and girl appear in the same feature, a romance must ensue,” he said. “Rather, I want to portray a slightly different relationship, one where the two mutually inspire each other to live – if I’m able to, then perhaps I’ll be closer to portraying a true expression of love.”

In retirement, Miyazaki was working on the short film Kemushi no Boro (“Boro the Caterpillar”), for the Ghibli Museum, which celebrates films from the studio he founded. While working on the short, he was so pleased with how it was developing that he decided to expand it to a feature film,

Miyazaki predicted that it will take him at most five years to complete the movie — at which time he would 80He hopes it will be ready for release in 2019, since the Olympics are returning to Tokyo in 2020.