Hayao Miyazaki Doesn't Seem Hopeful About Studio Ghibli's Future
Oh no! Say it ain't so! Beloved filmmaker/animator Hayao Miyazaki made a rare trip to the United States this past weekend to receive his honorary Oscar during the Governors Awards. While Studio Ghibli and Miyazaki's films have been nominated for Oscars in the past, including winning one for Spirited Away in 2003, this Oscar comes after Miyazaki announced his retirement so it seems The Academy wanted to honor the man and his cinematic legacy one last time. There were also a few reports earlier this year about Studio Ghibli "shutting down" feature films for good, though details were rather sketchy and it was clarified they were re-working the business rather than closing the doors forever. Now we have real quotes from Miyazaki.
In general, Studio Ghibli doesn't like talking about Miyazaki's retirement or the "shutting down" rumor and requests that no one asks those kind of questions during interviews. However, the fantastic Rebecca Keegan of the LA Times bravely broached these topics with Miyazaki in her interview conducted while he was in town for the Governors Awards. He doesn't say much, but hearing anything straight from Hayao Miyazaki himself is unique, so it's worth highlighting some of his quotes about Studio Ghibli and its future. He says:
Earlier this year some people got the impression that Studio Ghibli was going to stop making new movies. Is that the case?
[Miyazaki-san:] At this point, we're not making a new film. I think we will not be making any feature films to be shown in theaters. That was not my intention, though. All I did was announce that I would be retiring and not making any more features.
Is there not a next generation at the studio who could continue after you and your partner, Isao Takahata?
[Miyazaki-san:] That will depend on their efforts and whether they'll have the fortune, the luck, to be able to make films.
Do you think the medium of hand-drawn animation will continue, if not at Studio Ghibli then somewhere else?
[Miyazaki-san:] If creators have the intent to do hand-drawn animation, there certainly will be opportunities for them to do that. But what might be a difficulty will be the financial considerations. I do think the era of pencil, paper and film is coming to an end.
Read the entire interview in full here, where he also talks about John Lasseter (being invited to his house), The Wind Rises and the manga he's writing. Which actually sounds awesome. "It's about samurai in the 16th century, wearing full armor, battling it out with each other. I was very dissatisfied with the way that era was depicted in fiction and film, so I wanted to draw something that would reflect the way I thought that era should look." Bring it on, I'm looking forward to that, whenever the English translation shows up over here probably 10 years from now. In the meantime, it makes me smile to see Miyazaki honored and treated with such love at the Governors Awards event. Many photos were taken but this one comes from The Academy:
In another Q&A at the Governors Awards, Miyazaki claimed to not know much about the future of Studio Ghibli. However, he did comment again on the "pencil, paper" era of film coming to an end. But, of course, Miyazaki himself will continue to make movies of his own, short films for the museum and other projects, so he's not finished yet. But it sounds like Ghibli is definitely done making feature films for now, with When Marnie Was There the last one to be released in the US. Here's a few more Miyazaki-san quotes via Variety:
"[Hideaki] Anno is a friend of mine so I wish him the best of luck. It will be hard work though. The kind of animation he loves, made with paper and pencils, is dying. I still plan on doing small projects with paper and pencils, but no more feature films."
[…] "I'm working with the museum staff, but as for the whole of Ghibli, I don’t know anymore. I don’t want to get involved in that sort of thing. I’ll be here as long as they let me do what I want to do."
[…] "I intend to work until the day I die. I retired from feature-length films but not from animation. Self-indulgent animation (laughs). It’s nice that I have the mini-theater in the museum."
For now, it sounds like Ghibli is slowing down and re-working and figuring out how to make the next steps. But it doesn't like there are any features currently in the works, and we'll have to wait for updates from here on out. My hope is that something comes together eventually, and we can celebrate their return. Thanks again to the LA Times for the wonderful Miyazaki interview. In addition, you can watch Hayao Miyazaki receive his Honorary Oscar at the Governors Awards ceremony in these videos posted by The Academy:
That's the latest update from Hayao Miyazaki. I love what Lasseter says about how his films contain such a beautiful mix of "ideas, images, emotions" - it's all so true. Thank you, John Lasseter, for that lovely tribute.
I wish we knew more about the future of Studio Ghibli, but in the meantime we can celebrate their work in many different ways. Isao Takahata's The Tale of Princess Kaguya is playing in US theaters right now, so you can catch it on the big screen. When Marnie Was There will likely be released sometime in 2015. There's also Miyazaki's final film The Wind Rises, available on Blu-ray soon, still being discovered by animation lovers of all kinds. While the future of Ghibli may be uncertain, at least Hayao Miyazaki is getting the respect and acclaim he deserves between awards and appreciation. We hope you live forever, Miyazaki.