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Hayao Miyazaki prepares to cast one last spell (nytimes.com)
284 points by cmsefton 58 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 168 comments

So what is left for Ghibli?

On one hand, it is one of the few studios whose name is a quality stamp in and by itself. But unlike Disney and Pixar it doesn't seem like they've managed to foster or acquire talent to continue the studio.

Who is left to continue the legacy?

- Hayao Miyazaki is 80, and likely won't be able to make more movies after this one.

- Isao Takahata (Only yesterday, Yamadas and Kaguya Hime) has passed away.

- Yoshifumi Kondo (whisper of the heart) was set to be a new generation for Ghibli, but tragically died in the late 90s.

- Hiromasa Yonebayashi (When Marnie was there, Arietty) left and started his own Studio.

And then there is Goro Miyazaki, who I think is being overly harshly criticized. I didn't enjoy Earthsea, but its not like other directors don't have misses in their early career[1]. I haven't seen Ronja, but I've heard good things about it and Up on Poppy Hill is as great as any Ghibli film. Earwig and the Witch doesn't look all that great, but it is a strait-to-tv movie being released in cinema. But even so, that isn't a strong contender for continuing Ghibli.

So what is left? Is the studio gonna die out?

[1] I went to see a Makoto Shinkai (Your Name) movie festival, and some of his early work was less than impressive.

Ghibli has always been synonymous with Miyazaki and Takahata. I think it's fine for the studio to fade away or disband after the two founders exit the stage, their legacy will endure.

Goro's story is tragic. By all accounts Miyazaki is far from the perfect father, to put it mildly, and it's difficult enough to live up to the reputation of someone like Miyazaki even under the best circumstances. The only example I can think of where a son matches the reputation of a 1st rate artist father is the Scarlatti family. Although I think Goro has redeemed some of his reputation with Poppy hill.

Speaking of Shinkai, his Children who Chase Lost Voices is the finest Miyazaki/Ghibli pastiche I have ever seen, and very underrated. It may lack the emotional depth of Miyazaki's best works, but then that's something Miyazaki himself sometimes failed to do. As a homage it certainly is more than adequate.

Goro's story is tragic. By all accounts Miyazaki is far from the perfect father, to put it mildly, and it's difficult enough to live up to the reputation of someone like Miyazaki even under the best circumstances. The only example I can think of where a son matches the reputation of a 1st rate artist father is the Scarlatti family.

It reminds me of Jiro Dreams of Sushi in a way, where Jiro, as masterful at making sushi as Miyazaki is at making movies, has two sons. The older son is expected to live up to his father's name. Not surpass his father, not put his twist on things, but to do everything in just the same way so that one day he can take over the restaurant. As such, he is treated very much like a 50-something trainee and will likely never step out of his father's shadow (Jiro's younger son already has his own successful sushi restaurant). I feel like Goro is in the same situation. He's expected to do everything like his father, even if he doesn't want to or if his talents are better suited to something else. I don't know if this is a universal thing for successful, controlling people, or if there is something particular about Japanese culture at play here (I know, 2 points don't necessarily make a trend).

As far as artistic families where a child matches or succeeds their first rate father, I'd have to say Andrew Wyeth is a more impressive artist than N. C.

In this case, the elder Miyazaki did not want his son to go into the business at all, and after Earthsea, also wanted him to stop. It's a different but similarly difficult dynamic.

The "problem" is that, in Japan, Ghibli is much more than a studio movie. It's a profit machine for merchandise, books, and theme parks. You can't just let that fade away.

Disney itself went through rough patches, where the new generations either defected (Don Bluth) or disappointed. Ghibli started going through that; Gorō Miyazaki can keep the flame alive for the time being, but nobody is under the impression that he can take it to new and sunny uplands. The question is whether they can find somebody who can, in the way Disney got Michael Eisner. What they really need now is a successor to Toshio Suzuki who can attract new talent the way Suzuki used to do.

> You can't just let that fade away.

A westerner would say that, but it's far more appropriate for Disney than Ghibli. Ghibli will fade away. Miyazaki is an auteur. You won't recreate him.

That's rose-tinted glasses speaking. Ghibli today is not just Hayao and Gorō Miyazaki like it wasn't just Hayao and Isao Takahata before. Everyone likes money, even (or rather, especially) Japanese animators; the Japanese have a very prosaic approach to their IP. All the moves from Toshio Suzuki over the last decade indicate that he is trying to negotiate a creative transition to keep the show going. Whether he can do it in his lifetime or not, that's another question, but IMHO there is no doubt that he's trying hard.

While Eisner was great at keeping the lights on, Lassiter was the one who brought back the magic. I didn’t care much of any of Bluth’s work either, but you are absolutely right about a long “rough patch” and it’s existence does not mean the end.

I don't know man, Aladdin was a masterpiece. Lasseter is cool but some of the '90s stuff is <chef kiss>

Shifting from being a movie studio to an IP management company might make sense.

Yes. Nintendo spent decades as an also-ran novelty company before Hiroshi Yamauchi had the foresight to go all-in on video games. Ghibli is obviously a very different company, but with Goro's continued involvement, it seems like it will follow the example of many Japanese firms of essentially being a legal business entity that represents the founding family until - and even after - it happens upon an application that can be sustained by personnel outside the family. In other words, what Ghibli makes doesn't necessarily matter to its continued existence, I think.

Yeah but they don't really have a leadership that can countenance that at the moment. Everyone, from Suzuki and old man Hayao down, is fundamentally a creative, not an admin.

> Ghibli has always been synonymous with Miyazaki and Takahata. I think it's fine for the studio to fade away or disband after the two founders exit the stage, their legacy will endure.

Perhaps Disney should have as well. Would have spared the world "The Love Bug", "The Apple Dumpling Gang", etc.

> of a 1st rate artist fathe

Going on a tangent here, but I'd say Jean Renoir was as good at making movies as his father was at being a painter, imo he was even more important for the history of the art of cinema than his father was the history of painting as an art.

The question of "how do academic families arise?" is an interesting one. Off the top of my head, the Huxley, Darwin, and Witten families. Perhaps it's the irrational, human desire to map meaning where there is none?

Clint Eastwood is 11 years older than Miyazaki and still directs movies. I wouldn't be surprised if Miyazaki comes back for yet another movie in a few years!

On the other hand, Ghibli owns a bunch of highly valuable IP. When it comes to business, they could easily survive for decades selling stuffed Totoro and Catbus figures.

I don't think Miyazaki will allow his works to be adapted or remade during his lifetime, but once he's gone the new management might find it hard to resist licensing deals with Hollywood. I for one would love to see someone like Denis Villeneuve take a stab at Nausicaa (the manga version, not the anime) one day. Due to time and budget constraints, Miyazaki's own film barely scratches the surface of the epic saga he had envisioned.

I'd rather James Cameron. Avatar is a closer visual relative to Nausicaa than Villaneuve's Dune, and his long-standing desire to see Gunnm adapted (which he eventually passed to Robert Rodriguez so it could actually get done) tells me that he has a respect for both the originating medium and a lot of the elements that also make Nausicaa work. The two works have very different tones, of course, but so do Nausicaa and everything V's done.

The film sure looks like Avatar. The 7-volume manga series, on the other hand, feels more like Dune, especially after the second or third book. It goes much deeper into the ecological and political history of Nausicaa's world, shoving her unwilling into the middle of a world war and shaping her to become a different kind of Messiah figure than the cute version of the film. The landscape outside of the Valley of Wind is far from the lush green of Pandora, and in fact is just as deadly as Arrakis is. Also, giant worms.

But if James Cameron takes an interest in the Nausicaa universe, he'll probably develop an actual flying contraption that looks and works just like the moeve! Absolutely no complaints about that, either. :)

True, but I also look at JC's work on Terminator 2. If anyone has experience with directing films about a post-apocalypse filled with unfathomably advanced tech which has it out for contemporary humans, it's him.

I also don't know if Villaneuve can handle the Sea of Corruption. So even if he's good with later parts, he fumbles the intro.

Maybe go the Harry Potter route.

Fair point, I'm fine with either. One of the great things about adaptations and remakes -- as long as they don't do it too often -- is that we get to see different interpretations of the source material.

>Who is left to continue the legacy?

Let it die, everything else you list, Disney/Pixar are shadows of their former self.

Things don't have to go on forever and ever, the things they made are still great and at least then they won't be ruined like the great works of Pixar are with sequels.

I'd rather never have another Ghibli movie ever again than have them become what Disney and Pixar are today.

When was Disney the greatest? I enjoyed 90s Disney.

Considering Ghibli hasn't been active in cel-based animation production for a few years in the feature film space, it's entirely possible that after this next movie they won't be doing much cel animation anymore (unless Miyazaki Hayao ends up making another movie when he's 90). Though it would be great if they could use their resources to become an incubator or sorts, to find talent that might be able to keep the spirit alive.

Goro probably needs to find his own niche, he had the pressure on him too early in his career. His work inside Ghibli the last few years also has been computer animation based, so it's clear that Ghibli as a company overall is actually larger and more flexible than what it sounds like in these Miyazaki Hayao-focused articles.

I'm curious of others' thoughts on Shinkai's "Kumo no Mukou, Yakusoku no Basho" (which was given the unfortunate title of "The Place Promised in our Early Days" ) which was Shinkai's first feature-length work. I actually resonated quite a bit with the characters and their project, though I could see how the angst that develops between them could be construed as overblown. It's not long enough of a movie to fully develop the "what" and "why" but I think it covers the most critical aspects. It's also quite pretty, but that's something shared with everything else he's worked on- the focus in particular on light and reflection, and skies. I met him at a convention a while back and asked about what influenced his style of handling light and color in skies and his answer was basically that he used to spend a lot of time outside (which makes sense, he's from Nagano which is quite mountainous and known for being very scenic). Anyway, Shinkai has only ever treated one subject- distance between people- from various angles, and has only directed films he also wrote himself.

"Weathering With You" is my favorite among his works. Its the closest one to a Ghibli film.

How I wish Satoshi Kon is still around making great films...

You forgot Joe Hisashi, probably one of the most defining characteristics of a Ghibli flim. He's still active though, as far as I know.

I didn't forget him, as I don't expect him to direct any films. But I agree that his music is very important for Ghiblis success.

I saw him in a concert right when covid was starting and I think he's back and performing again. He's such an amazing composer and he seems so kind and energetic, just based on his mannerisms from afar.

As long as they have people they’ll continue. Maybe we’ll be surprised by someone that hasn’t been on the radar at all until now?

> I went to see a Makoto Shinkai (Your Name) movie festival, and some of his early work was less than impressive.

whaaaaa? Everything that he's written (which is everything except his first two and fifth short film) has hit.

Not surprising, but sort of disappointing that the writer thinks that modern Japanese culture so heavily defined by its interactions with the West, esp. from WWII. It's not that it's untrue or incorrect, it's just that Japan is more complicated than that. Lots of old paradoxes and influences that don't really lend themselves to a neat thesis. You're doomed to fall short, like when you try to explain a beautiful dream to someone who didn't see it.

A lot of USA's current culture is from our interactions with Japan and Germany from WW2. I mean... Capt. America, Superman, Wonder Woman to name a few... but also Rosie the Riveter, Baby Boomers (and their children: the Echo Boomers), etc. etc...

It turns out that WW2 was a big cultural event, no matter what side you fought on.

WW1 had a strong effect too.

Even where I live, Brazil:

The most popular dinner dish is called "french bread", and it is a Brazillian imitation of french baguette, invented after Brazillian soldiers came home from WW1 and tried to copy the baguette. (yep, Brazil fought on WW1 and WW2! it was truly world wars! Just numbered wrong, Napoleon caused the first real world war)

> Napoleon caused the first real world war

If yuo don't count the 7 years war.

WW2 is THE defining moment of the XX century. In 200 years time, we will have forgotten everything about Watergate, red/black terrorism, punk, vinyl, the Space Race, ICE engines, the labor movement, sexual revolution, Beatles and Rolling Stones - but kids in school will still have to learn about the Nazis and the Soviets and Pearl Harbor, in the same way today we have to know about the French Revolution - because it fundamentally altered the cultural and political setup of the world in ways that have been felt ever since.

One of the things kicking around the back of my brain is that we won't have forgotten this stuff 200 years from now, because it happened within living memory of people who were around during the rise of effectively infinite digital storage and searching. We remember a lot more than you suggest from the 17th-19th centuries, and the recorder is functionally "clicked on" from about 1900 forward; that's only ramped up.

You see this a lot with music services, and with the way that availability has shaped musical tastes in younger folks. It isn't uncommon to have people who are much older than me really into modern pop, and it isn't uncommon to have people who are much younger than me listening enthusiastically to stuff made twenty years before they were born. Obviously both sets of people existed before Spotify etc. - but now anybody can be those people without effort, and it has created an effect where older stuff is never really ejected from the mental map of "music listeners". You can, if you listen and have a breadth of understanding, know when a piece of music was written in the last ~30 years or so, but there's a leveling effect where it's all just part of the library now.

Barring significant events(tm), we aren't going to forget much of anything going forward. It's just going to be a question of who was driven, either intentionally or by accident, to trawl the right archives.

I disagree, we have a choice to learn or remember, but the effect of communism, the Republican Party not being the party of trump, China not being communist for decades, life before internet or bottled water is long forgotten.

Anyone can play music, not everyone can read tomes of history.

I find that hard to believe. 200 years ago was the early 1800s. We have hardly "forgotten everything" about Beethoven, Dickens, the abolitionist movement, the war of 1812, etc. I can almost guarantee in another 200 years, the civil rights movement, the vietnam war, the cold war, and the beatles will all be taught to some degree or another.

I'm sure you can walk down the street and ask people "do you remember the war of 1812" and most will answer "wut?".

Obviously historians will care, but society as a whole won't. We barely remember the 1960s.

In the US, they sing a song about the war of 1812 before every major event. People might not remember the details, but it's fully baked into our culture.

Do you remember your President Nixon?

Do you remember the bills you had to pay?

Or even yesterday?

(Sorry, this young American couldn't help it.)

Everyone still talks about slavery’s effects.

I think that's because race issues are still very much (and sadly) a thing in 2021, and understanding race issues in historical context is very important. Also slavery still exists to this day.

Race issues are an issue everywhere. No study of American slavery would help any race issues today, nor has it ever.

I guess we'll have to strongly disagree on this

Anecdotally, I was taught much more about the Industrial Revolution than the French Revolution; and plenty of the musical names from 200-300 years ago — Bethoven, Schubert, Bach, Mozart — were ones I listened to on Classic FM in my school years[0].

Certainly most culture will be forgotten (the Wikipedia list of 18th and 19th C. classical composers are 676 and 1620 long respectively)… but I can say much the same of their timeline of the 18th century[1], including a famine that killed 10%-20% of Ireland[2], and the 7 years war[3].

[0] I blame the “Mozart effect” getting in the news at the time, but still.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timeline_of_the_18th_century

[2] I’m embarrassed but not surprised this wasn’t part of my British education

[3] If anything, I’m confused this wasn’t part of my British education

The 7 years war was just that, a war over territories - as such, it's fundamentally forgotten. The French Revolution, on the other hand, was a cultural upheaval that affected society everywhere, so it's still mentioned. Obviously the British have an interest in downplaying it, like the Irish famine, but still it cannot be ignored.

Was the French Revolution as close to “pure evil” as any thing/event could be? And a cause, for all time, for red faced shame on the part of French speaking persons the world over?

No, but it was as controversial an event as it could ever be - it polarized pretty much every aspect of society across the entire continent. There is a Before and After that event that affected pretty much every European country, and most of the following century (arguably all the way to WW2) was fought over whether that event and its principles were Good or Bad. Even countries that were left somewhat unscathed, like Britain, still defined themselves (for a very long time) in antithesis to what the event generated (Napoleon).

No. It wasn’t great but look up Pol Pot.

What do you mean by interactions? Immigration? Because many germans immigrated because of the Nazis and brought their culture to the US

I would say "being actively at war and shooting each other" counts as interaction.

But is that a kind of interaction that leads to cultural exchange?

Cultural exchange isn't what the parent post suggested though. More that a lot of modern American culture has emerged as the result of the war with Germany and Japan - popular comic book heroes being one of them. Capitan American beating up Nazis wouldn't be a thing if well, you weren't at war with the Nazis.


The creation of Israel (largely as the world reacted to the horrors of the Holocaust). The creation of Atomic weapons. The use of total war upon each other. The damage and/or total loss of cities (not just Hiroshima and Nagasaki, but also Tokyo firebombings, Stalingrad, Dresden, Nanking, Manila). The creation of rockets (V2, which directly led to Space technology). The creation of cruise missiles (V1). The creation of Aircraft Carriers.

The rise of propaganda around the world. The rise of ideology associated with that propaganda (Capitalism, Fascism, and Communism). Fascism mostly died out but Capitalism / Communism grew stronger after the war.

WW1, the "great war", was thought to be the defining moment of the 1900s. Instead, an even greater and bigger war was fought that almost completely overshadowed WW1.


After the war, when peace was finally established, everyone shared in the pain and loss associated with the war.

> "The use of total war upon each other."

Huh? Total war was the standard practice for millennia.

Which millennia?

Lets take the Siege of Leningrad / St. Petersberg, well accepted by historians to be an attempted Genocide against the Slavs. Hitler's plan was to kill everyone in the city, and Hitler's methodology was starvation (cut off the food supply, and watch everyone die inside the city).

No matter how you look at it, Leningrad was an atrocity on a massive scale. With over 3-million dead in this singular siege alone, I think we can safely declare the Siege of Leningrad to be the biggest loss-of-life in a __singular__ military operation ever... albeit spread over multiple years (it was a big campaign), but a singular operation nonetheless.

Nothing else in history compares. Not the atomic bombs in Nagasaki or Hiroshima. Not the Toyko firebomings. Not even Holocaust (because the "Operation Barbarossa" was ~20-million dead, far dwarfing the Holocaust. Leningrad was just one piece of the overall plan).


That's what I mean by total war. War on a scale and scope so massive, it makes the rest of history look puny in comparison.

Arguably the attacks on say, Nanking or Manila, are more akin to historical (with soldiers raping and pillaging as they see fit). I can find historical examples similar to Nanking / Manila for certain (Mongols or whatever). But not even the Mongols starved 3+ million to death in an explicit campaign of genocide in a singular military operation (The Mongols, as "evil" as they were, sought conquest and not genocide on this scale)

And we've got all sorts of bad examples to choose from WW2. Tokyo, Nagasaki, Hiroshima, Dresden, Berlin, Leningrad, Stalingrad.


You won't see Joan of Arc destroying cities on this scale... nor William , nor King Henry. Some of the Crusades were known to be bloody... but even the Siege of Jerusalem (1st Crusade) resulted in "only" 70,000 deaths, a number that is far smaller than the total-warfare of the WW2 era.

Well... maybe William the Conqueror did destroy a few towns actually, if I recall. But not on anything approaching WW2 scales.

> With over 3-million dead in this singular siege alone, I think we can safely declare the Siege of Leningrad to be the biggest loss-of-life in a __singular__ military operation ever... [...]

> Nothing else in history compares. That's what I mean by total war. War on a scale and scope so massive, it makes the rest of history look puny in comparison.

> Mongols or whatever [...] but not even the Mongols starved 3+ million to death in an explicit campaign of genocide in a singular military operation.

The mongols killed up to 2 million people in less than two weeks just laying siege to one city: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Siege_of_Baghdad_(1258)

Is that 3 million? No, but Leningrad clearly isn't some singular event in human history when it comes to casualties.

> The mongols killed up to 2 million people in less than two weeks

I very much doubt that account. The Holocaust was 15,000 deaths-per-day at its peak, and that was a fully industrialized gas-and-bury operation.

2-million in 2 weeks is 140,000 people killed per day, or roughly 10x "more efficient" than the Holocaust at its peak.

I have severe doubts that the Mongols in the 1200s had the efficiency of the Nazi genocide operation. Just from technology alone: the Nazis were able to use poison gas and bullets to quickly and efficiently kill, as well as the use of fully loaded Trains and logistics to ensure that these death-machines were operating at maximum efficiency.

Absolutely agree with a small nitpick. My read of (more recent) history leads me to the idea that the distinction between capitalist and communist nations incrementally eroded (think 1970s onward) until true fascism (merger of corp and state) re-emerged and became the dominant organizing principle for most of the world.

In my humble opinion it should be no surprise that the mere existence of a state itself establishes perverse incentives for corporations to leverage until their power is at least comparable. To that end the state becomes an arm of corporate hegemony and we are left with simple fascism.

What I think confuses the majority of people is that within the left-right paradigm, the current crop of fascists claim to be left-leaning where fascism was understood to be a right-wing ideology. No one asked, but if they did, I would tell them that it's still a far-right ideology, the powers that be are actually far-right, and they use pathological altruism, compassion and politeness (i.e. typical leftism) as a cover for their operations (e.g. "Think of the children")

This is a pretty good analogy, because nobody ever wants to hear about your dreams.

Coincidentally, check out Kurosawa’s Dreams, an anthology of dreams of his really worth watching.

I usually do like to hear about dreams

Sharing dreams is great and I love hearing them

And five minutes into someone describing what seems like a very boring dream will drive anyone batty.

Not all dreams are boring.

And lots of people understand about effective storytelling.

It's not any more dishonest to "focus" and craft a narrative that has a dream as its source material than it is to do the same for any other source material.

Same. Who are these supposed people who don't?

I like hearing dreams because it tells me something about the other person’s psyche, which is interesting.

>that modern Japanese culture so heavily defined by its interactions with the West

It's maybe a small detail: The hero picture of the article shows Miyazaki in front of his atelier near Studio Ghibli with an old German mailbox ("Postkasten") next to him.

It should be noted that Japan has a very special and long history with German Countries. Germans brought modern western medical knowledge to Japan in the 17th. Century, influencing the country to the point that the language used in the medical sector was German (AFAIK still is today to some degree). In the 19th. Century when Japan was forced to open itself to the world, Japan had a friendship and treaty with the German state Prussia, which helped to modernize Japans industry and society. The whole education-system at the time was basically imported from there, to the point that the iconic look of Japanese pupils today are going back to Prussia.

That mailbox is in similar style, it's very old and the design is so classic that the word on it is not even common any more today.

And the very name Ghibli comes from an Italian plane: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caproni_Ca.309

You'll also notice that the manufacturer, Caproni, is the same guy who shows up in all of the dream sequences in The Wind Rises. Also, IIRC, the engine in Porco Rosso's plane is from a Ghibli.

Princess Mononoke changed my life. It was the first Ghibli film I saw, and I only saw it for the first time about a year ago (yes, I'm aware I'm rather late to the party). Every preconception I had about how a movie had to be made, or how stories ought to be told, was completely swept away. One of those moments where I can clearly delineate the person I was before watching from the person I was after.

Miyazaki is a master of his craft. I aspire to tell stories like him one day.

The film had a profound impact on my teenage years as well after watching it late one night on satellite HBO. I had the soundtrack on my pre-iPod Archos and torrented all of Ghibli's other films on 56k dialup.

It kept me involved in learning Japanese and eventually teaching English in Hokkaido. I even tried building a film and video startup contemporaneously with YouTube, but without the skills and VC connections.

I also made a bunch of dumb films with my friends that would embarrass me if I found them today. The memories are good, though.

I bought Miramax's (the US distributor) old marketing website for Princess Mononoke when they let it expire in 2002, and I kept it online (mostly) :


This year I find myself building a film-related startup yet again, but now with 15+ years of experience at my back and funds from an IPO exit. Maybe I'll succeed. If I do, I'll have to credit Miyazaki and Mononoke Hime in part for inspiring my journey.

That's awesome, man. Both the conservationist effort (have you talked to the Internet Archive yet?) and the subsequent inspired efforts.

The best art is what inspires others to make art themselves.

Wow - that site so very 90s!

Thank you for preserving it.

I know it makes me sound like a snob, but Ghibli has spoiled me. I don't enjoy Disney animated movies anymore, like at all.

Disney is for little kids. Ghibli is for older kids.

Do we lump Pixar films under the Disney label? Because Pixar has definitely put out some gems for “older kids” (Inside Out comes to mind). Although, to be fair, even those films tend to spell out the exact bits of wisdom they are imparting rather than letting audiences find their own treasure buried in a beautiful story.

I wasn’t a big fan of inside out, I much preferred Coco (which is a masterpiece imo)

Huh interesting, I was the exact opposite, I really liked Inside Out but thought Coco was entertaining/ok but obviously everyone enjoys different things! Have you seen The Book of Life? Came out some years before Coco and had similar themes (not exactly the same).

Apart from the senior people that have been there since the beginning and are still directing (albeit slowing their pace and involvements), I imagine Pixar is virtually indistinguishable from Disney's animation studios.

I think I can say the same, although I first watched it in an artsy downtown theater at a live screening 20+ years ago when it was first released in the US with English dubbing.

>One of those moments where I can clearly delineate the person I was before watching from the person I was after.

I think I know what you mean, for me it was Kill Bill.

Its like something clicked in my head and I have understood what a good movie/story is. And I never just mindlessly watched a movie again.

It’s an extremely traditional story arc, isn’t it?

This is like being presented with eg West Side Story and responding “oh hey but that’s just the same old Romeo and Juliet story isn’t it?”

It really doesn’t matter if you “spoil” most story arcs, because as it turns out, for most stories, it’s not the story arc that matters. On the contrary, if you follow the familiar, recognizable beats and cadences, it gives you a lot more room to experiment and build nuanced meaning, because a lot of the meaning comes pre-established.

An apple is just an apple, until you’ve tried a Gala, and a Honey Crisp, and a Braeburn…they are very different, and you can’t really appreciate that until you've first had some kind of apple.

We are in for the journey.

Is it? I was surprised how complex the heros as well as the antagonists are. One can understand their motivation of all and it has a couple of unpredictable twists.

Compare that to standard Disney movies .. You can guess from the beginning what will happen.

Also watched Mononoke first. My favorites are Naussica and Totoro :) all movies form Miyazaki are amazing and watchable. If you wonder about his skill,check some of the ghibli movies he was not involved in.

So much agree. Naussica and Toroto capture the highest expressions of depth and delight. Though Spirited Away speaks to me more and more...there is a tenderness about the human condition in that film, which becomes a call to courage.

I wouldn't say so. Anticlimax and ambiguity are two of its hallmarks.

in what way? It's one of the rare stories that have no true antagonist, everyone has a point and everyone grows by the end of the film

Like all of Miyazaki’s films?

I don't know, other films (Laputa, Nausicaa, Howl) have more traditional stories with good guys and bad guys

Maybe, but so what?

Kurt Vonnegut wrote about this when he was in graduate school. He noticed, for example, Cinderella and the New Testament have the same story arc.

His advisors rejected the idea for his thesis, but it stuck with him and he wrote about it a few times.

A story arc is just an extremely traditional storyline, isn't it?

I love studio Ghibli movies and Princess Mononoke is the best one I have seen. It is such a powerful, well done movie.

This must be fifth time he plans to film last movie before retirement.

(Not that I mind, we don't have enough Ghibli movies.)

His son Goro Miyazaki's movies haven't been as well-received as his own movies, I guess he can't let his baby go knowing it won't do as well without him.

I found this exchange between a then-retired Hayao Miyazaki and a Japanese tabloid reporter very funny: https://www.kotaku.com.au/2020/11/hayao-miyazaki-asked-about...

I love how he drops an offhand comment about inflation, as if to say “clearly anyone with half a brain knows that nominal box office records are essentially guaranteed to be broken, I can’t believe we actually need to say that out loud”

It sounds a bit like Jiro[1]. Sometimes I wonder if that striving for perfection until you die is as admirable as it is damaging, because it doesn't let the next generation get the necessary experience that they need.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jiro_Dreams_of_Sushi

They said his son’s sushi is just as good, he’s less fearsome and is cheaper in the same documentary you posted.

Yes, the documentary makers noticed (also the part where the Michelin stars were actually earned on a day his son was in charge of the kitchen), but did the regular public? I suspect that was the main point

He said the younger generation didn’t get experience, which is why it’s false.

The NHK “10 years with Miyazaki” is brutal, the tv crew follows him walking out of his son’s film.

To be fair it was bad, it lacks depth and imagination that Hayao has

The most important point, that I enjoyed watching it, was still there.

Goro has had a lot of issue going out of his father shadow and making a name for himself. He didn't really want to be a director in the first place. But after his first movie being a clear copy of his father style, he really started to develop his own identity and his recent productions have been quite innovative and interesting, he even dabbled in full 3d animation which was a big no no for a lot of the old guard of animation in Japan.

He is reportedly working on a new feature film, and I am actually more exited for his project than his father one (but I still would love for a new Hayao movie).

He has 4 works to his name, and I have a bit of a difficulty to attach them to your timeline.

- Tales from Earthsea

- Ronja, the Robber's Daughter, (3D animated, made to look like drawings)

- From Up on Poppy Hill (which I'd excuse anyone from mistaking for a Hayao movie)

- Earwig and the Witch (3D, made to look like cgi)

Basically, from Ronja, I feel like he really started to do his thing and was successful at it. Ofc, From Up on Poppy Hill is a notable exception, and if I remember correctly he worked with his father on this one, but the themes are very much Goro's.

I reckon that he (or more likely Toshio Suzuki, the real brain behind Ghibli) veered "modern" from the start, but understood after the first efforts that Ghibli as a brand must satisfy a core of conservative fans who just want more of the same. So now he's doing something close to "one for me, one for the studio", to balance out the inevitable backlash.

I think he is not as talented as his father but good enough to carry on the family business.

That's in itself a very Japanese thing - making a big declaration, that you "will retire for good, no coming back, ever", but let 3-4 years pass and you're back as if you've never made the declaration. Also happens a lot with Japanese pop bands, they do huge "farewell" shows, there is monthlong talk about how they'll split and pursue other careers, but what actually happens they just take a 1-2 year break. I've come to the conclusion that the "we retire" trick is simply a marketing ploy because it gets the attention of the Japanese domestic audience like nothing else.

It's not strictly a Japanese thing. How many times has Ozzy Osbourne retired now?

Yeah, it's really a boomer thing. That generation just refuses to give up - a blessing and a curse.

It's more a thing of creative people, not boomers. Artist of all trade are retiring and coming back all the time, independent of their age. I would assume that they just have a drive to fulfill, which does not get satisfied enough in retirement. And they simply retire when they feel burned, and come back when they have recharged and found new inspiration.

It is a very Japanese culture thing in which loyal workers to a company are retired or promoted at middle age and they come out of retirement to work at convenience stores or menial jobs because they aren’t given social security. Repeated retirements aren’t Japanese though.

He's like Daniel Day Lewis at this point. He's could stop now and have had a full life, but some movies just call to you.

It’s weird because I remember being young when he said that the first time, how old is he now?

He's worse than Brett Farve

Yet better in nearly every way.

This article seemed more like an overview of the artist and his work, but what about the movie? Is there any information on it?

I just don't get articles like this. Whatever content there is - interview, biography and essay about his work - is blown into a thousand pieces and smeared across 10 pages. How is this enjoyable to anyone?

I'd assume the author is paid by the word count and the site gets to insert more adds, so win-win on their side ?

Like most modern journalism, it is just regurgitated PR.

I remember going to The Wind Rises and they said the same thing about it being his last movie. I wish we could skip the PR and just be honest.

it's based on a novel, "How Do You Live?" by Genzaburo Yoshino. this link is provided in the article, a translation was apparently published in anticipation.


Talk about burying the lede!

Info about the movie is right at the bottom:

Neither Miyazaki nor Suzuki will share much about the forthcoming film, beyond the fact that it is based on a 1937 novel by Genzaburo Yoshino. The story concerns a 15-year-old boy in Tokyo, small for his age and fond of mischief, whose father has recently died. In the English translation by Bruno Navasky, published in October, the boy gazes out at the city and is overwhelmed: “The watching self, the self being watched, and furthermore the self becoming conscious of all this, the self observing itself by itself, from afar, all those various selves overlapped in his heart, and suddenly he began to feel dizzy.” The actual content of the film could be anything — Suzuki has described it as “fantasy on a grand scale” — since Miyazaki doesn’t so much borrow stories as liberate them from their origins. (In the pseudobiographical “The Wind Rises,” he gives the real-life Jiro Horikoshi a fictional wife dying of tuberculosis.) All Suzuki will share is that he recognizes himself in one of the characters, who is not human.

It is time. Miyazaki rubs the top of his head and lights a cigarette, one of his signature king-size, charcoal-filtered Seven Stars. I am allowed one last question. “The title of your next film is ‘How Do You Live?,’” I say. “Will you give us the answer?”

The smile comes only after he speaks: “I am making this movie because I do not have the answer.”

Every few years he retires, and then comes back.

He won't really retire until he's dead, I suspect, or so ill he's no longer capable of working. He can't not tell stories.

This makes me so happy, lately the only movies I've been genuinely enjoying are his. There's something healing about his movies.

"healing" might be the most fitting description I could come up with as well for the effect his movies have on me. there is just something very special about his depiction of the world via animation. and if you look at his story boards you will also immediately notice that it's truly his vision which drives these movies and makes them so special. it's no reproducible. truly one-of-a-kind and a generational talent.

It was a magical and surreal experience when I was first introduced to Miyazaki's work.

Shortly after arriving at my duty station in Okinawa I pushed to be assigned to the 31st MEU. Pretty soon I found myself in mainland Japan at the Sasebo naval base. A Marine friend of mine had the initiative to sign a bunch of us up for a bus trip to Nagasaki for the day. The drive was about an hour and a half and the entertainment during the trip was Castle in the Sky. I was deeply moved watching both the film and the picturesque hilly southern Japanese country side roll by. I still feel moved by the experience today.

To the surprise of absolutely no-one.

I feel like Miyazaki has as much chance of not making any films any more as I have of stopping to program.

> Miyazaki’s movies, with their warplanes and intrusions of Western décor and dress, keep circling back to the traumatic moment when Japan, which until the mid-19th century had kept itself closed off to the outside world, was forced to embrace the West and Western values.

This is downright wrong, the Meiji Restoration was when Japan absorbed westernization, not to mention their partial acceptance of Christianity during Imjin War, they were said to be the most open to conversion before suddenly persecuting the Jesuit priests, yet one of the daimyo (renamed Augustine) who was instrumental in the Korean invasion was a devout Christian and was said to have adopted a devout Korean Christian woman, who was certainly Christian enough to be persecuted and is worshipped in both Korea and Japan. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Julia_Ota

It is not outright wrong, just incomplete, and refers to the period of seclusion between 1639 and 1853.

In all, 16th century European Jesuits (and to a much lesser extend: Franciscians) in Japan are a footnote in history, with Daimyo's specifically adapting Christianity in order to have better trade relations (and thus easier access to firearms) with the Portugese (and later Spainards). Stories of high daimyos exclusively converting to Christianity were great success story fodder for the Jesuits to write home to European courts and ask for more money for their mission (and in fact: such tractats and letters have survived, and are available in university libraries today. The most colourful of these writings come from Luís Fróis).

Japanese common-people understanding of Christianity was highly syncretised even back then (as Jesuits adapted Christian stories into plays, and matched story tropes and experiences of their Japanese audience, one famous example is Jesus' apostels morphing into samurai serving their daimyo Jesus). These religious ideas became even more intertwined when Jesuits were not around (e.g. Mary often was fused with Amida Buddha), and when Christianity was banned and Christians were persecuted, several tiny groups were able to survive in hiding (hanare kirishitan) and develop their own dogma which eventually diverged so much from original Christianity that when they resurfaced in the late 1800s, Western Christians did not accept them as compatible. These hanare kirishitan were at risk of extinction in the 1990s.

There is no indication of widespread adoption of Christianity, especially exclusive Christianity even in original Jesuit sources. What did happen was that Christianity was mostly understood as yet another Buddhist sect for most of its 16th century presence. When the Shogunate decided that they weren't (and the Franciscians demanded Spanish military fortifications in Japan, among other incidents), Japanese authorities decided to shut down Christianity.

The Tokugawa era is sometimes described as "Japan's second medieval age", which ended - abruptly so - with Perry's show of force. The assessment that Japan only started westernisation in the aftermath of a traumatic event (the landing of Perry's steam-powered warships in a quasi-medieval society is described by then-living Japanese authors much like we today would write about extraterrestial invasion) is pretty fair.

I misread 19th century as 1900s. I wouldn’t call it Christian adoption, but there was much Christian suppression when many people were converting others, why would they need to be suppressed if it wasn’t widespread? It didn’t need to be commoners, it could be an elite ruling class that was Christian for it to influence society.

Japan had embraced western ideas and they certainly loved the Portuguese guns and were influenced by the west way before WWII in significant ways. I’m very interested in Japanese Christianity, the story sounds fascinating.

The Japanese "ruling class" at that time was extremely small, even by today's standards. Any adoption of Christianity that amounted to anything necessarily would have to have footing in the common people. Which to some extend did happen, either by forced baptisms demanded by the local daimyo (though inspired by and motivated from the local clergy), by some extend by the Jesuits doing charitable work in a century of basically non-stop civil war in which the predominant Buddhist sects concentrated on appealing to the warrior caste.

Persecution of Christians focussed on priests at first (who usually were executed), but became increasingly focussed on the small commoners groups in the 1640s (who usually were given the option to apostate). Unsurprisingly, these efforts were focussed on Kyushu.

Interestingly, we see christianity being syncretised again in Japan today, sometimes in weird and borderline funny concepts like the 'crucified Santa' iconography that has been showing up recently.

A good first primer in early Christianity in Japan that's not an original source is Mullins, Mark (1998). Christianity Made in Japan: A Study of Indigenous Movements. University of Hawaii Press or Boxer, C.R. (1951). The Christian Century in Japan: 1549–1650. University of California Press.

For some information on the hanare kirishitan, the primer would be Whelan, Christal (1996). The beginning of heaven and earth : the sacred book of Japan's hidden Christians. University of Hawaii Press

My understanding is that during the Meiji period Japan imported wholesale those aspects of Western material and political culture that would allow them to achieve some level of parity with Western powers. This is not quite the same thing as “embracing Western values”. And even on that note, I’d question the extent to which postwar Japan has actually adopted Western liberalism as its own value system.

I misread the article at night and thought it was 1900s not 19th century. They sent students abroad. Aside from being less accepting of immigrants how is the effects of their policy different from a European country?

This has happened so many times I'm starting to think this is just how Miyazaki promotes his movies now.

I’ve been watching these movies recently simply because they are so popular — I feel obligated to see them. I was bored by my neighbor totoro. But kikis delivery service absolutely blew me away and I would call it one of the best movies ever made. It astounded me. The story is perfectly paced and the characters mesh with each other, the setting and the story absolutely perfectly. It’s extremely beautiful visually. It should be mandatory viewing in the way that to kill a mockingbird is mandatory reading.

He's totally retiring this time, guys.

I think retiring was more like… not personally running the studio anymore.

The Wind Rises was supposed to be his last feature film.


And so was Spirited Away. And so was even Mononoke Hime. That one was released in 1997. Miyazaki has been serial-retiring for close to 25 years!

The Hideo Kojima of animation

At 80 it's a fair bet.

He has said multiple times that the movie that he has been working on will be his "Final Fantasy" only to make another movie because unless Hayao himself works on the movie no one will watch it. This makes his Studio have an incredible risk if he stops making movies.

I suppose I'll still hold out hope that he'll come out of retirement one more time after this so that he can adapt Vernor Vinge's Rainbows End

I do hope that this one last spell will bring us rollercoaster emotions that will magically last through the end of time.

Long read, but some real gems in there. The ideas that seem to animate Miyazaki’s movies, if you’ll pardon the pun, feel a lot like the ideas that animate most of Jordan Peterson’s lectures. Life is a relentless and unmitigated tragedy, and yet we manage to find (or create!) beauty and wonder all over the place. The author seems to think this acute awareness of the paradox that is life comes from growing up in postwar Japan; I can see how that experience might have been a major influence.

Miyazaki is a literal communist. He supports the JCP. It’s the subtext of like half of Studio Ghibli movies.

Worth mentioning that the JCP is much more of a major mainstream party in Japan than communist parties are in most, or perhaps any, other western developed country.

Miyazaki himself also became somewhat more moderate in the early 90s while working on Nausicaa.

Eh, "major mainstream" is pushing it. They have 0.5% of the seats in the Diet, approximately similar representation in local government, and have never been part of a ruling coalition. Their membership is geriatric and their vote share slowly declining as well. AFAICT, the main reason they command any support is their staunch pacifism/anti-militarism, not economic policy.

Many post-Communist parties in Europe, like Germany's die Linke, have done much better. But unlike the JCP, they've also employed branding consultants and dropped the word "Communist", the hammers and sickles, etc.

They have about 270,000 members. Between both Diet houses they have 23 seats in total, which is 3.2%, not 0.5%. Their share of the popular vote was over 13% in 2014. By any measures that's massively more successful than, say, the Canadian Green Party.

JCP is not a mainstream party.

I think they meant his psychological analysis of Disney movies that are on YouTube. Not JP’s political lectures or etc.

This man has retired more than Sugar Ray Leonard!

Thank god for his multiple last spells

One last time, like Daniel Day-Lewis.

Is there a way around the paywall?

Isn't this his third or fourth "one last movie"?

I believe he's one of those people who won't be able to stop working until he's dead

I seem to remember the same thing, although I won't complain as I absolutely adore his works

I remember him saying it in "The Kingdom of Dreams and Madness" and that was almost a decade ago!

Also if you're a fan of his films, I highly recommend that documentary.

I wish his work wasn’t all tied up in HBO Max in the US.

Many titles can also be purchased on iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/movie-collection/studio-ghibli-6...

Get a VPN and change to Germany. A number of them are available on Netflix here, if memory serves.


In the US HBO Max has the streaming rights to most of the Studio Ghibli content.

At least it’s available for streaming. Didn’t use to be.

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