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Japan's Hayao Miyazaki Insists Decision to Retire Is Final

Hayao Miyazaki - H - 2013
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Hayao Miyazaki

The anime filmmaker is leaving the future of his production house Studio Ghibli in the hands of its young animators.

TOKYO – Hayao Miyazaki on Friday confirmed his retirement, saying at a press conference in Tokyo that he would never make another film of any kind, but that he would still go to his studio every day as long as he could drive there himself.

"I have said before a lot of times that I would retire. So many of you might think it is the same thing once again, but I am serious this time," Miyazaki told a packed press conference attended by media from around the globe. "This will not happen again."

"There were loads of things that I wasn't able to do, but there were reasons why we didn't do them," he added. "There were so many ideas that I had in my mind, but it's not something that I should talk about publicly," said the 72-year-old director, who won an Oscar for the animated Spirited Away in 2003.

Miyazaki's retirement was announced on Sunday by Studio Ghibli's president Koju Hoshino at the Venice Film Festival, where his latest and final film, The Wind Rises, is in competition.  

STORY: Director Hayao Miyazaki to Retire

Studio Ghibli chairman Toshio Suzuki, who appeared at the press conference alongside Miyazaki, said the decision to retire was one they talked through together and that the future of the fabled anime production house lay with its young staff.

"I am a few years younger than Miyazaki, but at 65, I have to think that this old man will not be able to carry on forever either. The young animators at the studio will have to decide what they want to do," said Suzuki.

Studio Ghibli employs a total of around 300 staff, most of them animators.

Miyazaki said his age and failing eyesight were the main reasons behind his decision.

"Many of you probably wonder exactly what an animation director does. But as an animator, I draw. And these days I have to take my glasses off and bend over my desk like this to see what I'm doing," explained Miyazaki as he demonstrated how close he has to be to his drawings these days. "It is really hard work and I can't do it for as long as I once did."

Studio Ghibli productions still rely almost entirely on hand drawn animations, and Miyazaki said he couldn't envisage doing it any other way or delegating more work to other animators.

"It took me five years to make this film from completing Ponyo [on a Cliff by the Sea], and it would probably take me six or seven years to make the next film, because age is slowing me down. So at 72 now, I could be going on 80 by the time I finished another film," said Miyazaki.

Pressed by reporters on whether he might consider a sequel or short film, Miyazaki simply answered "no" and laughed.

However, the anime master, who has also created manga comics, refused to rule out stepping away from his drawing desk entirely.

"I won't make any promises, because I might break them," he said with a smile.

Twitter: @GavinJBlair