This sad news was announced by Koji Hoshino, head of Studio Ghibli to stunned reporters during a presser at the Venice Film Festival where Miyazaki’s latest work, “The Wind Rises,” screened to enthusiastic response.
Hoshino did not give any further details, saying only that Miyazaki will be holding a briefing in Tokyo next week.
The famously reclusive Miyazaki, who is 72, was not present at the fest.
With a career that started in the 1960’s, Miyazaki is a living legend thanks to more than four decades of hand-drawn classics, including “My Neighbor Totoro,” “Spirited Away,” winner of 2002 animation Oscar, “Howl’s Moving Castle” and “Ponyo.” Though he did not attend the 2002 Oscar ceremony, Miyazaki did travel to Venice in 2005 to receive a Golden Lion for career achievement in 2005.
Set between the two World Wars, “The Winds Rises” is an epic with an anti-war slant. It traces the career of famed “Zero” fighter designer Jiro Horikoshi, while mixing in a story of tragic love based on the 1938 novelette “Kaze Tachinu” (The Wind Has Risen) by Tatsuo Hori.
Popular on Variety
In Japan, “Wind” has grossed more than $80 million after 6 weeks in release.
Miyazaki recently denied any intention to retire. But his pace is slowing, at least as a helmer.
“The Winds Rises” is his first feature toon in five years, though he has been busy as a script writer and supervisor for other pics from Studio Ghibli, the toon house he co-founded, including “The Secret World of Arrietty” (2010) and “From Up on Poppy Hill” (2011).
Mark Schilling in Tokyo contributed to this report.