Hayao Miyazaki’s The Wind Rises came out in 2013 to a great deal of acclaim and attention—as, I suppose, do all the movies his Studio Ghibli puts out, so painstakingly have they built up their reputation for medium-transcending depth, artistry, craftsmanship, and attention to detail. But that fictionalized biographical story of Japanese World War II airplane designer Jiro Horikoski received even more notice than most due not just to the controversial nature of its material, but to its place as Miyazaki’s supposed swan song, the last feature film he would ever direct.
Then again, Hayao Miyazaki has spoken of many possible retirements over the years, and no longer animating feature films hardly means the end of his all-consuming impulse to create, which drives him to continue working on Tokyo’s Ghibli Museum and drawing the art for comic books, among other projects. Certain Miyazaki associates have publicly told us not to be surprised if the master one day emerges from this particular “retirement,” but since the man himself seems quite serious about putting full-length pictures behind him, we can assume for now that the clip above shows him at work on the last bit of film animation in his career: The Wind Rises‘ final shot.
The footage comes from last year’s The Kingdom of Dreams and Madness, a documentary on a moment in the life of Studio Ghibli—and possibly one of the last moments in the life of Studio Ghibli, given their announcement of a “brief pause” production as a result of Miyazaki’s retirement. On the subject of the studio’s future Miyazaki speaks bluntly in the documentary: “The future is clear: it’s going to fall apart. I can already see it. What’s the use worrying? It’s inevitable.” But all things do, a fact which the finest works of Japanese art—Miyazaki’s films included—have always accepted. But they also take notice of what small things we can appreciate along the way to dissolution, as does Miyazaki himself: “Isn’t animation fascinating?” he asks, seemingly to himself, as he walks away from the drawing board.
Colin Marshall writes on cities, language, Asia, and men’s style. He’s at work on a book about Los Angeles, A Los Angeles Primer, and the video series The City in Cinema. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.