TORONTO – Legendary Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki has once again backed out of plans to retire and returned with a new film, The Boy And The Heron.
The semi-autobiographical drama, which opens in Singapore cinemas on Nov 30 and has a 97 per cent aggregate critics’ score on review website Rotten Tomatoes, follows a boy, Mahito (Soma Santoki), who stumbles on an abandoned tower and enters a fantastical world with a talking heron.
Earlier in 2023, the lyrical tale about life, loss and friendship was screened for the first time outside Japan at the Toronto International Film Festival in Canada.
The renowned 82-year-old writer-director did not attend the event, but representing the film in his stead was Mr Junichi Nishioka, vice-president of Studio Ghibli.
This is the same Japanese animation studio that produced Miyazaki’s 2001 fantasy Spirited Away, which won the Oscar for Best Animated Feature and is widely considered one of the greatest animated films of all time.
Mr Nishioka says that contrary to reports that The Boy And The Heron will be Miyazaki’s last, the renowned animator is not calling it quits just yet.
Miyazaki has backtracked on multiple retirement announcements over the years, including after Spirited Away and the fantasy epic Princess Mononoke (1997), both huge commercial hits in Japan, and his last movie before this one, the historical drama The Wind Rises (2013).
Speaking through an interpreter on the red carpet in Toronto, Mr Nishioka says: “Other people say that this might be Miyazaki’s last film, but he doesn’t feel that way at all. He is working on ideas for a new film. He comes into his office every day and does that.
“So, this time, he’s not going to announce his retirement at all. He’s continuing working just as he has always done.”