Retiring Auteur Remains Animated

Article excerpt

Hayao Miyazaki explains his vision for Oscar-nommed The Wind Rises'

You'd think that after announcing his retirement from the feature film biz last year, 73-year-old Japanese animation legend Hayao Miyazaki, never one to seek out press, would be welcoming a time of quietude.

But with a third Oscar nomination in his pocket for "The Wind Rises," which has earned $112 million in Japan, and with an English-language version to be released in the U.S. by Disney on Feb. 21, Miyazaki's days are far from innocuous.

"The Wind Rises" tells the story of Jiro Horikoshi, the designer of the A6M fighter plane, known in WWII as the Zero, and is a celebration of engineering as art, hewing close to the themes of Miyazaki's previous Academy-friendly works: "Spirited Away" (2002), which won the Oscar for animated feature, cautions current generations to remember the mistakes of earlier ones; "Howl's Moving Castle" (2005), which earned a nomination, promotes calm and reason in the face of aggression.

"Wind Rises," though, includes a more specific concern to Miyazaki, who remembers the deprivation of postwar Japan, and he has not been silent in opposing the attempts of Prime Minster Shinzo Abe to remilitarize Japan.

"I think Japan is facing a crisis situation right now," he said via a video linkup from Disney's Tokyo offices on Feb. 4. "We need to learn from history and protect peace in the Asian area. If we leave the situation as it is right now, I think the old kind of nationalism will prevail, and the country will go in the wrong direction."

Thanks to his films, Miyazaki is so highly regarded in his home country that anything he says is national news (he's also active on Twitter) - and global acclaim has furthered his reach. So his position has not gone unnoticed by high-ranking political opponents, who have criticized his stance.

Yet "Wind Rises" features Miyazaki's typically light touch. …