I know what you're thinking: didn't Hayao Miyazaki say he was retiring? Well, yes and no. He announced his retirement from directing feature films, and The Wind Rises is his final epic masterpiece. But on his other great passion - manga comics - he remains as active as ever. Hid idea of "retirement" is basically your idea of a "coffee break."
Last November, Japanese network NHK, which has a very long history with Studio Ghibli, showcased Miyazaki on their "Professional" series. The televised episode showed the studio in the final stages of production for The Wind Rises, which was released in Japan last summer to great acclaim and enormous box office returns.
The program also teased out these first glimpses of Miyazaki's newest venture, a Sengoku-era Samurai-manga comic. This newest serial will appear in the pages of Model Graphix Magazine, home to many of his comics over the years. The first chapter will run eight pages; the total length is still undetermined. Of course, it's just as likely that Miyazaki himself doesn't know. It might last a couple episodes, or it might run all year.
It's common for Miyazaki to work on comics after completing a movie. It's a good stress release, and allows him greater freedom to pursue smaller subjects or indulge in personal obsessions like airplanes. Naturally. And it's always great to see the 73-year-old artist continue to work exclusively with paper, pen and paints. This is also how he creates image boards and storyboards for animation film projects. Take that, computers!
It's always conceivable that Miyazaki's samurai manga could be adapted to animation - Nausicaa of the Valley of Wind, Porco Rosso and The Wind Rises were all derived from Hayao Miyazaki comics. So I would never completely rule that out. But I believe the director when he says that he has retired from directing feature films; The Wind Rises is a farewell movie, an Abbey Road movie. If an anime film production evolves from this comic, it's far more likely to be helmed by one of Studio Ghibli's younger directors...perhaps son Goro Miyazaki?
We're already getting ahead of ourselves. For now, let Father Miyazaki work on his new project while we send our subscription money to Model Graphix ASAP.