When someone declares a certain figure to be the Michael Jordan of their field, that’s an understood cultural shorthand: The person in question dominated their profession, not just providing an exemplar of excellence but actively expanding the definition of what that excellence can mean. The Jumpman pulled off feats of strength, stamina and agility that experts believed to be impossible, and so the comparison is not bestowed lightly.

When I call Hayao Miyazaki the “Michael Jordan of anime,” which I do around four times every day, I usually mean it that way; he is what we kids would call the G.O.A.T., the greatest-of-all-time, clearly unparalleled in the anime tradition for his skill as storyteller and visual stylist. An item in The Hollywood Reporter late last night has me rolling out the MJ analogy yet again, except this time, it’s for the basketball great’s other passion in life: Backpedaling on his promises of retirement.

THR noted that the esteemed Japanese filmmaker has hinted that he may have one more final film in him, despite having announced time and again that he was really out, finished, done, for serious this time. Citing the demanding process of animating a film as too great a drain on his energy in his advanced age, the 75-year-old Miyazki declared that he’d call it quits after 2009's Ponyo, then pulled the same move gain following 2013’s The Wind Rises. But now, he’s pondering a return for what heist professionals in blandly-written crime thrillers call “one last job.” His third one last job might looks like it’ll be a computer-generated picture called Boro the Caterpillar, the first Miyazaki joint to eschew his instantly recognizable 2D style. Miyazaki originally conceived it as a short, but THR quotes the director as expressing dissatisfaction with the results and hoping to rectify them while expanding to feature length.

Miyazaki’s a famously slow worker, usually taking five years to complete a feature, so it might be a while until he cinematically dunks on audiences worldwide yet again. (Though the introduction of CG to his process may very well speed things up.) But once he does, rest assured that he will happily announce his retirement at last, and begin plotting his next film shortly thereafter.


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