Earlier this month, Japanese tabloid Flash spotted famed animator Hayao Miyazaki as he was leaving the house to pick up trash around his neighborhood.
In Japan, neighborhood associations meet a few times a year with residents gathering to pick up litter and pull weeds. It’s unclear whether Miyazaki was doing this, or simply tidying up around his home.
Flash wanted to know Miyazaki’s opinion on Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba The Movie: Mugen Train surpassing Spirited Away’s initial Japanese box office success. In its first ten days in theaters, Demon Slayer raked in $95.3 million—a number that took the previous record-holder Spirited Away twenty-five days to reach.
Spirited Away is the highest-grossing anime in Japanese movie history, though Demon Slayer is on track to beat it. The newly released animated feature already topped the global box office.
The exchange between Flash and Miyazaki reads as follows:
Flash: “Demon Slayer’s box-office revenue is approaching Spirited Away’s. What do you think about that?”
Miyazaki: “Well, that’s of no concern to me. It’s better for harmony at the studio if box office returns and this, that, and the other aren’t really a concern. It’s better to work as hard as possible.”
Flash: “Have you seen Demon Slayer?”
Miyazaki: “I did not see it. I don’t watch most other things, either. I don’t watch TV, and I don’t watch movies. I’m just a retired geezer picking up trash.”
Flash: “There are fans who are disappointed that Spirited Away won’t be number one anymore in the history [of anime theatrical releases in Japan].”
Miyazaki: “I really don’t care about that. Because there’s always inflation in this world. I gotta pick up trash...”
Flash also asked Miyazaki about how How Do You Live?, the full-scale project Miyazaki has been working on in the wake of swearing he would no longer make feature-length animated films. Earlier this year, Kotaku reported that the movie would be hand-drawn and is still years away.
“I’m doing it. I’m doing it as a retiree,” he continued. “Please go through Toho to ask about that.” [Note that Toho distributes Studio Ghibli’s films theatrically in Japan.]
The 79-year-old animator then ended the conversation by saying, “I need to go around and pick up trash, and so... [goodbye].”