I haven’t seen Hayao Miyazaki’s newest and final film, The Wind Rises, yet. But this sweet little fact I stumbled upon makes the knowledge that Miyazaki won’t be releasing any more movies even more bittersweet.
Stephen Alpert worked at Studio Ghibli’s International Division until the end of 2011. He always accompanied Miyazaki on his trips overseas, and their relationship eventually became a friendship. When Alpert had to leave Ghibli and return to the U.S., Miyazaki wanted to draw a caricature portrait of Alpert as a goodbye gift. The director made numerous attempts the day Alpert’s departed, but wasn’t able to draw a satisfactory portrait in time. The next year, the caricature of Alpert popped up in the storyboards for The Wind Rises. Miyazaki finally succeeded in capturing the likeness of Alpert in his storyboard in the character of Castorp, and Alpert was summoned to Japan to provide the voice of Castorp.