The latest "retirement" of Japanese animation king Hayao Miyazaki has proved an unexpected boon for an exhibition of animation designs to be held in Hong Kong this summer.
Organisers of the exhibition did not know of Miyazaki's plans to quit when they included his latest hit, The Wind Rises.
If he doesn't change his mind - as he has done in the past - the designs will be the last work of the Oscar-winning animator.
About 1,300 layout designs for the most famous animations of Studio Ghibli, the feature film house co-founded by Miyazaki, will be shown from May 14 to August 31 at the Heritage Museum in Sha Tin. They will also include draft images for Castle in the Sky, My Neighbour Totoro, Spirited Away and Ponyo.
"We didn't know Miyazaki would be retiring when we started discussions on the exhibition. His decision makes the event more unique," Leisure and Cultural Services Director Betty Fung Ching Suk-yee said. "But we also hear that he may not be retiring for real. That doesn't matter."
Announcing his retirement at a news conference in September, the then 72-year-old said: "I know I've mentioned I'm retiring many times in the past, so I know that many of you might think: 'Oh, again'. This time is for real."
Miyazaki said he was quitting the industry in 1997, only to come back four years later to direct Spirited Away in 2001, the Japan Daily Press reported.
The exhibition is one of several events announced by Fung's department yesterday.
An Art Museum exhibition from June to September will show 100 paintings by Chinese masters who studied in France, including Xu Beihong, Wu Guanzhong and Zao Wou-ki.
Wall paintings of the Magao Grottoes in Dunhuang , Gansu , will take centre stage in another exhibition at the Heritage Museum in November, with entire grottoes being replicated and brought to Hong Kong.
"We will maintain the mysterious atmosphere by keeping the caves dark. Visitors will need a torch," Fung said.
The museum will undergo three years of renovation from the end of this year. It will get a modern-looking exterior, and exhibition space will grow 40 per cent to 9,800 square metres.
Changes would also be introduced to permanent exhibitions at various museums, Fung said.
Canto-pop superstar Roman Tam Pak-sin and screen star Lydia "Fei Fei" Sum Tin-ha may find a place at the Heritage Museum, while the Space Museum will have two new halls next year where "visitors will come face to face with the solar system".