Yoshiyuki Tomino’s anime career stretches all the way back to writing for Astro Boy, but it might be coming to a close.

A lot is made of anime director Hayao Miyazaki’s ageless passion for animation and desire to create. Though the Studio Ghibli co-founder turned 80 in January, he’s currently working on his next project, titled How Do You Live?, which will be released…well, whenever Miyazaki says it’s finished.

But with all the attention Miyazaki gets for continuing to work well past the average retirement age, it’s easy to forget that Gundam creator Yoshiyuki Tomino is just 10 months younger than Miyazaki and will also be joining the octogenarian club this fall. In addition to various other projects, Tomino still periodically takes the reins of certain branches of the sprawling Gundam franchise, most recently by helming the third Gundam Reconguista in G compilation film, which hit Japanese theaters in July.

However, in a recent interview with Japan’s Shukan Playboy, Tomino himself said he feels like his career is winding down, though not because he’s running out of ideas. Sadly, while his spirit is willing, his body is reaching its limits, as he spoke on his worsening health conditions related to spinal canal stenosis, in which the spinal canal narrows and compresses the nerves inside, causing pain and numbness in the lower body.

“It’s gotten to the point where I can’t walk well anymore. When I see myself walking on camera, I think ‘Whoa, this guy has a serious medical condition!’” explained Tomino, who continues to make frequent media appearances to promote his works and talk about the state of anime in general (such as which other creators’ series he’d like to crush and whose movies could use more overt horniness). “I think I’ve only got about three years left that I can continue working in a studio.”

In more reassuring health news, Tomino said that he’s gotten both of his coronavirus vaccination shots, and aside from a few hours of tiredness, didn’t experience any negative side effects.

Fans can at least take heart in the fact that advancements in information and communication technology, as well as adjustments to Japanese workplace culture that may continue after the pandemic ends, are making it easier than ever to work remotely, and so not being able to commute to a central studio wouldn’t be the deal-breaker it would have been during, say, the original Mobile Suit Gundam’s 1979 Japanese TV broadcast. On the other hand, Tomino’s condition doesn’t sound like an easy one to cope with even from the comfort of his own home, and if the historically hands-on director can’t be in the physical center of the action for the creative process, he might decide it’s time to step away from anime production entirely.

Source: Shukan Playboy via Hachima Kiko
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