Hayao Miyazaki’s name is one that conjures images of fantastical worlds, mysterious creatures and, above all, joyous stories that find homes in the hearts of viewers of all ages. Miyazaki’s career began in 1963 and in 1985 he co-founded Studio Ghibli, a name that, like his, has become a watchword for some of the 20th century’s very best animation work. 13 films and an academy award later, his legacy is assured. Miyazaki’s animations are visually rich masterpieces that crossed cultural boundaries to become loved and admired worldwide. This week it was announced that the maestro will return to direct at least one more feature.
Anime News Network reports that Miyazaki intends to take a break from his well-earned retirement to bring us Boro the Caterpillar (Kemushi no Boro), a feature film that has been gestating in his brain for well over 20 years. Miyazaki describes the unlikely protagonist as: “A tiny, hairy caterpillar. So tiny that it may be easily squished between your fingers.“
It’s been a passion project for Miyazaki since 2013 when he partially emerged from his hiatus to work on it, intending it as a CG short film for exhibit at the Ghibli Museum. According to a recent NHK television special titled: The Man Who is Not Done, Miyazaki was unhappy with how the short turned out, and feels that turning it into a feature should improve it. It’s a big job for Miyazaki to take on. He turns 76 in January and it’s a tribute to his passion for film that, at an age when many are taking a hard-earned rest, he’s raring to get back to his storyboards.
Fans should not perhaps be too surprised that Miyazaki isn’t hanging up his paintbrushes. The artist first announced that his career was over with 1998’s Princess Mononoke, and that was six films ago. Retirement doesn’t really seem to be a word in Miyazaki’s vocabulary. Even during his official periods of retirement, he still finds time to create sumptuous animated shorts and to work on a samurai-themed manga.
Thus far the movie has yet to be officially greenlit, although it seems monumentally unlikely that a right-minded studio suit would ever refuse the offer of a new Miyazaki feature, particularly when work has apparently already begun. Miyazaki predicts that the film could take 5 years to finish, which means that he will be past 80 when people take their seats in theaters. His proposed timetable sees the film finished in time for the 2020 Japanese Olympics. We can hardly think of a better way to celebrate Japanese cultural achievements alongside sporting ones than to have a Miyazaki animation gracing cinemas when the Olympic torch is lit.
We’re desperate to re-enter one of Miyazaki’s fantastical, imaginative worlds once again, and if his consistently mind-boggling back-catalogue is anything to go by, we’re in for a treat in 2020. Now we just have to find something to do for the next 5 years.