When it comes to Studio Ghibli, there is one name which rules above all others, and it is Hayao Miyazaki. The visionary may have ‘retired’ a few years back, but the iconic work which Miyazaki did under the studio still directs it today. Films such as Princess Mononoke, Spirited Away, and Howl’s Moving Castle are just some of the movies which Miyazaki brought to life during his Studio Ghibli days. Recently, reports have suggested that Miyazaki is hard at work on a new feature film that has pulled him from his well-deserved retirement.
However, according to one producer at Studio Ghibli, he’s not sure Miyazaki will get the pet project finished.
Recently, Toshio Suzuki spoke about Miyazaki’s new project at the Niconico Chōkaigi 2017 convention. According to Huffington Post Japan, the producer says the filmmaker is working on storyboards for the film now. Miyazaki has been drawing storyboards for the yet-titled project since last July, and the artist has only done about 20-minutes worth of drawing. The time frame is a bit disappointing for fans who had hoped the film would debut in 2019.
When asked about the film’s title, Suzuki said he cannot shed any light on that topic. Then, after being asked if he felt Miyazaki could finish the film while he’s still alive, Suzuki was a bit apprehensive to say yes.
“Hmm, I don’t know,” he admitted.
In the past, Suzuki has tempered fans’ hype for the new Miyazaki film by filling them in on logistics. During a press event in Japan this year, the producer had this to say about the technical challenges of making such a movie.
“To tell the truth, we need a lot of staff to make a feature film. But he is working by himself now, though he needs at least 600 people. That's his concern,” Suzuki continued. “If we really decide to make a new film, I will announce it officially, of course. We just have not reached that point yet. So if you ask me 'Will you make it?' now, I have to deny it. Because honestly, I have nothing to announce.”
To talk about the logistics of Miyazaki finishing his new film, anime fans need to take a moment to reflect on animation as a pursuit. Studio Ghibli may be one of Japan’s most famous houses thanks to its acclaimed track record, but animation is on a downturn overall. Poor healthy, underpaid wages, and unpaid overtime plague the industry abroad. Recently, studios have been forced to solicit animators on social media to finish projects. While Studio Ghibli has not been forced to take such measures, the company does have limited staff to help Miyazaki.
Of course, there is also the issue of the artist’s work ethic. Miyazaki is famous for wanting to do everything on his own. The artist wrote, directed, and drew everything for the feature Spirited Away - and it’s no secret that the film took years to complete. While producers were brought in to tie the storyboards into a film, Miyazaki was very much in-charge of the movie’s actual animation. And, if he takes a similar stance with his new movie, Miyazaki may not see his film premiere for years.
In Hollywood, full-on animated features can take between 2-10 years to finish depending on staff, resources, and more. The actual animation is what takes the most time since post-production concerns about dialogue, lighting, and more can be done within a year at the very least.0comments
If Miyazaki allocates more of his workload, it is not impossible to think that his new film could debut by 2020 in time for Tokyo’s Olympic games. However, the film’s trajectory does not seem to align with such a timeline. Suzuki has already stressed the project won’t be done by 2019, so fans can only hope 2020 might see the film premiere’s take place. But, still - the wish is only just that. A lot of things still need to fall into place before Miyazaki can debut his next feature film proudly.