Hayao Miyazaki, co-founder of Studio Ghibli, one of Japan’s largest and most famous animation studios, has had a long and storied career in anime. The studio was founded back in 1985 along with Isao Takahata, Toshio Suzuki, and Yasuyoshi Tokuma. Miyazaki and Takahata, both prolific directors, had spent years in the Japanese film industry before joining forces. While Miyazaki has an impressive list of achievements, he’s most known for Kiki’s Delivery Service, Princess Mononoke, and Spirited Away; the latter of which has been nominated for and won more awards than any of his other films. Last anyone heard, the director had been working on a short film, Boro the Caterpillar.
Famous for his recurring themes of anti-militarization, environmentalism, an obsession with flight, and even feminism and dynamic female characters, Miyazaki was never one to shy away from politics or controversy. In fact, he refused to appear at the Academy Awards in 2003 when Spirited Away was nominated (and won) best animated feature because he disagreed with the US military involvement in Iraq. Whether he got tired of the industry itself or just needed some time to himself, Miyazaki announced what many assumed was his final retirement in 2013. But his 50+ years in the animation industry must have proved too much to just rest on his laurels.
Miyazaki has been in and out of retirement for the better part of two decades, with the first stint in 1998 after he declared that Princess Mononoke would be his last film. Six films and 18 years later, Anime News Network (via CBR) reports that Hayao Miyazaki is coming out of retirement yet again to bring a hairy caterpillar to life. The director was unhappy with a short for the Ghibli Museum, and has instead proposed a feature film for Boro the Caterpillar. The piece has been in development for just about 20 years, and Miyazaki simply describes it as the “story of a tiny, hairy caterpillar. So tiny that it may be easily squished between your fingers.”
The Japanese television special, “The Man Who is not Done: Hayao Miyazaki,” said the the 75 year old animator and director expects that his Boro the Caterpillar piece would take an estimated five years to finish. There were even some dark comments from former partner Toshio Suzuki, who joked that Miyazaki would “draw storyboards until he dies” while another member of the Studio Ghibli staff added the icon’s death would be great for movie ticket sales.
Miyazaki may be diving back into work on Boro the Caterpillar, but the project still hasn’t been officially greenlit. Whether or not the idea officially moves from short to feature-length remains to be seen, but Miyazaki is keeping busy by still animating other shorts exclusively for the Studio Ghibli Museum.
There is no word yet on when Boro The Caterpillar is expected to be completed.