As animated features continue to be huge box-office revenue generators and critical hits, the heavyweights of the genre become increasingly obvious. In Hollywood, the likes of Pixar and DreamWorks continue to secure their dominance, while over in Europe, France’s Gebeka Films has seen a surge in popularity, with last year’s multi award-winning My Life as A Zucchini.
Not to be outdone, Japan has a long history of award-winning, genre defying animation and happens to be home to one of animated filmmaking’s most revered talents, Hayao Miyazaki. As founder of the iconic Studio Ghibli, Miyazaki’s output has endured over five decades, earning him an Oscar in 2001 for Spirited Away. Fans of the acclaimed filmmaker were crushed however, when the now 76 year-old announced his retirement back in 2013.
Since that time there have been hints that perhaps Hayao Miyazaki wasn’t quite finished with creating new animated adventures. Though nothing was confirmed, fans held out hope that the filmmaker would eventually make his way back to Studio Ghibli. Now thanks to a report from Kotaku, we officially have confirmation that not only is Miyazaki coming out of retirement, but also that he’s doing so in order to start work on a brand new feature-length film.
At present, the new Miyazaki project has no known title or plot, but there are rumblings that the film will be a feature length version of Kemushi no Boro – or Boro the Caterpillar – the short film Miyazaki has been busying himself with to date. Rumor has it that the short – part of Miyazaki’s effort to learn CG animation – didn’t bring about satisfactory results and therefore Miyazaki decided that the story would be better told as a feature. Studio Ghibli is reportedly aiming to release the new film prior to Tokyo’s hosting of the 2020 Olympic games. If the rumors are true and Miyazaki’s next film is indeed the computer-animated, feature length version of Boro, then it will mark the award-winning filmmaker’s first official foray into CG animation.
Though Miyazaki fans will certainly be pleased by this latest news, it doesn’t exactly come as a shock. A filmmaker as creative and dedicated as Hayao Miyazaki could hardly be expected to cut his ties to the creative arts he so clearly loves. If anything, Miyazaki’s retirement was more likely a time for him to learn the ropes of CG animation, enabling him to return stronger than ever.
Given the past worlds that Miyazaki has created with traditional animation, a new film done in CG animation could be particularly stunning. And although the beloved filmmaker was quoted in 2013’s The Kingdom of Dreams and Madness as saying “filmmaking only brings suffering”, he’s clearly prepared to suffer for something new - something that will likely bring huge amounts of joy to many.
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