Update 2:20 pm, February 25: We have updated this article in light of new information.
Now it’s official: HE’S BAAAACK!!!!
During pre-Oscars interviews for The Red Turtle (which is produced by Studio Ghibli), Toshio Suzuki finally made it official: Hayao Miyazaki is working on another feature-length animated movie. The title and subject of the proposed movie has not yet been revealed, but storyboard creation is currently away, with the full animation production set to commence in June of this year. The film is planned for a June 2019 release date.
Back in November, Japanese TV network NHK aired a special on Hayao Miyazaki, detailing his daily activities at Studio Ghibli, as well as his production of Boro the Caterpiller, an animated short film made exclusively for the Ghibli Museum. During this program, the director floats the idea of returning to feature films for the first time since his well-publicized 2013 “retirement.”
Hayao Miyazaki is notorious for his “retirements” which never seem to last. I wonder if Miyazaki felt the itch again in the wake of Makoto Shinkai’s Your Name, which became a blockbuster hit in Japan, second only to Spirited Away (the movie’s worldwide box office numbers have actually surpassed Spirited Away). And let us not forget the imminent arrival of Mary and the Witch’s Flower, directed by Hiromasa Yonebayashi (Arrietty, When Marnie Was There) and produced by Studio Ponoc, which is founded and staffed by Studio Ghibli alumni.
It would make sense if Miyazaki felt his time had passed in 2013. Four years ago, 2D animation was “obsolete” and doomed to extinction, like silent movies after the arrival of sound. In 2017, the landscape is very different. While CG animation continues to dominate around the globe, hand-drawn animation features continue to achieve critical and popular success. A much-deserved Oscar nomination for The Red Turtle, a haunting and lyrical movie by Michaël Dudok de Wit, will no doubt help to keep the tradition alive.
Most likely, Miyazaki-san just can’t sit still. His idea of “retirement” only ever applied to feature films, as he continued to tinker around with short films, manga comics and overseeing Studio Ghibli. Like Patty and Selma, he’s working a job that he’ll be doing ten years after he dies. He’s not going anywhere, and Thank God for that.