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Miyazaki Is Coming Out of Retirement (Again) for What Could Be His Final Movie

Animation's beloved Japanese grandfather is back for one more feature, to be completed in 2019.
Domenico, via Flickr

Serial retirer and Japanese animation legend Hayao Miyazaki, in a new special that aired yesterday on Japanese television, announced that he is working on a 13th feature-length film. In an interview, the director of Spirited Away and Howl's Moving Castle says he is "not satisfied" with his first CGI film, a short called Boro the Caterpillar. According to NHK's film, The Man Who Is Not Done: Hayao Miyazaki, the filmmaker has had a change of heart and submitted a proposal to Studio Ghibli for a feature-length version of the story in August.


Miyazaki first claimed to be out of the movie business in 1998, two years before directing the Academy Award-winning Spirited Away. Last year he said he was done making feature films, focusing his energies on Boro, which was to be screened exclusively at the Studio Ghibli Museum. Anime News Network, however, reports that while the feature-length version hasn't yet been approved, Miyazaki has started planning the film's storyboards anyway. Since he's created three of the top ten highest-grossing films in his country's history, we're confident he'll get the green light.

Miyazaki describes Boro the Caterpillar as "a story of a tiny, hairy caterpillar, so tiny that it may be easily squished between your fingers." He's been writing the film for almost 20 years, but was interrupted by Princess Mononoke, a high-intensity action movie he wanted make while he was still young. He says he'll still work on the CGI version of Boro for the Ghibli Musuem, but it's unknown whether or not his final feature will be hand-drawn.

NHK's TV special features scenes of Miyazaki learning to animate on a tablet, chewing his staff out for animating "without thinking about anything," and at one point suggesting that a worker "quit ASAP," according to a translation from Kotaku. At the end of the special, he proposes the feature Boro, outlining a completion date of 2019, just before the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. The 76-year-old wonders aloud, “Maybe I’ll be alive?”



Miyazaki will be 78 when the film is finished, and faces the possibility that he might die before then with a signature stoicism. “I think it’s still better to die when you are doing something than dying when you are doing nothing,” he says in another scene. “It’s better to think about not dying when you die.”

Learn more about Hayao Miyazaki in our previous coverage below.


8 Pearls of Wisdom from Hayao Miyazaki

[Exclusive] Watch Miyazaki Do Calisthenics in the New Studio Ghibli Documentary

Original Creators: Hayao Miyazaki, "The Walt Disney Of Japan"