Didn’t land your dream job working for Studio Ghibli? Well, if the news that all of its animations will be available to stream by April 2020 wasn’t enough consolation, the fact that two new films are in production should help. The iconic Japanese animation studio behind classics such as Spirited Away and Kiki’s Delivery Service announced that they are working on two new films this year in their annual New Year’s message.
The message began by recapping earlier official announcements, such as that of the first Ghibli theme park, set to open in Japan’s Nagakute City in 2022, and the adaptation of Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind into a kabuki stage play.
“Disasters such as typhoons and heavy rains in Japan are continuing, and it is painful to think that there are many people who are forced to have a hard life even at this time.” The message says, translated from Japanese. “We sincerely congratulate those affected by the damage and wish for an immediate rebuilding of their lives."
The statement went on to discuss the significance of 2020’s Chinese zodiac sign, the Rat. “Rats are a symbol of prosperity because of their fertility, and are also said to be the angels of the god of fertility. I hope that the mood of the stagnating society will be renewed and that we will have a year of hope.”
Though very little is known about the second film, Studio Ghibli has slowly been revealing details about the first -- which is being directed by none other than beloved Ghibli co-founder Hayao Miyazaki -- over the last couple of years. Kimi-tachi wa Dō Ikiru ka (How Do You Live?), taken from the 1937 novel of the same name by Genzaburō Yoshino, will be a coming-of-age adventure fantasy, following the 15-year-old Koperu and his uncle. The film will be Miyazaki’s first feature length production since he came out of retirement in 2016.
Despite the film never having an “established deadline”, the studio was, at one point, aiming to have it come out in time for the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo. Hayao Miyazaki’s long-time producer Toshio Suzuki now puts the projected release somewhere between 2021 and 2022 -- as of October, the film was only 15% finished. It may be true that perfectionism is the enemy of progress, but when you have the revered reputation of someone like Hayao Miyazaki, you probably want to take your time with it.
Reportedly, the filmmaker had been working at a snail’s pace, producing just one minute of animation per month, though he’s likely to speed up now that those tricky initial stages of production (storyboarding, story developing) are over. For now, we wait.