After The Wind Rises was released in 2013, Hayao Miyazaki announced his retirement, at least from feature films. He said he would still be working on the Ghibli Museum Shorts, and the one in production right now is ‘Kemushi no Boro’ (‘Boro the Caterpillar’). But with true Miyazaki sticktoitiveness, he’s recanted his retirement and started work on a feature-length film. Still, this isn’t the first time he’s changed his mind; he did the same thing after Princess Mononoke. Imagine, a world without Spirited Away.
The latest update on his progress comes from news distribution site 47News (Japan Press Network), who reported that Miyazaki is starting preparations for his new movie. This is according to Studio Ghibli producer Toshio Suzuki, who revealed the news at an event in the United States on Thursday. Suzuki stated that Miyazaki has shown him the storyboards for the as-yet-untitled new work. He added that “Even now [Miyazaki] is working very hard in Tokyo to create”.
The gruelling schedule Miyazaki laid out for himself for this feature was televised in the NHK special ‘The Man Who Is Not Done’ in November. Within three years starting from 2016, he wanted to hand-draw the film from storyboards for roughly 100 cuts of footage. A note on the end of his hand-written schedule said that he’ll be 78 when the film is done in 2019. “Perhaps I’ll be alive?” he adds.
Suzuki is concerned that Miyazaki really might die during production. He had pre-production pencilled in until the middle of 2017, then production from that point until early 2019. But the man himself isn’t so worried. For him, the real tragedy would be standing still and letting death catch up to him. “I think it’s still better to die when you are doing something than dying when you are doing nothing,” he said. “It’s better to think about not dying when you die.” Even though the film was yet to be officially green-lit, Miyazaki decided to get on with the animation anyway, so chances are he might even be running ahead of schedule.
The 12-minute ‘Boro the Caterpillar’ CG short is still being prepared, and won’t be ready for screening in the Ghibli Museum for roughly another year yet. It’s based on an idea Miyazaki has had on ice for 20 years, and he describes it as “a story of a tiny, hairy caterpillar, so tiny that it may be easily squished between your fingers.