Studio Ghibli and director Hayao Miyazaki are known for their masterworks in the Japanese animation movie genre. Their accomplishments include the Oscar-winner Spirited Away, Princess Mononoke, and My Neighbour Totoro.
But Miyazaki, who's now 79-years-old, isn't ready to call it a career just yet.
Studio Ghibli co-founder Toshio Suzuki spoke with Entertainment Weekly ahead of the launch of HBO Max—which will feature the entire catalogue of the legendary studio's films. In the interview, he provides an update on Ghibli's current productions, including Miyazaki's new movie.
Studio Ghibli movies: Hayao Miyazaki's How Do You Live?
Miyazaki was rumoured to be considering retirement years ago, but he reappeared with a new film, The Wind Rises, in 2013. Since then, he's been at work on an upcoming project that's titled How Do You Live? It's based on a story set in 1937.
"The film that Hayao Miyazaki's working on at the moment is a big, fantastical story," Toshio Suzuki, through a translator, told EW.
"Many directors make films on and on and on throughout their careers as they grow older," he explained. "When Miyazaki came back and said that I want to make a film again, I actually said that's not a great idea because he's achieved so much already. You can't come back and do something that you've already done in the past, you have to do something different. One of the ideas that came out from that was, why not spend more time and spend more money [to make a film]? So, that's one of the new approaches."
Duration is the emphasis on this new project, too. Miyazaki and the Studio Ghibli team still use the traditional hand-drawn animation technique, which means that their productions can run for years on end.
Miyazaki's new movie: When will we see How Do You Live?
But the hand-drawn style is part of what gives Ghibli films their charm.
"We are still hand-drawing everything, but it takes us more time to complete a film because we're drawing more frames," Suzuki said. "So, there are more drawings to draw than before. Back when we were making My Neighbor Totoro, we only had eight animators. Totoro we made in eight months.
"[For] the current film that Hayao Miyazaki is working on, we have 60 animators, but we are only able to come up with one minute of animation in a month. That means 12 months a year, you get 12 minutes worth of movie. Actually, we've been working on this film for three years, so that means we have 36 minutes completed so far. We're hoping it will finish in the next three years."
Suzuki also told EW that Miyazaki's son, Gorō, is working on a digitally animated film with Studio Ghibli.
This interview surely adds anticipation to the arrival of How Do You Live?, even if it is still a few years away from hitting the big screen! In the meantime, Studio Ghibli fans and newcomers can take in all the films on a streaming service for the first time when HBO Max launches later this month.