Hayao Miyazaki is Making His First Computer-Animated Film

By  · Published on July 13th, 2015


Japanese animation legend Hayao Miyazaki is retired from making feature films, but he’s hardly done with his career. He actually says he intends to work until the day he dies, and among the projects he continues to put his talents to are short films. Most of these are exclusive to the Ghibli Museum in Tokyo, and that will be the same for his next effort, which is notable for being his first computer-animated film.

According to Anime News Network, both Miyazaki’s son, filmmaker Goro Miyazaki, and Studio Ghibli co-founder Toshio Suzuki have recently, separately confirmed the new endeavor for the 74-year-old director, whose 2D features include classics like My Neighbor Totoro and Oscar winner Spirited Away. Suzuki says the short is taking (or has taken already?) three years to produce and is a mere 10 minutes in length.

Miyazaki has never been against computer-generated 3D animation, and actually he’s employed computers to “enrich” the visuals of some of his features. But he has always had a preference for the old-fashion hand-drawn kind and stated that he’s glad he’s been able to avoid 3D, instead allowing friend John Lasseter at Disney/Pixar to handle that. “I don’t think the Japanese creative mind is very suited for 3D,” he told Roger Ebert more than a decade ago.

He has also said that while he doesn’t see much different in the medium so long as talent is there, but he fears that the 2D stuff is dying out. Meanwhile, according to Goro Miyazaki, his father tends to get bored these days and has to try new things, so his interest in doing computer animation sounds like an experiment spawned by curiosity. Now, if only we could see the result without having to travel to Japan and visit the museum – not that we wouldn’t love to do that.

Miyazaki has before this made nine animated shorts that can only be seen at the museum, with a few rare circumstances of them being shown elsewhere for special occasions. And even on site, guests have limitations on viewing these films. Probably because cam-shot bootlegs have popped up online. For those who don’t mind the quality, maybe this new computer-animated film will, too.

Christopher Campbell began writing film criticism and covering film festivals for a zine called Read, back when a zine could actually get you Sundance press credentials. He's now a Senior Editor at FSR and the founding editor of our sister site Nonfics. He also regularly contributes to Fandango and Rotten Tomatoes and is the President of the Critics Choice Association's Documentary Branch.