Just as we’re suffocated to within an inch of life by election results coverage and the bleak state of the world in 2016, the chokehold briefly eases. Hayao Miyazaki, one of the founders of Studio Ghibli and the director of Princess Mononoke and Spirited Away, has announced he is coming out of retirement to direct one final film.
Titled Boro the Caterpillar, the film was intended to be a short which played in Tokyo’s Ghibli Museum. Dissatisfied with having to skimp on story, Miyazaki said in a television special this past Sunday that he plans to make it into a feature-length film. It will take him five years to produce, making the animator 80 years old once it’s released.
He described Boro on the special as “a story of a tiny, hairy caterpillar, so tiny that it may be easily squished between your fingers.”
A Ghibli producer Toshio Suzuki joked in the special that Miyazaki will be “drawing storyboards until he dies.” Another said that when he does pass away, it will mean big ticket sales for Ghibli films. This sort of dark humour is what pervades the 2013 documentary, The Kingdom of Dreams and Madness, which follows Miyazaki as he prepares to retire for what we all assumed would be the last time after creating WWII swan song The Wind Rises (2013).
Though this will mark the third time he’s “retired” and come back to dazzle audiences with more animated handiwork, Miyazaki is tireless. “I still have my back and shoulder aches,” Miyazaki already told us back in 2010. “If it had given me a cure for my body then great, but I haven’t changed at all.”
Still, he ploughs on, likely safe in the knowledge that his brand of uplifting escapism is exactly what we all need.