No, this is not a drill. The celebrated co-founder of Studio Ghibli is coming out of retirement to return to the big screen a decade after The Wind Rises.
Oscar-winning Japanese animator Master Hayao Miyazaki is back once again to deliver another poignant lesson in his latest How Do You Live? film. As one of the most accomplished filmmakers in the history of animation, Miyazaki brings out an interpretation of the 1937 book authored by Genzaburo Yoshino about a boy from a rich family who learns about poverty and discrimination through his interactions with his uncle.
Set to premiere next year, How Do You Live? is Miyazaki’s first feature film since 2013’s The Wind Rises, which received critical acclaim and several awards (including the Academy) for breathing life into Japan’s historic past. Like How Do You Live?, the film also took inspiration and depicted through animation and screenplay the true life story of warplane designer Jiro Horikoshi during the Second World War.
The Making of Hayao Miyazaki’s How Do You Live?
According to reports, the production of How Do You Live? has been kept tightly under wraps for years now. It is slated to release in Japan on July 14, 2023, as published by distributor Toho. Just recently, both Studio Ghibli and Toho Co., Ltd. released the official poster of the film, which features a hand-sketched bird-like creature with an eye strategically located below its beak.
Genzaburo Yoshino’s story follows the life of the 15-year-old Copper, who has been left to ponder much about life’s meaty questions after the loss of his father. Set in pre-war Japan, a teenage boy journeys through philosophical enlightenment on the best way to live life.
Compared to the previous films released by the animation studio, it took longer to finish How Do You Live? because animators are hand-drawing more frames. In fact, they have 60 animators working together. But despite their best efforts, they were only able to complete a minute of animation after a month of hard work. As the producer of Studio Ghibli, Toshio Suzuki, explained in an interview, “That means 12 months a year, you get 12 minutes’ worth of movie.”
More About Hayao Miyazaki
Known for his way of blending life and human nature, fantastical depictions of machinery, and genius portrayal of the different kinds of love, Miyazaki has built a cult following for his characters, including that of No Face from Spirited Away (which won the Oscar for Best Animated Feature in 2003), the beloved cute spirit creature Totoro from My Neighbor Totoro, and the magical flying castle in Howl’s Moving Castle.
Following the success of The Wind Rises in 2013, Miyazaki decided to take a break from making feature films because he could no longer maintain the bar he had set for his perfectionist approach to working. After directing 11 features for 34 years, he retired from Studio Ghibli.
However, the 81-year-old co-founder of the Japanese animation studio decided to make a comeback, retracted his retirement, and worked on the upcoming film How Do You Live? As the production company puts it, this could be ‘his final film, considering his age’.
The official announcement about Hayao Miyazaki’s upcoming feature animated film is not the only good news brought by Studio Ghibli to its fans. Now that borders are open and leisure travel is already making a comeback, three sections of Japan’s new Ghibli theme park were made open to the public last month. Now, fans can reconnect with their favorite Ghibli characters and marvel at the world created by the legendary animator, Hayao Miyazaki.
Are you excited as well to watch Hayao Miyazaki’s upcoming film? Take a glimpse of the story’s background! Genzaburo Yoshino’s novel has been made available in English and was released in October last year. It was translated by Bruno Navasky, with the foreword written by Neil Gaiman!
Cover image credit: Studio Ghibli