Hayao Miyazaki to Create One Final Studio Ghibli Film!

/ 3 years ago

It is with immense happiness that eTeknix can announce that Studio Ghibli is set to make one final film. What is even more joyous is that Hayao Miyazaki is set to come out of retirement, again, to make this his and perhaps the studios swan song. This has been confirmed by Studio Ghibli advertising for background artists on their own website.

Firstly, I must start by stating that I am a huge animation fan. I first encountered Studio Ghibli back in 1994 watching My Neighbour Totoro early on a Saturday morning. Since then I have been hooked, even to the point of having quite a sizeable Totoro tattoo on my calf. So you will have to forgive me if I ramble or go off on a tangent, but I have had a serious nerdgasm hearing this news!

For those of you who don’t know Studio Ghibli, firstly I consider you amazingly fortunately. You have a library of over 30 amazing feature animations to watch with not a single bad one amongst them. Secondly, you will perhaps permit me to give you a brief history.

Who is Studio Ghibli?

Studio Ghibli are, for want of a better description, Japans answer to Disney. Some consider Studio Ghibli to have, at the very least, artistically overtaken Disney in the last 20 years. At a time when Disney was moving into cheaper digital styles of animation in the early 90’s. Ghibli was continuing to build on their excellent hand drawn style. Ghibli films have always had a specific focus on story and artwork and rarely failed to impress.

After working for several years in partnership with other animation companies, Studio Ghibli’s first solo feature was released in 1985 – Laputa Castle In the Sky. With modest success the company was able to fund 2 more projects. One of these was the soulful ‘Grave of the Fireflies’ whilst the offer was the seminal film ‘My Neighbour Totoro’.

Both being released in 1988 as a double feature, it was the Totoro character that really gave the company its ‘Mickey Mouse’ figure.

The following year Studio Ghibli released ‘Kiki’s Delivery Service’ which was their first official financial success, from this point the company has moved from strength to strength. They consistently produced an excellent product.

An official distribution contract with Disney in the late 90’s saw their films being released in the West with some impressive AAA casts. Christian Bale, Liam Neeson, Gillian Anderson to name but a few.

Is they are so successful, why is this their last film?

Hayao Miyazaki produced the vast majority of Ghibli’s most acclaimed films. My Neighbour Totoro, Howls Moving Castle, Spirited Away – All Hayao Miyazaki and all excellent. Miyazaki decided in 2013 that it was time to step back. He was in his mid 70’s after all. However, what the studio has produced since has been a little bit of a mixed bag. Some new directors, including Miyazaki’s son have failed to reach the heights the company have seen before. Ironically one of the better recent films was ‘Ponyo’ released in 2008 after Hayao Miyazaki stepped out of retirement.

Whilst recently films have not been bad, I personally believe the issue has been a lack of direction and some poor choices in subject matters. For example ‘Tales From Earthsea’ is not a bad animation and the source material (written by Ursula Le guin) was prime. The film however simply attempted to cram too much in. The others have largely been too much emotion, not enough fun to spark a critical breakout.

In 2013 the Studio decided that it would wind-down operations. This marked the beginning of the end.

Studio Ghibli

Hayao Miyazaki – Saying goodbye for one last time?

Do we know what the film is going to be?

Not a clue! There are options however which were more than just a rumour prior to 2013. For example ‘Porco Rosso’ was destined for a sequel until the studio went into 2013. However you would think that if this is going to be the last film, they’re going to want to go out strong. I’m therefore proposing a wild theory (just so I can say 3 years later when it’s released that I was right).

I think that is the final film isn’t a Porco Rosso sequel, it’s going to be a sequel to My Neighbour Totoro.

A Sequel to Totoro?!!? BURN THE HERETIC!!!!

Hear me out! I know that such a suggestion is bound to be met with a LOT of mixed feelings from the fans. Some would consider it tampering with a classic, borderline sacrilidge. I would consider it a beautiful way for the company to have come full circle.

There is PLENTY within the Totoro world that could spawn a sequel, reboot, prequel, whatever. People have made enough of the existing plot to show there is enough to make a new one (just google ‘Totoro angel of death’ and prepare to have your childhood destroyed by that theory. A theory I might add which does fit in, but has been strenuously denied by all concerned at Ghibli).

Ironically as well, a Totoro film would not be a safe bet. Similar to the decent Ghostbusters debacle, they would be tampering with a classic in which the fans have a LOT of love (see above and my tattoo).

Hayao Miyazaki, however, would be exactly the man to pull it off.

AHHA! But Studio Ghibli has never made a sequel!

Whilst technically correct, it’s also not entirely true. ‘Panda Go Panda’, which was released in 1972 (pre-Ghibli) was one of Miyasaki’s first break-out works (and a great kids film). Panda Go Panda DID receive a sequel, so to say that it is impossible or has happened before, at least for Miyasaki, is not quite right. A sequel could happen.

In all honestly though, either way, whatever it is they release, I’ll be happy to see it. Particularly so with Miyazaki at the helm. Given that he will be well into his 80’s by the time the film is finished, this has to be his final work and also, with a lot of sorrow, probably the last feature we’ll see from the studio for a long time. If not, forever.

Whatever comes, I am very grateful to Studio Ghibli and Mayao Miyazaki.

If you have not ever watched a Studio Ghibli Film, I ask you this now. Go buy one (Howls Moving Castle or Spirited Away are good places to start). Take an evening off, sit down and watch it with someone you care about. I guarantee that by the end of the night if you’re not hooked, you might at least understand why so many people love this studio so much.

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