Studio Ghibli producer Toshio Suzuki reported that Hayao Miyazaki’s next feature film, Kimi-tachi wa Dō Ikiru ka (How Do You Live?), was about 15% complete at the end of October, after three and a half years of production. Suzuki spoke with actor Takeru Satoh (live-action Rurouni Kenshin films’ title character) during Satoh’s studio visit to interview Miyazaki. Satoh’s interview aired on NHK General on Tuesday during the Tokyo Miracle Dai-3-Shū: Saikyō Shōhin Anime (Tokyo Miracle III: Anime, The Most Powerful Commodity) documentary special.
Suzuki explained that Miyazaki in the past would be able to direct seven to 10 minutes of animation per month, and they had scheduled for five minutes of animation per month or about one hour per year on Kimi-tachi wa Dō Ikiru ka. However, Miyazaki is now directing about one minute of animation per month.
Miyazaki emphasized to Satoh that he really did want to retire after completing The Wind Rises in 2013, but the 78-year-old director added that he could not help but return to animating again.
Suzuki had stated in a Bungei Shunjū magazine essay published in March that Miyazaki is working on Kimi-tachi wa Dō Ikiru ka without a deadline to complete it. Suzuki said, “With the production of this new film, we’re experimenting with having no established deadline. I’m looking forward to how that comes through in the work.” Suzuki indicated that Studio Ghibli‘s works normally have set production schedules. In an earlier television special that revealed the film project, Miyazaki presented a proposed schedule for finishing the film by 2019, but Suzuki indicated that the studio is no longer following that plan.
Suzuki added that Miyazaki is a person who is not interested in money. Also, Suzuki believes Miyazaki is effectively unable to truly retire because having nothing to do and living as an ordinary retiree would bother him. Suzuki believes Miyazaki feels most at home in continuing to work on film production.
Suzuki acknowledged that some have labeled Miyazaki’s upcoming film as his last. However, Suzuki said, “I don’t believe it. As long as he lives, [Miyazaki] will probably continue to make films.” Because of that, Suzuki said he is asking Miyazaki, “Just please don’t make a second retirement announcement.”
Suzuki said in August 2018 that he thought the new film will open in “about three or four years.” Suzuki also noted that the film had been in production for two years, and that the studio was doing things in the film that it could not do before.
Miyazaki himself had stated in October 2017 that he would need three or four years to complete his action-adventure fantasy film. Miyazaki derived the film’s title from writer Genzaburō Yoshino’s 1937 masterpiece of the same name. He added that this book is a story that has great meaning to the protagonist of his film. Yoshino’s book centers around a man named Koperu and his uncle, and through Koperu’s spiritual growth, it discusses how to live as human beings.
Suzuki reported in April 2017 that Miyazaki had been drawing the storyboards for the project since July 2016. However, Suzuki said at the time that Miyazaki had only drawn 20 minutes of storyboards so far.
In the Owaranai Hito Miyazaki Hayao (Never-Ending Man: Hayao Miyazaki) special that aired in November 2016, Miyazaki reported that he wanted to return to making an anime feature film after his “Kemushi no Boro” short for the Ghibli Museum (which debuted in March 2018). According to the special, Miyazaki was not satisfied with doing just the CG short, and he presented a project proposal for a feature-length film in August 2016. Despite not officially receiving a green-light for the feature film at the time, Miyazaki decided to start animation work on the project anyway.