Hayao Miyazaki is, with all due respect, one of the best figures in the Japanese animation industry. He’s produced enduring classics like Spirited Away and My Neighbor Totoro, to name a few. However, if there’s one thing he’s really bad at… it’s retiring.
Miyazaki has announced his retirement from making feature-length films several times, and each time he’s returned. The documentary Never-Ending Man follows him after a 2013 press conference in which he said, “I’ve made a stir before by saying I’m quitting. So people don’t believe me. But this time I mean it.” However, in November 2016, rumors emerged that he was working on a short film that would be his first foray into computer-generated animation. And sure enough, nearly a year later, October 2017, he announced the title for his final feature film would be Kimitachi wa Do Ikiru ka, or How Do You Live, based on the 1937 Genzaburo Yoshino novel of the same name.
Never-Ending Man, distributed in the US by GKIDS, documents the period directly after the said attempt at quitting animation in 2013. Beginning with a restless Miyazaki, who keeps himself occupied with sketches, strong coffee, and cigarettes, he eventually develops the ideas that will become his CGI animated short Boro the Caterpillar and How Do You Live.
“The movie is completely unstaged. It’s like spending time with Hayao Miyazaki and getting to know him and hanging out in his home and his studio as he struggles to do something he has never done before,” Eric Beckman, CEO of GKIDS, said in an interview. “There are moments of insecurity and doubt, a self awareness of the weight of his legacy, the sense that he simply must create something vital, but is unsure of how.”
The documentary, which had a theatrical run in Japan back in 2016, will get its English-subtitled release in USA in December.