The influence of Hayao Miyazaki is omnipresent in the world of animation, with many famous artists regularly citing him as a chief source of inspiration for their own experiments. Thanks to the pioneering artistic achievements of Miyazaki, the extensive legacy of Studio Ghibli has managed to capture the imagination of children all over the world.
Many anime fans were incredibly saddened when Miyazaki announced his retirement in 2013. While there were talks about future projects, the ageing master declared that he would not work on another film again and that he was passing the baton to the newer generation of animators and filmmakers in Studio Ghibli who are looking to change things up.
Among this newer generation of artists, the name that stands out to many is Gorō Miyazaki – the son of Hayao Miyazaki who has already worked on a number of projects for the studio. Gorō’s approach to animation has been criticised by many Studio Ghibli traditionalists including Miyazaki who did not want his son to follow in his footsteps in the first place.
Gorō has pushed forward despite all this resistance with projects such as Earwig and the Witch – Studio Ghibli’s first proper foray into the world of computer-generated 3D animation. This has raised many questions about the future of the studio and has led many to come to the conclusion that the studio’s legacy is in jeopardy if artists deviate from its hand-drawn traditions.
As if to reassure those who feared the end of the studio, Miyazaki announced last year that he was going to come out of retirement to make one final project which meant a lot to him. Due to Miyazaki’s intense personal connection with the material as well as a chance to see the auteur at work again, fans were naturally excited about what the film was going to be.
It turns out that Miyazaki’s farewell to animation will be an adaptation of his favourite childhood novel – How Do You Live? by Yoshino Genzaburo. This book had a formative influence on the pioneer when he was growing up and left a deep impression on him, standing out among other iconic books he read during his childhood such as Alice in Wonderland and The Little Prince.
How Do You Live? is a classic Japanese coming-of-age tale which tells the story of a teenager in Tokyo who tries to process the tragic loss of his father. According to Miyazaki, this final film is supposed to be a farewell letter to his grandson. Through this project, Miyazaki wants to say: “Grandpa is moving onto the next world soon but he is leaving this film behind because he loves you.”
This news has been welcomed by fans all over the world as well, including admirers of the original novel. How Do You Live? is a tender story about a 15-year-old who struggles with life’s big questions while dealing with his father’s death. Over the course of a year, he embarks on an important journey that provides him with many revelations.
“Books like this are important,” Neil Gaiman wrote in the foreword of the translated version of the book. “I’m so glad Mr. Miyazaki is making his film because it means that eighty-four years after it was written, Yoshino’s novel can be read in English, in Bruno Navasky’s gentle and winning translation, and that I got to read it.”