The biggest name in anime, Hayao Miyazaki, is getting ready to start production on one last film. After coming out of retirement late last year, the 76-year-old director is officially gearing up for what he calls his actual final project later this year.
A recruitment notice for in-between animators and background artists is up on the Studio Ghibli website, as spotted by Anime News Network. A translation of the Japanese ad notes that this is Miyazaki’s “final feature animation film,” and that work is expected to begin on Oct. 1 for a three-year period.
Miyazaki previously eyed a 2019 release date for the film, although Studio Ghibli producer Toshio Suzuki said in April that getting the film out by then looks “impossible.” A three-year track suggests the film could be in theaters by 2021 — at which point Miyazaki will be in his early 80s.
Although it sounds like the director is confident that this picture will indeed be his last, it may be hard for fans to trust him. 2013’s The Wind Rises was originally planned as his final film. A personal work of historical fiction, it premiered to positive reviews.
Studio Ghibli has struggled to release follow-ups that reach a similar caliber in the years since Miyazaki’s first retirement, however. Following 2014’s When Marnie Was There, Studio Ghibli announced it was slowing down its production pace. It hasn’t made another feature film since then.
Ghibli is slowly picking things back up, with a computer-animated TV series called Ronja, the Robber’s Daughter streaming exclusively on Amazon earlier this year. The studio also continues to make short films that are shown in its museum in Mitaka, Japan; it was one of those that prompted Miyazaki to take one more stab at the feature film business.