Hayao Miyazaki has only finished 36 minutes of his ambitious new movie in 3 years

A scene from Spirited Away.
Image: Studio Ghibli

Studio Ghibli co-founder Hayao Miyazaki retired in 2013, but that hasn’t stopped him from making films.

The 79-year-old director’s next project — entitled Kimi-tachi wa Dou Ikiru ka? (How Do You Live?) and based on a story of the same name — is well underway and is set to be a “big, fantastical story,” according to Ghibli producer Toshio Suzuki, who spoke with Entertainment Weekly through a translator about the studio’s upcoming projects.

Suzuki, who expressed hesitance about Miyazaki’s return to directing (“That’s not a great idea because he’s achieved so much already”), said that the director is trying new methods in order to differentiate his upcoming projects from past works. One of those methods includes spending more time and money and drawing more frames.

“We are still hand-drawing everything, but it takes us more time to complete a film because we’re drawing more frames,” Suzuki said. “So, there are more drawings to draw than before. Back when we were making [1988’s] My Neighbor Totoro, we only had eight animators. Totoro we made in eight months. [For] the current film that Hayao Miyazaki is working on, we have 60 animators, but we are only able to come up with one minute of animation in a month. That means 12 months a year, you get 12 minutes worth of movie. Actually, we’ve been working on this film for three years, so that means we have 36 minutes completed so far. We’re hoping it will finish in the next three years.”

How Do You Live? follows a young boy who moves in with his uncle and experiences a “spiritual change.” In addition to Miyazaki’s projects, Ghibli also has a movie helmed by his son Gorō (Tales of Earthsea, From Up on Poppy Hill) in the works, a computer-animated adaptation of an unnamed story from England with a “wise girl” at the center.

All Studio Ghibli films are currently available for digital purchase, and will be available to stream on HBO Max when it launches later this month.

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