Hayao Miyazaki. (Photo: Denis Makarenko/Shutterstock.com) Hayao Miyazaki. (Photo: Denis Makarenko/Shutterstock.com)

Hayao Miyazaki Is Directing A Computer Animated Film

Hayao Miyazaki, the retired/unretired animation legend who is indelibly associated with hand-drawn filmmaking, is directing his first computer animated film.

The ten-minute short, which will star a caterpillar named Boro and will be displayed at the Ghibli Museum, is expected to take Miyazaki three years to make, according to a report on Anime News Network. It is not clear what stage the film’s production is at, or how much longer it will take to finish it.

“[Hayao] gets bored when his goal is maintaining [the Ghibli Museum], so he needs things to fiddle around with,” his son Goro Miyazaki said at an event last month as explanation for why his 74-year-old father was making a CG film.

Goro is also working with computer animation nowadays as he directs the Ghibli TV series Ronia The Robber’s Daughter. Last fall, when the elder Miyazaki was asked for his thoughts about his son switching from hand-drawn to CGI, he responded that the technique was beside the point.

“I think talent decides everything,” Miyazaki said. “More than the method, what’s important is the talent using it. There’s nothing inherently wrong or right about a method, whether it be pencil drawings or 3-D CG.”

In that same interview, Miyazaki said he felt lucky that he’d managed to avoid using a computer throughout his career. From the looks of it though, it’s never too late to teach an old dog some new tricks.

(Photo: Denis Makarenko/Shutterstock.com)

  • Grant Beaudette

    Intriguing. It’ll be interesting to see what he comes up with.

  • martin

    sweet. hopefully it wont be restricted to the ghibli museum (like the other shorts).

  • Willie Okendo

    I’m really worried about this. Because I don’t want him to say that he will make more japanese CGI films that will overshadow japanese 2D animation.

    “Just please Miyazaki, don’t think about being like how Pixar accidentally overshadowed 2D animation, I want the japanese 2D animation to keep going in the big screen.”

    • Marc Hendry

      It’s only an independent short film, so it won’t have the financial success that toy story had. Also they already have CG in Japan.

      • Willie Okendo

        Okay good, I actually want to use 2D japanese animation when I work in the animation industry. I’m already doing anime art on DeviantArt, and I hope to get better at it.

    • Dusty Ayres

      I wan to see more Japanese CGI anime, and I think that Japanese studios could (and should) do more. CGI is just a tool, no better or worse than standard animation, and it should be embraced fully, not destroyed because it isn`t pen-and ink cel animation.

      • Willie Okendo

        They can still make some CGI anime films, it’s that I don’t want them to go too overboard and to overshadow the 2D animated anime films.

        I want to use japanese 2D animation when I work in the animation industry.

        • Dusty Ayres

          You know, if you want, you can do anime in CGI if you want to, and there’s a program for it (the name escapes me for the moment.)

          • Willie Okendo

            Actually, my own CGI films will look more like a mix of Pixar and Dreamworks on the CGI animation.

            My 2D animated films will look more like anime.

  • Zman

    Ghibli short for the museum….perfect so no one will be able to watch it! I’d love to watch all the museum shorts, but I can’t.

  • DJM

    Wish he would fiddle around with more of his manga!

  • adam


    and that was my bad impression of overreaction

  • this is interesting. Considering he said in his acceptance speech at that Oscars-related show, the one where John Lasseter introduced him, that he was thankful to have been in a age where 2D animation was still used, or something along those lines. He also made it pretty clear in the Kingdom of Dreams and Madness doc. that he was very pro-2D animation over computers.

    I mean, with Miyazaki directing it, I’m sure it will be good. I know this is mean to say, but idaf, but that Ronia The Robber’s Daughter anime looks awful character animation-wise. The scenery looks OK, and some of the non-human fantasy creatures, but the character animation of the humans looks so off in most scenes.

    the CG graphics/animation in the Ni no Kuni video game looked great, so I’m sure this short can look decent….but I’m sorry, Ghibli’s animation will always look the best in 2D, I don’t care how gorgeous and shiny you can make cg animation look. Every time I watch one of the studios most recent museum shorts, like Pandane to Tamago Hime, which you can only find cam videos of, I am in awe of the animation. Unfortuneately that is the only way you can see these shorts, unless you live in Japan or fly to Japan just to go to the museum. :/ I was lucky enough to go to Tokyo when I was at SCAD, and we went to the museum during the trip and I got to see Mei and the Kittenbus, but I would love to see the rest of the shorts u_u

    • Miyazaki Fan

      You’re talking about Ronia and Ni No Kuni. That’s assuming that this film will be cel-shaded like that show (and game.) Miyazaki has a very good eye for animation, and if he’s working in CG, I can guarantee you that he’ll stick to the strengths of the tools he’s using. It will probably look nothing like a typical Ghibli film.

      As for the people around here freaking out. Stop worrying. This does not mean that 2D is dead. Miyazaki has never been interested in pandering to his fans. When Ghibli was beginning to have a reputation as a cuddly family brand, Miyazaki made Princess Mononoke. Ghibli has a reputation as being a studio that upholds the hand-drawn tradition. Maybe Miyazaki just wants to subvert fan expectations.

      At the very least, if Isao Takahata ever gets around to directing another feature, it will probably be a gorgeous hand-drawn film akin to The Tale of Princess Kaguya. There’s room for all kinds of animation. Hand-drawn, CGI, and stop-mo.

    • Chad Townsend

      Also if I m mistaken wasn’t there that whole moment in the Documentary where they asked his son to continue directing so the studio would not shut down and he said no… they all cried etc? I’d hate to be right.

      • I’ve only seen the doc once, but I just remember that super awkward scene with Goro defending his purpose for making films which left ex. producer Toshio Suzuki dropping his head onto the table. Maybe that is what you are referring to. I think it’s pretty clear he has no future at the studio, unless he changes his mindset and realizes he truly wants to carry on the studios legacy, but from that scene in the doc. it doesn’t seem that way? I get the impression he feels more pressured into being a part of the studio more than him truly wanting to be apart of it. idk.

        Yet that was the biggest downfall of the studio, Miyazaki never wanting to find a proper replacement to head the studio. Well, actually he considered this one director, who directed the sequel to Whisper of the Heart to be his successor, but they died in a car accident. Takahata probably won’t want to make another film, he’s older than Miyazaki. Kaguya was supposed to be his magnum opus. That film took his over 7 years to make. The producer of it had to literally beg him to make another film.

        Then there’s Yonebayashi, which has made two decent films, but I don’t think either of them were very profitable.

        I only wish the studio would release these precious shorts to other theaters worldwide. They could make a HUGE profit with ticket sales, bringing much-needed money to the studio. Yet I guess they are seen as sacred gems that can’t leave the museum.

  • Miyazaki Fan

    Too bad I’ll probably never get to see it. I bet it will be quite interesting. Who knows, Miyazaki might come out of retirement and try directing a feature length CGI film…

    • jm5d

      Forgive me if I sound critical, but didn’t Amid say this film would be a “ten-minute short”, not necessarily a feature?

    • George Comerci

      Why not?

      • Miyazaki Fan

        George Comerci, the reason I say that I’ll probably never be able to see it is that this is a short film featured exclusively at the Ghibli Museum. Aside from a couple of camrips that leaked onto the internet, there’s no way to see these movies unless you go to Japan.

        jm5d, I know it’s a short film. I was hopefully speculating that after this, Miyazaki would come out of retirement, and direct a feature.

        • asdfghjk

          Carnegie Hall screened a few Ghibli shorts a couple of years ago.

          Never say never!

          • Miyazaki Fan

            For me, New York City might as well be Japan.

          • There’s always that, the one or two lucky chances those shorts get screened outside the museum somewhere in the world.

  • Céu D’Ellia

    Pencil drawings and 3DCG: That´s how he calls the techniques. He does not say 2D and 3D.

  • Metlow Rovenstein

    This is good news! Hopefully, the transition from 2D to 3D CGI won’t be too bad. Peace.

  • Társio Abranches

    Well, it’s not like he didn’t use some CG in his hand-drawn movies.

    I hope he creates a new style of CG movie.

  • Inkan1969

    Is that normal to need three whole years to make one 10-minute short?

    • AmidAmidi

      Three years is hardly rare for a short film. Many indie filmmakers I know spend that long. And it’s not even close to a record. Brad Caslor, for example, spent seven years working on his classic NFB piece “Get a Job.”

      • Inkan1969

        Thanks for clearing up my misconception, Amid.

      • That is a mark of quality as well to see it!

  • starss

    “Ghibli won’t make a CGI film.”

    “I will make a CGI film.”

  • Jascha

    Lol and I thought it was April Fools’ already.

  • Paul M

    There is no down side to this.

  • Steven Bowser

    I hope that we can see it online somehow. Or else I’ll have to visit Japan just to see the Ghibli Museum, which would actually be amazing. Amazing and expensive. >.>

  • Mister Twister

    You forgot to mention that Miyazaki ended with saying the hand drawn animation is a dying medium.

  • Jon

    I just wish Ghibli wasn’t so stubborn about things and released a formal video of its animated museum shorts for everyone. It couldn’t be that much of an investment, and it would be an easy gold mine for them because anyone who’s ever seen a Ghibli film would want to buy it for themselves. Lord knows Disney has already put together their own short films collection together.

  • Florence

    It makes sense, even if it is surprising! And its definitely good, I think. He’s getting old. He can’t keep up his old method anymore. He either needs to start taking some modern shortcuts, or he simply won’t be able to create anything. He simply can’t take the strenuous workload in his old age.

  • animation fanboy

    I can’t wait to see it!

  • Who is What

    finally! He said he wanted to make a film about a caterpillar long ago while pitching it alongside princess mononoke. He had this idea and seeing as it didn’t cut out to be a feature length film he eventually made the idea into a short. Anyway I’m just happy he didn’t scrap this idea.

  • Chicken McPhee

    Didn’t he JUST retire? Or was that an illusion?

    • daniel thomas

      He retired from directing feature films. He still plans to create manga comics and short films for the Ghibli Museum. And still run the studio and Nibariki. And work 12-hour days. So, yeah, retired.

      • Chicken McPhee

        I think you meant to say “retired”.

  • Lia Rose

    Mr. Hayao Miyazaki, I COMPLETELY SUPPORT EVERY DECISION YOU MAKE! I am a HUGE FAN! I know people don’t like change, but I know that this new method will not change the wonderful story you have to offer us. I am extremely thankful you worked so hard on this new short. I hope somehow your legacy will continue and that we all will pass down your wonderful movies that you put your whole effort into making for us to enjoy. Please enjoy your life as I know you will and we will continue to share your movies with the world. Love and peace,
    Leyann Durfee

  • Always_to_the_right

    Cool and he is write talent determines. Wish he would do more than just put it in the museum but more reason to travel to Japan I guess.

  • Dusty Ayres

    “I think talent decides everything,” Miyazaki said. “More than the method, what’s important is the talent using it. There’s nothing inherently wrong or right about a method, whether it be pencil drawings or 3-D CG.”

    About time somebody said this, especially to the legions of silly people (so-called animation ‘fans’) obsessed with staying in the past because they can’t deal with the future. Good luck with this new project, Miyazaki-san, and let’s hope that it gets a wide release.

    • megadrivesonic

      people wanting more 2D animation in the glut of rather generic 3D animation is people staying in the past?

      • Dusty Ayres

        Generic to you and a few others, not to the rest of us. Look at the detail given to digits and other body parts in some recent CG toons like Tangled, and you’ll see why I love it more than most. Take a look at all of the CGI art at deviantArt (http://thedigitalplayground.deviantart.com) and you’ll see how great it can be. I’m not saying that pen and ink cel animation has no place, but CG should not just be expected to step aside for pen and ink cel animation ‘just because’ people like you couldn’t get into it. Miyazaki has shown that he can do this as a senior citizen (and he may not even live long enough to finish it)-why should it stop you or anybody else that’s an animator?

        Something else to consider: CGI animation is somewhat cheaper to get into and do than traditional cel animation, as shown in this excellent production made by one guy (and his friends and family): http://auroratrek.com/episodes.html

  • daniel thomas

    A quick update to this thread. This upcoming short film will not be Hayao Miyazaki’s first all-CGI work. He directed a 10-second CGI animated clip in 1994 for Japanese TV network Nippon Television, as part of a series of short promo clips. Miyazaki directed and personally animated a few hand-drawn clips for NTV in 1992.

    Studio Ghibli was never quite so stubborn over CG! But slowly tried to integrate it with hand-drawn animation. Pom Poko, On Your Mark, and Mimi wo Sumaseba/Whisper o/t Heart used computers in a supporting role. And Princess Mononoke integrated CG into roughly a third of the film.

    It will be interesting to see what Miyazaki creates. His Ghibli Museum short films are often more freewheeling and experimental (and non-commercial, aside from the one Totoro semi-sequel) than his feature films or television series.

  • Dusty Ayres

    Both of your examples look the same as what’s done by Dreamworks and Pixar; the one example I cited was done by a guy using his own money and DAZ Studio, plus the help of some friends.

    • megadrivesonic

      Both of these were made mostly by individuals on their own money as well. Is DAZ studio even used by professionals? I am curios if it is? Just from first glace it looks more like something made using the poser character creator rather then making something from scratch. I understand CGI takes work and the pixar look tends to be what ends up coming up.

      • Dusty Ayres

        DAZ or Poser, it doesn’t matter; Tim Vinning made Star Trek Aurora, and he did a better job (or just as good a job) as the people mentioned by you. Without CGI, it would never have been done (go to his website, email him, and ask how he did it.)

  • snarkylicious

    I see nothing wrong with this.

  • It’s time for us hand-drawn animation purists to accept that even the masters of such a beloved art-technique can’t escape the near-painful fact that CGI is dominating today’s animation industry… it already has. If we want hand-drawn animation back, then we’re just gonna have to do it ourselves! WHO IS WITH ME?!