Hayao Miyazaki's New Film Still Has Years Of Animation Left To Complete, Studio Ghibli Boss Toshio Suzuki Says

Hayao Miyazaki is a notoriously meticulous director. The formerly retired filmmaker oversees every key frame of his films, and has his hands on every part of the animation process. Naturally, that results in a famously slow production for many of the films of the legendary anime director behind Studio Ghibli classics like Spirited Away, Princess Mononoke and The Wind Rises. But they're always worth the wait.

However, Miyazaki fans breathlessly waiting for his new film, How Do You Live?, a coming-of-age drama that brought the filmmaker out of retirement once again, will have to wait a little longer. Studio Ghibli producer Toshio Suzuki gave an update on the How Do You Live production, revealing that the upcoming film is still years away from being completed.

The animation world rejoiced when Hayao Miyazaki announced in 2016 that he was coming out of retirement (again) to direct a new film, titled How Do You Live? The coming-of-age drama based on Genzaburo Yoshino's 1937 novel of the same name, was intended to be released with the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, but was soon delayed by another year or two. Now, Studio Ghibli producer and general manager Toshio Suzuki, who has produced all of Miyazaki's films under the animation studio, revealed in a new interview with Entertainment Weekly that the film will take at least another three years to complete.

"We are still hand-drawing everything, but it takes us more time to complete a film because we're drawing more frames," Suzuki said. How Do You Live? has 60 animators working on the film since Miyazaki started production on it in 2016, but the team's painstaking hand-drawn animation process only completes roughly one minute of animation per month. This, despite production continuing through the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. At that rate, Suzuki is looking at an animation wrap in 2023, adding:

"There are more drawings to draw than before. Back when we were making 'My Neighbor Totoro,' we only had eight animators. 'Totoro' we made in eight months. [For] the current film that 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."

While Miyazaki dabbled with 3D animation for the first time with a 2018 animated short Boro the Caterpillar, How Do You Live? will bring him back to his hand-drawn roots in what will purportedly be his most personal (and possibly, final) film. The film follows a 15-year-old boy named Koperu, who moves into his uncle's house after his father's death. Suzuki had previously revealed that Miyazaki is making the new film to leave behind for his grandson. "It's his way of saying 'Grandpa is moving on to the next world, but he's leaving behind this film.'"

Suzuki added that How Do You Live? tells "a big, fantastical story," which is not far off from the rest of Miyazaki's filmography. But Suzuki revealed to EW that he initially skeptical that Miyazaki should make another movie.

"Many directors make films on and on and on throughout their careers as they grow older," Suzuki said. "When Miyazaki came back and said that I want to make a film again, I actually said that's not a great idea because he's achieved so much already. You can't come back and do something that you've already done in the past, you have to do something different. One of the ideas that came out from that was, why not spend more time and spend more money [to make a film]? So, that's one of the new approaches."

We can likely expect How Do You Live? to hit theaters sometime after 2023.