Studio Ghibli producer Toshio Suzuki revealed in October 2017 that Hayao Miyazaki was ending his retirement from directing after four years in order to leave behind a feature film project for his grandson. Suzuki explained in a television interview, “Miyazaki is making the new film for his grandson. It’s his way of saying, ‘Grandpa is moving on to the next world, but he’s leaving behind this film.’” But it turns out there was another reason Miyazaki ended his retirement, and it’s the simple fact that he was too restless for a life of retirement.
Speaking to /Film ahead of the HBO Max streaming release of “Earwig and the Witch,” Hayao Miyazaki’s son and fellow filmmaker Goro Miyazkai said his father’s retirement got so aimless that Hayao “needed to create something in order to live, basically.” Studio Ghibli reopened its animation facility for production on “Earwig” and Hayao’s upcoming feature film “How Do You Live?,” the experience of which Goro touched upon.
“I did ‘Ronja, the Robber’s Daughter,’ a TV series, with an outside studio. After doing that, when I came back to Studio Ghibli, nobody was here and it was like storage, very empty,” Goro said. “And I thought, ‘Okay, so I won’t be making films anymore.’ And when I saw Toshio Suzuki, our producer, he actually looked happy, and said, ‘I can retire now!’ But then Hayao Miyazaki, he wasn’t able to stay away that long. He needed to create something in order to live, basically. So he started with making a short film for the [Ghibli] museum, and then he went on to making his new feature-length film.”
Goro continued, “Hayao Miyazaki’s wife, who is my mother, she used to say [to him], ‘I wish you would retire and take it easy and enjoy the rest of your life.’ But recently, she’s come to accept the fact that he cannot stop creating, so she knows that, so she’ll be like, ‘Okay, if you’d rather create until the end of your life, then go to the studio, go to the office everyday.'”
While Goro’s “Earwig” is hitting HBO Max on February 5, Hayao’s “How Do You Live?” is still years away from its release date. Suzuki said in 2020 that production on the film would last another three years because of the hand-drawn animation style being used on the feature.