International audiences are finally going to get the chance to catch Never-Ending Man: Hayao Miyazaki The new documentary film is an insider look at the life of acclaimed Japanese animator, artist, writer, and filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki, the heart and soul of the iconic Studio Ghibli. Apart from being autobiographical, the film centres around themes like relentless creativity and drive, particularly asking the question of why it seems impossible for Miyazaki to actually retire. In the US, Never Ending is slated to be shown on December 13 and December 18 with English subtitles. Leading cinema distributor Fathom Events is distributing the film, and PR News reveals that over 500 cinemas will get to screen this one-of-a-kind feature.
The film has actually already reached British shores via NHK World TV last year. One particularly memorable scene is when Miyazaki effortlessly drops hard and wise truth bombs over coffee. “That song ‘Let It Go’ is popular now. It’s all about being yourself… But that’s terrible. Self-satisfied people are boring. We have to push hard and surpass ourselves.”After 2017’s British screening of Never Ending Man, Vice took the opportunity to speak with the documentary’s director Kaku Arakawa, who explained that “Some people who know Miyazaki very well say that he is even more interesting than his films… People think Miyazaki is a little bit scary or difficult, but actually he is very friendly. He tells many interesting stories and I often think any one of them could become his next film.”Anyone who knows a thing or two about animation knows how important the man is to the world of fantastical, hand-drawn animation.
Out of the many recognisable artists from Japan, Miyazaki without doubt belongs to the top tier whose work has been highly instrumental in popularising various aspects of Japanese culture abroad. In the process of using inherently Japanese themes to communicate with and influence new audiences, Miyazaki along with his fellow influential artists have inadvertently caused many other entertainment media formats to follow in their aesthetic footsteps. Warner Bros. Animation is one company that has successfully used the Japanese anime style made famous by Miyazaki and adapted it to create their own stories, in this case Batman Ninja. The same can be said of Asian digital provider Expat Bets, which takes very recognisable elements of Japanese culture and reconfigures them for an online audience. Meanwhile, there’s also Conan O’Brien’s recent series of remote segments in which he took a film crew on a tour of Japan’s many cultural sites – a more straightforward example of the west embracing the Far East. Whether it’s online gaming, network television, or animation in the west, Japan’s creative cultural influences find ways to shine through, much of which is thanks to the seminal masterpieces of iconic visionaries like Hayao Miyazaki.
If you’re not that familiar with Miyazaki’s work, check out 1997’s Princess Mononoke, 1988’s My Neighbor Totoro, and 2001’s Spirited Away, which Indie Wire correctly argues could be the man’s three best works. Meanwhile, 2016’s Your Name by director Makoto Shinkai can give you a good idea of just how much Miyazaki’s work has inspired the styles of Japan’s next generation of anime filmmakers.