The Next Miyazaki Feature Film is NOT "Boro the Caterpiller"
After the news broke yesterday that Hayao Miyazaki is returning to feature film production, a few facts have been brought to my attention, so I wanted to correct the official record.
Back in November, NHK TV aired a special about Hayao Miyazaki, Owaranai Hito Miyazaki Hayao ("The Never-Ending Man: Hayao Miyazaki"), showing him working on a new short film for the Ghibli Museum called Boro the Caterpiller. During this program, it was also revealed that the director was also reconsidering his "retirement" from feature films, even going so far as to show him working on storyboards.
There seems to be some confusion on the specifics, as these NHK specials are famously vague. Studio Ghibli loves to reveal only snippets here and there, only revealing everything once productions are nearly complete. Because of this, the idea emerged that Boro the Caterpiller, in addition to being a short film, was also the subject for Miyazaki's new feature.
The story first broke on Anime News Network, which detailed the events of the NHK special. The Boro and feature projects are mentioned separately. This was followed by Indie Wire, which conflated the two into a single project. From here, the meme was carried away by the internet echo chamber, which leads us to today.
Let's be clear on this matter. Boro the Caterpiller is a short film created for the Ghibli Museum. Miyazaki's feature film is a separate project, not related in any way. At one point during the NHK program, the director even asks the cameraman, "I think, if I make a feature film, what should I make?" In addition, while he is seen on camera working on storyboards, its contents are never revealed. This, again, is in keeping with Ghibli's tradition of teasing out only tiny pieces for the fans.
I've been writing about Studio Ghibli since 2003, and I can assure you that such misunderstandings are very common. Westerners pick up on bits and pieces, often just casual conversation by Miyazaki himself, that balloons into unofficial news. Movie sequels to Porco Rosso and Nausicaa of the Valley of Wind are two good examples. Other examples: the idea that Hayao Miyazaki's career began with Studio Ghibli; that Castle of Cagliostro or Nausicaa of the Valley of Wind was his "first movie"; that any number of pre-Ghibli works are "Ghibli Films," even citing Toei Doga movies; and citing just about any anime film as "Miyazaki." For many Westerners, "Miyazaki" is merely shorthand for "Japanese cartoons that remind me of Disney."
We're getting better with accurate news, but the internet is a vast echo chamber for gossip, which spreads like wildfire and quickly becomes "conventional wisdom."
Much thanks to Japanese reader Tsk06, a follower on Ghibli Blog Twitter, for helping me out on this subject. As always, we greatly appreciate our fans and supporters.