Never-Ending Man: Hayao Miyazaki is a refreshingly candid look at the acclaimed filmmaker’s process and life. Though relatively short, this documentary succeeds as an immersive and impactful look at Miyakazki’s determination to keep moving forward.
If you’re looking for a blow by blow account of Miyazaki’s storied career, which includes classics such as Howl’s Moving Castle, Ponyo and Spirited Away, you have come to the wrong place. Released by GKIDs, Never-Ending Man: Hayao Miyazaki focuses on the filmmaker and Studio Ghibli creator’s work with CGI technology in the making of his animated short Boro the Caterpillar.
Director Kaku Arakawa spends most of the documentary filming Miyazaki in retirement, making ramen noodles and tea in relative seclusion. Longtime Miyazaki collaborator Toshio Suzuki is also featured in the project to serve as the director’s sounding board and the eyes and ears of the audience.
Even with all of his success, Miyazaki refuses to retreat into the past and rest on his laurels. Though he is obviously disheartened by the passing of his friends and collaborators (most of them, he remarks, are younger than him), Miyazaki continues his creative journey. His ultimate goal is to work to his dying day, as giving up his storytelling is, at least in his mind, is akin to death.
The director is not painted in a glowing or reverential light, as his workaholic tendencies, as well as his tendency to demand perfection from his co-works, is captured throughout the documentary. His initial embracement of the CGI process with Boro the Caterpillar also makes for arresting viewing, as one wonders if he’ll ever fully let go of hand drawn animation with the inevitable growth of technology.
Never-Ending Man: Hayao Miyazaki comes in a 70-minute version with English subtitles and a 48-minute broadcast version with English narration. Though the narration does give extra information on Miyazaki and the story at hand, the 70 minute version is the one to initially watch (it’s a much fuller experience).
Along with delivering an unflinching look at Miyazaki, the picture is also an inspiring look at what it takes to be an artist during one’s autumn years (Miyazaki’s next film How Do You Live? is currently in pre-production). Miyakaki refuses to go gentle into that good night, and we are all the better for it.
Never-Ending Man: Hayao Miyazaki is now available on Blu-ray via Shout! Factory.