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NEVER-ENDING MAN: HAYAO MIYAZAKI

What to know: A poignant, revealing portrait of the Oscar-winning director, Hqyao Miyazaki that gives insight into his past and future.
KIDS FIRST ENDORSED
Recommended age 8-18
70 minutes
FeatureFilm
GKIDS
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Never Ending Man: Hayao Miyazaki is a poignant, revealing portrait of the Oscar´┐Ż-winning Japanese director, Hayao Miyazaki. Directed by Kaku Arakawa and produced by NHK, this documentary shows Miyazaki's fans what the legendary director is planning for the future, since his decision to retire in 2013. The film uses chapters to title each section of the film, which makes it seem more personal, as if each piece is a part of Miyazaki's thought process. The editing and camera angles are spot on and very cleanly done.

As the film opens, Miyazaki believes that he is too old to continue with hand-drawn, animated, feature films, because they are too emotionally and physically taxing on his aging body. He decides to start focusing the rest of his energy on a less physically intense short film, Boro the Caterpillar. In order for this project to be practical for Miyazaki, he and the remains of his trusted team decide to call upon a more technological, younger CGI team. Miyazaki doesn't trust the younger team at the start because he says they don't capture the essence of emotion and passion in their CGI work. However, he ultimately gets a kick out of learning CGI animation from the younger team and begins to feel more open towards them, because he feeds off the energy of their youth.

During the project, Miyazaki becomes mildly depressed because two of his old animation colleagues pass away and he questions why he didn't go first. Miyazaki says that he would rather die being productive, making his next film than being an ordinary, lazy old man. In fact, the documentary shows how he changes his mind about doing another feature length film. Even though he may die during the making of the next film, he states that he wants "to die with something to live for."

This documentary was somewhat sad for me, because Miyazaki is, by far my favorite director. To see him speak of himself as old and feeble was really hard to watch. I've seen all of his films multiple times and it's really distressing to think that it will all be over after his next film. However, he still appears to be robust and the films ends on a positive note. He states that "self-satisfied people are boring and we have to push hard to surpass ourselves." It's difficult to imagine how Miyazaki can surpass what he's already accomplished.

I recommend Never Ending Man: Hayao Miyazaki for ages 13 to 18 and give it 5 out of 5 stars, because it digs deep into the emotional and complicated life cycle of a world-shaping animation director. This film is distributed by Gkids and playing in select screenings through Fathom Events. Do check it out.

Reviewed by Clayton P., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 19

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A look at famous Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki following his retirement in 2013.
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