Hayao Miyazaki, the legendary director of hand-drawn anime films including but not limited to Spirited Away and My Neighbor Totoro, announced his retirement in September 2013 at the age of 72, and the closure of his company Studio Ghibli was expected to follow. But history has taught us that most retirements are more like hiatuses, and Kaku Arakawa’s documentary Never-Ending Man: Hayao Miyazaki follows him through 2015 and 2016 as Miyazaki returns to the still-operating Studio Ghibli to make the short Boro the Caterpillar using their new CGI toys.
Much of Never-Ending Man is Miyazaki ruminating about his place in the brave new digital world as a geezer who’s already lived a full life, but can’t imagine not working, even if it means learning new tricks such as using a tablet rather than a pencil and paper. But his real concern proves to be less his own obsolescence than the sort of new things created by those tools, such as an AI that creates a grotesque monstrosity when trying to draw a human form; the younger staff figures it can be used in a zombie video game, but Miyazaki considers it an insult to life itself. Since Never-Ending Man was shot, Miyazaki has started work on a new feature film, because some lives just keep going.
Not rated. Opens Friday at the Roxie Theater.