Cli-Fi: Miyazaki’s Mission Critical

Princess Mononoke meets The Never-Ending Man, as Hayao Miyazaki’s blessed return inches closer to the cli-fi futurism he chronicled, as it happened.

Miyazaki was no stranger to visionary art and critique by the time he created his masterpiece Princess Mononoke, a devastatingly honest and portentous warning of what happens when nature fights back, after industry unsustainably oversteps its power boundary. From the utopian steampunk of Sherlock Hound to the antifascist solarpunk of Future Boy Conan, the legendary Japanese animator was, by then, in full control of Spaceship Earth as the tragic Princess Mononoke invaded a millennium accelerating into dystopia.

Mandatory cli-fi viewing, all of them.

The toil and toll of Mononoke was metafictional, after its award-winning follow-up Spirited Away went viral and eventually exhausted their acclaimed creator. Two underrated stunners later, Ponyo and A Wind Rises, and Hayao Miyazaki retired from animation to clean his local river, with much more time on his hands than before.

The dreaded retirement didn’t last. Once unimpressed by CGI, the defiantly hand-drawn legend quickly set to work unleashing his brilliance and innovation on a blockbuster medium that his seamless art had historically inspired. Miyazaki’s metafictional element kept pace, as a new documentary The Never-Ending Man celebrated what may be one of the most anticipated homecomings heading our way, as Earth overheats and interconnected philosophers like Miyazaki leave us behind.

Both essential films are now available, with data below on more recent screenings and releases. Miyazaki scholars should pair up The Never-Ending Man with its more tragicomic predecessor The Kingdom of Dreams and Madness, for an extended lesson on one of our singular Earth’s bravest, greatest heroes.


From the legendary Studio Ghibli, this epic fantasy film is one of the best-selling and internationally renowned films of all time. Princess Mononoke is here presented with a release perfect for collectors and animation fans who have adored the film since its initial release.

The set’s 40-page book features new essays by film critic Glenn Kenny (The New York Times, RogerEbert.com) alongside amazing imagery and statements from director Hayao Miyazaki and producer Toshio Suzuki, and Miyazaki’s poems about the characters.

The first animated film to win the Japan Academy Prize for Picture of the Year, Princess Mononoke is Miyazaki’s epic masterpiece that has dazzled audiences worldwide with its breathtaking imagination, exhilarating battles, and deep humanity.

Inflicted with a deadly curse, the young warrior Ashitaka heads west in search of a cure. There, he stumbles into a bitter conflict between Lady Eboshi and the proud people of Iron Town, and the enigmatic Princess Mononoke, a young girl raised by wolves, who will stop at nothing to prevent the humans from destroying her home, and the forest spirits and animal gods who live there. Featuring the voices of Gillian Anderson, Billy Crudup, Claire Danes, Minnie Driver, Jada Pinkett Smith, and Billy Bob Thornton.


The documentary feature Never-Ending Man: Hayao Miyazaki will be released on Blu-ray + DVD combo pack on April 30, 2019 from GKIDS and Shout! Factory. The film offers a new look at the rarely-interviewed filmmaker as he faces the challenges of working with unfamiliar CGI technology to create a new short film. Never-Ending Man will make its home video debut following a limited theatrical release this December.

This release contains two different versions: a 70-minute version in Japanese with English subtitles, and an alternate cut, a 48-minute broadcast version with English narration, which includes footage not included in the 70-minute version.

In 2013, Academy Award®-winning film director and animator Hayao Miyazaki suddenly announced his retirement at the age of 72. But he can’t shake his burning desire to create. After an encounter with young CGI animators, Miyazaki embarks on a new project to utilize CGI for the first time ever. But the artist, who has been adamant about hand-drawn animation, confronts many challenges that threaten to cancel the film. Can an old master who thinks he’s past his prime shine once again? This program goes behind the scenes over two years as Miyazaki overcomes struggles to create his short film Boro the Caterpillar using CGI.


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