GKIDS, Shout! Factory’s New Miyazaki Doc Is An Engaging New Look At A Legendary Animator

Courtesy: Shout! Factory/GKids Films

Creating hand-drawn features is a dying art if not a dead one.  Computers have taken over the world of animation.  One look at the offerings on the big and small screen alike serve to support those statements.  For all of the studios and animators who rely far too much on computer generated animation, there are still some holdouts, rare as they are, who work to continue the tradition of using their own hands to create instead of computers.  One of those holdouts is the famed animator Hayao Miyazaki.  Miyazaki has created a number of hand-drawn features that have gone on to become some of the most well-known and beloved works in the world of anime.  Those features include, but are not limited to Spirited Away, Kiki’s Delivery Service and Howl’s Moving Castle.  In 2015, the famed animator officially announced his retirement.  However, that retirement was short-lived, as the new documentary Never-Ending Man: Hayao Miyazaki points out.  Set for release April 30, this new look into the mind of a man who is among the last of a dying breed, follows Miyazaki as he works to create a new CGI animated short, which leads to a surprise finale that (not to give away too much) will make the most devoted anime fans squeal with joy.  That story of Miyazaki’s struggle with himself and with his team of animators is certain to keep audiences engaged.  It will be discussed at more length shortly.  The bonus material featured with the documentary is both a boon and burden to the whole of the doc.  The feature’s average price point rounds out the most important of its elements, and will also be discussed later.  Each item is important in its own way to the whole of the documentary.  All things considered, they make Never-Ending Man: Hayao Miyazaki a surprisingly engaging presentation not just for anime fans but for fans of the animation realm in general.

Never-Ending Man: Hayao Miyazaki is a surprisingly interesting documentary that is certain to engage not only longtime fans of the famed animator and his work, but also fans of animation in general.  This is proven in large part through the story at the center of the 70-minute documentary.  The story follows Miyazaki from his retirement announcement to his revelation that he feels his career is not yet complete and through his efforts to create his animated short about a caterpillar, and the struggles that come with its creation.  The struggles happen because Miyazaki, who has created all of his famed features by hand, reluctantly agrees to give CGI a chance in the short’s creation.  The doubts that he expresses about using CGI and about his own place in the animation world are very real.  Given his ruminations do seem a bit overly existential at times, but considering his accomplishments and what he has done for the animation world, one can understand why he would doubt himself so much.  Keeping this in mind and Miyazaki’s continued dedication to creating something that will stand out, those sometimes overly dramatic thoughts can be forgiven

While some of Miyazaki’s thoughts are at times overly dramatic, his dedication to creating animation by hand is welcoming.  That is especially the case as a group of individuals proposes to him, the use of artificial intelligence, to create his animated short.  What the group presents upsets him greatly, and he does not mince words about his thoughts on what he sees, either.  On a similar note, his comments about pushing the group of animators who are working on his short because of his desire for them to make the short perfect shows once more, that dedication to his craft.  It really serves to humanize Miyazaki even more, while also reminding audiences that while hand drawn animation may be a dying art, it is not yet dead.  It gives hope that one day animators will return to that style.  The collective of Miyazaki’s story and the virtual love letter to hand drawn animation that is featured here gives viewers plenty to appreciate in this presentation.  Of course it is just one of the elements featured in the presentation.  The bonus abridged, English-dubbed version of the story is both a pro and a con that cannot be ignored.

The English-dubbed version of Never-Ending Man: Hayao Miyazaki has to be addressed in part because on one hand, it is an English-dubbed take on the doc.  That means no reason to be focused on the subtitles the whole time instead of actually watching the feature.  To a point, that can be considered a good thing.  That is because having that added focus serves to ensure even more, viewers’ engagement.  On the other hand, one cannot help but wonder why the English-dubbed version of the documentary is shorter than the original 70-minute Japanese version of the program.  One could argue that cutting the run time by more than 20 minutes for English-speaking audiences is a punishment of sorts to said viewers.  Why not just make a full-length English-dub?  Keeping that in mind, one cannot help but wonder if the English-language dubbed take on the movie is really such a bonus.  Sure, it’s English-dubbed, but it is also shorter than the Japanese original.  What’s more it is not the difficult to focus on the subtitles and the footage in the Japanese take of the program.  Keeping all of this in mind, this documentary could have done gone just as well without the shortened English-language as with it.  A better bonus would have been the footage not used in the final cut of the documentary.  At least that would have created a fuller picture for audiences.  That is because the noted footage serves in its own way to show why it was deleted.  In turn it lets viewers create their own discussion whether they think it should have been cut from the final product.  Again, it makes the shortened English-dubbed take of the program less of a bonus than perhaps it was intended to be.  Luckily, even though the program’s bonus content is a bit of a misstep, it is not so much of a misstep that it makes the program unwatchable.  Rather, it is a minor disservice to the program’s presentation.  The presentation’s primary content more than makes up for that issue, and is worth the relatively affordable average price point.

The average price point of this documentary, using price listings at Shout! Factory’s store, Walmart, Amazon, Barnes & Noble Booksellers and Books-A-Million, is $23.16.  The least expensive of those listings is, fittingly, Shout! Factory’s listing, at $18.97.  All of the other listings easily top the $20 mark.  Considering that the doc is presented here on DVD and Blu-ray, paying $18.97 plus shipping and handling may push the price above the $20 mark, but still results in a price that is still quite affordable.  What’s more it is money well-spent for a documentary that anime and animation fans are certain to watch more than once.  That relatively affordable price, coupled with the strength of the documentary’s main feature makes Never-Ending Man: Hayao Miyazaki a positive offering from GKids and Shout! Factory that is certain to engage a wide range of viewers.

Never-Ending Man: Hayao Miyazaki, the new documentary following the famed animator as he faces life after retirement, is a work that is certain to engage and entertain fans of anime and animation in general.  That is due primarily through the documentary’s main feature.  The average price point of $23.16 is not overly expensive, considering the fact that the doc is presented on DVD and Blu-ray in one setting.  That puts the presentation’s price range at a little more than $10 per disc.  Keeping all of this in mind, Never-Ending Man: Hayao Miyazaki proves to be an endearing documentary that will appeal to a wide range of viewers.  That is even with the issue of the doc’s bonus content and lack thereof.  The program will be available April 30.  More information on this and other titles from Shout! Factory is available online now at:




Website: http://www.shoutfactory.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/shoutfactoryofficial

Twitter: http://twitter.com/ShoutFactory




More information on this and other titles from GKids is available online at:




Website: http://gkids.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/GKIDSfilms

Twitter: http://twitter.com/GKIDSfilms




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Mia And The Miggo Excellent Tool For Visual Art Students

Courtesy: Entertainment One

Thank goodness for hand drawn animation.  So many of today’s “animated” features are really just CGI based works that try to masquerade as actual cartoons.  While this reviewer personally is not a fan of anime style artwork, the newly imported French movie, Mia and the Migoo is a work that did impress.  Forget the fact that this movie carries a very heavy handed environmental message (one that may be too strong even for some younger audiences). The real star of Mia and the Migoo is its animation.  Audiences will appreciate the animation even more in watching the movie’s “making of” featurette.  It is, for the most part, just another “making of” featurette.  But there is one moment in this bonus feature that makes it all worth the near half hour watch.

One individual who is interviewed for the feature notes that bringing a movie to life using actual hand drawn animation gives the movie a more “human” feel versus the use of computers.  He states that animated features created through CGI are done mathematically.  It’s as if he was saying in a roundabout way that CGI animation is cold and really has no life.  That couldn’t be truer.  That this young artist has such an appreciation for the art of drawing, rather than sitting in front of a computer to make art makes Mia and the Migoo that much more enjoyable in hindsight.

Mia and the Migoo is a beautiful work of art, in terms of its animation.  But there is no denying that the movie’s content may not be suitable for some younger audiences.  The movie does get intense at times.  Audiences see Aldrin’s father use a mortar launcher to destroy the sacred tree.  The result of his actions is pretty intense.  Some younger viewers might be unsettled by this.  Also early on, while Mia is riding a bus to the construction site where her father works, the bus breaks down.  A heavy set woman on the bus proceeds to take off her shirt, and drench the bus’s engine in her sweat.  She is wearing undergarments.  Now while this is probably more socially acceptable in other nations’ cultures, some American audiences may find this not as suitable for younger audiences.  Thus, the mark on the DVD’s cover of being “Family Approved” may again be more aimed at audiences other than those in the United States. 

While some of the content in Mia and The Migoo may be unsuitable for certain younger audiences (parents should use their own discretion to determine if it’s too intense for their own children in other words), but that doesn’t mean that it’s inappropriate for all audiences.  Because it is such ha beautiful work of art, this movie serves as a wonderful teaching tool, believe it or not, for students studying the visual arts.  As noted in the press release for the now American release of the movie, the artwork in the movie will conjure thoughts of Van Gogh, Monet, and even Cezanne.  The colors throughout each scene are that rich and vibrant.  And the characters themselves are very much in the vein of anime legend Hayao Miyazaki.  For that, it is a movie that deserves its own praise, and at least a single viewing.

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