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:
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