During Disney’s Friday Comic-Con presentation of upcoming animation projects, chief creative officer John Lasseter screened footage from the upcoming animated film Ponyo and interviewed its director, Hayao Miyazaki. Bringing the acclaimed Japanese animation guru to Comic-Con stages for the first time, Lasseter and an appreciative crowd lavished praise on Myazaki’s body of work before showing a clip that exemplified the new film’s wondrous, beautiful imagery.
Ponyo was originally conceived and produced through Miyazaki’s native company, Studio Ghibli, but even removed of its cultural specificity, the film stood out sharply from its Western counterparts; indeed, after presentations for the re-release of Toy Story 1 and 2 and even new projects like The Princess and the Frog, its dreamlike quality and lyrical storytelling truly seemed to be part of an entirely different set of artistic rules. Lasseter, who is Miyazaki’s friend as well as his colleague, was effusive with his praise for both the filmmaker and his film, which he said "America deserves" as he brought the director to the stage.
As he took the stage, Lasseter asked him about his storyboarding process. Via a translator, Miyazaki explained, "My process is thinking, thinking and thinking—thinking about my stories for a long time. If you have a better way, please let me know."
Lasseter said he had the chance to watch Miyazaki at work creating storyboards himself that "are so beautiful," to which the director replied, "I think working on the storyboard alone is a custom we have in Japan in terms of animation. It’s not just I that works that way, but since I’m slow it seems like I’m working on the storyboards all of the time."
Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea, Hayao Miyazaki’s latest film, is headed for a summer release in the U.S., according to Variety. An effort is being made to increase the number of screens (Miyazaki’s Spirited Away played on 714 screens in its U.S. release) and the box office take. The film has grossed $165 million to date in Japan.
The English voice cast will include Matt Damon, Tina Fey, Cate Blanchett, Liam Neeson, Lily Tomlin, and Cloris Leachman.