Hayao Miyazaki made his Comic-Con debut Friday, charming the massive crowd that had packed into Hall H for a rare chance to see the acclaimed Japanese animator in person in America.
In a Disney Animation panel lead by John Lasseter, Miyazaki was greeted with a standing ovation. In a short discussion with Lasseter, Miyazaki said through a translator that he finds the stories for his films the old-fashioned way.
‘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,’ he said.
Lasseter said he was always impressed with the fact that Miyazaki ‘ the two have been friends for about two decades ‘ always did his own storyboards and was constantly working on them.
‘I think working on the storyboards alone is a custom we have in Japan,’ said Miyazaki. ‘It’s not just I who works that way, but since I’m slow it seems like I’m working on the storyboard all the time,’ he said.
A sequence was shown from Miyazaki’s most recent film, Ponyo, which Disney is releasing in an English-language version to theaters on Aug. 14.
After the clip, a representative of Comic-Con came on stage and presented Inkpot Awards to both Lasseter and Miyazaki. ‘Can we use this ink?’ Miyazaki asked. ‘I am very honored to have received this. Thank you very much.’
The appearance by Miyazaki capped a lengthy panel in which Disney presented details on all its upcoming animation projects, including the release of Toy Story and Toy Story 2 in 3-D, Toy Story 3, The Princess and the Frog, Beauty and the Beast in 3-D and the new Christmas special Prep and Landing.
3-D glasses were handed out to all attendees, and the opening of Toy Story 2 was shown in 3-D to demonstrate what the process would look like. A trailer for Toy Story 3 also was shown in 3-D. Lasseter said that the 3-D Toy Story and Toy Story 2 will be released in October as a double feature ‘ there will be an intermission ‘ for a two-week run. And viewers will get to see both movies for the price of one.
One addition for Toy Story 3 will be a larger role for Barbie and the introduction of Ken, who will be voiced by Michael Keaton. A short, fake biography piece of Ken was shown, poking fun at the girls’ toy’s macho self-image.
‘We’ve always made 3D films at Pixar,’ Lasseter says. ‘The theaters have finally caught up with us.’
The opening of Beauty and the Beast also was shown in 3-D, letting fans see how the conversion process for the film has added depth and volume to the movie without changing anything else in the beloved classic.
Beauty and the Beast
Going back to 2D, two sequences of The Princess and the Frog, Disney’s first 2D animated feature in quite some time, were shown. Lasseter says the movie goes back to the Disney tradition of the musical fairy tale, with the twist being that it’s an American fairy tale set in New Orleans in the Jazz Age of the 1920s.
Lastly, a sequence was shown from Prep and Landing. The holiday special is about the elite team of elves who prepare each home for Santa’s visit.