There’s plenty of delightful news surrounding Japan’s Studio Ghibli this week. First, The Secret World of Arrietty, the studio’s first feature release since Ponyo in 2008, will make its U.S. debut this weekend. On top of that, animation master Hayao Miyazaki and company have also hinted at some new, very different projects in the works.

Based on reports filtered down from AnimeNewsNetwork, a Ghibli producer revealed that Miyazaki’s son, director Gorō Miyazaki, (Tales from Earthsea, the 2011 TIFF selection From Up on Poppy Hill) is in the planning stages of an animated samurai film that combines fact with fiction and will be set in the “northeastern Tohoku region of Japan during the Middle Ages.” The work seems like a departure for Ghibli, a studio known for creating highly imaginative fantasy worlds like those in Princess Mononoke and Spirited Away since its founding in the mid-80s.

In his blog, a former studio head also cited an exhibit at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Tokyo on Japanese special effects curated by Ghibli director Hideaki Anno (Evangelion). Rumor is that a new Ghibli film, possibly by Anno, will premiere at the event, as suggested in the following information:

“‘Director A’ and ‘Director H’ attended a meeting about an exhibition that ‘Director A’ is supervising for the Museum of Contemporary Art in Tokyo this summer. A major highlight of the exhibition will be a new film work specifically made for the event.”

In addition, the article revealed that Miyazaki is working on a new project, one that Gorō said should be finished within the next two years. There are few details about the film, but Ghibli producer Toshio Suzuki described it as “not the sort of work that everyone in the audience can relax and watch,” adding that the director wanted “to create something realistic.” This sounds exactly like the nuclear power project we reported on a few months ago — the quotes are near-identical, anyway. Considering that the studio has the devastating 1988 war drama Grave of the Fireflies amongst its more fanciful canon, it will prove interesting to see just how “realistic” Miyazaki can get.

Speaking of Grave of the Fireflies — its director, Ghibli co-founder Isao Takahata, also has a movie coming out within the next two years, but no word yet on what it’s about. Regardless, anime fans now have more than enough to look forward to over the coming months.

Are you excited for The Secret World of Arriety? Do you think Ghibli’s move towards realism sounds intriguing?

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