Hayao Miyazaki is leaving us, and there's a new (old) reason to be upset. Socially speaking, it is common law that you must enjoy Miyazaki. This is not optional. Doesn't matter if you're "just not into anime" or "can't stand two dimensional characters" or were "born without any sense of joy or wonder." Still required. This is the man who brought us the high-quality weirdness of Spirited Away and Nausicaa, innumerable excruciatingly beautiful nature scenes, and the gigantic pillowy monster that is Totoro. While we're obviously grateful and can probably all agree that the man has earned his retirement, I've just learned that two of my all-time-favorite magical childhood worlds could have been woven into one beautiful whole but weren't: Hayao Miyazaki wanted to do an animated version of Pippi Longstocking, called Pippi Longstocking: Strongest Girl In the World. Given his proclivity towards badass animal-loving ladies with slightly impossible hair, the absurdity of the Pippi stories, and the bucolic loveliness of the Swedish countryside, I'm positive it would have been a great fit. If you're not familiar with the original Pippi character, get thee to the internet and then imagine the childish glee we were all denied.
Pitched before Studio Ghibli's crushing popularity had surrounded the world and gelled, this completely excellent project died a disappointing death because Miyazaki/Studio Ghibli were unable to secure rights from the author of the Pippi series. These beautiful sketches, based on the books and a visit to the author's home town, are all that remains. For more, check out the studio's official Livejournal page which, for reasons not obvious to me, is in Russian. Though we'll never see what Mr. Miyazaki had hoped to build from them, I'm enjoying the peek into what could have been.