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Is Miyazaki Hayao’s final work the very best of his movies yet?

The estate of the legendary Studio Ghibli and the iconic filmmaker, Miyazaki Hayao, have just unveiled their latest venture, How Do You Live?, a film that was never released before the storyteller’s untimely passing. This exciting news has caused quite a stir among fans and critics alike, as the much-anticipated film is set to hit Japanese theaters on July 14 next year.

Let’s take a look at all the details we have so far.

What we know

Studio Ghibli released a captivating sketch of a bird-like creature as a teaser for the upcoming movie. The sketch alone promises to lead us into a magical world, a trademark of all Studio Ghibli creations. 

Based on Genzaburo Yoshino’s captivating 1937 YA book, How Do You Live?, the film chronicles the life-changing journey of a fifteen-year-old boy. Guided by his uncle’s wise advice, the boy explores spiritual growth, poverty, and the meaning of life, sparking curiosity about how these elements will be animated.

Hayao, the Oscar-winning director, has expressed his deep love for How Do You Live? in the past, declaring in 2017 his intent to bring it to the silver screen. An English translation of the book was released in 2021, featuring an introduction by Neil Gaiman. 

The book is narrated from two perspectives – the young protagonist, Copper, and his uncle, who imparts knowledge and advice through journal entries. Copper’s transformative journey has parallels with Copernicus’ discoveries, and his growth will undoubtedly leave the audience reflecting on their own paths.

Masterclass storytelling

From founding Studio Ghibli in 1985 to now, Miyazaki has continually enriched the animation industry. Recently, the studio opened a theme park featuring rides and attractions inspired by beloved films like My Neighbor Totoro and Princess Mononoke

Also making headlines was the collaboration between Studio Ghibli and Lucasfilm on a Baby Yoda animated short. This crossover brought together Grogu from The Mandalorian and the adorable coal dust bunnies from Miyazaki’s Spirited Away.

Adding another feather to their cap, the Royal Shakespeare Company is prepping a stage adaptation of the cherished 1988 film My Neighbor Totoro, set to debut this fall at London’s Barbican arts complex. The original composer of the film, Joe Hisaishi, will bring the score to life, promising a heartwarming experience for fans.

Countdown start

The heartening tale follows sisters Satsuki and Mei who embark on magical adventures in the countryside. The production promises to capture the charm and allure of the original animation, ensuring a captivating experience. Hisaishi, expressing his enthusiasm about the adaptation, noted the potential of the production to reach global audiences.

As the RSC’s acting artistic director, Erica Whyman stated, this adaptation marks another step in the commitment to creating accessible productions that view the world through the eyes of children. 

Studio Ghibli’s new endeavor will undoubtedly capture hearts across the world, creating a vivid atmosphere that allows audiences to step into a realm of enchantment. 

However, will the magic of Miyazaki’s beloved stories be just as potent on stage as they were on screen? We’ll have to wait and watch!


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