The 82-year-old Japanese animator came out of retirement to create the film ‘How Do You Live?.’
Hayao Miyazaki’s latest film was released last Friday, July 14. This is his first feature in a decade and may be his last, considering his age.
While How Do You Live? was in production for years, Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli chose to keep the film’s plot under wraps. It was released with no trailer, marketing, or other new promotional materials.
We do know that the film takes its title from the 1937 novel by Genzaburo Yoshino. The book is set in Japan during the second World War and tells the story of a young boy and his “musings on science, friendship, and bravery.”
When it was revealed in 2017 that Miyazaki would be making a film based on the novel, it became an instant bestseller in Japan. The animator also cited it as one of his childhood favorites.
The manga edition then sold two million copies while the novel got its first English translation by Bruno Navasky. The foreword was written by British author Neil Gaiman.
However, Navasky mentioned that Miyazaki’s film wouldn’t be about the book itself, but about a boy who reads the book, making the story a wholly original one.
The Boy and the Heron
In December of last year, Studio Ghibli released a hand-drawn poster for the film which depicted a bird-like creature with an eye below its beak.
It turns out that the story will follow a young boy named Mahito who moves to the countryside with his father following his mother’s death. There, he meets a talking heron who transports him to an alternate world full of magic.
Studio Ghibli president and How Do You Live? producer Toshio Suzuki told the media that they chose not to release much promotional material because they believed this would reduce audience interest.
“If you watch all [the trailers], you know everything that’s going to happen in that movie. So how do moviegoers feel about that? There must be people, who, after watching all the trailers, don’t want to actually go see the movie. So, I wanted to do the opposite of that,” he said.
Regardless of if the movie will do well in the box office or not, Miyazaki has already cemented his legacy. In 2003, his classic film Spirited Away won the Academy Award for Best Animated feature. Howl’s Moving Castle (2004) and The Wind Rises (2013) also received nominations.