How Do You Live? Film Information (Prior to release)

This is a translation from the following article on this link.

Directed by Hayao Miyazaki, Studio Ghibli’s new film “How Do You Live?” will be released this Friday, July 14.

Only the release date, title, and a poster visual depicting a bird-like drawing have been announced for the film. Information about the cast and staff remains undisclosed. Studio Ghibli’s producer Toshio Suzuki has explicitly stated that there will be no special announcements or trailers in cinemas, nor TV commercials or newspaper ads before the film’s release. This approach, with Suzuki’s statements at events and interviews effectively becoming “publicity without publicity”, is quite unprecedented for a blockbuster movie to dive into release with so little information made public.

Here’s what we know so far about “How Do You Live?”, three days before its release (research by Anime Hack editorial department).

[Staff Information]

Original work, Director, Script (Storyboard): Hayao Miyazaki

Animation Director: Takeshi Honda

Art Director: Yohei Takeshige

Music: Joe Hisaishi

Producer: Toshio Suzuki

Production and Manufacturing: Studio Ghibli

[Other Information]

Genre: Original Story Adventure Fantasy

Format: Hand-drawn animation

Setting: Japan

Running Time: 124 minutes

Special Screenings: IMAX, Dolby Cinema, Dolby Atmos, DTS:X

Age Rating: G (any age can watch)

Theater Pamphlet: Not for sale on release day, planned for later sale (mail order also planned)

[The Story is Completely Original, Inspired by Foreign Children’s Literature]

The title is taken from Genzaburo Yoshino’s novel “How Do You Live?” (published in 1937), which became a best-seller with its 2017 manga adaptation. However, the story is an entirely original work by Director Miyazaki. According to “The Story of Studio Ghibli” (published by Shueisha), the only connection to the novel is that a character in the movie is seen reading the novel. The movie’s contents are completely unrelated to the novel. Studio Ghibli’s official site introduced the movie in production as an “adventure fantasy” in January 2018.

Studio Ghibli Stories by Toshio Suzuki (Published on June 16, 2023) 

The book “The Story of Studio Ghibli” mentions a foreign children’s book that greatly influenced “How Do You Live?”, but its title is not disclosed. After the release of “The Wind Rises”, Miyazaki, who had retired from directing full-length films, was recommended this book by Producer Suzuki. They both thought it would be suitable for a feature film adaptation, but they decided that it wouldn’t work as a movie in its original form. Instead, they created a completely original work set in Japan.

The book that inspired Miyazaki is introduced as “a children’s literature written by an Irish person”, and it is thought to be “The Book of Lost Things” by John Connolly. Miyazaki had previously praised the book in a blurb for the Japanese edition, published by Tokyo Sogensha, saying, “This book made me happy. I’m really glad I found it.” “The Book of Lost Things” is a different world adventure tale where a 12-year-old boy who can hear the whisperings of books gets lost in the world of stories and journeys to return to his original world, aligning well with the “adventure fantasy” of “How Do You Live?”.

[Sole Investment by Studio Ghibli]

“How Do You Live?” was produced entirely with Studio Ghibli’s own investment. This is the same approach as the “Star Wars” series by Lucasfilm before it became a part of Disney, and the “Rebuild of Evangelion” series by Khara, directed by Hideaki Anno. It’s not the production committee approach where multiple companies invest that has been used for previous Ghibli works. Ghibli has taken on a lot of the responsibility with this sole investment, which seems to be why they could afford such daring measures.

Producer Suzuki said in an interview with “Weekly Bunshun CINEMA”, “You know what it means to cover the production costs with our own company… it’s okay if we run at a loss (laughs). This time it’s a real gamble.”

[Music by Joe Hisaishi, Familiar to Miyazaki’s Works. Also, there is a Theme Song]

Information about the soundtrack of “How Do You Live?” to be released on August 9. The music for the film is provided by Joe Hisaishi, and it is announced that a total of 37 songs, including the theme song, are planned to be included. Although the details are unclear, it appears that some sort of theme song does exist.

Mr. Hisaishi has been in charge of the music for all of Miyazaki’s feature films, from “Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind” to his most recent work, “The Wind Rises”. In addition, the film is also announced to be screened in IMAX, Dolby Cinema, Dolby Atmos, DTS:X, and it is intriguing to see what kind of sound it will have in these large format screenings.

[Animation Director is Takeshi Honda]

The animation director for “How Do You Live?” is Takeshi Honda, a veteran animator who has worked on projects like “Ghost in the Shell”, “The End of Evangelion,” “Jin-Roh,” “Naruto the Movie: Snow Princess,” “From Up on Poppy Hill,” and is affectionately referred to as “Master” by his colleagues.

According to “The Story of Studio Ghibli”, Mr. Honda was originally set to be the animation director for “Evangelion: 3.0+1.0 Thrice Upon a Time”, but Producer Suzuki negotiated directly with Director Hideaki Anno, believing that Honda’s skills were needed for “How Do You Live?”. Ultimately, it was left to Honda’s own will, and he decided to join the “How Do You Live?” project.

Meanwhile, the art director, as recorded in “The Story of Studio Ghibli”, is Yohei Takeshige, who has worked on “The Wind Rises” and Miyazaki’s short “Boro the Caterpillar”.



“The illustrations from the main story will only be viewable in theaters for a while.”

It has been announced on Toho Film Information’s official Twitter that the theater brochure for “How Do You Live?” will be released at a later date in theaters and by mail order. This means that it won’t be on sale on the opening day. Perhaps this is to prevent premature leaks of information.

So, for the time being, any pictures other than posters (such as scene cuts) will only be seen in theaters. As there won’t be an official synopsis for a while, your only options to know what the story is about will be to see it yourself or to hear about it or read reviews from others who have seen it. Moreover, as a rather fanatic note, the cast and staff list, typically found at the end of the theater brochure, can only be remembered by watching the film’s end credits.

This current policy of not promoting the film at all and withholding almost all information is likely rooted in the wish for viewers to enjoy this new film – which may well be Director Miyazaki’s final feature-length film – with a completely fresh mindset. In this era of information overload, the experience of watching a new film with virtually no prior information is a rare one.

In that sense, this article might be seen as incredibly tactless, as I don’t know anything about the crucial narrative. The excitement of seeing something unknown, the joy of exchanging information with others who have seen it in the absence of official information, and the pleasure of hearing stories from those who have seen it, make “How Do You Live?” a joy to anticipate just a little longer.

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