Everything you need to know about Hayao Miyazaki’s rumoured final film

The Oscar-winning director and Studio Ghibli have decided not to release any trailers or any other information about How Do you Live?

Oscar-winning Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki's coming film How Do You Live? has only one poster as part of its promotional strategy. AFP
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Japanese animator, director and manga artist Hayao Miyazaki's highly anticipated next, and rumoured final film, will be released without a trailer or any promotional materials – save for a single poster.

Titled, How Do You Live? the Studio Ghibli movie will be released in Japan on July 14 with little information for audiences on the plot, voice cast, style, setting or characters.

Toshio Suzuki, a lead producer at Studio Ghibli, recently told Japanese magazine Bungei Shunju that the studio wanted to do something different with the release of this film.

Not only did Suzuki state that they “don’t need to” promote How Do You Live? in the same way they have promoted other films in the past, but that the strategy was intended to avoid the pitfalls of Hollywood marketing techniques.

“There’s an American movie, ah, I almost said the title out loud, coming out this summer around the same time,” Suzuki said.

“They’ve made three trailers for it and released them one at a time. If you watch all three, 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.”

While details around the coming film are still under wraps, here is what we do know.

The story

How Do You Live? is written and directed by Miyazaki and inspired by the 1937 novel of the same name by Genzaburo Yoshino.

The novel follows the story of Koperu, a 15-year-old boy, and his uncle, who move to new neighbourhood. As Koperu deals with bullying, poverty and the hardships of adolescent life, he also enters a phase of spiritual growth.

It’s unclear how much of Miyazaki’s film is inspired or adapted from the novel, Ghibli has only described the film as “a grand fantasy".

Miyazaki’s previous feature film, The Wind Rises, was released in 2013 and received an Oscar nomination for Best Animated Feature. The film, which was meant for a more mature audience, told the story of real life Second World War pilot engineer Jiro Horikoshi in a way that combined elements of fantasy and realism.

The director announced his retirement that same year, but then changed his mind and began working on How Do You Live? in 2016.

“Miyazaki is making the new film for his grandson. It’s his way of saying, ‘Grandpa is moving on to the next world, but he’s leaving behind this film,'” Suzuki revealed during an appearance on a Japanese television show.

Based on this, audiences can only speculate that How Do You Live? will most likely have a more wholesome and family-oriented tone – much like his fantasy adventure Ponyo (2008), which was loosely based on The Little Mermaid, or the epic fantasy Spirited Away (2001), which won an Oscar in 2003 for Best Animated Feature.

The poster

While there is not much information or promotional material released about the film, Studio Ghibli did share a single poster for How Do You Live?

The poster, released in December last year, features a sketch that appears to depict detailed elements of a bird-like creature, or a mask of a bird.

Suzuki also revealed that Miyazaki's praise of the poster encouraged him to take a bolder marketing approach to the film.

“I’ve been involved with our movies since Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind (1984), but this was the first time Hayao Miyazaki genuinely praised me,” Suzuki said.

"‘Suzuki-san, this is amazing. This is the best poster you’ve ever made,’ he said. I felt like that was a hint, so I decided ‘Let’s go with just this one poster for the marketing.’ So, no trailers or TV commercials at all… No newspaper ads either. Deep down, I think this is what moviegoers latently desire.”

How Do You Live? will be released in Japan on July 14. No international release dates have been announced yet.

Updated: June 07, 2023, 3:02 AM