Quietly and Without Publicity, Miyazaki’s Potential Last Anime Film Premieres in Japan

TOKYO, July 14 – In a surprising and unprecedented move, the probable last film of the Oscar-winning Japanese anime genius, Hayao Miyazaki, premiered in Japan on Friday, with no trailers, ads, or any promotional activities whatsoever. Early attendees reported that the absence of prior information made the viewing experience even more thrilling.

82-year-old Miyazaki, celebrated for a long list of films including the Academy Award winner “Spirited Away,” had previously announced his retirement a decade ago due to exhaustion, stating he could not produce another full-length feature film.

However, mimicking his previous retirement announcements, Miyazaki soon withdrew his statement. After completing a few short projects, he started working on “How Do You Live?” (Kimitachi wa Do Ikiru Ka?), a narrative centered around a 15-year-old boy grappling with his father’s death – an unexpected anime gift to his fans.

Michiru Miyasato, an 18-year-old student who attended the first screening at a central Tokyo cinema, said, “I was really excited to see a Miyazaki movie. The fact that I knew nothing about it beforehand only heightened my excitement, which I think was really cool.”

Like other anime gifts from Studio Ghibli, the company co-founded by Miyazaki, the film’s release was scheduled at the onset of school summer holidays in Japan. The movie showcases the detailed hand-drawn artwork and vibrant colors that Miyazaki has long been recognized for.

However, the film’s launch was devoid of the typical hype, such as promotional events, saturated advertising, trailers, and merchandising tie-ins. The only initial information available was a poster illustrated by Miyazaki, distributed to a select number of theaters.

Yumiko Kokubo, a social worker in her 50s, said, “Since there was absolutely no promotion, it felt as if I could directly experience it.”

Studio Ghibli’s producer, Toshio Suzuki, stated that the strategy was born out of a desire to offer something unique. “A poster and a title – that’s all we got when we were children,” he told NHK public television. “I enjoyed trying to imagine what a movie was about, and I wanted to bring that feeling back.”

For the first time in Miyazaki’s filmography, which includes “Princess Mononoke” and “My Neighbour Totoro,” this film is also screened in IMAX.

Although Miyazaki has retired and made comebacks several times in the past, his age is leading many to believe that this retirement might be permanent.

Rens Takahashi, a 24-year-old computer graphics worker, said, “I thought his previous film was the last, then this was announced – and they say it’s the last. So I was really, really looking forward to it.”

No international release date has been announced yet.

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