Arts & Entertainment

‘How do you live?’ Miyazaki tops career with mysterious anime film

By Edurne Morillo and Yoko Kaneko

Tokyo, Jul 14 (EFE) – How do you live?, the latest and possibly last film by iconic animation director Hayao Miyazaki premiered in Japan Friday leaving fans with the existential question of how they will face their lives.

“Kimitachi wa Do Ikiru ka”, the renowned artist’s first film in 10 years, came out in some 400 theaters across Japan after days of speculation and an air of mystery after Miyazaki Ghibli Studio only released a single poster and did not offer fans a synopsis or trailer ahead of the launch.

Miyazaki, 82, taps into his most philosophical side in the movie and unlike in previous films, does not offer a clear moral to the story and instead throws the question back at viewers by forcing them to reflect on how they will deal with adversity.

“I love Studio Ghibli’s works, I’ve seen them all, and I thought I would burst into tears at the end, but I didn’t, I was left thinking,” Natsumi Horiuchi, a 30-year-old Tokyo resident, tells EFE after watching the first screening of the animated movie at a cinema in the capital.

Inspired by the eponymous novel published in 1937 by children’s author Genzaburo Yoshino, Miyazaki takes some references from it to create a script of his own that blends realism and fantasy and also weaves different genres together such as adventure, drama and comedy.

The film tracks the experiences of Mahito Maki, a 12-year-old boy who moves to a rural area of Japan following the death of his mother in a fire during World War II.

Despite the very realistic starting point and similar to his previous work “The Wind Rises” (2013), Miyazaki delves into a magical fantasy world in a nod to his cinematic legacy as Mahito is guided through a parallel world by a blue heron.

The heron was the only character from the film fans knew of and featured on the only poster for the movie ahead of its release.


Mystery has shrouded Miyazaki’s latest film amid no press previews or trailers, an unusual strategy that has sparked the curiosity of fans.

“It’s all been very mysterious and since I had watched all his films and there had been no promotional strategy, I was encouraged to come to the cinema without any prior information,” says Rinnosuke Tanihata, 23, a resident of Chiba (east of Tokyo).

Tanihata adds that going to watch the movie “was the right decision.”

Social media networks were also flooded with content about the movie with many in Japan unaware of the release until Friday making word of mouth the main promotional tool for the animation.


Many fans who flocked to Japanese theaters Friday were aware that this will ostensibly be Miyazaki’s last film after he announced his retirement on several occasions.

Seven years in the making, some experts believe it could also be the last movie for Ghibli, a studio Miyazaki launched with late director Isao Takahata and which has seen financial issues due to the steep cost of its productions.

“How do you live?” is Miyazaki’s 12th feature film. The filmmaker’s back catalog includes hits such as the Oscar-winning “Spirited Away” (2001), “Princess Mononoke” (1997) and “The Walking Castle” (2004).

The international release date for the movie is yet to be confirmed although if past releases are taken into consideration the film should reach Western cinemas in late 2023 or early 2024.EFE


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