December 31, 2015
The Boy and the Beast
Mamoru Hosoda was briefly slated to direct Howl's Moving Castle but left after what really were "artistic differences." All for the better, as it turned out. Miyazaki took over and made a great movie. And now Hosoda is well on his way to matching his record.
Hosoda is one of the few directors I consider self-recommending: the name alone in the credits is enough.
If anybody stands to inherit Miyazaki's mantle, it's Hosoda, whose films rival Ghibli productions for their consistent quality, dramatic depth, a sheer entertainment value: The Girl Who Leapt Through Time (2006), Summer Wars (2009), and The Wolf Children (2012).
And this year, The Boy and the Beast. The description sounds like supernatural version of The Karate Kid: the bellicose, bear-like swordsman Kumatetsu takes Kyuta under his wing and trains him to be a fighter.
The setting is Shibuya in Tokyo, except that a connection to an alternate realm has turned this Shibuya into a kind of postmodern Narnia. (Blood Blockade Battlefield sports a similar premise, though in New York, so maybe we've got a sub-genre going here.)
Funimation has licensed the film for North America; it's scheduled to open in theaters in 2016.
Speaking of the Miyazakis, Goro Miyazaki's Ronia the Robber's Daughter, based on the children's fantasy novel by Astrid Lindgren, has been made available to international distributors. The series ran for 26 episodes on NHK between fall 2014 and March 2015.
Hopefully this means that it'll show up on Hulu and/or Crunchyroll in the near future.
And speaking of Studio Ghibli, GKids is distributing Only Yesterday, Isao Takahata's 1991 slice-of-life melodrama, with voice-over work by Daisy Ridley, no less. (And GKids now lists Ocean Waves, the last Ghibli film to be released in the U.S., on its website too.)
The Girl who Leapt through Time
The Wolf Children