GKIDS recently snagged the rights for three new films, all coming from Japan: Belle, The Deer King, and Pompo the Cinephile. Slated for release this year and early 2022, the upcoming movies continue GKIDS’ well-known reputation for distributing family and adult feature animation with a string of successful selections such as Oscar-nominated Wolfwalkers, A Cat in Paris, The Breadwinner, and Mirai. The company is also in charge of the Studio Ghibli film library for North America.
Check out the films’ trailers, teasers, and summaries down below!
From the celebrated Oscar®-nominated director Mamoru Hosoda and Studio Chizu, creator of Mirai, Wolf Children, Summer Wars, and more, comes a fantastical, yet beautiful and contemporary thematic story of one girl’s growth in the age of social media. Suzu is a 17-year-old high school student living in a rural village with her father. For years, she has only been a shadow of herself. One day, she enters “U,” a virtual world of 5 billion members on the Internet. There, she is not Suzu anymore but Belle, a world-famous singer. She soon meets with a mysterious creature. Together, they embark on a journey of adventures, challenges and love, in their quest to become who they truly are.GKIDS
From acclaimed director Mamoru Hosoda (The Boy and the Beast, Wolf Children, Summer Wars, The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, Mirai) and Studio Chizu, Belle is an original story written by Hosoda with long-time collaborator and Studio Chizu co-founder Yuichiro Saito, as producer. Initially released in Japan earlier this summer, the film has gone on to become a success, becoming an official selection at the prestigious Cannes Film Festival and marking Hosoda’s second appearance at the event.
The movie is also an international collaboration among a diversity of veteran talents. Character designer Jin Kim (Moana, Tangled, Frozen) designed the main character Belle; Tomm Moore and Ross Stewart (Wolfwalkers, Song of the Sea, The Secret of Kells) from Cartoon Saloon developed artwork for the virtual fantasy worlds; British architect and designer Eric Wong created the virtual world of “U,” and composer Ludvig Forssell (Death Stranding, Metal Gear Solid V) helped score the soundtrack.
Belle will make its North American debut this month at the New York Film Festival. It is scheduled for theatrical release this winter, GKIDs planning to show it in its original Japanese-language version as well as an English-dubbed version.
“I’ve been in love with Mamoru Hosoda since Girl Who Leapt Through Time, Summer Wars and every film since. Hosoda is a master at exploring humans’ relationship with technology in a changing world. Belle expands on the threads and themes of his previous works in an epic tour-de-force that is visually stunning, emotionally stirring, and deeply profound. We are thrilled to continue our relationship with Mamoru Hosoda and Studio Chizu, and look forward to sharing what will surely be their most popular success to date.”Eric Beckman, CEO and Founder of GKIDS
The Deer King
In the years following a vicious war, the Empire of Zol now controls the land and citizens of rival Aquafa – except for Aquafa’s Fire Horse Territory, where wild dogs that once carried the deadly Black Wolf Fever continue to roam free. When a pack of dogs race through a Zol-controlled mine, Van, an enslaved former soldier, and a young girl named Yuna are both bitten, but manage to escape as the sole survivors of the attack. Finally free, Van and Yuna seek out a simple, peaceful existence in the countryside. But as the deadly disease once again runs rampant, they find themselves at the crossroads of a struggle much larger than any one nation.GKIDS
Via Variety, The Deer King was adapted from a novel series of the same name by Nahoko Uehashi and directed by Masashi Ando and Masayuki Miyaji, both Studio Ghibli veterans. For Ando, this film marks his directorial debut, having worked previously under directors Satoshi Kon and Makoto Shinkai as a character designer, animation director, and key animator in Spirited Away and Princess Mononoke; he also contributed to successful films like Paprika and Your Name. Miyaji notably worked on Studio Ghibli films My Neighbors the Yamadas and Spirited Away. Production I.G., acclaimed for popular titles such as Haikyu!! and Ghost in the Shell, produces the film with Toho as distributor.
The Deer King was originally slated to debut in Japan earlier this month but was delayed indefinitely due to a recent uptick in coronavirus cases. Cartoon Brew reports that despite the delay, the movie has already been showcased at the Annecy Animation Festival and the Fantasia International Film Festival, winning the Bronze Audience Award for Best Animated Film at the latter event. GKIDS plans to release the movie in North America sometime in early 2022.
Pompo the Cinephile
Pompo is a talented and gutsy producer in “Nyallywood,” the movie-making capital of the world. Although she’s known for B-movies, one day Pompo tells her movie-loving but apprehensive assistant Gene that he will direct her next script: a delicate drama about an aging and tormented creative genius, starring the legendary and Brando-esque actor Martin Braddock, and a young actress seeking her first break. But when the production heads towards chaos, can Gene rise to Pompo’s challenge, and succeed as a first-time director?GKIDS
Pompo the Cinephile is an indie anime directed by Takayuki Hirao (Futakoi Alternative, TV series God Eater), from Clap—a new animation studio. The Japanese cast features the talents of Hiroya Shimizu, Konomi Kohara (Kaguya-sama: Love Is War), Ai Kakuma (Fruits Baskets), Aiko Otsuka (Boruto: Naruto Next Generations), and Rinka Ōtani. Deadline reports the movie, released in June this year, has become a domestic hit in Japan, garnering approximately $1.8 million USD. GKIDS will release the film in U.S. theaters early in 2022 with a subtitled version, called Eiga Daisuki Pompo-san, and an English dubbed version.
“Pompo the Cinephile is a completely charming and original work. Both hilarious and earnest, its contemplation of what it takes to pursue an artistic vision is an inspiration for these times. I cannot wait to share the experience with audiences in theaters early next year.”GKIDS President David Jesteadt