Here’s a big — if not exactly surprising — acquisition for the anime market. Gkids has picked up North American rights to Inu-Oh (literally “Dog King”), the new feature from acclaimed director Masaaki Yuasa.
Here are the details:
- The film is a musical period piece set in 14th-century Japan. It stars Inu-Oh, a cursed Noh performer, and Tomona, a blind biwa lute player. “As the two rise from hardship to stardom through their creative partnership,” runs the synopsis, “they may break each other’s curse.”
- In a work-in-progress presentation at Annecy Online, Yuasa said that he saw his characters as historical versions of modern-day pop stars, and added that the film would “spotlight marginalized people.” The materials shown, which included an animation segment rendered in vivid oil paints, signaled new stylistic avenues for the famously protean director.
- Renowned manga artist Taiyo Matsumoto (Tekkonkinkreet, No. 5) is contributing character design on the film. His concepts were shown during the presentation, and some can be seen below. Yuasa previously worked with Matsumoto on an adaptation of his manga Ping Pong.
- Inu-Oh is produced by Science Saru in partnership with Asmik Ace. Yuasa founded Science Saru in 2013 with producer Eunyoung Choi, but stepped down in April, citing overwork. Choi was subsequently appointed CEO. Yuasa’s series Japan Sinks, produced at the studio, debuts on Netflix on July 9.
- Gkids will release Inu-Oh theatrically in 2021. It has a close relationship with Science Saru and Yuasa, having previously released four of the director’s features: Lu Over the Wall, Mind Game, Ride Your Wave, and The Night Is Short, Walk on Girl. Anime Limited will release Inu-Oh in the U.K., Ireland, and France.
- “With each new project,” said Gkids president David Jesteadt, “Masaaki Yuasa continues to push in new and exciting directions across genres and styles. Inu-Oh is already one of our most anticipated films of 2021, and we can’t wait to share more of Yuasa’s remarkable work with his fellow fans.”
- Choi, who’s producing, added, “Gkids is no doubt one of the most acclaimed animation distributors with an impressive catalogue of films, and we are so happy that they are releasing Inu-Oh in North America. The way people see Japanese culture is getting much deeper, more diversified and sophisticated these days. This is the best timing ever to bring real, fascinating Japanese traditional culture to the fellow fans in North America, and to the world!