Science Saru’s latest feature film has an exciting new poster for anime fans. Described as a musical animation, the new visual captures the interplay of sound and color at the heart of Inu-Oh.
Studio co-founder Masaaki Yuasa will direct the film, which premiered to critical acclaim at the Venice International Film Festival this year and will release theatrically in Japan next summer. The production is being billed as the capstone of the legendary anime directors’ career, which stretches across more than three decades.
Since co-founding Science Saru with producer Eunyoung Choi in 2013, the director has led a run of internationally recognized feature animations, including The Night Is Short, Walk On Girl, Devilman Crybaby, Ride Your Wave, and Japan Sinks: 2020. In 2020, Yuasa stepped down as president of the studio and has not worked on any other projects.
Inu-Oh is based on Japanese novelist Hideo Furakwa’s 2020 Tales of the Heike: INU-OH. Furakawa wrote the novel after his 2016 reimagining of the historical epic The Tale of the Heike, introducing new characters and their perspectives into a 14th-century Japan still reeling from the event of the Genpei War. Science Saru previously adapted Furakawa’s earlier novel as The Heike Story, directed by Naoko Yamada.
The official synopsis details the fantastical premise of the period drama.
Inu-Oh is born with unique physical characteristics, and the horrified adults cover every inch of his body with garments, including a mask on his face. One day, he meets a boy named Tomona, a blind biwa player, and as Tomona plays a delicate song of tangled fate, Inu-Oh discovers an incredible ability to dance.
Inu-Oh and Tomona become business partners and inseparable friends, using their creative gifts to survive on the margins of society, as song after song gain them notoriety and propel them to stardom. Through the songs, Inu-Oh mesmerizes his audiences on stage, and gradually begins to transform into someone of unequaled beauty. But why is Tomona blind? Why was Inu-Oh born with unique characteristics It is a story about the friendship of Inu-Oh and Tomona, who dance and sing to get to the truth and break each other’s curse.
GKIDS is handling the English distribution of Inu-Oh. At its Anime NYC panel, the distributor described the film as a “rock opera” and a “closing argument” from Yuasa on the medium.
There is currently no North American release date, though Inu-Oh is expected to release sometime early next year.