Masaaki Yuasa, the legendary anime director behind everything from The Night Is Short, Walk On Girl and Ride Your Wave to Devilman Crybaby and Japan Sinks: 2020, will soon release his final film. Inu-Oh is a fantastical musical and period drama about the friendship between a disfigured dancer and a blind biwa player in 14th century Japan. You can watch the new teaser trailer above.
Yuasa is directing the feature film as Science SARU, the studio he co-founded with producer Eunyoung Choi in 2013. In 2021, A Silent Voice director Naoko Yamada joined the studio to produce The Heike Story, an adaptation of Japanese novelist Hideo Furukawa’s 2016 reimagining of the historical epic The Tale of the Heike. The Heike Story also features a blind biwa player, so it will be interesting to see what explicit connections are made to the series.
Furukawa later published Tales of the Heike: INU-OH in 2020 as an original story set a century after the events depicted in the first book and in Yamada’s The Heike Story, forming the basis for Yuasa’s Inu-Oh. At its Anime NYC panel, the North American distributor of Inu-Oh, GKIDS, described the film as a “rock opera” and a “closing argument” from Yuasa on the medium of animation.
Among the talented crew behind the production is the award-winning mangaka of Ping Pong and Blue Spring, Taiyō Matsumoto. You can see his concept character designs for the main duo, Inu-Oh and Timona, below.
Inu-oh premiered at the Venice International Film Festival last year to critical acclaim and will be released in Japanese theaters this summer. There is currently no set North American release date, though we can expect to see Inu-Oh sometime this year.