Studio Ghibli’s Spirited Away is getting a stage adaptation, set to premiere in Japan next year. The play – based on one of Hayao Miyazaki’s best-loved films – will debut in Tokyo in February, 2022, before touring cities including Osaka, Fukuoka, Sapporo, and Nagoya.
Produced by the Japanese production company Toho Co., Ltd, the upcoming play has already cast two actors as Chihiro, the 10-year-old girl who navigates a fantasy world after her parents are turned into pigs (in all fairness, that cursed banquet was pretty irresistible). The heroine will be portrayed by Kanna Hashimoto, in her stage debut, as well as Mone Kamishiraishi, the star of 2016’s dazzling anime epic Your Name.
“I feel so excited and privileged to be working on the first ever stage adaptation of Spirited Away,” says the British stage director John Caird, who will helm the adaptation, in a statement via IndieWire. “I have for many years now regarded Hayao Miyazaki as one of the preeminent geniuses of world cinema and the greatest ever proponent of the anime form.”
Released in 2001, Spirited Away held the record for the highest-grossing film in Japan’s history for almost two decades, until it was surpassed by the action-packed Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba the Movie – Mugen Train in 2020.
“I share a belief in all the most dominant themes of Miyazaki’s work, themes that are at the core of the Spirited Away world,” Caird adds. “Care for the environment, reverence for nature, a belief in the force of the good spirits within us, and the empowerment of young women and men to change the world for the better.”
If that doesn’t sound enticing enough, Miyazaki himself has reportedly given the project his blessing. “We, Hayao and I, both liked John’s vision,” says Ghibli producer Toshio Suzuki. “He is a person we can trust. I am looking forward to seeing Chihiro grow on stage under his direction. I could tell how much he adores this story from his delighted face when I gave him a No-Face (Kaonashi) piggy-bank.”
Following widespread disappointment at the studio’s latest, full-CGI film, Earwig and the Witch, 2022 is shaping up to be a good year for Studio Ghibli fans. Besides the stage play, it will mark the opening of the animation studio’s eponymous theme park (get a glimpse at some of the coming attractions here).
View Studio Ghibli’s announcement of the upcoming Spirited Away stage play below.