For years, legendary anime label Studio Ghibli pushed back against the idea of allowing its films to be available on streaming platforms, largely for the sake of not letting them be reduced to disposable content that you can just put on the background while you clean or whatever, but HBO Max somehow convinced Studio Ghibli to back down from that and since last year the world has enjoyed a wild new future where movies like Kiki’s Delivery Service and Princess Mononoke are actually easy to watch. Now, in what is perhaps a return to the days when you had to work to see a Studio Ghibli story, it has announced that it’s working with Tony-winning director John Caird to put together a theatrical adaptation of what is (arguably) the Studio Ghibli masterpiece: Hayao Miyazaki’s Oscar-winning film Spirited Away.
This comes from Entertainment Weekly, which quotes Studio Ghibli producer Toshio Suzuki as saying that both he and the famously prickly Miyazaki both liked Caird’s “vision” for the story, and it sounds like Caird’s love for the original movie was a big factor in him getting the go-ahead to make this. This is apparently the first time any of Miyazaki’s films have been adapted for the stage, and it will premiere next year in Tokyo before touring around Japan. The EW story doesn’t have many details on how Caird intends to pull off some of the… let’s say grosser aspects of the film, but he will be double-casting main character Chihiro/Sen as a nod to the way she starts to lose her identity (specifically her name) in the original story.
Spirited Away is about a young girl who gets lost at what appears to be an abandoned village while moving to a new house with her parents, with them turning into pigs after eating a bunch of mysterious food left out on a counter. It turns out that the village is actually part of a bathhouse for spirits and monsters, and the girl survives what is a pretty scary ordeal by just being a generally kind person who treats others with respect—even if they’re all rather overt metaphors for bad human behavior. (Has it ever not been a metaphor when someone turns into a pig?)