Devoted fans of Japan’s Studio Ghibli and the works of director Hayao Miyazaki will soon have an opportunity to see one of his most famous creations rendered in a new and strange way. A live stage adaptation of Miyazaki’s classic Spirited Away is currently running in Japan, recently finishing its run in Tokyo and now beginning to travel around the country. And the final two shows of that run, in July, will be seen by more than just Japanese audiences, as the show will reportedly be livestreamed on Hulu on July 3 and 4.
The Disney-owned streaming service will be showing the final two days of the play’s run in Japan, which will take place at the Misonoza Theater in Nagoya. Each broadcast will actually be subtly different, as a “double cast” system means that all the primary performers will be different on the second day of the broadcast than they were on the first. The show is currently making its way through Japan with dates in cities such as Osaka, Fukuoka, Sapporo and Nagoya.
Spirited Away is a fantasy drama, focused on the plight and heroics of 10-year-old Chihiro Ogino, whose parents fall victim to the spell of an evil witch when they are transformed into pigs. Chihiro must then enter the witch’s employment as she seeks a way to transform them back into humans, so the entire family can escape back into the human world. The film arrived just over 20 years ago in 2001, and the universal critical acclaim it received helped to greatly broaden the appeal of Japanese animation around the world, particularly in the U.S., where anime was suddenly regarded with much more critical legitimacy. Two decades later, Spirited Away remains the only hand-drawn, non-English film to have won the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature, and it’s routinely regarded as not only one of Miyazaki’s strongest overall works but one of the greatest animated films of all time.
The Spirited Away stage adaptation, meanwhile, has reportedly been received quite well in Japan, where such stage plays of popular anime and videogames are more common. It’s interesting to see the adaptation end up broadcasted on Hulu, considering that in the U.S. it’s HBO Max that has access to the entire Studio Ghibli film catalog. Still, keep an eye on Hulu this summer for more news on the Spirited Away play arriving over the July 4 holiday.