I was already excited before the event had even started. As attendees to the Ni No Kuni Anime Japan stage event filed in, an original track by famed Hayao Miyazaki collaborator, Joe Hisaishi played over the speakers. Creator Akihiro Hino would later mention that his music for the film evoked the same feeling from the games, but conveyed an emotional weight that made many of the scenes in the movie much stronger.
The guests for the stage show were Level-5 president and Ni no Kuni series creator Akihiro Hino and voice actors, Mamoru Miyano and Yuki Kaji. Akihiro Hino was introduced as a “Hitmaker”, due to his frequent success in creating popular franchises like Yo-Kai Watch and Professor Layton. Mamoru Miyano and Yuki Kaiji were familiar with Hino’s works before, both having played the original Ni no Kuni titles (Yuki Kaji noted that he’d also made sure to play the Nintendo DS release). Being cast in the film was exciting for both of these actors as fans of the games, with Kaji even joking that he’d have done it for free.
The story will follow a boy named Yu and follows the events that bring him and his friends into the magical world of Ni no Kuni. There, they will meet the characters voiced by Kaji and Miyano, a small cat-like creature named Tanpa and the magician Yoki, who serves as a right-hand-man to God. We will find out more about these characters in the film. As you can perhaps tell, Hino is keeping the details on the film vague, and this is certainly intentional. Addressing concerns that the film might have been struck with production issues, Hino assured the crowd that production was going well, but that he didn’t want to release trailers just for the sake of it. He instead wants to wait until the last moment to impress viewers.
But whilst we weren’t shown any footage, the guests did share some of their excitement for the project. Kaji mentioned that he had goosebumps from just reading the script. They also predicted that even adults would feel emotional when watching the film. Ultimately, Hino mentioned that the staff on the film were doing a great job and were successfully retaining the Ghibli charm of the games whilst exploring new aspects of the world and concept.
Personally, I’m very excited to see this elite team of creators take on a film release. Even if we didn’t get to see a trailer, it’s worth trusting in directors like Yoshiyuki Momose and writers like Akihiro Hino to deliver a film that emotionally resonates with all audiences. There’s a lot of great films being released this year, but Ni no Kuni is at the top of my list.