×

New films by leading Japanese auteurs Kawase Naomi, Anno Hideaki and Shinkai Makoto are highlights of the 2022 lineup unveiled on Wednesday by Toho, Japan’s most powerful film studio.

Shinkai’s film is a follow-up to his global anime mega-hits “Your Name” and “Weathering With You.” Titled “Suzume no Tojimari” (translation: “Suzume Closes the Doors”), it follows the 17-year-old protagonist, Suzume, as she travels around Japan closing magical doors to keep evil curses from escaping. Toho will release the film in the fall of next year.

Also on the line-up is “Tokyo 2020 Olympics,” Kawase’s documentary on the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Kawase has told interviewers she intends to cover everything from public opposition to the Games to Japan’s ongoing battle with the coronavirus. The result may be as controversial as Ichikawa Kon’s documentary about the 1964 Tokyo Games, which was released in 1965 in a recut version, over the director’s protests, to better suit the organizers’ PR requirements. Toho plans to release Kawase’s film in June of next year.

Opening on May 22 of next year is “Shin Ultraman,” a live-action feature inspired by the iconic Ultraman tokusatsu (“special effects”) sci-fi-action TV and film series that debuted in 1966. Anno, the director of “Shin Godzilla” and creator of the “Evangelion” sci-fi anime series, is producer and scriptwriter while Shinji Higuchi, Anno’s co-director on “Shin Godzilla” and a veteran maker of effects-driven films, is directing.

Last year Toho releases accounted for seven of the top-ten films in Japan, including “Demon Slayer The Movie: Mugen Train,” an anime that set an all-time local record with earnings of $320 million. This year,  Toho has accomplished a similar showing, led by “Evangelion: 3.0+1.0 Thrice Upon a Time,” a sci-fi anime that, scripted and directed by Anno, is the fourth and final film in his “Rebuild of Evangelion” series. Released in March, it made a total of $90 million to top the 2021 Japanese box office to date.