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Indie distributor GKIDS has acquired the North American distribution rights for The Deer King (Shika no Ou), the latest animated feature from Production I.G (Ghost in the Shell), which had its world premiere this week in competition at the Annecy International Animation Film Festival.
The fantasy feature is directed by Masashi Ando and Masayuki Miyaji, and marks the directorial debut of respected animator Ando, who has been a key animator at Studio Ghibli (Spirited Away) and on such film’s as Makoto Shinkai’s Your Name. Miyaji is known for directing the 2009 series Xam’d: Lost Memories and work on Studio Ghibli films such as My Neighbors The Yamadas.
Written by Taku Kishimoto and based on Nahoko Uehashi’s book series, The Deer King is set in the years following a vicious war, when the Empire of Zol controls the land and citizens of rival Aquafa — except for Aquafa’s Fire Horse Territory, where wild dogs that once carried the deadly Black Wolf Fever continue to roam free. In the story, a pack of dogs race through a Zol-controlled mine and Van, an enslaved former soldier, and a young girl named Yuna are both bitten but manage to escape. Finally free, Van and Yuna seek out a peaceful existence in the countryside. But as the deadly disease once again runs rampant, they find themselves at the crossroads of a struggle.
GKIDS will theatrically release the film subtitled in its original Japanese language, as well as a new English dub version, in North America in early 2022. Production I.G.’s 2011 feature A Letter to Momo and 2015 feature Miss Hokusai are also distributed by GKIDS.
On Monday, GKIDS announced that it acquired North American distribution rights for Mamoru Hosoda’s new animated feature, Belle, from Japan’s Studio Chizu.
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Karlovy Vary International Film Festival
Paul Walter Hauser