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Netflix's The Imaginary is the perfect anime movie for those of us who can't wait for Miyazaki's next final film

It's as Ghibli as you can be without Totoro showing up.

The Imaginary screenshot
Image credit: Netflix

We’ve all stopped even considering the idea that The Boy and The Heron will be Hayao Miyazaki’s final film, but that doesn’t mean we want to endure the long years ahead before he actually finishes it. For impatient Ghibli fans out there, Netflix has a solution with The Imaginary, a movie that looks and sounds so much like one of Ghibli’s works that you’ll keep expecting Totoro to pop up somewhere.

It shouldn’t be surprising that The Imaginary feels so much like a Ghibli movie, considering it is directed by Yoshiyuki Momose, who was an animator on Spirited Away, and written by Yoshiaki Nishimura, who produced both The Tale of Princess Kaguya and When Marnie Was There. The Ghibli pedigree is obvious from the first moment you see in the trailer. Between the character designs to the way the film embraces and celebrates the joys of childhood wonder, this is the most Ghibli a movie can possibly be without actually being made by Studio Ghibli.

The Imaginary feels like an important moment for Studio Ghibli. Miyazaki has struggled for years with the idea of letting go and handing the keys to the legendary animation studio over to someone else. Instead, it may be the people that worked with Miyazaki, such as Momose and Nishimura, and moved on to other studios that keep the Ghibli spirit alive in animation. Because a world without that spark of imagination and wonder isn’t one we want to live in, frankly.

The Imaginary is out on Netflix on July 5, 2024.

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Trent Cannon

Trent Cannon: Trent is a freelance writer who has been covering anime, video games, and pop culture for a decade. (He/Him)


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