GKIDS continues to build a strong library of international animated films. The team at the indie animation studio really outdid themselves this year. “Mirai,” “Lu Over the Wall,” “MFKZ” and “Night Is Long, Walk on Girl” are among the best animated features of 2018. “Mirai” grabbed a Golden Globe nomination, and continues to build momentum for Oscar. The little studio needs to lay a lot of groundwork to get these nominations and the team is already hard at work on 2019. Late last night, they announced their acquisition of “Okko’s Inn” from director Kitaro Kosaka, a former Studio Ghibli animator.

GKIDS and Kosaka have agreed to a deal for North American distribution of “Okko’s Inn” next year. The story follows a young girl named Okko, who goes to live with her grandmother in the countryside. She begins training to take over the inn, and discovers that ghosts play in the halls. However, only Okko can see them. This leads Okko on a journey of discovery, balancing her new life as an innkeeper with what she needs to be happy.

If the story sounds familiar to other classic stories, it comes from Kosaka’s background. The director has released feature films in the past. Both of his features were part of the “Nasu” series of features, and each was under an hour in length. However, “Okko’s Inn” will skew closer to two hours. This makes the film his largest project to date.

However, Kosaka should be ready for the challenge. He has animated some of the greatest films in Japanese history, including “Akira,” “The Wind Rises,” “Spirited Away,” and “Grave of the Fireflies.” GKIDS has already begun work on an “Okko’s Inn” English dub. Look for the film next year in the animated feature race.

What do you think of GKIDS signing up to distribute “Okko’s Inn” so early? Can “Okko’s Inn” be a darkhorse in a quickly intensifying 2019 animation field? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below! 

“Okko’s Inn” will release in April 2019. GKIDS will distribute. 

Be sure to check out the Official Oscar Predictions Page to see where this year’s films and performances rank among the contenders!