What is the plot of How Do You Live?

Chris Tilly
How Do You Live? image.

How Do You Live? is the new movie from the dream team of Studio Ghibli and Hayao Miyazaki. But the film’s plot has been shrouded in mystery. Until now…

How Do You Live? released in Japanese cinemas today without an official synopsis, or trailer, or stills. All we knew about the movie came from the plot of the book on which it’s loosely based:

“The streets of Tokyo swarm below fifteen year-old Copper as he gazes out into the city of his childhood. Struck by the thought of the infinite people whose lives play out alongside his own, he begins to wonder, how do you live? Considering life’s biggest questions for the first time, Copper turns to his dear uncle for heart-warming wisdom. As the old man guides the boy on a journey of philosophical discovery, a timeless tale unfolds, offering a poignant reflection on what it means to be human.”

Now people have seen the film, however, meaning the specific storyline has emerged. So read on for How Do You Live? SPOILERS to follow!

What is the plot of How Do You Live?

With reviews appearing online, we now have a better sense of what How Do You Live? is about. Here’s a description of the plot from AnimeNewsNetwork:

“Our hero, Mahito, is a good kid – obedient and polite. But while he’s respectful to his aunt and the numerous elderly people she takes care of, he is self-destructing on the inside. What he wants is the old life he had in Tokyo with his father and mother – not this one in a new place where he knows no one and his father is already making a new family with his aunt.

“At first, he lashes out at himself – getting in a fight after school and then causing himself a gushing head wound so he doesn’t have to go back. Then, he moves on to lash out at something that can’t fight back – the blue heron living in a neighboring pond. The message here is clear. These are obvious outward signs of a troubled kid – both then and now. Pain and grief are universal things – and only by recognizing the signs can we help those in need.

“The film, for all its fantastical trappings, is the story of Mahito coming to accept what he still has – and fighting to make sure nothing more is taken away from him.”

While this is how UnseenJapan describes the storyline: “An adolescent boy, Mahito, leaves war-ravaged Tokyo for the countryside alongside his father.

“Mahito, suffering through his own trauma, finds himself haunted by a blue stork inhabiting a nearby pond. A tower of mysterious origin within the local forests also beckons to him. When a reason to venture into this dark, uninviting building arises, he bravely enters the tower. A world beyond his imaging resides therein.”

How Do You Live? is in Japanese cinemas now – to read what the critics think of the film, head here.