Distribution company GKIDS announced on Thursday that Kenji Iwaisawa’s ON-GAKU: Our Sound will be screening in North American theatres starting December 11th. The film adaptation of Hiroyuki Ohashi’s manga will come to screens in Austin, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, San Francisco, and other cities to be announced.
Distributor GKIDS summarizes the movie as follows:
When you’re a bored teenager looking for thrills, sometimes the only thing you can turn to is rock ‘n roll. Having no skill, money, or even a full set of drums, a feared trio of high school delinquents nevertheless decide they are destined for musical glory in a quest to impress their only friend Aya, avoid a rival gang, and – most importantly – jam out. Animated almost entirely by director Kenji Iwaisawa, and featuring a lead performance by Japanese alt-rock legend Shintaro Sakamoto, ON-GAKU: OUR SOUND brings its own sound and vision to the Hiroyuki Ohashi manga from which it was adapted. With pitch-perfect deadpan humor, the film presents a highly original take on the beloved slacker comedy: a lo-fi buddy film with a blaring musical finale that will leave you wanting an immediate encore.
The film originally premiered in Japan on January 11th and ranked #3 in the mini theater ranking its opening weekend. The movie has heralded great responses from critics and fans alike. There was also a screening at the New York International Children’s Film Festival (NYICFF) a month after its premiere back in February. The movie won top place in the Ottawa International Animation Festival’s Grand Prize for Feature Animation in September. The film also won the Best Original Music Award for a Feature Film at Annecy International Animation Film Festival back in June. It was also up for the sixth annual New Chitose Airport International Animation Festival’s Featured Animation Competition category in November of 2019.
The film had fairly humble beginnings. Hiroyuki Ohashi, the original author, announced the project on Makuake in July 2018 in which he sought to raise three and half million yen (equivalent to roughly thirty-one thousand dollars). The campaign easily smashed that goal in just four months going, on to make over 4 million yen (about thirty-eight thousand dollars). Ohashi had originally announced the project in 2012, with Kenji Iwaiasawa as the director. Iwaiasawa has made a name for himself over the years with various animated shorts, such as Fukurai-cho, Tunnel Roji no Otoko and Big Boss.
Ohashi self-published Ongaku in 2005 (on which On-Gaku: Our Sound is based); it tells the story of young punks who decide to start a band despite never having played instruments before. Ohta Publishing later serialized the manga in its 2009 Ongaku to Manga collection of Ohashi’s work.
Ohashi was responsible for the work’s character designs and for overall supervision. Rock ‘n’ Roll Mountain will distribute the film, with distribution cooperation by Arc Films.