Based on the original novel by Hiroko Reijō, anime feature from GKIDS, Okko’s Inn (or Waka okami wa shôgakusei!), is a heartfelt coming-of-age film that has now been released to US audiences.
The story follows 12-year-old Oriko Seki, or “Okko” for short, who goes to the countryside to live with her granny after losing her parents in a car accident. Okko begins training to take over their traditional Japanese inn, Hananoyu Spa, built on top of an ancient spring believed to have healing waters and renowned for not rejecting any guests. One day, Okko discovers her ability to see the ghosts haunting the inn—not scary ones, but welcoming ghosts who keep her company, play games, and help her navigate her new environment. Through her trials of training to be an innkeeper, Okko ultimately discovers that dedicating herself to others becomes the key to taking care of herself.
Directed by Kitarō Kōsaka (Nasu: Summer in Andalusia) and from famed anime studio Madhouse (Perfect Blue), their new family feature, Okko’s Inn, seamlessly blends immersive, idyllic landscapes with storybook charm. Okko’s Inn delivers a rare ghost story that—despite several floating characters—is firmly grounded in the trials and joys of growing up and overcoming grief.
“Above all else, Kitarō Kōsaka’s Okko’s Inn is a warm and adorable new addition to the growing sub-genre of animated children’s films about grief.” – David Ehrlich, indieWire
“The touching animated feature Okko’s Inn offers an unusual ghost story that follows Japanese traditions and feels very different from its American counterparts.” – Charles Solomon, Los Angeles Times
“For a family film about death, it’s much lighter, more playful, and more colorful than you’d ever expect.” – Tara McNamara, Common Sense Media