Studio Ghibli’s latest The Boy and the Heron’s trailer has finally arrived on the scene, and we’re left picking up the pieces of the short burst of wonder and awe we’ve been gifted. Originally, released in Japan back in July of this year, we’re finally getting a glimpse of Ghibli’s latest that will be airing in North American theatres come December. I can recall hearing bits and pieces about this project that reportedly took several years to complete–famed and beloved director Hayao Miyazaki’s quest to give us another animated story to fall in love with. This is an especially unique time because this week marks the 10th anniversary of Miyazaki’s press conference about his *final* movie , The Wind Rises and his *retirement* announcement back in 2013, thanks for the reminder Catsuka!
What is the Film About?
GKIDS elaborates: “A young boy named Mahito, yearning for his mother, ventures into a world shared by the living and the dead. There, death comes to an end, and life finds a new beginning. A semi-autobiographical fantasy about life, death, and creation, in tribute to friendship, from the mind of Hayao Miyazaki.”
As reported by Indiewire: “The Boy and the Heron is an original story inspired by Yoshino Genzaburo’s 1937 story about a young boy who comes of age while living with his uncle after the death of his father.” We know that Miyazaki returned to work because that man cannot just sit and enjoy retirement, yet it is a bit endearing to read that he wanted to leave a film to his grandson. Some have interpreted this film being dedicated to his grandson which is one of the most heartwarming things I’ve read all week.
What Do We Know for Sure?
This is Hayao Miyazaki’s first feature film in 10 years! The Boy and the Heron is a hand-drawn, original story written and directed by the Academy Award®-winning director. The film is produced by Studio Ghibli co-founder Toshio Suzuki, and the film features a musical score from Miyazaki’s long-time collaborator Joe Hisaishi. The theme song for the film “Spinning Globe” was penned and performed by global J-pop superstar Kenshi Yonezu.
Call Back to Older Films, But Still Something New
In the teaser trailer we get:
- Within the first ten seconds: fire and destruction which may be a nod to war or some great tragedy (Grave of the Fireflies, The Wind Rises)
- At the thirty second mark: A glimpse of unique characters whom we can speculate could be spirits or otherworldly beings (Take Your Pick of Ghibli Films, but I’m feeling Spirited Away)
- At the thirty-six second mark: A child entering a unique doorway or gate which looks to lead to a place much different than their own reality with its own set of rules (Spirited Away)
- At the forty-nine second mark: A fiery individual perhaps offering a deal to the main character (Howl’s Moving Castle)
With just a teaser trailer, it is fun to speculate on just what is happening with the short glimpse of the film we’ve been given. I know that above all, the film is about family. In the teaser, we see Mahito looking for a mother who may no longer be alive. Culturally, in the Asian Diaspora but especially Japan, the heron bird has special significance and symbolism that I’m sure the film will allude to in more detail. There are hints to more strange characters, another world, and a child going through many hardships.
Truthfully, The Boy and the Heron is calling to mind one of my favorite Ghibli films–Spirited Away, and that’s not an insult in any way or fashion on my end. I’ll check back in December to see if any of my speculation was on point and what this new film from the studio and Miyazaki adds to House Ghibli and the animation world! What I know for sure that Ghibli Fest 2023 was already made special with Spirited Away: Live on Stage, so receiving a new Ghibli film in the same year feels like a treasure!
The Boy and the Heron. From Hayao Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli. In theatres nationwide and IMAX December 8. As it is an official selection of the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) and New York Film Festival (NYFF), It will open internationally this month. To stay updated with the film, be sure to follow. You can sign up to receive SMS and email updates on #TheBoyandtheHeron at TheBoyandtheHeron.com.
Editor Update: Added THE BOY AND THE HERON English voice cast poster to piece 10/17/23