It’s been a long time coming, but Hayao Miyazaki’s next film is almost here. After being announced in 2016 and premiering in Japan in early 2023, The Boy and the Heron — previously known as How Do You Live? — hits North American theaters on December 8th. It’s the first new feature from Studio Ghibli since Earwig and the Witch in 2020 (which was directed by Miyazaki’s son Goro) and the first from Miyazaki himself since 2013’s The Wind Rises.
The film was initially shrouded in mystery; prior to its premiere in Japan, no trailers or even images were released. It was also expected to be Miyazaki’s final film, though the famed director has since backtracked (again) on the idea of retiring. Since then, we’ve gotten plenty of looks at The Boy and the Heron and even had the opportunity to talk to some of its creators. As supervising animator Takeshi Honda told The Verge, “I could sense the will and the determination and the commitment that [Miyazaki] put into this one, which was moving.”
Here’s all of our coverage of the film, including reviews, interviews, and trailers.
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The year is 1997, and famed Studio Ghibli director Hayao Miyazaki announced plans to retire following the release of Princess Mononoke, a film that set new records at the box office for Japanese animation and revolutionized the medium. The year is 2001, and Miyazaki announced plans to retire following the release of Spirited Away, saying he can no longer work on feature-length animated films. The year is 2013, and Miyazaki announced plans to retire following the release of The Wind Rises, saying that “If I said I wanted to [make another feature film], I would sound like an old man saying something foolish.”
The year is 2023, and Miyazaki is an old man saying something foolish by releasing a new film, titled How Do You Live in Japan and renamed The Boy and the Heron for the international market.
Takeshi Honda already had a good gig lined up. The veteran animator was slated to work on Evangelion: 3.0+1.0 Thrice Upon a Time, the next film in the sci-fi series that Honda had worked on in fits and starts over the last two decades. Before starting that job, he partnered with Studio Ghibli’s famed Hayao Miyazaki on Boro the Caterpillar, a short film that aired exclusively at the Ghibli Museum. But as Boro was winding down, Miyazaki came to Honda with a proposition: be the supervising animator on his next feature film.
“Of course I had already booked Evangelion, so I had to say to him ‘I need some time to talk with the other parties, and come to a decision.’ I had to stall,” Honda said. “But Miyazaki was in quite a rush and was very loud about this. He said ‘I don’t have any more time. Nobody in the Miyazaki family has lived beyond 80. This is probably going to be my last film so you have to come on board.’ And when Miyazaki says that to you, really there’s no way to say no.”
In the months before The Boy and The Heron’s Japanese debut, Studio Ghibli made a point of keeping details about the latest animated feature from Hayao Miyazaki to a minimum. For those who’ve been trying to avoid spoilers, it’s definitely gotten trickier what with all the buzz coming from its run on the film festival circuit. But as much as you might expect the trailer for GKids’ English dub to give away, it’s a surprisingly restrained and tantalizing look at just what has everyone so worked up.
It’s difficult to parse where and when The Boy and the Heron’s young protagonist Mahito (Luca Padovan) is in the movie’s new trailer, but it is clear that all of the odd and inexplicable occurrences around him have something to do with a strange talking Grey Heron (Robert Pattinson) that seems to know something about his mother. As confused about his own dreams in which his mother calls out for help, he’s even more alarmed at the Heron’s awareness of what’s going on in his head and insistence that Mahito must follow him to a magical world.
When Studio Ghibli’s The Boy and the Heron finally hits North American theaters, it’ll be doing so with some star power. Distributor GKIDS announced the English voice cast for the animated feature, which debuted in Japan earlier this year, and it includes some big names: Christian Bale, Dave Bautista, Gemma Chan, Willem Dafoe, Karen Fukuhara, Mark Hamill, Robert Pattinson, and Florence Pugh.
The news came alongside a new poster for the film:
The Boy and the Heron, Hayao Miyazaki’s first feature film in a decade, probably won’t be his last after all. Studio Ghibli executive Junichi Nishioka told CBC News that not only does he not feel like retiring anymore, he’s actively coming into work to create yet another film.
“Other people say that [The Boy and the Heron] might be his last film, but he doesn’t feel that way at all,” Nishioka told CBC, through a translator, at the Toronto International Film Festival (via Gizmodo).
One of the most secretive films of the year just got a little less mysterious with the first trailer for The Boy and the Heron. The latest film from Studio Ghibli and perhaps the final feature-length project from famed director Hayao Miyazaki, The Boy and the Heron premiered in Japan in July.
In the lead-up to its debut, Ghibli was refreshingly vague in discussing the film, which is also known as How Do You Live (and based on Genzaburo Yoshino’s novel of the same name). Prior to the trailer, all fans had to go on were a few still images, simple plot descriptions, and the teasiest of teasers.
The mysterious new film from legendary animation studio Studio Ghibli and filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki will be titled The Boy and the Heron in North America, according to an announcement from distributor GKIDS. The movie came out on Friday in Japan under the title Kimitachi wa Do Ikiruka (translated as How Do You Live?), but GKIDS is only saying that it will be out in theaters “later this year.”
Ahead of the film’s release, Studio Ghibli only shared the Japanese title and a couple of images of some kind of bird-like creature — there hasn’t even been a trailer — so there are a lot of unknowns about what the film might actually be about. That was an intentional strategy.
The next release from famed animation house Studio Ghibli is due to hit Japan next year. How Do You Live (still a tentative title), the latest feature directed by Hayao Miyazaki, will be in theaters in the country on July 14th, 2023. There’s no word on the international release yet, but as part of the announcement, Ghibli also put out this new poster for the film:
Miyazaki and the studio have been working on the film for some time; the legendary director actually came out of retirement to lead the project, which was first announced in 2017, following the release of The Wind Rises, which was expected to be his final film. It’s an adaptation of a 1937 novel of the same name, written by Yoshino Genzaburō. It’s been a long process.