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The Boy and the Heron: Hayao Miyazaki Returns

9/8/2023 • 4 min read

Japanese filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki, creator of SPIRITED AWAY, MY NEIGHBOR TOTORO, and other classics, has "retired" more than once. Ten years ago, his supposed last film, THE WIND RISES, was released to great acclaim. It turned out not to be his final movie after all, and now Miyazaki returns with a fantasy that is somehow inspired by parts of his own life.

THE BOY AND THE HERON recently debuted in Japan, and it comes to the US in December. The first teaser trailer is out, and even that brief look at the movie is packed with Miyazaki's visual hallmarks, and his instantly-recognizable hand-drawn animation. Check out THE BOY AND THE HERON trailer and learn as much about the mysterious movie as we've been able to learn.

When Does The Boy and the Heron Come to Theatres?

GKids will release THE BOY AND THE HERON in theatres on December 8.

Watch the First Trailer for The Boy and the Heron

This trailer does a good job of giving some basic impressions about the movie without revealing too many specifics. That's great — frankly, we don't want to know too much about the story of THE BOY AND THE HERON before the movie opens. That seems to be how Studio Ghibli wants it, too. Prior to the Japanese opening, there wasn't even a trailer or set of official images.

What Is The Boy and the Heron About?

Well, we don't really know! All we've got is an echo of what's in the trailer: "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.

That said, reviews of THE BOY AND THE HERON are out thanks to a couple of different big film festivals happening right now. So if you'd like to know a bit more, you can check out the many raves. (And all the reviews are raves so far.) But even those reviews are mostly circling around key plot elements so as not to give anything away.

There Will Be an English Dub of The Boy and the Heron

While we're waiting for the cast to be revealed, GKids will release THE BOY AND THE HERON in two versions, as is typical for presentations of classic Miyazaki films. You'll be able to choose between seeing the movie in Japanese with English subtitles, or with a new English dub track.

We'll update with a cast list for the English dub when that becomes available. Given the high profile of this movie, we expect the cast to feature many well-known actors.

The Boy and the Heron Isn't Miyazaki's Final Movie

After announcing his retirement a decade ago, then coming back with this one last movie, we've assumed that THE BOY AND THE HERON would be the last stage of Miyazaki's directing career. But that's not the case! At the Toronto International Film Festival premiere of THE BOY AND THE HERON, Studio Ghibli executive Junichi Nishioka said the filmmaker has more ideas.

"Other people say that this might be his last film, but he doesn't feel that way at all," Nishioka told the CBC. "He is currently working on ideas for a new film. He comes into his office every day and does that. This time, he's not going to announce his retirement at all. He's continuing working just as he has always done."


THE BOY AND THE HERON opens on December 8.


All images courtesy of GKids.

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