It’s now been 10 years since Hayao Miyazaki released his supposed final film, The Wind Rises. Thankfully, the famed director – best known for Studio Ghibli classics Spirited Away and My Neighbour Totoro – is back, and this year, he released his actual (well, who knows after this U-turn) final movie: The Boy and The Heron. The film was released in Japan in July; however, the film will see its US and UK versions released this December, and the star-studded cast for the English dub has just been announced.
The cast, per GKIDS, includes a star-studded roster of performers, including Christian Bale, Florence Pugh, Robert Pattinson, Willem Dafoe, Dave Bautista, Mark Hamill, Karen Fukuhara, Gemma Chan and more. Oppenheimer, eat your heart out.
Like previous Ghibli films, The Boy and the Heron is entirely hand-drawn, with Hayao taking the lead on most of the frames’ artwork himself (he began work on the project before it had officially been signed off in 2017). Originally planned to coincide with the 2020 Summer Olympics that same year, Toshio shared that it was taking longer to produce because Hayao was only able to create one minute of animation per month, compared to the 10 minutes per month he was averaging when he was younger. However, it seems as though being forced indoors during the COVID lockdowns helped. By the end of 2020, the 125-minute-long film was half complete.
In an interview with The New York Times in 2021, Hayao gave us a bit of info on the movie and its central themes. The Boy and The Heron is inspired by the 1937 novel How Do You Live? – the original title for the movie too – by Japanese author Yoshino Genzaburō. The novel tells the story of the gifted and popular 15-year-old boy Koperu, who goes to live with his uncle following his father’s death.
Studio Ghibli decided to release the movie with no trailer or first-look images at all. But now the film is set to launch in countries outside of Japan, we’ve been thrown a few crumbs: a number of mysterious first-look images and a teaser trailer that seems to promise terrors and wonder to come.
After hitting Japanese cinemas on 14th July, The Boy and the Heron will hit US theatres on 8th December and in the UK on Boxing Day: 26th December.