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The Boy and the Heron: Everything You Need to Know About Miyazaki’s Next (and Last?) Movie

When Hayao Miyazaki, the famous screenwriter and director, announced his retirement in 2013 after making the animated film How Do You Live? (also known as “The Boy and the Heron” in Japan), his fans doubted if this would be his last work. Several times he considered the idea of ​​ending his career, but he always returned to give the audience some more magic. At that time, he was already over 70, and it seemed that he intended to leave the animation for good. Thus ended one of the greatest careers in anime history.

Release date for The Boy and The Heron?

However, retirement did not go down well with Hayao Miyazaki, and in 2016 he announced another project with Studio Ghibli, which is famous for such films as My Neighbor Totoro, Princess Mononoke and Gone ghosts.” After nearly seven years of work, Miyazaki’s next and reportedly final film was released in Japan on July 14, 2023, and finally, the American distributor GKids announced the rights to distribute it in North America under the title “The Boy and the Heron”. The release date of the film in the US has not yet been set, but it became known that it will be presented at the opening of the Toronto International Film Festival in September of the same year.

Cameron Bailey, CEO of the festival, expressed his delight: “We are honored to open the 48th Toronto International Film Festival with the work of one of cinema’s greatest artists. Hayao Miyazaki’s new film, already hailed as a masterpiece in Japan, begins as a simple story of loss and love and rises to a stunning work of the imagination. I look forward to our audience discovering its mysteries, but I can promise a unique, transformative experience.”

Who is in the cast of The Boy and the Heron?

The cast of the film includes Soma Santoki, who plays the role of the main character Mahito Maki, and Masaki Suda, who voices the Gray Heron. The film also features Japanese singer Aimyon and actors Yoshino Kimura, Shohei Hino, Ko Shibasaki, Takuya Kimura and Jun Kunimura.

At the moment there is no detailed information about the cast in English. It should be noted that this film will be the first animated and Japanese film to open the Toronto International Film Festival from 7 to 17 September.

What is the story of The Boy and the Heron?

How Do You Live?
Image Credit: Studio Ghibli

After World War II, a boy named Mahito Maki moves to the countryside when his father remarries. Initially unhappy in his new life and missing his dead mother, he befriends a heron, who actually turns out to be the spirit of a man possessing a bird, who guides him to a magical world where he is told his mother is still alive. But all is not what it seems…

Is there a trailer for The Boy and the Heron?

Another unusual aspect of marketing for How Do You Live? the suspicious absence of a trailer for the film. While it’s common for other studios to release a few teasers and full trailers years in advance of a film’s release, nothing has been released for How Do They Live? Except for a few teaser posters that give away almost nothing.

It was a deliberate decision made by Studio Ghibli, with producer Toshio Suzuki explaining, “As part of the company’s operations over the years, Ghibli wanted people to come and watch the films we made. So we thought about it and did a lot of different things for this purpose, but this time we thought, “Eh, we don’t need to do this.”

What is the book “How do you live?” inspires?

How Do You Live Book Cover

The Boy and the Heron is an original story about a man who was influenced by the real-life novel How Do You Live? Yuzo Yamamoto and Genzaburo Yoshino. Although not a direct adaptation, it is heavily inspired by this quintessential children’s literature in Japan.

Genzaburō Yoshino’s original 1932 novel How Do You Live? follows a teenage boy named Junchi Honda (nicknamed “Koperu”) as he learns about the life of a budding adult. Nicknamed Koperu, after the astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus, Junichi lives with his mother after his father died when he was young.

The focus of the book is on the relationship between Koperu and his uncle, to whom the boy often talks about the problems he is facing. His uncle, in turn, gives advice and writes down his thoughts in a diary filled with notes for Koper’s future. The book follows the two characters, their reflections on life and society, and what it means to be a good person.

Interestingly, in the end, the book breaks the fourth wall and directly asks the reader “how are you?” to make him think about his humanity and spiritual growth.

New English translation of the book “How do you live?” was released in 2021 by translator Bruno Navasky with a foreword by Neil Gaiman.

Manga adaptation of the original How Do You Live? was completed in 2017 by Shoichi Hagoi titled How Do You Live?. Cartoon stories.

Why did Hayao Miyazaki retire (again) to direct The Boy and the Heron?

Hayao Miyazaki
Image Credit: Studio Ghibli

Hayao Miyazaki was in his early 70s when he announced his retirement in 2013, making it likely that this would be the last time he retired. So why did he decide to spend his golden years working on one last film? For a grandson, I think.

In an interview with NHK in 2017, studio executive Toshio Suzuki said that Miyazaki had come out of retirement to film How Do You Live? for the grandson. Knowing that he was probably at the end of his life, Miyazaki wanted to make this film to say, “Grandpa has gone to the other world, but he left this job” for you. With reasoning like that, we expect The Boy and the Heron to be an epic tear-jerker movie.

Is The Boy and the Heron the last Studio Ghibli film?

While Hayao Miyazaki has directed many of Studio Ghibli’s most successful films, he’s far from the only director at the studio. “Grave of the Fireflies”, “The Tale of Princess Kaguya” and “When Marnie Was” were filmed without Miyazaki’s involvement. It is incredibly unlikely that The Boy and the Heron will be the last Studio Ghibli film.

Is Studio Ghibli going to make more films?

This isn’t the first time Hayao Miyazaki has retired from filmmaking, and that has never stopped Studio Ghibli from creating fantastic work before. Unless things change drastically, Studio Ghibli will continue to do animation magic well into the future after the release of The Boy and the Heron.

What is the oldest Studio Ghibli movie?

Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind
Image Credit: Studio Ghibli

There is some confusion as to what is the oldest Studio Ghibli film. Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind was released in March 1984 in Japan. It was written and directed by Hayao Miyazaki and shares many of the hallmarks of other Ghibli films, including a strong environmental message and fantastic character designs. However, it was released a year before Studio Ghibli was actually founded.

Despite this, Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind is often cited as the first Studio Ghibli film, although Castle in the Sky was the studio’s first branded film and has been included in several DVD collections of other Studio Ghibli films.

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