A film still from “The Boy and the Heron.”
Get ready to embark on a beautiful, fantastical journey that will likely make you cry buckets.
An official trailer for anime legend Hayao Miyazaki’s first film in a decade, “The Boy and the Heron,” was released Wednesday. The movie — which in Japan boasts the title “How Do You Live?” — already debuted to audiences in the Studio Ghibli co-founder’s home country, but it will premiere in North America at the Toronto International Film Festival on Thursday.
According to a limited description provided by distributor GKids, the film is about a boy named Mahito who is “yearning for his mother” as he “ventures into a world shared by the living and the dead. There, death comes to an end, and life finds a new beginning.”
The distributor also notes that the movie is a “semi-autobiographical fantasy about life, death, and creation, in tribute to friendship.”
Ghibli decided to go against a big Hollywood rollout for what is purportedly Miyazaki’s final film. Details about the plot and voice cast were long cloaked in mystery. An English dub version is reportedly in the works, but it’s currently unclear if the likes ofTina Fey, Cate Blanchett, Christian Bale, Kirsten Dunst, Aubrey Plaza, Billy Crystal or Claire Danes — who have voiced characters in past Ghibli projects — will be involved.
In a June interview with the Japanese magazine Bungei Shunji, longtime Miyazaki collaborator Toshio Suzuki explained the lack of fanfare for the film, on which he served as producer.
“Over the years Ghibli has wanted people to come see the movies we’ve made. So we’ve thought about that and done a lot of different things for that purpose — but this time we were like, ‘Eh, we don’t need to do that,’” Suzuki explained, according to The Hollywood Reporter. “Doing the same thing you’ve done before, over and over, you get tired of it. So we wanted to do something different.”
Suzuki also told Japanese broadcaster NHK: “A poster and a title ― that’s all we got when we were children. I enjoyed trying to imagine what a movie was about, and I wanted to bring that feeling back.”
Despite the lack of promotion, fans of the legendary anime house are highly anticipating the new offering from Miyazaki, who is regarded as one of the greatest filmmakers in animation history.
He is the mastermind behind some of the studio’s most critically acclaimed projects, including 1997’s “Princess Mononoke,” 1988’s “My Neighbor Totoro,” 2004’s “Howl’s Moving Castle” and 2001’s Oscar-winning “Spirited Away.” His most recent movie was “The Wind Rises,” released in 2013.
Amid its Japanese premiere in July, “The Boy and the Heron” was described by film critics as “an animation tour de force.”
“Every frame of this film feels like a separate work of art—one that only becomes grander when put together as part of the greater whole,” wrote a reviewer for the Anime News Network website. “It’s a film you could watch a hundred times and still discover new things in the background of any given scene.”
“The Boy and the Heron” will hit theaters internationally later this year.