The images are the first look at the main characters from The Boy and the Heron, Ghibli’s new movie that has its North American release coming September 7th at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF).

Studio Ghibli is Japan’s most respected animation studio, and they have a long history of being very protective of their IP. Ghibli can also be remarkably generous: during the pandemic, they released a huge collection of backgrounds and stills from their movies for free use (personal, not commercial). They’ve continued to add to the collection of over 1000 images here. The only request is to use “within the bounds of common sense”.

first image from program book

The Boy and the Heron is called How Do You Live in Japan, and debuted in Japan on 14 July without any promotional marketing. The images are a gift for local fans in Japan too, as the program booklet with movie artwork waited to go on sale on 11 August. Traditionally, movie programs are available on opening day, but this time the studio wanted to keep Hayao Miyazaki’s new anime in theaters only.

The Boy and the Heron program book went on sale August 11, priced at 820 yen (US$5.95). It’s available in the lobby of Toho theaters, and can also be preordered online now through the Toho Animation and Ghibli Museum stores (here and here). Note the site is in Japanese.

The new images are free here. The first image is the main character Mahito Maki

With the Heron
a free image of Sheeta from Castle In The Sky

The official Japanese titled may be translated as How Do You Live and has the same title as the novel by Yoshino Genzaburo from 1937. Miyazaki is a fan of the novel, however, the novel appears in only one of the scenes and the film is not an adaptation. Hayao Miyazaki has said this will be his final film.

The music is by the great Joe Hisaishi (Spirited Away), Miyazaki’s composer collaborator for 40 years. Since first opening in 1985, the studio has created movies such as Princess Mononoke, Howl’s Moving Castle, Ponyo, My Neighbor Totoro, and Kiki’s Delivery Service, all magical stories rendered in stunning hand-made animation.

This is a good year for Miyazaki. Shuna’s Journey (translated by Alex Dudok de Wit ) won this year’s Best U.S. Edition of International Material at the 2023 Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards.

Here are all The Boy and the Heron preview images in one shot:


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