Hayao Miyazaki’s first feature film in a decade, The Boy and the Heron is hand-drawn animation, original story written and directed by the Oscar-winning director. Produced by Studio Ghibli co-founder Toshio Suzuki, the film features a musical score from Miyazaki’s life-long collaborator Joe Hisaishi.

The film was released very subtly in Japan this summer, including the release of some of the production art for use by the public. The fact that almost nothing was spent on promotion for the film speaks to the power of Studio Ghibli in the world of animation, both in the Japanese local market and in the world at large. Only Walt Disney himself would have commanded so much respect.

The English voice cast for the film is very impressive:

  • Christian Bale
  • Dave Bautista
  • Gemma Chan
  • Willem Dafoe
  • Karen Fukuhara
  • Mark Hamill
  • Robert Pattinson
  • Florence Pugh

Here is the official description for The Boy and the Heron. It reads as though the director himself might have written it.

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.

In Japan, up until the premiere, there were no trailers or advertising campaigns promoting the new Ghibli film. The trailer also avoids spoilers. It conveys the beauty, sense of wonder, engaging characters, and “a lot of strange things happening in this place.” There are also subtle nods to prior films like Howl’s Moving Castle and Spirited Away, resonating with Miyazaki’s previous works.

Preview engagements will start in NYC & LA beginning November 22. Then in theaters nationwide in the US and Canada and in IMAX (including the Japanese version!), all on December 8, 2023.

Here’s the film’s official site. If you see the company name GKIDS, they are a US film distributor for animation.

Meanwhile, in October Studio Ghibli producer Toshio Suzuki revealed that Miyazaki is already working on his next project. Like many great artists he can not ever truly “retire”, because his passion and imagination are always inspiring him to new work.


David Raiklen
David Raiklen

David Raiklen wrote, directed and scored his first film at age 9. He began studying keyboard and composing at age 5. He attended, then taught at UCLA, USC and CalArts. Among his teachers are John Williams and Mel Powel.
He has worked for Fox, Disney and Sprint. David has received numerous awards for his work, including the 2004 American Music Center Award. Dr. Raiklen has composed music and sound design for theater (Death and the Maiden), dance (Russian Ballet), television (Sing Me a Story), cell phone (Spacey Movie), museums (Museum of Tolerance), concert (Violin Sonata ), and film (Appalachian Trail).
His compositions have been performed at the Hollywood Bowl and the first Disney Hall. David Raiken is also host of a successful radio program, Classical Fan Club.