Hayao Miyazaki‘s final Studio Ghibli film is one shrouded in secrecy. Apart from artwork from the film’s announcement, no trailers, promotional images, or even a film synopsis has surfaced. The Boy and the Heron (Kimi-tachi wa Dō Ikiru ka / How Do You Live?) had its Japanese release on 14 July this year and has since sold over 4.12 million tickets, with a current total domestic box office revenue of ¥$6.235 billion.
In an age of cinema where trailers often reveal key plot points, The Boy and the Heron brings back the traditional joy of experiencing a movie without prior expectations, the way films were released in the past with little to no information, with its latest teases for the international audience.
The new images vaguely hint at the film’s characters – a boy named Mahito, a dark-haired girl, an older mentor figure, and plenty of herons.
Reviews of the film have been favourable, with critics praising the film’s portrayal of its themes, characters, worldbuilding, and animation. The Boy and the Heron is also one of Studio Ghibli’s most costly films, and possibly the most expensive 2D animated film to be produced in Japan, breaking the US$43.9 million budget of The Tale of the Princess Kaguya.
“Miyazaki is making the new film for his grandson. It’s his way of saying ‘Grandpa is moving on to the next world, but he’s leaving behind this film,” said producer Toshio Suzuki in a 2017 interview.
For those eager to catch Miyazaki’s last Studio Ghibli film, The Boy and the Heron is slated to premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival on 7 September 2023 before its international release.