The boy and the heron – the animated film by Hayao Miyazaki

The boy and the heron – the animated film by Hayao Miyazaki

The new film by Japanese director Hayao Miyazaki, will be released in Italy on January 1, 2024. The film will be distributed in Italy by Lucky Red with the title The boy and the heron, translation of the US title The Boy and the Hero, but in the original version it is titled Kimitachi wa Do Ikiru ka, or “How do you live?”. The film is highly anticipated because it is Miyazaki's first in ten years, after The wind rises of 2013. 

The first revealed images of the film “The boy and the heron” (in the translated English version: The Boy and the Hero), directed by master Hayao Miyazaki, were recently released online, taken from the film's official brochure released in Japan this week. These cinematic materials often accompany new releases with artwork, auteur interviews, and more details about the film—a boon to fans outside of Japan who eagerly await given Studio Ghibli's firm strategy of not disclosing anything. before the official release.

Released in Japan by Toho on July 14 with the title "How Do You Live” (Kimitachi wa Dō Ikiru ka), the film, a fantastic and philosophical fable about the age of adolescence, has been described by producer Toshio Suzuki as Miyazaki's last feature film and a legacy message for his grandson. This masterpiece surpassed 5 billion yen at the box office last weekend.

In a recent interview with LiveDoor News, Suzuki revealed that this 2D animated film could be the most expensive film ever produced in Japan, surpassing the previous record held by another Studio Ghibli masterpiece, "The Story of the Princess Shining". released in 2013 with a production cost of $43,9 million, directed by Isao Takahata.

From the first critical reviews we know that “The Boy and the Aironee” tells the story of Mahito, a young man whose mother dies in the WWII bombing of Tokyo. Having moved out of town and grappling with grief and mourning, the arrival of a new stepmother (his mother's sister) and the expectation of a baby brother, Mahito is drawn into an incredible journey to an alternate world by a talking heron .

“The boy and the airone” will have its North American premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 7, before being distributed widely by GKIDS.

These excerpts were taken from Catsuka :

The Boy and the Heron ( How Do You Live)

“The Boy and the Heron”: Miyazaki's Farewell Masterpiece

Hayao Miyazaki's new film “The Boy and the Heron” has caused quite a stir with Studio Ghibli's “zero marketing” policy ahead of its release in Japan on July 14th. However, the studio is now releasing several official images, in an attempt to pique the curiosity of international fans.

A number of new stills from the film have been unveiled, while the film continues to be shown in regional premieres and selected for prestigious film festivals around the world. The big news is that "The Boy and the Heron" will have its US premiere during the New York Film Festival 2023 (from September 29 to October 15), included in the "NYFF Spotlight" selection of the 61st edition.

The film's plot, as described in the festival programme, introduces us to the reality of Mahito, a teenager who moved from Tokyo to a serene rural home with his new stepmother, Natsuko, after his mother's tragic death. However, his new life takes an unexpected turn with the appearance of a gray heron who seems to have a special bond with him, taking him on an adventure between reality and fantasy, in search of salvation and inner peace.

With elements that recall Miyazaki's iconic films such as "My Neighbor Totoro" and "Spirited Away", but with a unique freshness and originality, "The Boy and the Heron" promises to be a work of art that mixes captivating images and emotional moments, ranging from the tender to the macabre.

Prior to its large-scale release in North America through GKIDS, the film will have another prestigious premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 7th. In addition, it will be screened at the San Sebastian Film Festival in Spain, an event that has already welcomed other Miyazaki masterpieces in the past.

Miyazaki's latest film is a testament to his mastery of telling stories that touch the heart and soul, offering audiences an extraordinary journey through enchanted worlds and unforgettable characters.


After the making of the animated film "The Wind Rises", in September 2013, during a press conference in Venice, Hayao Miyazaki announced his retirement, stating: "I know I have said many times in the past that I would retire. Many of you may be thinking, 'One more time.' But this time I'm really serious." However, after the conclusion of the short film "Boro the Caterpillar" in 2018, Miyazaki changed his mind. His return to directing was documented in the 2016 film “Never-Ending Man: Hayao Miyazaki”.

In July 2016, Miyazaki began drawing the art for the new film, submitting a project proposal the following month. With his return, Studio Ghibli reopened its doors to him, and many of his former collaborators reunited to work on the project. In 2017, Studio Ghibli announced that the title of the film would be "Kimitachi wa Dō Ikiru ka", inspired by the 1937 novel of the same name written by Genzaburo Yoshino. Producer Toshio Suzuki revealed that Miyazaki was working on the film as a message to his grandson, essentially saying, "Grandpa will soon pass into another world, but he leaves this film behind."

In 2018, Suzuki stated that he expected the film to be finished by 2021 or 2022. However, in a 2019 interview with NHK, Miyazaki said that the film would not be coming anytime soon. He was once able to produce 10 minutes of animation a month, but now his speed had dropped to 1 minute a month. In May 2020, Suzuki described the film as a "vastly fantastic" work to Entertainment Weekly, adding that 60 animators were hard at work and that, after three years, 36 minutes of film had been completed. "We're still drawing everything by hand, but it takes longer to complete a film because we draw more frames," he said, adding that they hoped to finish "in the next three years."

In December 2020, Suzuki said they were working without any fixed deadline, similar to 2013's "The Tale of the Princess Shining," which took eight years to complete. He also revealed that production was progressing faster due to COVID-19 restrictions, forcing them to work from home, and that the film would be 125 minutes long. During development, Miyazaki had also expressed the idea of ​​adapting “Earwig and the Witch” (2020), but in the end it was his son Goro who directed that transposition. In June 2023, Suzuki specified that the novel was unrelated to the film, other than inspiring its title.

Technical data

Original title How do you live
Kimi-tachi wa do ikiru ka
Original language Japanese
Country of Production Japan
Year 2023
Duration 125 min
Gender animation, great
Regia Hayao Miyazaki
Subject Hayao Miyazaki
Film script Hayao Miyazaki
Producer Toshio Suzuki
Production house Studio Ghibli, Toho
Music Joe hisaishi
Art director Yoji Takeshige
Entertainers Takeshi Honda

Original voice actors
Soma Santoki as Masato Maki
Takuya Kimura: Masato's father
Kaoru Kobayashi
Jun Kunimura
Karen Takizawa
Keiko Takeshita
Ko Shibasaki
Masaki suda
Sawako Agawa
Shinobu Otake
Shohei Hino
Yoshino kimura