Updated on March 26, 8:39 p.m. (GMT+8): Improved relevancy.

Updated on March 26, 10:13 a.m. (GMT+8): Added platform on where to watch The Boy and the Heron.

On March 10, 2024, The Boy and the Heron won the Best Animated Feature category at the 96th Academy Awards, which recognizes excellence in the film industry.

It beat contenders Sony’s Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse, Pixar’s Elemental, Nimona, and Robot Dreams.

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On several occasions, Miyazaki has announced his intention to retire but has continued to surprise us with new projects.

This film, written and directed by Miyazaki himself, is a must-watch movie for any Studio Ghibli fan, further solidifying the Academy Award winner’s reputation for delivering exceptional cinematic experiences.

The Boy and the Heron release date

Mahito Maki from The Boy and the Heron official teaser trailer
Credit: GKIDS

The Boy and the Heron, also known as Kimitachi wa Do Ikiru ka, or How Do You Live?, made its theatrical debut in Japan on July 14, 2023, by TOHO.

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After the film was released in Japan, film distributor GKIDS acquired the North American rights. The international title release date is on December 8, 2023.

The Boy and the Heron story

Credit: GKIDS

Set against the backdrop of World War II in 1943, the movie introduces us to the 12-year-old protagonist, Mahito Maki, who grapples with loss after the tragic death of his mother, Hisako, in a fire.

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Forced to adapt to a new life, Mahito’s world becomes even more complex when his father remarries and relocates the family to his late wife’s countryside estate. There, Mahito contends with grief, alienation at school, and a tense relationship with his stepmother-to-be, Natsuko, who is pregnant.

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Amidst these trials, Mahito encounters a mysterious grey heron that frequently crosses his path. A pivotal moment arrives when Mahito discovers a copy of the novel How Do You Live? bearing his late mother’s handwritten message inside. 

This discovery sets him on an extraordinary journey as he learns that the heron is more than it appears.

The Boy and the Heron characters and voice actors

The Boy and the Heron movie poster with English voice actors
Credit: GKIDS
Mahito MakiSoma SantokiLuca Padovan
The grey heronMasaki SudaRobert Pattinson
HimiAimyonKaren Fukuhara
KirikoKo ShibasakiFlorence Pugh
IzumiKeiko TakeshitaRobert Pattinson
NatsukoYoshino KimuraGemma Chan
Shoichi Maki (Mahito’s father)Takuya KimuraChristian Bale
Old PelicanKaoru KobayashiWillem Dafoe
The Parakeet KingJun KunimuraDave Bautista

The Boy and the Heron trailer

The only promotional material for The Boy and the Heron Studio Ghibli movie in Japan
Credit: Studio Ghibli

One aspect of The Boy and the Heron’s release in Japan was the deliberate absence of traditional promotional materials. 

Studio Ghibli kept the film’s details shrouded in secrecy, withholding trailers, images, and casting information ahead of its Japanese premiere. The only glimpse fans received was a single poster.

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This unique approach generated significant intrigue and curiosity, leading to a release met with critical acclaim and staggering box office results, grossing over US$54 million in Japan.

The first official teaser trailer was released on September 7, 2023, by GKIDS Films.

Where to watch The Boy and the Heron

You can stream the anime movie on Netflix. As of writing, the release date for the movie on the platform has not been announced.

(To be updated)

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