Seeking out the

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The Boy and the Heron
Kimitachi wa dô ikiru ka

Directed by Hayao Miyazaki
Produced by Toshio Suzuki
Written by Hayao Miyazaki
With: the voices of Soma Santoki, Masaki Suda, Kô Shibasaki, Aimyon, Yoshino Kimura, Takuya Kimura, Jun Kunimura, and Shinobu Otake
Cinematography: Atsushi Okui
Editing: Takeshi Seyama, Rie Matsubara, and Akane Shiraishi
Music: Joe Hisaishi
Runtime: 124 min
Release Date: 08 December 2023
Aspect Ratio: 1.85 : 1
Color: Color

Hayao Miyazaki returns from one of his many retirements with this fantasy tale about a boy growing up during WWII who discovers an abandoned tower in the town he's relocated to after his mother's death. Several encounters with a pesky, talking grey heron lead him to enter the fantastical world within the tower. The screenplay draws heavily from Miyazaki's childhood, growing up during WWII with a father, employed by a company manufacturing parts for fighter planes, who took his son away from the city after losing his mother to live in the relative safety of the countryside. It explores themes of coming of age and coping with significant loss during a time of complex conflict, creating an often wonderous world of beguiling images. But the loose narrative makes the picture a bit of like a slog. Shifting back and forth between feeling listless and overwrought, it aims for the type of mysterious majesty of Miyazaki's Spirited Away but ends up feeling more like Ralph Bakshi and Daniels teamed up to remake Miyazaki's 2001 masterpiece.

Twitter Capsule:

Hayao Miyazaki returns with another story of a child entering a fantasy world and dealing with complex feelings of loss. Some arresting imagery, but the tone and vibe feel less Miyazaki and more Ralph Bakshi meets Daniels.