December is a great time to plan a trip to the theater, and this year especially seems to have something to satisfy fans of every genre. You don’t have to tell anime fans that, though, because they’re likely all too aware that the next project from famed director Hayao Miyazaki, The Boy and the Heron, hit theaters on December 8. The animated feature was produced by Studio Ghibli, which is known for some of the most iconic movies in the genre, and from the looks of the reviews, Miyazaki doesn’t disappoint.
The story follows a young boy Mahito (voiced by Luca Padovan in the English dubbing), who crosses into a world between the living and the dead in search of his mother. The Boy and the Heron boasts an A+ dub cast that includes Robert Pattinson, Christian Bale, Florence Pugh, Dave Bautista, Mark Hamill and Willem Dafoe (whose project Poor Things is also debuting to rave reviews this weekend). Katie Smith-Wong of FlickFeast rates The Boy and the Heron 4 out of 5 stars, calling it the most personal story of Miyazaki’s career. She writes:
Ben Travis of Empire gives The Boy and the Heron 5 stars out of 5, calling it an “astonishing, sumptuous animated fantasy featuring everything you love about one of the greatest filmmakers of all time.” The critic continues:
Justin Chang of NPR says the movie combines the excitement of a child’s grand adventure with the weight of an older man’s reflection, eliciting the kind of emotion you’d expect to get from watching every Hayao Miyazaki movie in succession. Chang writes:
Brian Tallerico of RogerEbert gives the movie another perfect score, rating it 4 out of 4 stars, noting that the patience required in the first hour is rewarded in the movie’s final scenes, when the emotions really land. The colorful animation is bolstered by a gorgeous score by Joe Hisaishi, which Tallerico calls his favorite this year. The critic continues:
The Boy and the Heron is Certified Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes, with 95% rating from more than 140 critics and an 88% audience score, as of this writing. Where will The Boy and the Heron fall in the ranking of Hayao Miyazaki films? You can make that judgment for yourself, as the movie is in theaters now, available both in Japanese with English subtitles and in dubbed English. Take a look at our 2023 movie calendar to see what else is hitting the big screen before the end of the year.