Miyazaki’s first animated feature in 10 years, “The Boy and the Heron” has come out with its official English voice cast.
GKIDS, which serves as animation group Studio Ghibli’s North American distributor, announced that the full cast will consist of Christian Bale as Shoichi Maki; Dave Bautista as The Parakeet King; Gemma Chan as Natsuko; Willem Dafoe as Noble Pelican; Karen Fukuhara as Lady Himi; Mark Hamill as Granduncle; Robert Pattinson as The Gray Heron and Florence Pugh as Kiriko.
They’re joined by Luca Padovan as protagonist Mahito Maki and Mamoudou Athie, Tony Revolri and Dan Stevens as the Parakeets. The English-language dub was made in alignment with the SAG-AFTRA Foreign Dubbing Agreement.
Written and directed by Miyazaki, this semi-autobiographical story follows a 12-year-old boy named Mahito Maki. After the death of his mother during a fire-bombing, Mahito is sent by his father, Shoichi to live with his aunt, Natsuko, in a remote country house reminiscent of that in “My Neighbor Totoro” (1988). Mahito begins spotting a heron around and follows the heron through a tunnel. After emerging from the tunnel into a grand hall, Mahito sees an illusion of his mother. With the heron, Mahito explores an imaginative wonderland, “a world shared by the living and dead.”
The film, which features a musical score from longtime Studio Ghibli composer Joe Hisaishi, premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival on Sept. 7.
In a review for Variety, Peter Debruge called the film an “epic journey into Miyazaki’s eastern spin on the Greek underworld.”
“Rather than follow a traditional three-act structure, Miyazaki follows his imagination, such that audiences can’t possibly guess where the narrative will go next,” Debruge wrote.
After special advance previews on Nov. 22, both Japanese and English-language versions of “The Boy and the Heron” will be theatrically released on Dec. 8.
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