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First reviews in for Miyazaki’s new anime movie, and it’s good news

Studio Ghibli's anime big hitter is back in the director's chair, and Hayao Miyazaki's new movie The Boy and the Heron has its first reviews from Japan.

Hayao Miyazaki, director of classics including My Neighbor Totoro, is back with a new movie

The return of Hayao Miyazaki is a definite cause for celebration among fans of anime, given the Studio Ghibli co-founder’s footprints exist all over many of the best anime movies ever to grace cinema screens. He’s back and he has made another “visual masterpiece”, according to the first reviews.

The Boy and the Heron, known as How Do You Live? in its native Japan, premiered this week after an unconventional marketing campaign in which virtually nothing was revealed about the new anime. We had just a single poster, no trailer, and no idea of the plot.

Now, though, people have seen the film and we can say a little more about one of the most secretive new movies in years. It sounds like Miyazaki fans will find plenty to love in his first movie in a decade, which could be his swansong after some of the best animated movies ever.

Anime News Network declared The Boy and the Heron to be a “visual masterpiece” in line with some of Miyazaki’s best movies. However, its reviewer was considerably less wowed by what they perceived to be predictable plot revelations.

The story follows a young boy whose mother is killed during the Second World War. He enters a mysterious tower, where a talking heron tells him he can see his mother again. So far, so magical, and so Miyazaki.

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The BBC provided some further analysis, writing that the movie is “primarily hand-drawn” and is “full of Miyazaki’s signature obsessions, quirks and thematic concerns”.

Meanwhile, anime content creator Doctor Dazza tweeted that The Boy and the Heron is a “weird film” and claimed “the story is lacking”, though he provided plenty of praise for those distinctive Miyazaki visual flourishes.

Either way, a new Miyazaki adventure is more than enough to get us into a cinema, especially as it could be goodbye for one of the best directors working in animation. We’re looking forward to its Western release, which has been scheduled for later in 2023.

For more top-quality anime, take a look at our guides to the Studio Ghibli movies ranked and the best anime series ever. You can also find out that everyone forgets Matt Damon is in a Studio Ghibli movie and learn about the Spirited Away cosplayer who was wanted by police.

This year has already been a cracker for big-screen anime, as you can find out in our Suzume review. We’ve also got a Makoto Shinkai interview talking about the movie, as well as our piece arguing that Suzume teaches Star Wars an important lesson.