The Boy And The Heron

Certificate: 12A

Voices of: Soma Santoki, Masaki Suda

Release date: 2023

5 out of 5


Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki – co-founder of Studio Ghibli and the man behind movies such as Princess Mononoke, Howl’s Moving Castle and Spirited Away – returns with another beautifully animated fantasy movie that is a must-see for fans and anyone looking for a heartfelt, moving and even funny adventure.

Set during World War II, the story focuses on 10-year-old Mahito, who leaves the devastation of Tokyo for the Japanese countryside following the death of his mother. It is there he encounters the heron of the title – and it is a talking heron, no less – a cryptic bird that leads the grieving boy on an adventure to a fantastical world featuring both the living and the dead.

It would spoil the imaginative, twisting and epic movie to reveal much more, but it ruins nothing to say that the film is as visually stunning, inventive and, well, weird, as you would expect from the mind of Miyazaki.

Available both in a subtitled version and an English language dubbed version featuring terrific vocal performances from a cast that includes Christian Bale, Dave Bautista, Gemma Chan, Willem Dafoe, Mark Hamill, Florence Pugh and Robert Pattinson (as the heron), The Boy And The Heron delivers from start to finish and will no doubt rank in the future as another of Ghibli’s classic pieces of cinema.

Is The Boy And The Heron suitable for kids? Here are our parents’ notes...

This is a 12A certificate in the UK and is aimed at older children and adults.

There is a scene early on, as Mahito rushes to his mother, that may upset younger viewers.

The movie deals with grief and there are dark moments throughout.

In some of the fantastical scenes there are gory moments.

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