Reactions to Studio Ghibli’s mystery new movie call it a "visual masterpiece"

How Do You Live poster
(Image credit: Studio Ghibli)

Studio Ghibli’s new movie is now out in Japan, with a US release planned for "later this year." That hasn't stopped fans and critics alike from already fawning over legendary director Hayao Miyazaki’s first release in 10 years.

Before we get ahead of ourselves, it’s worth checking in on the premise of How Do You Live?, which will have the title 'The Boy and the Heron' in the West. Not only is it pure Ghibli, it’s actually the first we’ve heard about the release after the studio chose not to release any marketing for the film.

After the death of his mother in the Pacific War, Mahito is forced to move out of Tokyo. Struggling with his fresh surroundings and new family unit, he encounters a talking bird who tells him he can meet his mother again – if he goes to an abandoned house.

Anime News Network calls it a "visual masterpiece", though tempered expectations by saying some of the plot twists are "predictable."

"A worthy entry into Miyazaki’s incredible filmography," tweeted one lucky audience member.

Another described it as a "weird film that feels like a mix of Spirited Away and Howl’s Moving Castle" but expressed disappointment that the "overall story is lacking."

Writing for the BBC, reviewer Matt Schley said How Do You Live? – thought to be Miyazaki’s final movie after 60 years in animation – features the director’s "signature obsessions, quirks and thematic concerns."

He added: "There are the usual visual treats, like cute yet eerie creatures, great-looking food and gravity-defying flights of fancy – primarily hand-drawn and moving with the fluidity and sense of weight that mark the master animator's work."

For more, check out the best anime you should be watching in 2023, as well as our guides to Jujutsu Kaisen season 2, Demon Slayer season 4, and Attack on Titan The Final Chapters.

Bradley Russell

I'm the Senior Entertainment Writer here at GamesRadar+, focusing on news, features, and interviews with some of the biggest names in film and TV. On-site, you'll find me marveling at Marvel and providing analysis and room temperature takes on the newest films, Star Wars and, of course, anime. Outside of GR, I love getting lost in a good 100-hour JRPG, Warzone, and kicking back on the (virtual) field with Football Manager. My work has also been featured in OPM, FourFourTwo, and Game Revolution.