Not a direct adaptation: Jesteadt explained that the shift from the original title, “How Do You Live?”, was aimed at distancing the film from the 1937 novel of the same name that inspired legendary filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki. While Studio Ghibli has previously clarified that it was not a direct adaptation, some observers have mistakenly described the movie as being one.
Finding a new title: Jesteadt shared that as they were trying to decide on an alternative title, several options were considered, including “The Tower Master” and “The Grand Uncle.” As the team avoided titles that felt more rooted in hard fantasy, they ultimately chose “The Boy and the Heron.”
A hidden meaning: Without going into details, Jesteadt revealed that the new title resembled Suzuki’s original suggestion. He also hinted at the humorous aspect of the heron character in the film, noting that it represented Suzuki himself.
“Miyazaki based the characters in this movie on people in his life…and the heron is based on Suzuki,” Jesteadt told IndieWire. “To me, there’s something very meta and very funny about this heron — this trickster — inserting himself into the situation and suggesting we give the movie an international title [with his name in it].”
Released in North American theaters on Dec. 8, “The Boy and the Heron” made history as the first original anime film
to top the U.S. domestic box office
, leading its debut weekend with a record-breaking $12.8 million. First announced in 2017, the film made over $56 million in Japan
despite the lack of traditional publicity
, establishing itself as one of Studio Ghibli’s most triumphant ventures to date.