Former Vocaloid music creator sings theme for Hayao Miyazaki’s The Boy and the Heron.

It’s been almost two weeks since Studio Ghibli’s newest anime movie, How Do You Live? (to be called The Boy and the Heron for its English-territory release) debuted in Japan. The latest work from director Hayao Miyazaki, The Boy and the Heron made its way to Japanese theaters under unprecedented levels of secrecy for a major motion picture, with not a single still from the anime being released or leaked, and not even the vocal cast formally announced prior to its premier.

Also kept under wraps prior to release was the movie’s theme song. That information, though, is now available, as is a music video for it, recorded on Yakushima, the densely forested remote island in southwest Japan that inspired the setting of another Ghibli film, Princess Mononoke.

Like How Do You Live?/The Boy and the Heron, both the song and its singer are known by a pair of names. Vocalist Kenshi Yonezu first rose to popularity as Hachi, the pseudonym he used for his Vocaloid music production projects, and the song is titled “Chikyugi” (meaning “globe”) in Japanese and “Spinning Globe” in English.

“The sky on the day I was born was tall, far away, and clear,” sings Yonezu as the plaintive tune opens, followed by “And on that day, I heard a voice, patting me on the back, say ‘Go on then.’”

There’s a timeless, almost primeval quality to the song’s chant-like chorus, in which the lyrics promise “Taking in the wind and starting to run, past the rubble, there’s someone waiting at the end of this path,” especially as the camera focuses on profoundly beautiful scenes of nature such as the roots of Yakushima’s millennium-old cedar, cascading waterfalls, and the inhabitants of the forest.

Eventually, Yonezu makes his way out of the forest and into a field, where the sun is breaking through the clouds, almost as if a storm has just ended. As the song comes to a close, we’re left with what sounds like the creaking of springs, followed by the wind and waves, as its Japanese title appears on-screen.

So far, Ghibli has not released any associated merchandise for The Boy and the Heron, not even a movie program. “Chikyugi”/“Spinning Globe,” though, is now available for purchase as a single CD.

The standard version is priced at 2,200 yen (US$16) and the first-pressing (pictured above) at 4,800. Those are high prices, considering that single CDs are usually offered at 1,000 yen in the Japanese music industry. However, both versions of the disc come with a 160-page photo album chronicling the five years that Yonezu spent making the song while discussing it with Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli producer Toshio Suzuki.

The disc’s limited-edition first-run pressing is bundled with a special hard-cover booklet and slip case, showing an illustration of a boy sitting at a desk on the case and a heron on the cover.

▼ The standard version has a soft cover with no heron.

In addition, a special Reissue Cat-chan Bus (“Reissue” being the name of Yonezu’s self-managed music label) will be promoting The Boy and the Heron and its theme song.

The Reissue Cat-chan Bus will be stopping at various places in Japan, starting with the Daikanyama T-Site entertainment plaza in Tokyo’s Daikanyama neighborhood on July 26, 29, and 30. From 9 a.m. to 10 p.m., fans can snap photos in the unusually decorated room, which may or may not have a deeper significance to those who have already seen the movie.

The Boy and the Heron is yet to get a North American release date any more specific than “sometime in 2023,” but if you’re dying to know more about it, you can read our reviewer’s impressions here.

Source: Press release
Top image: YouTube/Kenshi Yonezu 米津玄師
Insert images: YouTube/Kenshi Yonezu 米津玄師, press release
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