Dub cast for Hayao Miyazaki’s latest anime movie announced.

English dubs of Ghibli movies tend to have the most conventional star power in the translated anime industry. The studio’s international prestige and recognition cause their works to be marketed to a broader audience than the typical theatrical anime, one ostensibly more swayed by the involvement of big-name live-action movie actors.

But when the English-dubbed version of Hayao Miyazaki’s latest anime, The Boy and the Heron, hits theaters later this year, it’ll be doing so with an especially star-studded group of voice performers, as the cast list just released by GKIDS, the movie’s North American licensor, features multiple Hollywood A-listers.

Given top/leftmost billing on GKIDS’ website/poster for The Boy and the Heron is Christian Bale. However, the three-time Batman isn’t playing the anime’s protagonist, but rather the role of his father, Shoichi. Yet another Batman, Robert Pattinson, will be voicing Gray Heron, who, as you might guess from its title, is a key role in the anime.

▼ Gray Heron (right), sitting with protagonist Mahito

Other major celebrities in the cast include Mark Hamill (who, in another Batman connection, has long been the voice of the animation-version Joker) as Granduncle, Willem Dafoe as Noble Pelican, and Dave Bautista as the Parakeet King. Bale, Hammil, and Dafoe all have previous Ghibli dubs on their resumes, with Bale having voiced the titular wizard of Ghibli’s Howl’s Moving Castle, Hammil the villainous Muska in Castle in the Sky and the mayor of city state Pejite in Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind, and Dafoe voiced Cob in Tales from Earthsea.

Meanwhile, the role of The Boy and the Heron’s protagonist, Mahito, goes to 20-year-old Luca Padovan, whose prior credits include roles in TV series You and Are You Afraid of the Dark?

Rounding out the announced English dub cast are:
Gemma Chan as Natsuko
Karen Fukuhara as Lady Himi
Florence Pugh as Kiriko
Mamoudou Athie, Tony Revolori, and Dan Stevens as unnamed parakeets

▼ Yes, there are a lot of birds in the movie.

It’ll be interesting to see how Pattinson handles the role of Gray Heron, as the character’s voice in the Japanese version of the anime is harsh and grating, a far cry from the smoothly sedate deliveries that Pattinson in known for.

▼ Gray Heron can be heard at the part queues in the Japanese-language trailer here, sounding much closer to the sort of performance you’d expect from Dafoe.

On the other hand, the English dub casting decisions for Mahito and Shochi resemble those of the Japanese version. In Japanese, Mahito is played by Soma Santoki, a young (18 years old) actor who’s not especially famous, while Shoichi is voiced by Takuya Kimura, a former member of boy band Smap and one of the biggest male draws in the entire Japanese show biz sphere, and like Bale, Kimura also was the voice of Howl.

Regardless of how one may feel about the use of ordinarily in-front-of-the-camera actors instead of dedicated voice actors (though even when selecting Japanese voice casts Miyazaki is usually less than enthusiastic about pulling from the pool of anime-centric voice talent), it’s impressive that GKIDS was able to secure so many stars for the anime, whether through expanded investment or simply the allure to actors of being part of what’s quite possibly the last feature-length project from Miyazaki.

The Boy and the Heron opens in North American theaters on December 8.

Source: GKIDS
Images: Studio Ghibli
● Want to hear about SoraNews24’s latest articles as soon as they’re published? Follow us on Facebook and Twitter!