At long last, it’s the week of Hayao Miyazaki in North America as GKIDS will be giving his stunning new animation The Boy and the Heron a wide release starting this Friday. One of the most fruitful collaborations in cinema of the last four decades has been with the Japanese director and composer Joe Hisaishi, and his new score for Miyazaki’s first film in ten years is no different. Ahead of the wide release, the full score, clocking in at just over an hour across 36 tracks, is now available to listen in its entirety.

“I decided right at the start that this film probably would not be good to have a full orchestra playing the whole time and that I would play the piano. It would be a chance for me to move myself close to what Miyazaki had intended,” the composer told LA Times. “I did not want to describe emotions or scenes through music. I wanted to be at a certain distance from the story and the characters, and I wanted to be in between the actual story and what we see on the screen, and the viewers, in terms of writing the music.”

Ethan Vestby said in his TIFF review, “What defines The Boy and the Heron is its wistful feeling of looking back. Its form––being atypical to the current direction of animation in his home country is, as a gesture, nostalgic in and of itself––and more importantly content both suggest an elderly man returning to his oldest wounds. The air of ‘last dance’ hangs over every venture into another dimension. Its final image, shockingly quaint, perhaps ranks up there with Dreyer’s Gertrud.”

Listen below, and watch a final teaser for the films.

The Boy and the Heron expands wide this Friday, December 8.

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