Kubo and the Two Strings, the newest offering from the young-gun animation studio Laika, centers on a young boy who adventures through ancient Japan with nothing but his wits and a stringed instrument called a shamisen to protect him. This would appear to explain the title — Kubo is our hero, and his shamisen contributes the “two strings” bit. Not so, however! The shamisen traditionally has three strings, which leaves the good folks at Laika with a bit of explaining to do. What in the hell could’ve possibly happened to Kubo’s last string, Laika? The people deserve to know.
This burning question goes sadly unanswered in the newest trailer for Kubo, which surfaced earlier today, though the clip has plenty of other marvels to offer. The film’s earlier teaser trailer gave audiences a small taste of the film’s lived-in stop motion style and how Travis Knight, lead animator on Coraline, ParaNorman, and The Boxtrolls, will handle his directorial debut. But the full-length trailer grants viewers even more substantive glimpses at Knight’s flair for fantastical imagery; the origami spider that springs to life and the waves parted by the power of song alone are particularly memorable touches. The trailer also plays up the celeb-heavy voice cast for the film, including Charlize Theron and Matthew McConaughey’s first forays into voiceover work. They’ll be joined by George Takei, Rooney Mara, and Brenda Vaccaro, while Art Parkinson of Game of Thrones will voice Kubo himself.
But the most surprising element of this trailer must be the soundtrack selection, an East Asian-inflected orchestral arrangement of The Beatles’ “While My Guitar Gently Weeps.” It both nods to the key placement of the shamisen in the film’s mythology and infuses George Harrison’s timeless melody with a cinematic sense of grandeur. It’s an unlikely but clever choice, and a nice spin on the tired creepy-children’s-choir-sings-pop-standard trope that’s become so commonplace as of late.