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Gorgeous first trailer drops for animated feature Kubo and the Two Strings

Laika, the Portland, Oregon-based company behind the Tim Burton-esque animated film Coraline, has released the first trailer for the studio’s latest release, Kubo and the Two Strings. And for fans of the time-honored craft of stop-motion animation, it looks to be a pretty epic ride.

The trailer begins with a strangely beautiful midnight-blue sea in a tumultuous storm, eventually unveiling a woman adrift on a tiny fishing boat. As a monstrous tidal wave rises before her, words surface to tease the plot of the film: “On every hero’s journey, there is the path you follow, or the one you choose to make.”

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We then see the woman strike the strings of a two-stringed instrument called a shamisen, which sends magical forces at the coming wave, splitting it in two in a spark of brilliant color moments before its impending ascent. Like other Oscar contenders from the studio, which include The Box Trolls, Paranorman, and the aforementioned Coraline (from the director of The Nightmare Before Christmas), the eye-candy here is extremely impressive.

The official storyline for this eccentric tale is a bit confusing at the outset, but it’s also more interesting than your average animated feature. The plot follows “clever, kindhearted Kubo” (voiced by Art Parkinson — Game of Thrones’ Rickon Stark) who makes his daily bread by telling wild stories in his seaside village. But, as the studio puts it, “his relatively quiet existence is shattered when he accidentally summons a mythical spirit from his past which storms down from the heavens to enforce an age-old vendetta.”

Kubo then takes flight with the help of some animal friends, including Monkey (Charlize Theron), and Beetle (Matthew McConaughey), on a quest to save his family, and find out what happened to his fallen father, a once-great samurai. On his quest he must battle gods, and other strange forces with the help, apparently, from his magical shamisen.

Along with Theron and McConaughey, the star-studded cast for the film includes Ralph Fiennes, George Takai, and Rooney Mara.

Kubo is slated to hit theaters on August 16, 2016.