What’s so special about Hayao Miyazaki’s “The Boy and the Heron”

“The Boy and the Heron” could be the last feature length film of Hayao Miyazaki. Is it the end of an era?  

The year was 1997 when Princess Mononoke was setting new records at the box office and then the masterpiece, Spirited Away, got an Academy award. Interestingly, Hayao Miyazaki opened up about his plans to retire at that time. But we got “The Wind Rises” in 2013 which was thought to be the last feature length film of Miyazaki but here he is, making a comeback after 10 years with “The Boy and the Heron”. If the name of Miyazaki has been associated with the project, it is bound to be good and highly anticipated. But this time, what got us more intrigued was how they marketed the film. They did not release any trailers or revealed anything of the story before it got its theatrical release in Japan on 14th July. Something like this is unusual and some people might be in doubt if it’s really a thing. 

Hayao Miyazaki

The film is about to make its premiere at the Toronto International Film festival this year and the GKIDS have released a teaser trailer of it and finally the international fans go to see a glimpse of this highly anticipated piece. Adapted from the 1937 novel of Genzaburo Yoshino “How do you live” released in 1937, the story follows a young boy named Mahito who is on a journey to meet his mother in a mystical world shared by living and dead. In the teaser, we see the ruins caused by war and amidst it all, we see Mahito calling for his mother. In the next scene, we are teleported to this magical world full of greenery and magical animals which kind of takes us back to the world building of the Spirited Away. From detailed animation to the use of hand-drawn animation techniques, we could see the signature elements of Studio Ghibli present in the film. The film “The Boy and the Heron” is discussing the mature theme of how to let go of things while bearing the weight of memories on your shoulders.

During the release of the Wind Rises, Hayao Miyazaki said “If I said I wanted to (make another feature film), I would sound like an old man saying something foolish.” The release of “The boy and the Heron” puts Hayao Miyazaki in a position of a relic in the modern animation industry but that doesn’t mean that his work has not embedded itself in the animation history of Japan. The thing is that we don’t see films like these being made anymore and it’s not about the fading stardom of Miyazaki. The point is, that change is bound to happen and things never stay the same but at the same time, every new invention happens on the learnings, teachings and contributions of those who came before us. This could be Hayao Miyazaki’s Last feature-length film but he is never losing his love for animation and storytelling and we won’t ever stop going back to the films that the studio has given us. 

Watch the Trailer:

The Boy and Heron (Trailer)

Also Read: Netflix’s One Piece Review: The live action adaptation does justice to the beloved Japanese saga

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