“The Boy and the Heron,” 2023 is a Japanese animated fantasy film, is the creation of renowned director Hayao Miyazaki and is produced by Studio Ghibli. Drawing inspiration from Genzaburō Yoshino’s 1937 novel of the same name, the film features an original storyline unrelated to the novel.
The Japanese voice cast boasts notable names like Soma Santoki, Masaki Suda, Ko Shibasaki, Aimyon, Yoshino Kimura, Takuya Kimura, Kaoru Kobayashi, and Shinobu Otake. Toho released the film in Japan on July 14, 2023, screening in both traditional theaters and premium formats like IMAX. What sets this release apart is Studio Ghibli’s deliberate decision to forgo any promotional materials, releasing only a single poster ahead of the Japanese premiere and keeping trailers, images, synopsis, and casting details under wraps.
WHAT IS THE BOY AND THE HERON ABOUT? PLOT/ SYNOPSIS.
Embark on an enchanting journey as I unravel the mesmerizing tapestry of Studio Ghibli’s latest masterpiece, a fantastical adventure directed by the maestro himself, Hayao Miyazaki. Brace yourself for a tale that transcends the realms of the living and the dead, where mysteries unfold like a finely woven cloak, revealing secrets that echo through time.
The year is 1943, the Pacific War rages on, and 12-year-old Mahito Maki’s world is shattered when his mother succumbs to the flames of a Tokyo hospital fire. The idyllic countryside, where Mahito’s family seeks solace in an estate harboring secrets as ancient as time itself. Little do they know, this refuge conceals a mischievous gray heron, a harbinger of events that will propel Mahito into a realm where reality and fantasy dance together.
Mahito’s grief becomes a palpable force, intertwined with the mysterious aura of the gray heron. As he grapples with loss, he discovers a sealed tower, a relic of his granduncle’s architectural brilliance. Armed with a bow crafted from the heron’s feathers, Mahito’s odyssey takes a riveting turn, blending the fantastical with the poignant.
But, my dear, the adventure has just begun.
In a twist as daring as a cat on a hot tin roof, Mahito stumbles upon a book, “How Do You Live?” adorned with his mother’s handwritten words. A revelation wrapped in the pages of a novel, a gift from a mother thought lost in the flames. The plot thickens as Natsuko, Mahito’s stepmother, vanishes, sending ripples of suspense through the air.
Mahito’s pursuit of the elusive heron leads him to a watery illusion, a mirage of his mother, alive and well. The heron, a puppet master with a beak as sharp as a needle in a haystack, guides Mahito into a mystical tower, unlocking a portal to a world pulsating with magic. A world where reality bends and twists, much like a cat-and-mouse game played on a hot tin roof.
Inside this alternate dimension, Mahito encounters a cast of characters as diverse as a box of chocolates, each layer revealing a new surprise. A seafaring version of Kiriko, a magical ally named Himi, and Warawara, bubble-like spirits yearning for birth in Mahito’s world. And then, the pièce de résistance – Natsuko’s granduncle, a wizard wielding powers that defy the laws of nature.
As Mahito navigates this surreal landscape, the lines between dreams and reality blur, leaving me on the edge of my seat. Will he uncover the secrets of this mystical realm? Can he save his stepmother and discover the truth about himself?
FILM REVIEW; MY THOUGHTS ON THE BOY AND THE HERON.
Join us on this rollercoaster ride of suspense, magic, and self-discovery. Studio Ghibli’s latest offering isn’t just a movie; it’s a captivating odyssey that transcends the screen, leaving you breathless and yearning for more. Buckle up, dear reader, and get ready to soar beyond the tower into a world where the ordinary meets the extraordinary, and every twist and turn keeps you guessing until the final frame.
The journey begins. Are you ready to take the plunge?
Suda’s portrayal of the heron is a comedic evolution from a squawking threat to a buddy sidekick, injecting a constant source of humor that distinguishes this film from Miyazaki’s previous works. The elderly maids exude the excitement of children, adding layers of amusement to the narrative.
CINEMATOGRAPHY AND VISUAL DESIGN.
In the realm of cinematic marvels, Hayao Miyazaki has once again woven a tapestry of magic, mystery, and laughter with his latest creation, “The Boy and the Heron.” This cinematic escapade invites audiences into a world where nature, wisdom, and the fantastical dance hand in hand, leaving us enthralled and eager for more.
One cannot help but be captivated by the stunning animation that breathes life into Miyazaki’s intricate worlds and characters. The clouds move with mesmerizing grace, ocean waves are intricately drawn, and the interplay of light and dark creates resplendent contrasts that are nothing short of visual poetry. The Boy and the Heron is a testament to Miyazaki’s mastery, worth watching for the sheer artwork alone.
From the opening scenes that paint a slow, deliberate canvas of Miyazaki’s universe, to the whimsical encounters with charismatic guides and the peculiar wackiness, this film carries the torch of Miyazaki’s iconic themes. As the story unfolds, the audience is thrust into a feverish dream of imagination and storytelling, akin to a fantastical ride on the train to Yubaba’s sister’s house in Spirited Away.
But what truly sets this film apart is its comedic brilliance. Laughter echoes through the scenes, with the elderly maids exuding the excitement of children hungry for treats from the big city. Suda’s portrayal of the heron evolves from a squawking threat to a buddy sidekick, injecting a constant source of humor that distinguishes this film from Miyazaki’s previous works.
Yet, as with any enchanted journey, there are shadows amidst the brilliance. The film, while a splendid addition to Miyazaki’s filmography, takes an unexpected turn in its world-building. Unlike the simplicity of Spirited Away or Howl’s Moving Castle, the convoluted and confusing elements feel as if they vie for the spotlight, overshadowing the main character’s deep emotional journey. The payoff, though abrupt, leaves the audience in a state of perplexity.
However, the negatives fade in comparison to the nostalgic yearning the film evokes. It’s a journey through the lens of a young boy, a reminder of a time when the world seemed easier and more enchanting. The narrative may take unexpected twists, but Miyazaki’s fire for storytelling remains undiminished, making “The Boy and the Heron” a rare gem in the filmmaker’s illustrious career.
For those unfamiliar with Miyazaki’s enchanting world, a word of advice: start your journey with Spirited Away or Princess Mononoke. Let the magic seep into your soul before embarking on the adventure of The Boy and the Heron. The devoted fans, trust in Miyazaki’s ability to craft a tale that, while different from his previous masterpieces, carries the same thematic brilliance. It’s a cinematic experience that leaves you yearning for more, reminding us that Miyazaki’s storytelling prowess is a flame that continues to burn bright in the world of animation.
People also Read – Strays (2023
Images used in this work belongs to the respective movie and its copyright holders. We do not claim any legal rights or ownership over this image, and we appreciate the movie’s creators for sharing such a captivating visual.
Please sign up for our newsletter to be alerted when new content is published and also, don’t forget to leave your thoughts in the comment section.
Note : If you subscribe to our newsletter, the review sent to your email is automatically routed to the promotion mail area, but you can move it to your primary inbox by adding our email to your address book by clicking the ‘Add us to your address book‘ button at the end of our review email.