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Miyazaki's latest story: The Boy and The Heron

Words by Fiona Green

Mystical, magical and quirky. Out of all Miyazaki’s films, this one will definitely stand out. 

Miyazaki’s latest wonder guides us into the fast paced fantasy world of young Mahito. (voiced by Soma Santoki). The Boy and The Heron has been introduced to us as a faint ‘biography’. Miyazaki was given the book, ‘How Do You Live?’ (Genzaburo Yoshino) by his Mother as a child, which inspired the origins of this latest tale. In summary, this gorgeous animation comes together as a Miyazaki monument. This final story is for him, a reminiscent ode to his love and craft.  

Long time collaborator of Studio Ghibli and musician Joe Hisaishi scored the wondrous soundtrack to this film. Hisaishi’s notes are what really makes this film mystical, completely transporting us into a world of true curiosity and gentle tension. 

While this animation explores the familiar realms of life and death through a young eye, it also

takes us through a twisting tale of stubborn righteousness. Mahito, recently having lost his mother and moved to the countryside with his father and expecting aunt, finds himself marching straight from one war into another. Mahito carries a strange but strong certainty with himself through this film, he never turns his head from difficulty or gives up on what he believes is right. Miyazaki has created a character that is no doubt a moral inspiration, Mahito is honest, true with his emotions and to his desires, he respects the choices of those around him and fights for those he cares for. Voice actor Soma Santoki did a marvelous job. Interestingly, Mahito’s character is massively juxtaposed and enhanced by the majestic, scheming and teasing Grey Heron who we eventually come to love. The Heron, voiced by Masaki Suda, begins as an impressive, mighty mystery. Maskai’s voice echos a tormenting brazen bird that as the animation continues, we learn to appreciate, accept and even be thankful for. The Grey Heron may stand as an imperfect motif for acceptance and honesty. He, in all his silliness and complaining, represents the flawed guide, the fallible teacher - who ends up teaching us and Mahito a lot more than we expect. 

The film benevolently contrasts the love of humanity with the control of magic. Through all of its nuances, details and confusion is asks a simple question:


What would you do if you were given the opportunity to build your own world from scratch? 

I believe, although it is definitely left up to discussion, that The Boy and the Heron is a tale about accepting the bad that comes with the good in life. It is about facing reality, Mahito shows us by rejecting the magical realm that we must be truthful to ourselves and the reality we were given, even when we struggle to bear the hardships it brings. 

The 82 year old director claims this will be his ‘last’ film. For Ghibli fans around the globe, we all hope he will be back soon to amaze us again. 

Thankyou so much again to CineCity for the opportunity to preview this film. In the UK, it will be reasled mid-late December 2023 depening on your local cinema so definately go watch it when it comes out! For now, if your eager to watch more head over the the CineCity website to check out the rest of their 2023 programme! CLICK ME

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