Miyazaki returns to form with The Boy and the Heron

Studio Ghibli has moved audiences for years with magical storylines, and breathtaking hand-drawn animation. It’s no wonder that these movies are popular with both Japanese and American audiences, so when it was announced that The Boy and The Heron might be the last film that Hayao Miyazaki would make (but knowing him, the only way he would stop making films is when he is dead) fans where very excited to watch it, but also when this film was released in Japan, no ads or anything were released, so no one knew what this film was going to be about, and you had to go to the theater and watch the film. It wasn’t the same here in the States sadly, and I did like that the trailers tried not to give much away. 

A speedy summary:

A young boy named Mahito struggles to settle in a new home in the countryside after the death of his mother, when a talking Heron tells him that his mother is still alive and waiting for him to find her. Mahito enters an abandoned tower to prove to the Heron that his mother is dead, but this tower will take him to another world. 

My thoughts:

I have a lot of thoughts about this film. For one, this film will make you think about what the themes are. I feel like all Hayao Miyazaki films make you think about the meanings behind them. I love films that don’t give you all the answers and give you something to think about, but I have seen a lot of people say they didn’t like that they had to think about what this film meant. I don’t blame them for that; some people enjoy movies where they don’t have to think too much about what the meanings are. When I was getting ready to leave the theater after the movie, I heard a group of people talking about how you had to think about what this movie meant to you. 

But I do have to say I found it weird that parents brought their young children to see this film; this film is not for kids. Now I am not going to parent shame hare, and I usually don’t mind children going to see PG-13 films as long as they can sit down and watch. Also, if they can handle what is in the film, but there were very young children. I swear I saw a kid as young as five (probably even younger) watching this film. Studio Ghibli has many great films for young children. I was around four or five years old when I saw Ponyo, but that is a G-rated movie compared to The Boy and The Heron, and like I said before that is a PG-13 film. During an upsetting part of the movie I heard a kid crying, and there was a kid behind me narrating everything they saw on screen. I also can’t understand why a kid would enjoy this film because of the theme I got out of it. I don’t see a very young audience understanding unless they had also experienced the loss of a loved one. Also, there are scenes and themes that I don’t know if I want young children to see, and there is not a lot to this film compared to other Studio Ghibli films that would draw in the younger audience, I have a feeling a lot of those kids were dragged by their parents to see this movie. 

 It can be a hit or miss when it comes down to Anime being dubbed in English: the translations are off or the voices are annoying, but I never had a problem with Studio Ghibli’s films being dubbed. They always do a great job with casting, and this film was no exception. First, many actors who had been dubbed in Studio Ghibli before were very happy to be a part of this dub, but the main thing that I want to talk about is Robert Pattinson as the Heron because he was amazing! Who knew that Robert Pattinson from Twilight fame is a great voice actor? His performance carried this whole film, but everyone else was also amazing! I could go on and on, but I say give it a watch and come up with your own opinion about it. 

The Boy and The Heron isn’t a bad film. I think it was amazing, but I can understand where others are coming from. I think the movie felt long and could have cut a few scenes out to fix that. It is also a confusing film with meaning that you have to think about. I believe this is the whole point of the film: death isn’t easy to understand and how you heal from it is up to you. How do you choose to live your life in an unfair world? I believe that this is a very important lesson to learn. Life isn’t fair, and people you care about are going to pass away someday, and how they die might not be fair. The world is unfair, and you will see horrible things, but you can not let that stop you from living your life. This is another reason why I wish that the English dubbed kept the original name of this film, which was originally How Do You Live? Fun fact, this name was taken from the book of the same name by Genzaburo Yoshino. How Do You Live? was one of Hayao Miyazaki’s favorite books, but the movie is not an adaptation of the book, but there is a scene where Mahito reads the book in the film, which I thought was a cool way to tie the book to the movie, but I think the name of the movie goes deeper than being based on a book. Like I said before, this whole film is about how Mahito is choosing to live and move on after the trauma of his mother’s death, and the answers are not easy but sometimes you have to go off in the world and see how the world is and what it could be.

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