Hayao Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli have been a force in the animation world for decades now, and it always seems like no matter the trends in movie-making or animation, they still find a spot to call their own. To say that The Boy And The Heron was my most anticipated film of the Vancouver International Film Festival (VIFF) was an understatement. It’s the next movie from Studio Ghibli, and Miyazaki has indicated it’ll be one of his last films. But did it live up to the hype?

A Beautifully Made Film From Industry Veterans

Every aspect of this film is beautiful. The stunning animation feels both in line with what Studio Ghibli is known for, but also new and modern. There are flourishes of modern animation subtly added throughout that make the film feel fresh and inviting.

The Boy And The Heron

The plot of The Boy And The Heron is also beautiful. The movie is a meditation on grief, legacy, and the value of loving oneself. It’s not only insightful but also accessible. An older child could watch this and enjoy many aspects of it, while an adult will pick up on the themes and ideas in a bit more of a prominent way. In that sense, it’s a deeply complex plot but one that you’ll find easy to hop into.

I saw The Boy And The Heron with a Japanese voice cast and the movie was subtitled. The Japanese voice cast was fantastic and delivered the lines with amazing gravitas and humility.

The Boy And The Heron Is Great But Not Perfect

There are some small issues that hold the film back. The most glaring is the title. In North America, the film’s title The Boy And The Heron really is not a great title. The Japanese title ‘君たちはどう生きるか’ translates to “How Do You Live?” which explores the themes of the movie. The current title really is not as relevant to the plot as you may expect.

The Boy And The Heron

There’s also a reveal closer to the end of The Boy And The Heron that has an emotional scene following it up. For some reason the movie just rushes through this scene, not giving the characters or plot time to let anything sink in. Still, this is something largely common with Studio Ghibli movies and I suspect most people will not take too major of an offense to this.

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