“The Boy and the Heron”: Oscar for Best Animation!

March 12, 2024

This might have been a big surprise for some, and not so much for others: existing in the same category heavyweights like “Elemental” or “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse“, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has awarded the Oscar for Best Animated Feature to the film “The Boy and the Heron” (original Japanese title: “Kimi-tachi wa Dō Ikiru ka” or “How Do You Live?“) by Studio Ghibli, directed by Hayao Miyazaki. This recognition received during the 96th edition of the Academy Awards, makes it the second anime film to win an Oscar Award, after “Spirited Away” (original Japanese title: “Sen to Chihiro no Kamikakushi“) in 2003, also directed by Miyazaki himself.

Hayao Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli had already been nominated for several academy awards over several years. “The Boy and the Heron” had already managed to be the first Japanese film to win the award for Best Animated Feature at the 81st Golden Globe Awards announced in early January 2024. As for the English cast, which includes Christian Bale, Dave Bautista, Gemma Chan, Willem Dafoe, Karen Fukuhara, Mark Hamill, Robert Pattinson, and Florence Pugh, it has also generated great interest. The film was screened in New York starting November 22, and preview screenings began in four theaters in Los Angeles, setting a record average box office gross for a Hayao Miyazaki film in the United States.

After being released in 2,205 theaters in the United States and Canada starting December 8, the box office gross in the first three days (December 8 to 10) made it the first original Japanese film to rank first in the weekend box office in North America. It won the New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Animated Film on December 1, 2023, and the Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award for Best Animation and the Boston Film Critics Circle Award for Best Animated Film on December 10 of the same year, attracting even more attention.

After the victory at the Golden Globe Awards, it became the first Japanese film to be nominated for Best Animated Film at the 77th British Academy Awards (BAFTA) announced on January 18. It was also nominated in seven categories and won two of them at the 51st Annie Awards, known as “the Academy Awards of the animation world

The production of “The Boy and the Heron” was an extensive process that took several years, which is typical of Miyazaki‘s films. The attention to detail in animation and character design is a distinctive feature of Miyazaki‘s work, and this film is no exception. The film’s music was composed by Joe Hisaishi, a frequent collaborator of Miyazaki, whose scores have been an integral part of the success of many Studio Ghibli films.

The Boy and the Heron” is a film that stands out for its exquisite animation, moving narrative, and emotive music. Its triumph at the Oscars is a well-deserved recognition of the art and dedication behind its production, and it further solidifies Hayao Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli‘s position in the history of animated cinema.

What is “The Boy and the Heron” about?

The story follows Mahito Maki, a young boy who lives in a small village in the mountains of Japan during World War II. Mahito is a lonely and dreamy child who finds comfort in nature and in his special bond with a mysterious white heron that visits the nearby lake to his house.

As the war intensifies, life in the village is increasingly affected by food shortages and constant bombings. However, Mahito finds an escape in his imaginary world, where the heron guides him through fantastic landscapes and teaches him valuable lessons about life, love, and loss. Through his journey, the young boy learns to face his fears and find hope in the darkest moments.

The film explores deep themes such as childhood innocence, connection with nature, and the impact of war on people’s lives. Through the relationship between Mahito and the heron, Miyazaki addresses the importance of friendship and empathy, and how these values can help overcome adversities. The story is a touching reflection on personal growth and the resilience of the human spirit in the face of difficulties.

Following the sad news that has recently shocked the world, I think we all have a special consideration and appreciation for the bright talents we still enjoy, and Hayao Miyazaki is undoubtedly one of the most important today. The well-deserved award with which “The Boy and the Heron” has been honored is just one of many well-deserved awards for the filmmaker. Now it’s your turn, go ahead, tell us in the comments if you agree with this award, and which are your favorite productions by Miyazaki, or from Studio Ghibli. As always, we will be reading you! 😉

Images Source: X, Reddit