The Boy and the Heron is the latest film by Hayao Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli. The film follows young Mahito as he moves to the country after his dad has remarried. Mahito is in a state of turmoil, much like Japan which is in the middle of WWII. He’s moved out of Tokyo to the safety of the country, he’s in unfamiliar territory, his dad is always away and he doesn’t like his new mom.
Enter a mysterious and other-worldly heron, one that plagues Mahito when he arrives at his new home. At first, it seems like the bird is simply interested in the boy. However, one day it starts to mock him, copying him as he calls out for his dead mother in his nightmares. This escalates to the point where they clash and Mahito finds himself in a strange world where anything is possible. Will he make it out of this adventure alive though?
There’s more work to be done
The Boy and the Heron is a beautiful if familiar story. It fits into the tapestry of Studio Ghibli’s work well. Even if its story has a lot of familiar threads from other films. It has elements of Spirited Away, Howl’s Moving Castle as well as When Marnie Was There. This is not necessarily a problem, but it’s just something to be aware of. Other than this nitpick though, The Boy and the Heron is wonderful. The animation is stunning, the Ghibli food is on show as always, the lore of the world is spellbinding and its depiction of death is intense and mesmerising.
One particular section I loved within The Boy and the Heron was Mahito’s nightmares of the fire that took his mother’s life. It’s done in a different style from the rest of the film. This gives the scenes their own personality and it’s fantastic, emotionally raw and vivid. It’s something quite extraordinary and shows that even now, there is so much animators can achieve.
The characters within The Boy and the Heron are also quite intriguing. Just enough information is given about each of them for you to be invested. However, there are still questions left unanswered that add to the mystery of this world Mahito finds himself in. From Lady Himi to the Master of the Tower there are many curiosities within The Boy and the Heron. And I want to discover them all.
The Boy and the Heron will be in Irish Cinemas on the 26th of December. If you’re a fan of Studio Ghibli I can’t recommend this film enough.
Stay tuned to Scannain for more news, reviews and interviews.