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The Boy and the Heron : wins an Oscar.

Image courtesy : GKIDS 


Preface & the story

Written and directed by Hayao Miyazaki “The Boy and the Heron,” also known as “How Do You Live?” , is a Japanese animated fantasy film. It is set to be released in 2023 and is produced by Studio Ghibli. While the Japanese title references Genzaburō Yoshino’s novel from 1937, the film itself has an original story that is not directly connected to the novel. Described as a “big fantastical film,” it follows the journey of a young boy named Mahito Maki during the Pacific War. After the tragic loss of his mother, Mahito moves to the countryside and discovers an abandoned tower near his new home. This tower leads him into a fantastical world where he encounters a talking grey heron.

The response and the accolades.

The Boy and the Heron made its theatrical debut in Japan on July 14, 2023, distributed by Toho. It was showcased in various cinema formats, including traditional theaters and premium options like IMAX. Notably, the film’s release was distinctive due to a deliberate lack of promotional material. Ghibli opted not to unveil any trailers, images, synopsis, or casting details prior to its Japanese premiere, except for a solitary poster. The movie garnered widespread critical acclaim and achieved a global box office gross of US$167 million. It received numerous prestigious awards, including the BAFTA Award for Best Animated Film, the Golden Globe Award for Best Animated Feature Film, and the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature.

The Man behind success of the movie.

More than twenty years after his initial Oscar win, the esteemed Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki has once again achieved this prestigious honor. The film “The Boy and the Heron” triumphed over Disney’s “Elemental” and “Spider-Man Across the Spider-verse” to secure the Best Animated Feature Film award. Last January, the 83-year-old also received the Golden Globe for the same movie.

Taking place during World War Two, this semi-autobiographical film tells the story of a boy who encounters a mysterious heron that can speak after the loss of his mother. Similar to Mahito, Mr. Miyazaki’s family was displaced during the war. His mother’s influence is evident in his work, particularly through the strong female characters in his films. As a co-founder of Studio Ghibli, a renowned Japanese animation studio, Miyazaki first won an Oscar in 2003 for “Spirited Away.” This film, which follows a girl’s quest to rescue her parents transformed into pigs, was the first non-English animated film to claim the title. “Spirited Away” became Japan’s highest-grossing movie and held this record for nearly two decades.

Another popular work, “My Neighbor Totoro,” features two sisters and their mystical animal companion, serving as a symbol of Studio Ghibli. In 2014, Miyazaki, often referred to as the godfather of animation, was honored with an Oscar for his storytelling prowess. During his acceptance speech, he expressed gratitude for being able to create films using traditional methods like paper, pencil, and film. “The Boy and the Heron” took approximately ten years to complete due to Miyazaki’s hand-drawn animation style, contrasting with the computer-generated imagery of many competitors. Although absent from the recent Oscar ceremony in the United States, where he received his second award, Miyazaki has been nominated four times in the Best Animated Feature category.

The Book publishing Impact

Following the film’s debut, the book “How Do You Live?” experienced a temporary shortage due to its connection with the movie. As a result, the publisher opted to reprint the novel, which quickly became widely available on the Mercari marketplace app. On July 20, Iwanami Shoten revealed via their official Twitter profile that the total number of copies circulated for the book had surpassed 1.8 million, establishing it as the best-selling publication in Iwanami Bunko’s history.

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