The Boy and the Heron Review: Hayao Miyazaki Returns With a True to Form Animated Adventure

Review: Hayao Miyazaki’s masterful storytelling seamlessly blends the fantastical with the human in The Boy and the Heron, creating a narrative that is both captivating and thought-provoking.

the boy and the heron review 2023 film
The Boy and the Heron (2023)

The Boy and the Heron Review

Hayao Miyazaki creates worlds where grief dances with wonder, where loss paves the way for discovery, and imagination reigns supreme. His latest movie The Boy and the Heron continues those trends to great lengths; it’s a symphony of animation, storytelling, and profound emotions that transports you to a realm of breathtaking beauty and exploration.

Mahito (Luca Padovan), a young boy burdened by the loss of his mother, finds himself adrift in a sea of grief. Thrust into an unfamiliar rural life, he yearns for solace and connection. Yet, a chance encounter with a blabbering bothersome heron (voiced by an unrecognizable Robert Pattinson), a creature as wise as it is enigmatic, sets him on a path towards a hidden world brimming with fantastical creatures and landscapes that defy reality.

Miyazaki’s artistic genius shines through in every frame. Vivid colors burst onto the screen, meticulously detailed creatures come alive with every movement, and the fantastical world he creates feels tangible, drawing you deeper into its magic. From playful Warawara spirits flitting through the air to menacing giant parakeets guarding their territory, every element contributes to the film’s captivating atmosphere.

But the true magic lies beneath the surface. The Boy and the Heron isn’t just a visually stunning spectacle; it delves into the complexities of grief and the journey towards healing. Mahito’s travels through this world serve as a metaphor for his own internal struggle. He grapples with anger, resentment, and ultimately, the acceptance of his loss.

And Hayao Miyazaki doesn’t shy away from the raw emotions of grief. We witness Mahito’s pain, his moments of despair, and his gradual acceptance, making his journey deeply relatable and poignant. We see ourselves reflected in his struggles, and find solace in the knowledge that even in the face of immense loss, healing and growth are possible.

The film’s emotional depth is further enriched by a compelling cast of characters. The enigmatic heron acts as Mahito’s guide and confidant, offering wisdom and support along his journey. Himi (Karen Fukuhara), a young woman with a mysterious connection to his family, adds a layer of intrigue and empathy, while even the cartoony antagonist Parakeet King serves a wonderous purpose. His ambition acts as a stark contrast to Mahito’s path of healing, reminding us of the destructive forces that can lurk within ourselves.

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Miyazaki’s masterful storytelling seamlessly blends the fantastical with the human, creating a narrative that is both captivating and thought-provoking. The pacing, deliberate yet engaging, allows viewers to fully immerse themselves in the world and connect with the characters and animals that live inside. Each scene is crafted with great detail, drawing upon a rich tapestry of symbolism and cultural references that will surely reward multiple viewings.

And then there’s the music. Composed by the legendary Joe Hisaishi, the score perfectly complements the film’s emotional core. Every note resonates with the characters’ feelings, amplifying the impact of each scene. From the playful melodies that accompany moments of wonder to the melancholic tunes that underscore the characters’ grief, the music is an integral part of the film’s success, as is the case with all of Miyazaki’s movies.

In the end, The Boy and the Heron pushes the boundaries of animation to great lengths. It’s a testament to Hayao Miyazaki’s enduring legacy as a master storyteller; a film that will linger in the heart long after the credits roll. While its vastness and complex themes may require more than one viewing to fully grasp, the film’s breathtaking visuals, poignant exploration of human emotions, and seismic themes make it a worthwhile journey for viewers of all ages. It’s an invitation to confront our own losses, embrace the power of imagination to heal and grow, and recognize the importance of human connection and the beauty that surrounds us.

Best New Movie

Genre: Adventure, Animation, Drama

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The Boy and the Heron Movie Cast and Credits

the boy and the heron movie review 2023 hayao miyazaki

Japanese Language Voice Cast

Soma Santoki as Mahito Maki

Masaki Suda as Gray Heron

Ko Shibasaki as Kiriko

Aimyon as Lady Himi

Yoshino Kimura as Natsuko

Takuya Kimura as Shoichi Maki

Shōhei Hino as Granduncle

English Dubbed Voice Cast

Luca Padovan as Mahito Maki

Robert Pattinson as Gray Heron

Florence Pugh as Kiriko

Karen Fukuhara as Lady Himi

Gemma Chan as Natsuko

Christian Bale as Shoichi Maki

Mark Hamill as Granduncle


Director: Hayao Miyazaki

Writer: Hayao Miyazaki

Cinematography: Atsushi Okui

Editors: Takeshi SeyamaRie MatsubaraAkane Shiraishi

Composer: Joe Hisaishi

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