Hayao Miyazaki

The first reviews of The Boy And The Heron have landed – and critics have hailed the latest Studio Ghibli outing a masterpiece.

Touted as the Studio Ghibli co-founder and animator Hayao Miyazaki’s final film, The Boy And The Heron (titled How Do You Live? in Japan) tells the story of a teenage boy who enters a magical world with a talking heron after discovering an abandoned tower in his new town.

The film is named after the 1937 novel of the same name by Genzaburo Yoshino, although it isn’t connected to the book. It was released in Japan on Friday (July 14) and is set for a US theatrical release later this year (no date currently set).

Miyazaki, 82, who is recognised as the father of Japanese anime, has said that the film is his last. However, the animator has made several similar statements over the years, including multiple announcements about retiring, only to contradict his comments.

The Boy And The Heron is notable for shirking any promotion other than sharing a film poster. Studio Ghibli chose not to release any trailers, images, synopsis nor casting details in advance of its premiere. The idea has been to allow for audiences come to the film without any preconceptions.

A handful of critics have shared reviews of the film now that it has premiered in Japan. The response so far has been very positive – read on below.

Time Out Japan‘s Emma Steen found the new work to be a “mature, complex masterpiece from the anime legend”.

She added that there’s “visual brilliance in abundance in a coming-of-age fable that’s brought to stunning life by Miyazaki’s painstakingly hand-drawn animation”.

“As international audiences await their turn to experience How Do You Live?, Miyazaki’s latest film stands as a testament to his enduring legacy,” Steen added, saying that it excels at “weaving together the director’s past, present, and future – a beautiful enigma that promises to be worth the wait”.

Alicia Haddick at The Verge concluded that Miyazaki has produced “one of his best films to date”, calling it “a mature metafictional tale in a friendlier facade about memory and moving on from the past while carrying their precious experiences on their shoulders”.

She added: “Honestly, so moved and impressed I was by this movie, I’d love for him to betray its message and come back, just one more time. The creative well underneath Miyazaki remains full, and I’m sure he could create another 10 films and still have new ideas to explore. We’ve barely scratched the surface of his bottomless talent.”

Hayao Miyazaki
Hayao Miyazaki – Credit: Getty

Elsewhere, Cezary Jan Strusiewicz at Polygon wrote: “The film’s fantasy elements look absolutely beautiful, and they naturally include shots of the classic impossibly delicious-looking Ghibli food. But they come with a kind of wistfulness for days gone by, paired with a full, unsentimental realisation that there’s no getting them back. Which all feels like a director taking one last look at his career before bowing out.

How Do You Live? has all the makings of a perfect swan song. Whether it really is that – whether Miyazaki’s retirement sticks this time – is something we won’t know for a while. In the meantime, his fans can watch this movie over and over, always finding something new and exciting in it. Final movie or not, it’s still a Hayao Miyazaki joint, and those have nearly endless rewatch value.”

In other news, last year Studio Ghibli teased a collaboration with Lucasfilm on an upcoming project.

The post Hayao Miyazaki’s last Studio Ghibli movie is being called a “masterpiece” appeared first on NME.


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