‘The Boy and the Heron’ Is a Fantastically Fitting Finale for Miyazaki’s Career

Studio Ghibli

TORONTO—Hayao Miyazaki has long been one of cinema’s most revered filmmakers. A pioneer of animation, Miyazaki has spent nearly 40 years at the forefront of Studio Ghibli, turning it from a plucky upstart to one of the most legendary—if not the most legendary—animation studios in the world. His career has been nothing short of staggering, delivering bonafide masterpieces like Spirited Away, My Neighbor Totoro, and Princess Mononoke over his multi-decade career. That’s why animation fans, myself included, were devastated by the announcement that Miyazaki was retiring in 2013. But he had one final film to give us, one of his best: the extraordinary The Wind Rises, which felt like a perfect swan song for the beloved director.

But just like a phoenix rising from the ashes (or alternatively, Cher), Miyazaki was not, in fact, going gently into that good night. Instead, in 2021, he came out of retirement and announced he was making a twelfth (and, this time, final) film: How Do You Live? Remarkably, the film was marketed in Japan without anything besides a single poster—no trailer, stills, plot information, nothing. The names of Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli have proved more than enough; since it hit theaters there in July, the film has become one of Japan’s highest-grossing movies ever.

Now with a new title—the hotly debated The Boy and the Heron—the film has finally made its way outside of Japan, having its international premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival. As an ardent admirer of Studio Ghibli and Miyazaki, I nervously anticipated the film’s arrival. Could more Miyazaki be a bad thing? Is he past his prime? Could the film possibly live up to The Wind Rises? The short answers are no, hell no, and absolutely.

Read more at The Daily Beast.

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