Ghibli’s New Film “The Boy and the Heron”: A Fresh Experience | A Spoiler-free Review from a Japanese Perspective


Introduction: A Japanese Take on Ghibli’s Latest

As a native of Japan, I had the privilege of watching the much-anticipated new Ghibli film, “The Boy and the Heron”, in theaters.

This piece sheds light on its charm and uniqueness from a local perspective, all spoiler-free.

1. A Glimpse into the Story: Loss and Rediscovery in Wartime Japan

Set in 1944, amidst World War II, the tale revolves around Makoto, who lost his hospitalized mother in the Tokyo air raids.

Moving to the countryside with his father, they are received by Natsuko, Makoto’s maternal aunt and now his father’s new wife.

Struggling with isolation at his new school and accepting his pregnant stepmother, Makoto discovers an old tower in their backyard.

Built by his mother’s great-uncle, a talking heron emerges, suggesting his mother might still be alive.

2. First Impressions: A Departure from Traditional Ghibli

Honestly, “The Boy and the Heron” might be a tad… divisive.

It carries a distinct flavor, unlike classic Ghibli. At times, I found myself wondering, “What’s happening?” Yet, experiencing Ghibli magic on the big screen remains invaluable! 😍

Multiple viewings might be required for full comprehension, but considering it as a movie to feel rather than simply understand makes it intriguing.

Even the legendary Hayao Miyazaki remarked, “There were parts even I couldn’t grasp.” 😂

So if he’s puzzled, it’s okay for us to be too.

3. Ghibli Staples: Sound and Music

What truly captivated me was the meticulous attention to ambient sounds in the film.

Footsteps, the rustle of waves – it screams classic Ghibli craftsmanship. 🎧

Regarding music, Kenshi Yonezu’s end-credit track “Spinning Globe” captures the essence of the movie, evoking a mix of nostalgia and satisfaction.

4. Bonus Fun: Ghibli Easter Eggs

For the ardent Ghibli fans, there are subtle nods to past iconic Ghibli films sprinkled throughout.

Spotting these references adds to the fun and ignites post-viewing enthusiastic discussions.

For instance, “Didn’t that scene remind you of ‘Spirited Away’?” 🤩 “I felt a touch of ‘Howl’s Moving Castle’ there.” Undoubtedly, the movie allows for impressions reminiscent of other films, showcasing its rich tapestry.

Conclusion: A Must-Watch in Theaters 🎬

To wrap up, “The Boy and the Heron” is a Ghibli gem that merits a theater experience.

For those still on the fence, believe me – it’s worth it! Word on the street is that Miyazaki is already crafting another masterpiece. Until then, immerse yourself in this enchanting journey and perhaps share the experience with friends. 😉