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“The Boy and The Heron” Review

An image from the movie “The Boy and the Heron.” (Studio Ghibli/TNS)

As a huge Studio Ghibli fan, I went into watching “The Boy and the Heron” with tons of excitement and high expectations. The vibrant 2D animation style director Hayao Miyazaki uses has captivated me since I was little and enchanted me in “The Boy and the Heron”.

The movie opens with the protagonist, a young boy named Mahito, speeding through a crowd and into the flames of a burning building that has just been bombed. We see his mother killed in the fire, which sets up one of the core themes of the movie: recovering after loss. We are then taken to a few years later, with Mahito and his father starting a new life in the countryside. We learn that Mahito’s father has just remarried his mother’s sister, Natsuko, and it is her house where Mahito and his father will now stay.

Shortly after moving in, a heron starts to pester Mahito, even appearing in his dreams. Eventually, the heron gets Mahito to enter an abandoned tower on the property by abducting Natsuko. The tower turns out to be a portal to another world, eerily similar to his own but full of fantastical creatures and chaos. This is where the adventure begins, with Mahito on a quest to bring back Natsuko from this new world.

Everything that unfolded in the other world was incredibly unique. The creatures — such as the human-sized parakeets and the Warawara — were so original that I can’t imagine how they were created. As Mahito continued his journey, he encountered many different realms that introduced us to new characters and new features of the other world — keeping me engaged and in a state of constant anticipation.

What I loved most about the movie was the beauty in each frame. The way the movement was animated gave me a sense of calmness. Grass blowing in the wind, flames licking the screen, waves washing ashore and paper being torn apart all gave the story a common sense of peace. Each landscape shot had so much detail and such a stunning mix of colors and every new location Mahito encountered provided elements I had never seen before.

As for the story, I can’t say I could give you a cohesive start-to-end explanation. There were so many twists, holes and unexplained events that happened throughout the movie that caused me to completely give up on understanding the story while I was watching. I could make a long list of things that made no sense to me, but I concluded that the story was supposed to emulate a dream. It didn’t have to make sense, because we were now in a world where the rules of everyday life did not apply.

Overall, I thought “The Boy and the Heron” was a beautiful movie that I was able to enjoy even without a plot. Through his adventure, Mahito can cope with the loss of his mother and accept his new life — two powerful themes presented through fantasy and adventure.

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About the Contributor
Bridgette Kelly, Feature Editor
Bridgette Kelly is a senior continuing her second year on staff. She enjoys playing tennis, eating good food and taking walks.

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