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The Boy and the Heron: Japan gives first reactions of new Miyazaki movie

Since the release of the movie on Friday, Japan and first viewers are leaving some reviews on what they call an experience of "truly astounding" visual beauty.

The movie has been described as the “culmination” of Miyazaki’s anime world, but we don't know much about it, what is known is that inspiration was taken by Japanese author Genzaburo Yoshino’s 1937 philosophical children’s book, How Do You Live?, one of Miyazaki’s personal favorites.

The film opens with a mesmerizing portrayal of the devastating firebombing of Tokyo during World War II. We witness Mahito, the central character, desperately fleeing his home amidst the chaos. Tragically, his mother is lost in the inferno. As his father, employed in a warplane factory, seeks solace by marrying his late wife's younger sister, the family relocates to a magnificent traditional residence nestled in the serene countryside.

In this new setting, Mahito encounters a mischievous blue heron that possesses the power of speech, using it to both tease and challenge him. In a stroke of fate, he stumbles upon an enigmatic abandoned tower hidden amidst the nearby forests. Curiosity and concern compel Mahito to investigate further. Unexpectedly, his stepmother mysteriously disappears, prompting him to embark on a daring quest.

Guided by the heron, Mahito ventures into the tower, determined to find and rescue his missing stepmother.

Any other information about the movie was deliberately avoided, since no promotion was made for it: no plot summary, voice cast, trailers, art or description was released and this certainly fueled fans curiosity. Toshio Suzuki, Ghibli co-founder, said that the best way to watch the movie is without preconceptions and this is what the audience "latently desires".

Early reviews from the premiere are giving us some first impressions: many of them state that the movie is visually stunning but darker and more enigmatic than much of the Ghibli stuff. Anime News Network states that “It’s a film you could watch a hundred times and still discover new things in the background of any given scene". The film site Eiga Channel considers the movie to be "among the best of Ghibli’s works in terms of visuals and story...” and that it "requires time and consideration to understand, so it is natural that there will be reactions of confusion."

As already stated, the movie's release has happened on July 14 in Japan.

Hayao Miyazaki

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