Connect with us


Oscars for Two Japanese Films: 'The Boy and the Heron' and 'Godzilla Minus One'

Japanese films saw impressive wins at the 96th Academy Awards, bringing home Oscars in the Best Animated Feature and Best Visual Effects Categories.



Hayao Miyazaki's The Boy and the Heron won Best Animated Feature at the 96th Academy Awards on March 11 (JST). Minutes later, Godzilla Minus One was awarded the top spot in the Best Visual Effects category, bringing Japan's Oscars count to two.  

The Art of Miyazaki: Years in the Making

Hayao Miyazaki and Toshio Suzuki accepted the prize remotely. This was Miyazaki's second Academy Award, following his 2003 Oscar for the animated feature Spirited Away

This time, The Boy and the Heron won despite such worthy competitors as Elemental, and Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse

Eighty-three-year-old animation film mogul Miyazaki, and Suzuki, the film's producer, were not present at the ceremony. Studio Ghibli's Executive Vice President Kiyofumi Nakajima read Suzuki's message to reporters in Tokyo. He noted:

"This is director Miyazaki's first work in ten years and the film industry has changed quite significantly in the meantime. Despite that, I am immensely pleased that so many people have gone to see this film." 

"Both myself and Miyazaki have aged, but this [win] is a message to keep moving forward, so I want to keep working hard," Suzuki was quoted as saying by Nihon Keizai Shimbun.

Director Hayao Miyazaki's "The Boy and the Heron" won the 96th Academy Award for Best Animated Feature. Studio Ghibli producer Toshio Suzuki poses with a new poster after the press conference on March 11 in Koganei, Tokyo (© Sankei by Shunsuke Sakamaki)

About 'The Boy and the Heron'

The Boy and the Heron is known in Japanese as Kimitachi Dou Ikiruka (君たちどう生きるか). It's the coming-of-age story of a young boy who loses his mother in a fire. When his father remarries and moves the family to the countryside, the young protagonist enters a magical world. Through his experience, he learns to cope with loss and overcome his fears. 

The film has been popular both at home and abroad. Putting it in perspective, it took home $12.8 million USD in the United States and Canada on its opening weekend, when it reached number one at the box office. 


Reminiscent of the style of Spirited Away, The Boy and the Heron is an awe-inspiring portrayal of the resilience of children. The story is about growing up in adversity. 

Visually, the high-quality animation is a tribute to Studio Ghibli's signature handwritten drawings. Miyazaki's magical world manages to straddle the bizarre, the beautiful, and the scary, delivering an overall message of hope despite the complexities of the world. In today's global context riddled with war and strife, it's not surprising that the message of the film resonated with so many people.

Suzuki, who also holds the title of Studio Ghibli Chairman, shed some light on this aspect in a press conference in Tokyo following the award.  

"The content of the work was probably more readily accepted in the United States than in Japan," he said. 

"Even though Miyazaki is over 80 years old, he still makes films thinking about why they are necessary in this day and age, and I think he has done that this time as well," Suzuki was quoted as saying by NHK. 

Godzilla: First Visual Effects Award for Japan

Godzilla Minus One is the first Japanese film to win in the Visual Effects category. Takashi Yamazaki, Kiyoko Shibuya, Masaki Takahashi, and Tatsuji Nojima climbed the stage to receive their golden statues. 

Takashi Yamazaki, holds a Godzilla figure next to the Oscar for Best Visual Effects for "Godzilla Minus One" in the Oscars photo room at the 96th Academy Awards in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, on March 10 (local time, March 11 JST). (©REUTERS/Carlos Barria)

Upon accepting the award, director Takashi Yamazaki  recounted onstage how, when he started his career, "The idea of standing on this stage seemed out of reach." 

He also recalled his initial apprehension of representing the first Japanese film nominated in the category. "But here we stand!," he exuded happily. 

Yamazaki concluded by sending a hopeful message to other colleagues: "To all the artists outside of Hollywood, Hollywood was listening, and our award is proof that everyone has a chance." 



Author: Arielle Busetto

Our Partners