Escape Velocity

A curated Collection of Fantasy and Science Fiction Media

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A boy called Mahito and his father move to the countryside while the Pacific war rages in Japan. Mahito’s mother has died in a hospital fire during the war, and his father is marrying his late wife’s sister, Natsuko. Mahito struggles to find his place in the peaceful countryside until a mysterious heron leads him to explore a mysterious tower.

Despite doing pretty much zero marketing for this film, everyone who knows and loves Studio Ghibli movies knew that The Boy and the Heron was coming out at the end of last year. It was supposedly Hayao Miyazaki’s last ever movie for the studio (though if I’m to believe Wikipedia, he’s already planning his next movie), and his first one since 2013, so I was very excited. Small confession: I’ve not actually seen all of the “big” Studio Ghibli movies. But the ones I have seen I did love.

I think a big part of the appeal of Ghibli movies is the vibe. It’s always very idyllic; very cottagecore. I found myself suddenly very excited for spring to come again. I also wistfully reflected on how my fear of tics will probably forever keep me from walking into tall grass without panicking. There’s nothing like a Ghibli movie to make you really appreciate the beauty of the world around you.

I went to see the movie on January 1st, with my dad. Did we both almost fall asleep during the first half of the movie? Yes, we did. Though I wouldn’t say that’s a fault of the movie, but of the fact that we were both tired after New Year’s Eve. We fared much better in the second half, after having had some caffeine.

Story-wise, the movie starts quite slow, but a LOT happens in the second half of the movie. Would I be able to explain the plot? Nope. Did I enjoy it? Yes I did. I think it’s pretty normal to not fully understand the plot of a Ghibli movie. It’s a lot like literature in that sense. I know there are lots of themes being explored, but I’m not the type of viewer who digs deep enough to understand them all. One thing I will say is that I’m not sure why the story is called “The Boy and the Heron” when the Heron really doesn’t seem to be all that relevant to the plot.

Overall, I really enjoyed the movie. It was touching, funny and beautiful visually. It has all the absurdist fantasy elements that I love in a Ghibli movie.

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