Japanese Cultural Icons Reign Supreme: Studio Ghibli and Godzilla Clinch Oscar Glory

Hello, first of all, I’d like to felicitate two of the Japan’s cultural giants on winning the Oscar.

The 2024 Academy Awards ceremony, held Sunday in Los Angeles, was a big happy night for two of them as anime powerhouse Studio Ghibli and the 70-year-old Godzilla franchise which won high accolades from Hollywood’s elite.

The award for best animated feature film went to Hayao Miyazaki’s “The Boy and the Heron,” while Takashi Yamazaki’s monster film “Godzilla Minus One” won best visual effects.

Japanese anime giant Hayao Miyazaki won a U.S. Academy Award for “The Boy and the Heron” on March 10, 2024 Sunday, claiming one of the industry’s top honors for the second time with his long-awaited comeback release, while the latest “Godzilla” film became the first title from Japan and Asia to win best visual effects.

The Boy and the Heron

Miyazaki’s 124-minute fantasy, which was selected in the Academy’s animated feature category, also won top prizes for the genre at the Golden Globes in January and the British Academy competition last month after its release in Japan last year.

The latest work by Miyazaki, 83, is a fictional story set during World War II. Its protagonist, a Japanese boy named Mahito, moves to a new town after the death of his mother and meets a talking heron that leads him to a fantasy world.

The film, created at Studio Ghibli in Tokyo, beat four other features in the Academy awards category, including Walt Disney’s “Elemental” and U.S. superhero movie “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse.”

“We are just extremely grateful. Miyazaki was very happy,” Toshio Suzuki, a producer and co-founder of Studio Ghibli Inc., Miyazaki’s production company, said at a press conference in Tokyo. Miyazaki did not attend the press conference.

Although Miyazaki had announced his retirement in 2013 after producing “The Wind Rises,” another of his Oscar-nominated films, he began his latest work in 2017.

Miyazaki’s “Spirited Away” won an Oscar in 2003, after being awarded the Golden Bear, the top prize at the Berlin International Film Festival, the previous year.

Around 50 people gathered at the studio in western Tokyo, cheering after hearing the announcement.

Fans of the film also applauded the win as they watched a live broadcast of the ceremony at a movie theater complex in Tokyo.

“I grew up with Miyazaki’s anime and was also given the hope to live by ‘The Boy and the Heron,'” said Seiji Machida, 46, from Chiba Prefecture. “I’m very happy that (Miyazaki) returned, and that he won an award.”

In commemoration of Studio Ghibli’s film ‘How Do You Live? winning the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature, Ghibli Park (located in Nagakute City, Aichi Prefecture) is holding an exhibition from March 20th until around August.

At the end, there is a short video of “The boy and the heron”.

Godzilla Minus One

Meanwhile, Takashi Yamazaki’s “Godzilla Minus One,” set in postwar Japan, is the latest installment in the long-running franchise about a fire-breathing, city-stomping monster.

Masaki Takahashi, Takashi Yamazaki, Kiyoko Shibuya and Tatsuji Nojima celebrated winning the Oscar for best visual effects on the Dolby Theatre stage in Los Angeles, California

The film follows the story of a Japanese pilot burdened with guilt for surviving a kamikaze mission who joins forces with others to battle Godzilla, a giant reptilian monster that emerges in Tokyo and which threatens the city, already devastated by U.S. air raids during the Pacific war, with new destruction.

“To someone so far from Hollywood, even the possibility of standing on this stage seemed out of reach,” Yamazaki said upon receiving the award in Los Angeles.

“This award is proof that everyone has a chance,” the 59-year-old added.

The director had earlier described the film as a combination of “the newest digital technologies and classic methods from Japanese cinema” that created “the warmth of something handmade.”

The movie was made with a limited budget and utilized the traditional “tokusatsu”(special effects) technique for Japanese monster films, a method that uses composite images and miniature sets.

The Godzilla franchise is celebrating its 70th anniversary this year since the first film was released in 1954, inspired by the U.S. nuclear bomb testing in Bikini Atoll.

Speaking at a press conference after winning the award, Yamazaki sought to draw a connection between the film and the current global situation, saying that the movie was about “subduing Godzilla” — a symbol of war and nuclear weapons.

“Maybe the world is desiring this sense of subduing,” he said.

“Godzilla Minus One” was rolled out in U.S. theaters in December, becoming the highest-grossing Japanese live-action film in the country, according to its distributor Toho Co.

Semi-finally, If we say the literal translation of this title, it says “How Do You Live?” The inspiration for the Boy and the Heron, the major new Hayao Miyazaki/Studio Ghibli film, Please enjoy the fanciful vision and fantastic music as follows,

Finally, we have an early Godzilla work which is worth visiting as follows,

Roaring Titans: Unleashing the Epic World of Godzilla’s Monstrous Battles
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About the author

古林 茂樹(Shigeki Furubayashi )