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Toho, Studio Ghibli Eye Oscars

Toho, Studio Ghibli Eye Oscars

By Chisaki Sato & Mizuki Sakae
The North American Post

After 37 films, many of which are beloved by American filmgoers, Godzilla is hungry for an Oscar. Perhaps he’ll get one on March 10.

The new Godzilla movie, Godzilla Minus One, came out last December 1. It is the highest-grossing Japanese live-action movie ever released in the U.S. and was selected as a nominee for the Academy Award for Best Visual Effects.

Another Oscar hopeful from Japan is the latest from Studio Ghibli, The Boy and the Heron, directed by 83-year-old Hayao Miyazaki. The film is nominated in the animated feature category. Miyazaki has already one two Oscars—one for Spirited Away in 2003 and an honorary Oscar in 2014.

NAP sent its interns to the movies so they could give you their take on the Oscar nominees from Japan.

Chisaki Sato on Godzilla Minus One:

The Godzilla franchise went all out on the 70th anniversary of Godzilla’s birth, launching both Godzilla Minus One and a black-and-white version called Godzilla Minus One/Minus Color. The kaiju movies are monumental works filled with special effects
Godzilla Minus One is about people who fight with a monstrous creature, in postwar Japan, when there were not enough armed soldiers and weapons to fight it.
Unlike the previous movie in 2016, Shin Godzilla, this movie focuses not only on Godzilla but also on a main character who suffered from the war and struggles with his family and colleagues.

The Japanese promotional poster for Godzilla Minus One. By Eiga.com, Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=74324464

One of reasons for Minus One’s popularity is that it perfectly balances the scenes of destruction brought by Godzilla with a moving story that makes us forget Godzilla’s existence.

In Godzilla vs. Kong, which was produced in Hollywood, the excitement is nonstop. But Godzilla Minus One brings a new tone that the franchise has not yet explored.

Even though the movie came in under budget, the CG effects are incredible.

“The personal struggles of the main character were brought to the forefront of the movie, serving as an additional plot point in conjunction with the stereotypical plotline of saving the city from Godzilla,” an American friend of mine said. “The emotions of the characters were well conveyed, and the heavier, emotional scenes, when present, carried a lot of weight (at least comparatively for a monster movie) As a result, unlike Shin Godzilla, the struggles depicted in this film, to me, felt a lot closer and more immediate. I also appreciated the way that this movie utilized Godzilla as a character, showing enough of him at just the right points in order to maximize his presence.”

I have already watched the movie twice. The impact brought by Godzilla echoes the damage from World War II. I was able to not only enjoy watching the movies but feel the misery of the war.

Mizuki Sakae on The Boy and the Heron:

The Boy and the Heron, Hayao Miyazaki’s first film in almost 10 years,was released in in December and set a new record at the box office in approximately one week in the United States. According to The Hollywood Reporter, it was the first film produced completely overseas that topped the U.S. box office rankings.

The Boy and The Heron was released as Kimitachi Do Ikiru Ka (How Do You Live? in Japan. ▶︎

The film is an original story about a boy who loses his mother in a fire, meets a heron at an evacuated relative’s house and follows it into a mysterious world.

Many people visited the movie theaters to see this film from the first day of its release. Why has it become so famous? The reason is the influence of the many masterpieces produced by Studio Ghibli.

Studio Ghibli was established in 1985 with the production of Laputa Castle in the Sky based on the success of Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind and led by Tokuma Shoten.

The studio has produced mainly theatrical animated films directed by Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata. They produced masterpieces such as My Neighbor Totoro and Princess Mononoke.

Studio Ghibli’s entry into the U.S. market was triggered by a call from Disney. Studio Ghibli’s films were broadcast on TV and quickly became popular. Among the works, Spirited Away made Studio Ghibli famous worldwide. This film rewrote the history of Ghibli, setting new records at the box office in Japan with 23.8 million viewers and 30.8 billion yen in revenue. The film was also very popular overseas, winning the Golden Bear at the 52nd Berlin International Film Festival, the first time in 39 years for a Japanese film and the first ever for an animated film. The following year, at the 75th Academy Awards, it won an Oscar for Best Animated Feature Film.

But Miyazaki decided to retire in 2013. Luckily for movie fans, he came out of retirement in 2017 to begin making The Boy and The Heron. With its release in 2023, he won a Golden Globe at the age of 82.

The charm of this film lies in the beautiful illustrations and the mysterious story. As in his previous works, the colorful illustrations combined with the powerful melodies, drawing you in as you follow the adventures of a young boy.