A prize in the form of an apotheosis for Hayao Miyazaki, the patriarch of Japanese animation. The Boy and the Heron, his latest film, won the Oscar for best animated film on Sunday, like his Spirited Away in 2003. Ten years passed between the release of this last film and his previous opus, The Wind gets up. Cultivating discretion, Miyazaki was absent from the Oscars ceremony in Hollywood and also did not appear at a Ghibli press conference Monday in Tokyo, leaving Toshio Suzuki, another studio executive, to speak in his place.

Hayao Miyazaki greeted his new Oscar victory with restraint, to hide his joy: he was “normal” and simply declared that it was “good” to have won, explains Toshio Suzuki, who spoke to him on the phone. “I don’t think it will be easy [for him] to make a new feature film,” he continues. But Miyazaki has made animated shorts in the past, so I’d like him to go that route again now.”

“He says his eyesight has become bad and his arms no longer work. But if you asked me what I think, I’d tell you he’s exaggerating!, jokes the studio manager. To me, he looks full of energy.”

With The Boy and the Heron, Hayao Miyazaki, a perfectionist craftsman who helped give animation its nobility, proves that he has kept all his talent and his old-fashioned 2D techniques, in the hour of triumph synthetic images. The film is imbued with dreaminess and magic, as is often the case with Miyazaki, and contains autobiographical elements as in The Wind Rises, taking place during the traumatic time of his childhood, the Second World War.

After the death of his mother in a fire in Tokyo, young Mahito moves to the countryside with his father and stepmother, who is none other than the child’s aunt. In this new, complicated environment for him, he meets a gray heron who will encourage him to dive into a parallel world, populated by a fantastic and frightening bestiary, in which the boy will discover secrets from his family history and make choices. crucial.

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“This universe comes mainly from my memories,” Miyazaki said last year, explaining that he too had lived as a child in a large country house to escape bombing during the war. “The truth about life is not something bright, or right. It contains everything, including an element of the grotesque, he also declared. It was time to create a work by extracting things hidden deep within myself.”

In The Boy and the Heron, an old guardian of the balance of the magical world, which is collapsing, seeks a successor. In a documentary by the Japanese public channel NHK broadcast in December, Miyazaki explained that he was inspired for this character by Isao Takahata, co-founder with him of Studio Ghibli and who died in 2018. The two men had a “love- hatred,” Miyazaki said. Perhaps we should also see it as a metaphor for the thorny question of the artistic future of Ghibli, while his eldest son Goro Miyazaki has given up on taking the helm. At the end of last year, the studios became a subsidiary of the Japanese television channel Nippon TV, which is committed to “protecting the know-how and value of the brand” and respecting its autonomy.