Studio Ghibli makes history at the 2024 Oscars with The Boy and the Heron

The Boy and the Heron
(Image credit: Studio Ghibli/GKIDS)

Studio Ghibli has once again made Oscars history with Hayao Miyazaki’s The Boy and the Heron winning Best Animated Feature at the 2024 Academy Awards, the second anime film to do so since Miyazaki's masterpiece Spirited Away won 21 years ago.

This means that the only two hand-drawn 2D films to ever win in the category have both come from the same studio and the same animation master. That’s pretty impressive, right? 

Inspired by Miyazaki’s real life, The Boy and the Heron follows 12-year-old Mahito as he struggles to settle in a new town after his mother's death, only to befriend a talking heron who informs him that his mother is still alive. In a desperate search for his late mother, the boy enters an abandoned tower which takes him to another very strange and skewed world.

The filmmaker’s winning 2001 project Spirited Away was the film that ignited widespread passion for Studio Ghibli, in a twisted animated tale following a young girl who winds up abandoned in an amusement park inhabited by supernatural beings. The film took home gold at the 75th Academy Awards and became the first-ever anime project to win. 

But that wasn’t the only record the filmmaker broke that night, as Miyazaki is now the oldest winner in the category ever at 83 years old. The previous record holder is Mark Gustafson who was 63 years old at the time his flick Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio won Best Animated Feature. On top of this, Miyazaki is now tied with Pete Docter as the most nominated director in the category, with four nominations that also include Howl’s Moving Castle and The Wind Rises.

The Boy and the Heron was up against Pixar’s Elemental, Nimona, Robot Dreams, and Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse, whose lead Shameik Moore was quick to take to social media to decry the flick being "robbed". Miyazaki was not present at the ceremony in the US to accept his award, but, wherever he was, we hope he was celebrating. 

See our full list of Oscar 2024 winners here. For more, check out our list of the greatest Oscar-winning movies ever, or keep up to date with upcoming movies heading your way in 2024 and beyond.  

Editorial Associate, GamesRadar+

I am an Entertainment Writer here at GamesRadar+, covering TV and film for SFX and Total Film online. I have a Bachelors Degree in Media Production and Journalism and a Masters in Fashion Journalism from UAL. In the past I have written for local UK and US newspaper outlets such as the Portland Tribune and York Mix and worked in communications, before focusing on film and entertainment writing. I am a HUGE horror fan and in 2022 I created my very own single issue feminist horror magazine.