Godzilla, Hayao Miyazaki Both Take Home Oscars; First Double Win for Japanese Films Since 2009

Takashi Yamazaki, Kiyoko Shibuya, Masaki Takahashi and Tatsuji Nojima win the Oscar for Best Visual Effects for “Godzilla Minus One” at the 96th Academy Awards in Los Angeles on Sunday.

LOS ANGELES — “Godzilla Minus One,” directed by Takashi Yamazaki, won Best Visual Effects at the 96th Academy Awards in Los Angeles on Sunday night, while “Kimitachi wa Do Ikiruka” (“The Boy and the Heron”), directed by Hayao Miyazaki, took home the Oscar for Best Animated Feature Film.

This is the first time since 2009 for two Japanese films to win Oscars in the same year. “Okuribito” (“Departures”) won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film that year, and “Tsumiki no Ie” (“La Maison en Petits Cubes”) was the Animated Short Film winner.

“Godzilla Minus One” is the first Japanese film to win an Oscar for visual effects. The movie is set in Japan shortly after World War II and tells the story of a group of people, including a member of the former Japanese Imperial Army’s corps of suicide pilots, who band together to confront Godzilla as the monster ravages Tokyo.

Made to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the first “Godzilla” movie, which was released in 1954, “Godzilla Minus One” opened in Japan in November last year. It became a huge hit at home and abroad, with box office revenue surpassing ¥10 billion worldwide.

Yamazaki, 59, walked up to the Academy Awards stage amid the theme music for “Godzilla.”

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
Hayao Miyazaki

“To all the VFX [visual effects] artists outside Hollywood, Hollywood was listening, and this award is proof that everyone has a chance,” Yamazaki said happily.

Miyazaki, 83, won a Best Animated Feature Film Oscar for the first time in 21 years. His previous Academy Award was for “Sen to Chihiro no Kamikakushi” (“Spirited Away”) in 2003.

“Kimitachi wa Do Ikiruka,” which takes its title from a novel by Genzaburo Yoshino, depicts the adventure experienced by Mahito, a boy who has lost his mother in the war and wanders into a strange world. The film is said to be a semi-autobiographical work for Miyazaki.

“Perfect Days” directed by Wim Wenders and starring Koji Yakusho, was nominated for Best International Feature Film but did not take home the trophy.