Shinkai seeks global suc­cess for film that con­quered Ja­pan

Kuwait Times - - LIFESTYLE -

Makoto Shinkai’s an­i­mated hit “Your Name” has con­quered Ja­pan. Now the di­rec­tor hopes the world will fall for its charms. “It is a unique film and has been a unique sen­sa­tion,” said Shinkai, speak­ing be­fore his film screened at the 21st Bu­san In­ter­na­tional Film Fes­ti­val (BIFF) in South Korea, the premier event of its kind in Asia. “It’s hard for us to be­lieve that it’s been viewed by more than 10 mil­lion peo­ple in Ja­pan-mostly the young gen­er­a­tion-and hope­fully we can see the same re­sult around the world.”

“Your Name” is a touch­ing fan­tasy-ro­mance set around the lives of two high school stu­dents who swap bod­ies when they dream, and who try to al­ter his­tory. It has topped the box of­fice charts in Ja­pan for the past six weeks, with a to­tal take com­ing into the week­end of $126 mil­lion, ac­cord­ing to in­dus­try fig­ures. That’s moved the film past “Godzilla Resur­gence” as the num­ber one box of­fice hit in Ja­pan this year. Shinkai be­lieves the film has tapped into emo­tions still raw in Ja­pan fol­low­ing the earth­quake and tsunami dis­as­ters of 2011 that claimed an es­ti­mated 16,000 lives.

“They took away the lives of so many peo­ple and they changed every­one in Ja­pan,” said Shinkai. “The wish after­wards was that we could all live longer, and so this film’s big­gest mo­ti­va­tion was to re­flect these dreams of the Ja­panese na­tion. Life means so much more to us now.” Shinkai’s film has now passed the $119 mil­lion made by “The Wind Rises” (2013), the last full-length pro­duc­tion di­rected by the now-re­tired an­i­ma­tion mas­ter Hayao Miyazaki. Miyazaki was re­spon­si­ble for the Os­car-win­ning “Spir­ited Away” (2001), the film that re­mains Ja­pan’s all-time big­gest earner with around $290 mil­lion in global box of­fice tak­ings.

Since the 75-year-old left his di­rec­tor’s chair in 2013, fans across the globe have been wait­ing for a suc­ces­sor to emerge. The 43-year-old Shinkai cer­tainly fits the bill, hav­ing found pre­vi­ous ac­claim-al­though on a far smaller scale-with the likes of the ro­man­tic fan­tasy “Chil­dren Who Chase Lost Voices” (2011). “I am al­ways be­ing com­pared to Mr Miyazaki but at this stage of my ca­reer I am still learn­ing about how I can con­nect with the au­di­ence, es­pe­cially the young au­di­ence-and I think I have a long way to go,” said Shinkai. “Your Name” is the first non-Miyazaki an­i­ma­tion to top the $100 mil­lion bar­rier in Ja­pan and its dis­tri­bu­tion rights have been sold to more than 80 coun­tries, in­clud­ing the United States.

Fes­ti­vals such as BIFF are test­ing the in­ter­na­tional waters for Shinkai’s pro­duc­tion be­fore its gen­eral global re­lease, ex­pected to be­gin in Jan­uary. Tick­ets to the three screen­ings of “Your Name” in Bu­san sold out in min­utes, ac­cord­ing to fes­ti­val or­ga­niz­ers. “Your Name” has been a cul­tural sen­sa­tion in Ja­pan. The story was lifted from the pages of a suc­cess­ful manga novel of the same name writ­ten by Shinkai and fans flocked to take self­ies at the sites which were re-im­aged in the film in the di­rec­tor’s small home town of Koumi in Nagano pre­fec­ture. Other scenes were shot in Gifu pre­fec­ture and the cap­i­tal Tokyo. BIFF will screen around 300 films dur­ing its 10-day run and con­tin­ues un­til Satur­day. — AFP

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