Ja­pan’s an­i­mated block­buster ush­ers in era of Shinkai

The Myanmar Times - - The Pulse -

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 fan­ta­sy­ro­mance 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 US$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.

“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,” 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. –

Photo: AFP

Makoto Shinkai has been her­alded as the next Hayao Miyazaki, whose an­i­mated works set the stan­dard in Ja­pan for decades. Shinkai’s Your Name has al­ready bro­ken records at the box of­fice.

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