A few days ago, Makoto Shinkai's Your Name (Kimi no na Wa) grabs the #1 spot as the world's highest grossing anime, surpassing Studio Ghibli's Spirited Away. The total worldwide gross amounts to US$331.6 million compared with Spirited Away at US$289,096,544 which was released in 2001. 

Kimi No Na Wa - 'Your Name' by Makoto Shinkai

I have not heard of a 'backlash' yet since any movie who has received such "universal acclaim" will always have some critics or even just anime observers/fans who will not feel satisfied. I read about a recent survey where Japanese anime fans were asked about their favorite themes and that they abhor time travel, body swap and the rest of the storyline promoted in Your Name. 

Shinkai was saying that he hope people will soon stop watching Your Name because it's not really that good. However, when a mangaka criticized the anime - that it's not really 'interesting', Shinkai reacted:

Well, maybe they’re exactly right [about Your Name not being very good. But at the same time, if it’s that easy for them to make a successful anime, by all means, they should go right ahead and make one too. I didn’t aim for the big box office numbers; those are just the result of the movie being what it is. After all, it’s hard to sell something that’s specifically created to be sold. [ source ]

Well, if that is not jealousy from the mangaka (who was reported to be involved in another fight), then I don't know what it is! 

While Shinkai's latest project is breaking box office records, another Japanese anime - 'In This Corner of the World' just won first place in the annual Kinema Junpou Top 10. The prestigious movie publication is celebrating its 90th anniversary. 

It's unfair to make a comparison, but both anime took a long time to be released. Ryota Goto at The Asahi Shimbun interviewed the filmmaker:

It was a low-budget film with a total cost of 250 million yen ($2.13 million), so it was impossible to buy TV advertisements,” said the film's producer, Taro Maki. “It was pretty much an independent film, he added. [ source ]

In This Corner of the World - この世界の片隅に Kono Sekai no Katasumi ni

The anime never got backing from investors, but fans became their financiers. 

When they called for crowdfunding over the Internet in March 2015, 3,374 people raised about 40 million yen in two months, almost double the targeted amount. With this money, the team produced the pilot film and presented it to prospective investors. They were then able to raise enough money from businesses and other establishments to properly complete the film. [ source ]

I think the case of 'In This Corner of the World' brings to the front the lack of foresight and judgment by these investors, who rely heavily on proven formula. Of course, as businessmen, they are simply following rules - ROI (Return on Investment) is one of them and that there is no such thing as taking risks. 

Well, the author made the appropriate title for the article: 

Financiers said 'no,' public said 'yes,' to hit anime movie.

 Indeed!


Acclaimed filmmaker Martin Scorsese's latest film, "Silence" is reported to be 'boring' by some and 'inspirational' by others. 

The New York Post has this to say:

With its heavy subject matter and historical weight, plus the irresistible detail that the completion of the film represents a triumph because it took one of Hollywood’s greatest filmmakers 28 years to get it made after the director first read the novel “Silence” back in the 1980s, “Silence” had “Oscar contender” written all over it. In the film, Andrew Garfield and Adam Driver play Portuguese Jesuit priests searching for a fellow padre (Liam Neeson) who has gone missing in 17th century Japan, where the ruling Buddhists are capturing, torturing and murdering Catholics who refuse to renounce their faith. In early December, one early reviewer, Roger Friedman of the Web site Showbiz 411 said, in a story blasted out to the world via the Drudge Report, that “Silence” is “a masterwork that is set to ambush the awards race.” But as the film heads into wide release after doing so-so numbers in a limited number of theaters since Christmas Day, it has no momentum whatsoever. [ read more ]

The 84% rating at Rotten Tomatoes, plus 7.7 out of 10 at IMDb may give you some indication of the overall critical thought on the film.

The Scorsese film is the second adaptation of Shūsaku Endō's novel, which was previously adapted by Masahiro Shinoda in the 1971 film of the same name.

Among the Japanese cast are:

Tadanobu Asano 

Issey Ogata

Shinya Tsukamoto 

Yoshi Oida

Yosuke Kubozuka

Nana Komatsu

Ryo Kase

An interview featuring Issey Ogata appears in online publications, and this is what he has to say:

When I first saw the film, I was speechless. It was so powerful, and I realized that there was this thing where you can be moved beyond words. I needed the time to digest it all. It’s a film that will stay with me for life, and it raised a lot of questions and inspired me to think about my own life, beliefs and my own identity. It created an interest for me to explore spirituality, belief in God, a higher power and I’m interested in Japanese history, and what it means to be Japanese. The film is so rich and inspires so many things in me, and that’s how I feel. [ read more ]

The Filmstage was all praise of the Japanese actor:

Issey Ogata‘s name is not at the top of the poster or in much of any marketing for Silence, but his role as Inoue Masashige, so very ominously nicknamed “The Inquisitor,” is among the most essential and memorable in Martin Scorsese‘s religious epic. While primarily a veteran of Asian television, Ogata still earns a special place among cinephiles — one that will only grow wider and stronger once this film opens — for his work in Edward Yang’s Yi Yi and Alexander Sokurov’s The Sun, the latter of which features him as Japan’s Emperor Hirohito in the final days of World War II. Much of Silence comes to comprise the opposition between Masashige and Andrew Garfield‘s Sebastião Rodrigues, but Ogata’s performance excels largely because it’s far more difficult to parse than the character it represents — alternately comic (a major part of his acting background) and menacing, often condescending, yet with hints towards some sympathy for the Christians’ devotion. In person, the actor is a very kind man who, in brief answers, makes clear the breadth of his knowledge and experience. [ read more ]

Ogata plays Inoue Masashige (井上 政重, 1585–27 March 1661) who was considered an important figure during the early Edo period in Japan. He played a role in the persecution and eradication of Christians in Japan and he was commissioner for the Dutch East India Company in Nagasaki.

He is said to be gay. [ read his Wiki page ]

The photos in the gallery below originally appeared in Art of the Cut. Photos are copyrighted to Paramount Pictures, SharpSword Films, and AI Films.


Speaking of 'gay', the anime Doukyuusei is gorgeous and heartwarming!

High school students Hikaru Kusakabe and Rihito Sajou are as different as day and night.

A boy met a boy. They were in the flush of youth. They were in love that felt like a dream, like sparkling soda pop.

High school students Hikaru Kusakabe and Rihito Sajou are as different as day and night. But opposites attract and before they know it, they've embarked on a journey neither one can quite define but which anyone with eyes can see is "Love." 

According to the intro in the anime's official English website, which I agree:

 Doukyuusei - Classmate

 I will not spoil you about the ending of the anime, as many who likes to watch BL-themed projects tend to feel frustrated about endings. 

Charles Solomon over at the Los Angeles Times wrote a review:

The theatrical release of the Japanese feature “Doukyusei (Classmates)” marks the growing popularity in America of yaoi, an anime genre that depicts feathery romances between beautiful young men. Psychologists argue that these stories, which are written by women for female audiences, allow young women to escape the strictures of Japanese society and enjoy non-threatening romantic fantasies. [ read more ]

Unlike previous favorites Junjou Romantica and The World's Greatest Lovers where I got frustrated with so many of the scenes - the tendency to overdo the fighting and the confusing emotional reactions (going back and forth) between the main characters, Classmate is refreshing, funny and romantic all at the same time.

I know that sad, tragic endings are made for the sake of a lot of things, but it's nice to watch something from the genre that is - more often than not - end with tears and tragic consequences, take a different, pleasant route!

 

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