Toshio Suzuki’s “The Red Turtle” receives standing ovation at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival

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RocketNews 24 (by Meg Murphy):

The Red Turtle may have no dialogue, but if that hasn’t stopped viewers from saying wonderful things about it.

Produced by Toshio Suzuki, a long-time colleague of famous Ghibli director Hayao Miyazaki, and directed by London-based Dutch animator Michaël Dudok de Wit, the film The Red Turtle (in French La Tortue Rouge and in Japanese Reddo Taatoru: Aru Shima no Monogatari) premiered at the 69th Cannes Film Festival on May 18, to much excitement from the crowd. Reports state that the excitement could be felt from viewers as soon as Studio Ghibli’s well-known Totoro logo appeared on the screen, and that the film received a huge standing ovation at its end.

I’m so happy,” said Suzuki, “Of course, I would be quite sad if there was no one left at the end of the film (laughs).”

Director Dudok de Wit commented, “There were about a thousand people in this huge theatre, and they were all so focused on the film. I don’t think I’ve felt anything so amazing before.”

The film has no dialogue, and is Studio Ghibli’s first European co-production, with German film distributor Wild Bunch. It “follows the major life stages of a castaway on a deserted tropical island populated by turtles, crabs and birds,” according to IMDb.

If you haven’t already caught it, here’s the official trailer for the film:

 

Hayao Miyazaki/Studio Ghibli’s 1991 masterpiece ‘Only Yesterday’ finally set for North America release

From the talent that brought you Spirited Away, Princess Mononoke and Howl’s Moving Castle comes the archived masterpiece Only Yesterday. Originally released in Japan in 1991 under the title Omoide Poro Poro or translated as Memories Trickle Down, the story follows that of 27-year old Taeko as her travels to the countryside are interlaced with memories of booming metropolitan Tokyo.

Daisy Ridley (Rey of Star Wars: The Force Awakens) and Dev Patel (Chappie and Slumdog Millionaire) voice the main characters in the Isao Takahata-directed animation with Hayao Miyazaki as general producer.

Only Yesterday hits the IFC Center theater on January 1 and select theaters nationwide on February 26.

Lone Wolf and Cub creator Kazuo Koike says being an otaku for life is his key to happiness in old age

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RocketNews 24:

Although he’s one of the most respected figures of all time in the manga industry, Kazuo Koike isn’t typically associated with the otaku subculture. When his most popular creation, Lone Wolf and Cub, was translated into English it attracted as many international fans from among Western comic readers as from those who favored Japanese manga, and in general his works have a gritty, somber tone to them, unlike the brightly colored daydreams and self-insert power fantasies that are often associated with otaku-pandering fare.

There’s also the fact that Koike was born in 1936, and being old enough and of the corresponding gender to fill two-thirds of a “grumpy old man” bingo card, you might expect him to have harsh words for Japan’s legions of hobby-obsessed individuals, like those that often sputter forth from Studio Ghibli founder Hayao Miyazaki.

But it turns out that not only is Koike accepting of the otaku life, but he thinks that being an otaku from the cradle to the grave makes for a beautiful life.

In another twist, it turns out Koike is quite the social media master, with a massive Twitter following of over 140,000 fans. Recently he shared his thoughts on the otaku condition, and whether or not it’s something that people ever really grow out of.

“I’m 80 years old, so I’m just going to come out and tell you guys. People who are born as otaku are otaku for life. You can’t quit it! Natural Born OTAKU!!!” (Kazuo Koike)

“I’m always saying ‘I am the greatest otaku,’ but when you take a look around,senior citizens who are enjoying their lives are generally some sort of otaku. Truly, being an otaku until the end of your days is a wonderful thing. Live as an otaku, die as an otaku. It’s the greatest.” (Kazuo Koike)

Legendary Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki (“Spirited Away”) is opening a nature sanctuary for children on a remote Japanese island

The 74-year-old film maker is perhaps best known for Spirited Away, which won an Oscar in 2001

The Independent (UK):

Legendary Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki has revealed his plans to build a nature sanctuary for children on a remote Japanese island.

The 74-year-old filmmaker is expected to spend 300 million yen, or $2.5 million, of his personal finances on the project. It is due to be completed in 2018 on Kume IslandKyodo News reports that the facility will seek to encourage children to appreciate the natural world and develop a closer bond with nature.

Mr Miyazaki’s films often explore themes of childhood, imagination and nature.

He has previously spoken of his concerns that children’s lives are becoming increasingly exposed to consumerism and. He has said that: “Utopia exists only in one’s childhood life.”

The director is perhaps best known for his Oscar winning film Spirited Away which was released in 2001. It was the first ever anime film to win an Oscar and broke box office records in Japan. He announced in 2013 that he was retiring from his cinematic career to focus on other projects.

The Hollywood Reporter: Is Japanese anime finally making money abroad?

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The Hollywood Reporter (by Gavin J. Blair):

Japanese anime has attracted a cult following around the globe for decades, but has long struggled to parlay that dedicated fandom into revenue.

Complex rights holder arrangements in Japan, slow international releases and pirated versions with fan-created subtitles have all contributed to restrict the financial rewards for both anime TV series and movies in the global marketplace.

However, the latest Doraemon movie brought in nearly $100 million outside Japan, while Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection ‘F’ is nudging $50 million in the middle of a 74-country release.

Meanwhile, TV anime series are getting faster international distribution, including day-and-date releases on some platforms. With a shrinking home market, the pressure is on to better leverage the global fan-base that has helped make anime one of Japan’s most recognizable cultural symbols.  

The most successful Japanese anime film to date is Hayao Miyazaki‘s 2003 Academy Award-winning Spirited Away, which scored around 85 percent of its $275 million global tally in its home market. To put that in perspective, Stand by Me Doraemon took nearly double Spirited Away‘s overseas total over the course of 11 days in release in China alone.

Nevertheless, Toho, which handled its domestic release and international sales, thinks it’s too early to say that the overseas box-office conundrum for anime has been cracked.

I think it’s the strength of the film itself. And the Doraemon brand is very strong, especially in Asia,” Takemasa Arita of Toho’s international business department tells The Hollywood Reporter. “It’s not like any animation from Japan is going to automatically succeed overseas now.”

Stand by Me Doraemon was no slouch at home, clocking up $70 million last year before landing $3.2 million in Italy, $3 million in Indonesia, $2.7 million in South Korea and $1.2 million in Thailand. It was the $5 million-plus, record-breaking take in the small Hong Kong market though that was a harbinger of its performance on the mainland.

Released on May 28 – due to political tensions, the first Japanese film in Chinese theaters in nearly three years – the cat-type robot racked up $86.9 million in less than two weeks. Although the rise of China as a box-office giant is a game changer across the global film industry, anime is getting paid elsewhere, too.  

Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection ‘F’ is the 19th installment in the franchise and not the first to get a wide release internationally. 2013’s Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Gods did approximately 40 percent of its $50 million global box office outside Japan, and Resurrection ‘F’ is on course to surpass that. Co-produced with Fox International, the anime feature’s world premiere was held in Los Angeles in April. Still performing well in South and Latin American markets, it has U.S. and China releases to come.  

Toei Animation, the company behind Dragon Ball, is one of five studios, along with two ad agencies, that launched the Daisuki online anime platform in 2013, aimed at overseas fans of TV anime. At the end of last year, the private-public Cool Japan Fund invested around $8 million in the venture, forming the Japan Anime Consortium, to boost its worldwide presence.  

Many Japanese anime content holders are small companies, and it’s difficult for them to breach the global market, with all the costs of localizing productions,” a Cool Japan Fund spokesperson told The Hollywood Reporter. “Piracy has also been a major problem, and the plan is to release some anime series simultaneously with their broadcast on Japanese TV.”

In addition to pay-per-view offerings and original content, the Daisuki platform also sells anime merchandising, though it doesn’t disclose its viewing figures.

Japan’s population fell by more than 260,000 last year and is rapidly aging. Under-25s, the key demographic for anime fans, now make up only around 20 percent of the population, and their numbers are set to continue falling.

Amid those trends, the industry will have to learn to tap more of the global market if it is to survive in anything close to its present form.   

Studio Ghibli’s Hayao Miyazaki hard at work on first ever CG short

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RocketNews 24:

Hayao Miyazaki, the world-famous (supposedly retired) director and face of Studio Ghibli, is currently working on his first ever fully computer-generated movie, it has been revealed.

Studio Ghibli producer Toshio Suzuki announced earlier today that retired director Hayao Miyazaki is hard at work on a brand new short animation for the studio. What may come as a surprise to many of the veteran director’s fans, however, is that this time round the production will be entirely computer generated.

The short film, which is to be screened only at the Studio Ghibli Museum located in Tokyo’s Mitaka City, is expected to have a run-time of just 10 minutes, but in true Miyazaki style will take approximately three years to create.

It is apparently based on an idea for a feature-length film which Miyazaki had back in 1997, prior to the release of Princess Mononoke.

Little else is known about the production at this time, but Suzuki mentioned during his announcement of the project that, far from being intimidated by the new digital medium, Mr Miyazaki was positively “fired up for the challenge”.

5 unique cafés to visit in Asia

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Audrey Magazine (by Alyssa Park):

Cafés are popping up all over America, and they are quickly becoming part of a global culture as well. For instance, all across Asia you can find amazing cafés with different types of aesthetics such as rustic, modern, traditional and even themed. If you are traveling through Asia, then these five destinations are a must.

1. Hoho Myoll Café : (Seoul, South Korea)

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Korea is known to have some of the most beautiful cafés in the world. With a bit of a rustic aesthetic, Hoho Myoll Café is an enchanting little café tucked away in the heart of Seoul.

2. Wangye Teahouse : (Zigong, China)

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Inside of what was once a 100-year-old temple lies a very famous Sichuan Teahouse in Zigong, China. Next to the Fuxi River, visitors not only enjoy a traditional cup of tea, they can also become engrossed in a rich cultural history.

3. Shirohige’s Creampuff Shop: (Tokyo, Japan)

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Shirohige’s Creampuff Shop is one of many of Japan’s themed cafés. Not only are the creampuffs Totoro-shaped, the café itself is extremely sophisticated while maintaining a youthful charm.

4.Up Café: (Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam)

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Up Café is a mandatory destination in Saigon mostly for it’s novelty. With all of the furniture and windows hanging upside down from the ceilings, you can’t help but feel like you are in another dimension.

5. Audrey Café & Bistro: ( Bangkok, Thailand)

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Audrey Café & Bistro is one of the most popular destinations in Bangkok, Thailand because of its beauty. With decor that only reflects elegance and class, your experience here will be nothing short of luxurious.

Hayao Miyazaki joins politicians and CEOs donating millions to protest U.S. military in Okinawa

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RocketNews 24:

As you may know, Hayao Miyazaki is one of the most outspoken proponents of anti-war policy in Japan. As you may also know, Okinawa is home to a plethora of American military bases, and has been a hotbed of controversy for decades.

However, what you may not know is that Miyazaki and Okinawa have finally officially teamed up to protest the American military presence. The director announced on May 7 that he will officially join the Henoko Fund,” a group of politicians and CEOs who are putting their money where their mouths are and donating hundreds of millions of yen to prevent the relocation of the Futenma Air Base.

If you’re new to the topic of American military bases in Okinawa, here’s the super quick rundown: Okinawa used to be known as the Ryukyu Kingdom, which existed as its own entity for hundreds of years. It was subsequently invaded by mainland Japan in 1609, begrudgingly annexed as part of Japan in 1872, and then completely devastated during World War II when it became a battlefield between Japanese and U.S. soldiers, resulting in one-third of the entire civilian population being killed.

The U.S. occupied Okinawa following the end of the war, leaving its influence all over the island. People drove on the right side of the road (instead of the left as in mainland Japan), dollars were used as the official currency, and military bases were set up all over as well. When Okinawa was returned to Japanese rule in 1972, the roads and money went back to normal, but the bases stayed behind. After hundreds of thousands of lives lost and generations of war, you can imagine that the Okinawan people were getting very tired of the whole military thing.

And that sentiment has continued up to today. Despite the fact that Okinawa makes up less than 1% of Japan, it is home to over 75% of all U.S. military bases in Japan. This makes the Okinawa people feel like they’re getting the brunt of U.S. bases dumped on them while the rest of Japan dodges the responsibility.

▼ That’s a lot of military presence on an island merely 65 miles (105 kilometers) long and five miles (eight kilometers) wide.

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Though general protests against the U.S. bases are held often, one of the most controversial topics is the relocation of Marine Corps Air Station Futenma. It is currently located in Ginowan City, but it was proposed to be moved to the coast of Henoko in northern Okinawa, away from the residential area. While the intentions behind the proposal may be sound, the Henoko coast is home to coral reef and critically endangered dugong. Many feel building a military base there would be a further insult to Okinawa, symbolically crushing beautiful parts of the island with more military installations.

And that brings us to the recently established Henoko Fund. Okinawan politicians, CEOs, organizations and individuals have teamed up to sponsor ads and demonstrations against the relocation of the airbase, marking the first time that the private sector has officially become involved in the protests, so far raising over 100 million yen (US$834,064).

Up until now there have been seven other high-profile joint representatives sponsoring the Henoko Fund, but Miyazaki is by far the most well-known. Considering the anti-war messages in his films and the fact that he was quoted last year as saying“demilitarization in Okinawa is essential for peace in East Asia,” his ideals fit in perfectly with the rest of the group.

Other members of the Henoko Fund have said they’re very happy to have Miyazaki as a joint representative, and they hope that having him will help broaden their group’s appeal and further their cause, both inside and outside of Okinawa.

Hayao Miyazaki on Charlie Hebdo attacks: Drawings of Muhammad were “a mistake”

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RocketNews 24:

Famed anime director Hayao Miyazaki may have retired from making feature films, but it’s not because he’s run out of clearly defined ideas or things to say. In a recent interview, the animation icon was asked for his thoughts about the recent terrorist attack on the offices of French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, and gave, in no uncertain terms, his opinion about the decision to publish the content cited as the trigger for the incident.

Earlier this week, the 74-year-old Miyazaki sat down for an interview with TBS Radio. While discussing a host of other topics, the conversation turned to the tragic events of January 7, when two terrorists stormed the Charlie Hebdo office in Paris, killing 12 and injuring 11 during the assault.

Miyazaki is both an outspoken pacifist and a determined creator who’s not afraid to buck the system or ruffle a few feathers in bringing his vision to the screen. That combination of personality traits does not, however, mean that he agrees with the sort of no-holds barred artistic expression that has served as the underlying principle of the French magazine’s content decisions.

The January 7 attack is being considered an act of retaliation for Charlie Hebdo’sdepictions of Muhammad, a practice frowned upon by many of the Islamic faith, militant fundamentalists in particular. So how does Miyazaki feel about the drawings in question?

In his own words:

“I think it’s a mistake to caricaturize the figures venerated by another culture. You shouldn’t do it.”

Unlike some of his films, which end on an indecisive note or try to simultaneously hold onto two contrasting viewpoints, Miyazaki makes no attempt to soften his sentiment. That’s not to say he feels you have to treat your own culture with kid gloves, though. Following his condemnation of Charlie Hebdo’s illustrations, he continued on to assert, “Instead of doing something like that, you should make more caricatures of you own country’s politicians.”