Opinion / Cai Hong

Popular culture can be employed to help forge friendly ties

By Cai Hong (China Daily) Updated: 2016-12-05 07:45

Popular culture can be employed to help forge friendly ties

Chinese tourists visit Tokyo's Ginza district for shopping in August. Japan is the second-most popular overseas destination. [Photo provided to China Daily]

It came as no surprise that Your Name, the latest film by Japanese anime director Makoto Shinkai, which started its theatrical run in China on Friday, has been such a hit with Chinese audiences.

The time-traveling love story was a smash hit in Japan, grossing some 19.7 billion yen ($174 million) at the box office since it opened in August.

The film has made Shinkai a phenomenon following the 2013 retirement of Academy Award-winning director Hayao Miyazaki, the genius behind many anime films including My Neighbor Totoro, Spirited Away, Howl's Moving Castle, and Ponyo. Miyazaki has hinted about a return to feature filming and people have said teasingly that the success of Your Name might motivate him to return to filmmaking.

Your Name is a tale of two high school students, living different lives in different places, who periodically inhabit each other's bodies and lives. The film mixes tradition and modernity in a way that feels quintessentially Japanese.

Tense yet funny, unorthodox yet heartfelt, Your Name is a film of dreams and romance. And the colors, the details, the lighting and the animation are all top tier.

Japanese animated movies have won a generation of admirers in China, with many Chinese fans learning the Japanese language through anime.

But their affection for Japanese animations is not mirrored in the feelings for their neighbor of most Chinese .

A joint opinion poll in China and Japan released in September showed that, although down from 78.3 percent last year, 76.7 percent of Chinese still have an unfavorable impression of Japan.

On the other hand, Japan's tourism ministry expects 6 million Chinese tourists to visit the country this year. And Your Name may prompt more Chinese to visit Japan to see the iconic locations that inspired the settings in the film.

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