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Home > Media Reiews > News Review Last Updated: 14:53 03/09/2007
News Review #115: March 25, 2003

Spirited Away Captures Oscar

Reviewed By Hitoshi URABE

"Spirited Away Captures Oscar"
by Anime News Network


Japan Broadcasting Corporation is Japan's public broadcaster run by mandatory contributions of those who own radio or television set, which is virtually everyone. Despite the sometimes stubborn stance in production of its programs, it is still acknowledged by many to be most authoritative.

Most of news programs on Monday by NHK carried Iraq issue, naturally, as the top story, but at times, the leading story it presented was a report that "Spirited Away", an anime movie by Japan's Hayao Miyazaki, won an Oscar at Kodak Theater in Hollywood.

The film was originally released in Japan more than year and a half ago. It immediately won popularity, and eventually became the film to record the largest sales in Japan. Actually, the good sales performance was well anticipated, as Miyazaki was already well known and admired by people. Upon receiving interviews on the success of the film at the time, Hayakawa would often reply that the film was based strictly on Japanese culture and that it was not expected to be received well by audiences abroad.

His perception was proved to be incorrect, when in February last year, it won the Golden Bear Award, the top prize, at 52nd Berlin Film Festival. Even then Miyazaki was somewhat skeptical as to if the people in Europe had really been able to appreciate the film which is filled with the texture of Japan's myths and cultures.

For many Japanese as well, it was a surprise to see the film go so far as to win an Oscar. Not necessarily because of the quality of the movie, as it had already been established to be superb by Japanese critics and public alike, but what was amusing to the people was the fact similar to that amazed Miyazaki, that the very Japanese setup was accepted by other cultures.

It might be interesting to note that on BBC the Oscar was reported with the headline, "Two Towers wins special effects Oscar" where, contrary to the cheerful header, the article is to lament the fact that the movie " Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers" did not the win the Best Picture award to which it was nominated. Oscar, with all the criticism it has received, is still a prestigious award to win for any moviemaker in the world. Although Miyazaki stayed home during the event, and did not even hold a press conference, it is still a good news for many Japanese, especially when surrounded by all the gloomy news.

In Tokyo Stock Market the share price of Toho Co., the original distributor of the film, increased by 4.0 % after the Oscar report. In fact, the whole Tokyo market on Monday recorded an astonishing gain, Nikkei average was up 240.02 to close at 8,435.07 yen. May be it is not that the whole market was dazzled by the "Spirited Away" effect, and many expect it to tumble if the Iraqi incident drags on.

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