Acclaimed animation director Hayao Miyazaki may enjoy immense popularity all over the world because of films like My Neighbour Totoro and Spirited Away, but this week, he is taking a beating from a lot of Japanese netizens, mostly of the nationalist persuasion. And it’s not because they think his new movie, Kaze Tachinu (“The Wind Rises”) is that bad (most of them probably have not seen it at all). It’s all because of his political stance that came out in his studio’s Neppu magazine last week.
In an article published in the monthly magazine by his animation company Studio Ghibli, Miyazaki called plans to amend the Constitution “outrageous” and had some strong comments about current hotbed issues like comfort women, territorial disputes with China and South Korea and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s position regarding Japan’s wartime behavior. This did not sit well with some nationalists, who have gone online to attack the director, calling him an “old coot”, “dim-witted” and “anti-Japanese”. That last insult is a bit ironic since his latest movie, his first since 2008’s Ponyo, is a fictionalized biography of Jiro Horikoshi, the inventor of the Mistubishi Zero fighter plane that was heavily used by the Japanese Imperial Army in World War II.
If there’s anyone who should be protesting, it should be the children who are used to seeing Miyazaki movies that are all about spirits, magic and fantastical creatures. This newest one, even though early reviews have called it “great”, is mostly aimed at the adult audience and children found it too “dull” for their tastes. However, it seems like the negative publicity from the netizens have not affected ticket sales for the movie. It was number one at the box office this weekend and is set to be the most successful film of 2013 so far. This has prompted some of his critics to also question the timing of his article, although Studio Ghibli‘s PR department has said they released the magazine before the Upper House elections last Sunday to help people decide who to vote for. In any case, more than two thousand comments (most of which are a direct attack on Miyazaki) on the Yahoo! Japan page may do more good than harm to his film, based on the box office receipts so far.
[ via Foreign Policy ]