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January 13, 2002 -- Anime - minus the graphic sex and violence its known for in its native Japan - is suddenly Hollywood's favorite genre.
A new generation of blockbuster anime imports has captured the imagination of American studios, prompting speculation that what has worked so well in Tokyo might finally metamorphose into Hollywood gold.
Despite financial flops like "Princess Mononoke," optimism for anime is sky high. Two new films, "Metropolis" and "Spirited Away," are already sparking great expectations.
Disney and DreamWorks, in fact, have locked horns over the rights to "Spirited Away," Japan's all-time No. 1 box-office champ.
The film, with a modest budget of $19.2 million, steamrolled even "Titanic" at the Japanese box office, earning $205 million. Some industry insiders have speculated that the film could do another $250 million in the States.
Created by Japan's beloved animator Hayao Miyazaki, best known for "Princess Mononoke" and "My Neighbor Totoro," the movie tells the story of a 10-year-old girl who tries to save her parents after they are transformed into pigs.
DreamWorks and Disney are negotiating with Miyazaki's production company, Studio Ghibli, for distribution rights to the picture.
But there's no guarantee "Spirited Away" will fare well in the United States. "Princess Mononoke," Miyazaki's other hit movie, grossed $150 million in Japan but earned less than $3 million in the United States, after Disney spent close to $2.1 million to hire A-list stars to dub the movie.
"I don't think Disney really knew what they were buying until it was too late," said Jonathan Clements, co-author of "The Anime Encyclopedia: A Guide to Japanese Animation Since 1917."
"Mononoke," he added, was never going to fit into the traditional American idea of what a cartoon ought to be because it's a two-hour epic unsuitable for children.
"Spirited Away" stands a better chance because it can appeal to a wider audience, said John O'Donnell, member of the business advisory board at the Big Apple Anime Fest.
"It's a very clean-cut fantasy story that has a happy ending, which Americans like."
Traditional anime is known for its graphic content - both sexually and in terms of violence. The Japanese have even coined the term "erotic grotesque" for the sex-horror genre of anime.
But explicit anime has found its way into American pop culture too. The work of boundary-challenging animator Toshio Maeda popped up in Madonna's "Drowned World Tour" last year.
But the anime coming Stateside is much more mainstream, such as the PG-13-rated "Metropolis," which opens Jan. 25.
"It has beauty, power, mystery and, above all, heart," said "Titanic" director James Cameron, a fan of the film, which was a hit in its native Japan.
"Metropolis," which was selected to open last year's Big Apple Anime Fest, centers on a futuristic world ruled by the power-hunger Duke Red, who is thwarted by his own creation - a female android - and a detective called Shunsaku Ban.
The movie, which is based on a 50-year-old comic, is the product of a collaboration among three of Japan's biggest names in anime: "Astroboy" author Osamu Tezuka, "X" director Rintaro and screenwriter Katsuhiro Otomo ("Akira").
"Director Rintaro had a very clear artistic point of view - in the source of material in bringing it to the screen and in the interest of making it a work of art, and hopefully it will find its audience," said O'Donnell.
Last edited by Joe Tully; 01-18-2002 at 01:33 AM.
Don't ya love wide generalizations like this?minus the graphic sex and violence its known for in its native Japan
Anyone but Disney if you ask me. I'm still waiting for Nausicaa to be released on DVD, let alone it actually being released in any non-Warrior of the Wind hack job version in this country. I suppose being an 18 year old anime thats one of the most famous and critically acclaimed around doesn't mean squat when you treat the stuff as bad as Disney did. Yep, those voice decisions really were smart. "We can't get people to watch the film because its made by the most famous anime guy ever, so we better spend millions getting big stars to dub it. Yep, we'll actually act surprised when the film makes squat cause of all the $$ we threw away in pre-production."
Bandai, Pioneer, ADV, even the loathed Manga. ANYONE but Disney
The Lone Gunmen. Harsh Realm. John Doe. Firefly. Boston Public. Wonderfalls. And now MadTV. FOX must DIE!!!!!!
Give it to Dreamworks. They'd be able to pull off the marketing with ease - look at Shrek. Granted the movies are completely different, but I'd trust this movie more in Dreamwork's hans than in Disney's.
Dreamworks should get it. They'd treat it right.
Oh, and by the way, did anyone notice how the first sentence of the article talked about how anime is known for its "graphic sex & violence"? Thanks a lot, NY Post. I'd start a rant here about how almost the entire US thinks anime is just cartoon porno, but I'm too tired for it right now.
Stupid, intolerant, generalizing hiretsukan!
Actually, I'm not sure either company can do it right without goofing up, but at this point, Dreamworks would be the better experiment, because Disney is just sitting on the rest of the Ghibli stuff and there's no reason to believe they won't do it again.
And by the way, NY POST--in Japan, anime is known as "kiddie stuff" and in fact, mostly IS kiddie cartoons. A lot of people seem to think it's some glorious land where everyone accepts "mature" animation, but the typical Japanese citizen will tell you that they usually watch prime-time soapy dramas and hate anime.
Anime....and Disney... Armageddon day....
"But I, being poor, have only my dreams. I have spread my dreams under your feet; tread softly, because you tread on my dreams." - William Butler Yeats
"You can't find the world's perspective in reflection, but you can find yourself."
"We came, we saw, we conquered, we... woke up!"
*starts banging head against desk*Anime - minus the graphic sex and violence its known for in its native Japan...
*stops banging head* Ya know, I would have loved to have seen Mononoke in a theater, IF ONLY IT WASN'T PLAYING IN A THEATER THAT I'D HAVE TO DRIVE ACROSS TWO AND A HALF STATES TO GET TO!! I have this suspicion that it would have made a lot more money if it had been giving a wide release so that people could actually go and see the movie. The entire population of anime fans in the United States are not all located in LA and NYC.
That's interesting, seeing as Disney has YET to release the other Miyazaki works they have the rights to... Nausicaa, Whisper of the Heart, etc. I thought they were reluctant to grab that movie since Mononoke flopped, due to their own lack of advertising.
Between the two, my support goes to Dreamworks.
Anime is nothing but porn and violence? Nrrrrgh! *takes deep breath and tries to calm down*
Dreamworks all the way...
Disney wouldn't give it the release it deserves and if it did well it would try to produce a substandard sequel.
Either way with Disney - you lose
Fortunately, I lived semi-close to the one theater in the ENTIRE STATE OF MICHIGAN that was playing "Princess Mononoke".originally posted by Mr.Obsession
Ya know, I would have loved to have seen Mononoke in a theater, IF ONLY IT WASN'T PLAYING IN A THEATER THAT I'D HAVE TO DRIVE ACROSS TWO AND A HALF STATES TO GET TO!! I have this suspicion that it would have made a lot more money if it had been giving a wide release so that people could actually go and see the movie. The entire population of anime fans in the United States are not all located in LA and NYC.
UNfortunately, I still never got to see it until I rented it at Blockbuster.
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