New film by "Spirited Away" director wows Japan

Thu Aug 21, 2008 3:00pm EDT
Email This Article |
Share This Article
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
| Print This Article | Single Page
[-] Text [+]

By Naoto Okamura

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japanese director Hayao Miyazaki of Oscar-winning animated film "Spirited Away" has captured the hearts of Japanese moviegoers again, this time with a tale of a mermaid which will soon be seen around the world.

"Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea," about the friendship between a five-year-old boy and a mermaid girl who wishes to live in his world, has become one of the most popular Japanese movies in its home market in its first month of release.

Box office sales have surpassed 10 billion yen ($91 million), and the film's theme tune features as a ringtone on thousands of Japanese mobile phones.

The film is also set to be shown at the Venice Film Festival, which starts next week, and then it will be distributed in the United States, said a spokesman for Japanese distributor, Toho Co Ltd, although details have not been set.

"It was full of dreams and heart-warming. I think many people are seeking something like this," said 39-year-old Miyuki Ueda, who watched the film with her sons.

"Ponyo was really cute," said Yuta, her 14-year-old son.

Miyazaki has released a string of hit animation films that have helped revive the Japanese movie industry, directing three of the top five selling movies in Japan in the past seven years, industry figures from the Motion Picture Producers Association of Japan show.

As well as 2001's "Spirited Away," about a little girl who wanders into a spirit world and which won an Academy Award for best animated film in 2003, Miyazaki has wooed Japanese filmgoers with 2004's "Howl's Moving Castle," about a boy wizard who fights for justice in a magical world.   Continued...

<p>Japanese director Hayao Miyazaki attends a photocall in Venice September 9, 2005. REUTERS/Alessia Pierdomenico</p>