Hayao Miyazaki’s Spirited Away Opens in China 18 Years After Its Original Release: See Beautiful New Posters for the Film

Ani­ma­tion fans all over the world love the films of Japan­ese ani­ma­tor Hayao Miyaza­ki, but ani­ma­tion fans in Chi­na have nev­er, until very recent­ly, been able to see them on the big screen. Part of the prob­lem has to do with the sen­si­tiv­i­ty of Chi­nese author­i­ties to what sort of media enters the coun­try — espe­cial­ly media from a coun­try like Japan, with which Chi­na has not always seen eye to eye. “Miyaza­ki films did not open the­atri­cal­ly in Chi­na until a re-release of My Neigh­bor Totoro in Decem­ber 2018,” writes Indiewire’s Zack Scharf, “one sign that the rela­tion­ship between Japan and Chi­na is get­ting less tense.”

Miyaza­k­i’s Stu­dio Ghi­b­li has pro­duced few char­ac­ters as win­ning as Totoro — the out­sized guardian of the for­est who resem­bles a cross between a cat, an owl, and maybe a bear — and his win­ning over of Chi­na’s cen­sors seemed to have opened the gates to the Mid­dle King­dom for the rest of Miyaza­k­i’s beloved fil­mog­ra­phy. “The Totoro release was a huge box office suc­cess with more than $26 mil­lion,” writes Scharf, “and Spir­it­ed Away is wide­ly expect­ed to per­form even bet­ter giv­en its endur­ing pop­u­lar­i­ty.” Hav­ing opened in Japan back in 2001 as 千と千尋の神隠し, or “The Spir­it­ing-Away of Sen and Chi­hi­ro,” it stands not only as the top-gross­ing film of all time at the Japan­ese box office, but one of the sev­er­al undis­put­ed mas­ter­pieces among Miyaza­k­i’s works.

Spir­it­ed Away tells the sto­ry of a ten-year-old girl who, lost in an aban­doned amuse­ment park, finds her way into a par­al­lel world pop­u­lat­ed with the count­less spir­it crea­tures enu­mer­at­ed in the Japan­ese folk reli­gion of shin­to — which, as revealed in Wise­crack­’s video essay “The Phi­los­o­phy of Hayao Miyaza­ki,” fig­ures heav­i­ly into some, and per­haps all of the mas­ter’s work. As dis­pleas­ing as the pres­ence of reli­gion, let alone a Japan­ese reli­gion, may long have been to Chi­nese high­er-ups, the Chi­nese pub­lic’s enthu­si­asm for Miyaza­k­i’s films can hard­ly be dis­put­ed.

That pow­er­ful force could even return to Spir­it­ed Away the title of most suc­cess­ful Japan­ese ani­mat­ed film ever, which it held until Mako­to Shinkai’s Your Name came along in 2017. The mar­ket­ing of Spir­it­ed Away’s eigh­teen-year-late Chi­nese the­atri­cal release, which includes this series of posters new­ly designed by artist Zao Dao, will cer­tain­ly help give it a push. Every Ghi­b­li enthu­si­ast in Chi­na will cer­tain­ly come out for it, and with luck, they may also be able to see the upcom­ing How Do You Live? — Miyaza­k­i’s next and per­haps final film, for whose pro­duc­tion he came out of the lat­est of his retire­ments — in the­aters along with the rest of the world.

via @MadmanFilms

Relat­ed Con­tent:

The Phi­los­o­phy of Hayao Miyaza­ki: A Video Essay on How the Tra­di­tion­al Japan­ese Reli­gion Shin­to Suf­fus­es Miyazaki’s Films

Watch Hayao Miyazaki’s Beloved Char­ac­ters Enter the Real World

How the Films of Hayao Miyaza­ki Work Their Ani­mat­ed Mag­ic, Explained in 4 Video Essays

Watch Hayao Miyaza­ki Ani­mate the Final Shot of His Final Fea­ture Film, The Wind Ris­es

Hayao Miyazaki’s Mas­ter­pieces Spir­it­ed Away and Princess Mononoke Imag­ined as 8‑Bit Video Games

The Simp­sons Pay Won­der­ful Trib­ute to the Ani­me of Hayao Miyaza­ki

Based in Seoul, Col­in Mar­shall writes and broad­casts on cities, lan­guage, and cul­ture. His projects include the book The State­less City: a Walk through 21st-Cen­tu­ry Los Ange­les and the video series The City in Cin­e­ma. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall, on Face­book, or on Insta­gram.


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