Animators affirm Hayao Miyazaki's artistry
BUSAN, South Korea - As Oscar-winning animator Hayao Miyazaki heads into retirement, industry watchers say the next generation of Asian filmmakers stepping out of his shadow will struggle to match the Japanese master's artistry, alongside his box-office domination.
"The view here is that there will be no 'second Miyazaki,'" Tokyo-based author and film critic Mark Schilling told AFP.
He noted further that the market for Asian animation is dominated by children's films - not the more adult-themed productions Miyazaki became famous for, such as his 2002 Oscar-winning film "Spirited Away."
Here's the trailer of 'Spirited Away' from TheCineLady's YouTube:
The 72-year-old director shocked the industry - and his legions of fans - when he announced in September he was walking away from directing. He had made similar announcements in the past, as Miyazaki himself noted, but this time, there was a sense of certainty among his following.
The decision was made even as Miyazaki's latest production "The Wind Rises" - a look at the life of the man who invented Japan's Mitsubishi Zero fighter airplane - still dominates the box office in Japan, collecting an estimated $115 million since its July release.
"The Wind Rises" is a signature elegant animation by Miyazaki, complementing but also contrasting with its flashier counterparts in anime.
The film's success follows impressive global totals from "Spirited Away" ($274.9 million), 2004's "Howl's Moving Castle" ($235.2 million) and 2008's "Ponyo" ($201.8 million).
"The Wind Rises" is scheduled to hit screens in Europe and the United States in January 2014.
Schilling - who translated the Miyazaki-themed book "Princess Mononoke: The Art and Making of Japan's Most Popular Film of All Time" - said audience figures for many animators working in a similar hand-drawn style would inevitably fade.
"None of their films have scaled the Miyazaki-like box-office heights and it's hard to see how they can in the future," the critic said.
The small marketplace has not deterred 35-year-old Yeon Sang-Ho, whose second feature "The Fake" was a hit with critics at the recently concluded Busan International Film Festival.
"Animated films for adults are actually rare," Yeon said, on the sidelines of the festival. "So even when a film gets money invested in it, it's still difficult to get it released.
"Animators like me will just have to make people become more familiar with animation by making more films."
Despite being lauded by critics - and picking up 3 awards at Busan in 2011 - Yeon's debut "The King of Pigs" did not recoup its $150,000 budget from box-office takings.
Undeterred, Yeon has infused his latest production with a similar brand of savage and profane social comment as he explores the story of a man locked into battle with an unscrupulous church leader.
The director, while acknowledging that the market for more mature-themed animation in Asia was small, said the reaction to his first feature and the inspiration he drew from the likes of Miyazaki and the manga artist Minoru Furuya ("Himizu") had made him fiercely determined to continue developing his own style.
His films are noted for their ultra-realistic mix of computer-generated and hand-drawn images.
Here's a trailer of 'The Fake' from the Toronto film festival's YouTube:
Also capturing the attention of both critics and the audience in Busan was Han Yeo-Ul, whose "The Child Who Draws an Octopus" was the only piece of animation in the running for the festival's major prize for Korean short films.
"Animation allows me to capture the innocence of childhood," said the 23-year-old Korean filmmaker. "You can capture how the world looks through a child's eyes but still look at serious issues."
While Han acknowledged the market was small, she said it gave her freedom to communicate more directly with her audience. "You can express yourself more [in animation] than in other films. It is a very personal thing," she said. - Rappler.com