Latest Animated Feature from Hayao Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli Courts Controversy in Japan

Latest Animated Feature from Hayao Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli Courts Controversy in Japan

Jul 22, 2013

Kaze Tachinu Studio Ghibli

For anime fans, the release of any new film from beloved creator Hayao Miyazaki under the Studio Ghibli label is a big deal. However, the latest offering from the creative team is experiencing some unexpected controversy in the homeland.

Kaze Tachinu opened over the past weekend in Japan, and a few Internet commenters aren’t too pleased, according to translations provided by Kotaku. Some have already taken to calling it “anti-Japanese” and referring to Miyazaki as “dim-witted” and an “old coot”. So what caused this controversy?

On the surface, it appears as though Kaze Tachinu should have been another hit for 72-year-old creator. It tells a fictionalized tale of Jiro Horikoshi, the man who created the World War II fighter plane the Mitsubishi A6M Zero.

Apparently, things derailed when the film (or at least its creator) attempted to make a statement on “comfort women," a veritable battalion of women from Japan, Korea, China, the Philippines and other Asian countries forced into prostitution to service Japanese soldiers during the war. It would seem that this is still a touchy subject in Japan.

In a recent interview featured in the studio’s own publicity publication, Miyazaki offered up these thoughts on the subject:

“For the comfort-woman issue, because it’s a question of each nation's pride, a proper apology should be given and suitable reparations should be paid.”

Sounds sensible, right? It appears as though the issue stems from the fact that Japanese officials have already apologized for this and numerous other atrocities committed during WWII and have made restitution. Some – like Miyazaki, it would seem – don’t feel that it was sufficient. That tends to annoy the people who think this issue should be consigned to the annals of history.

While we have not seen Kaze Tachinu (which makes it impossible to have an opinion on the argument here), it’s interesting to watch the conservative faction of Japanese society have a go at one of their most respected creators. Kind of reminds me of America. One has to wonder if this controversy will ultimately hurt or help Kaze Tachinu. I suspect it will be the latter. 

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