November 22, 2016 1:40 am JST

Japanese animated sensation set to conquer China

MARIKO TAI, Nikkei staff writer

The Japanese animated box office smash "Your Name" will go on general release across China on Dec. 2.

BEIJING -- "Your Name," an animated film directed by Japan's Makoto Shinkai that has seen top box office sales around Asia, premiered in China on Monday, and is bound for 7,000 screens across the country.

"I have been waiting for this day to come for the past half year," said Dai Zhengyang, a 20-year-old university student studying cinema in Beijing. "This is the best among his films." 

The blockbuster is a love story between a boy and a girl of school age who mysteriously swap bodies trying to find each other. Known as "Kimi no Na wa" in Japan, the film topped box office sales for nine straight weeks following its release in late August. Ticket sales there reached 18 billion yen ($162 million) by Oct. 13, putting it on course to become Japan's fifth-biggest hit of all time.

The film became a hit in Taiwan in late October, surpassing the 1998 horror movie "Ring" to become the highest-grossing Japanese film there ever, according to Toho, the film's distributor. In November, it was released in Thailand and Hong Kong, and enjoyed strong sales over the first weekend.

"I sincerely hope fans across the world will enjoy the film," Shinkai said at the premier in Beijing. "I have devoted all my heart and energy to this for the past two years." 

Yukihiro Kashiwaguchi, chief executive of Access Bright, the film's China distributor, is confident the film will be a blockbuster. "It is exceptional that a Japanese film gets released in China within two months -- it usually takes at least half a year," he said. "This shows strong anticipation among Chinese fans."

The film will be officially released nationwide in China on Dec. 2, according to Kashiwaguchi, and is in the running for an Oscar nomination. It is due for distribution in 89 countries and regions, including elsewhere in Asia, the U.K. and the U.S.

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