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Disney pens love letter to Japan with robot film

20 Comments
By YURI KAGEYAMA

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This will flop big time in Japan.

Japanese audiences watch Disney movies to escape from Japan.

They don't want to see some weird version of their own culture thrown back in their faces.

Bolt was boring as hell too.

-1 ( +5 / -6 )

Ok. Guess we should return the favor by watching the movie. Besides, it's not like there's anything better to watch.....it might be a nice break before full fledge assault with more Marvel, DC and the rest of comic remakes.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Coconut - strange as it may seem - Big Hero 6 is a REMAKE of a Marvel Comic. The original is set in a Japanesque mega-city with the same hero - Hiro as the animation.

I remember reading this comic about 12 years ago in an airport.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Goodness, I have had to endure this quasi-news three days in a row on state television... Love how Japan always have to put a nationalistic twist on everything and how insecure they come across: "whaoah, DISNEY was inspired by JAPAN. Because Japan is FANTASTIC and UNIQUE!!!"

Yawn.

-12 ( +1 / -13 )

Love how Japan always have to put a nationalistic twist on everything and how insecure they come across:

Hello? This is an article about what Disney executives said and did and their saying they were inspired by Japan. It has nothing to do with what you say you love about supposed 'Japanese nationalistic twists'. The Disney execs themselves have clearly stated the film is a love letter to Japanese culture. Why would you begrudge some Japanese people from being happy about this?

From the article:

Disney executives call their next film a love letter to Japanese culture.No wonder: This nation can’t get enough of animation, especially Disney’s.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

This isn't a love letter to Japan. The original comic book was, but Disney, fearful of alienating it's WASP majority in the USA, chose to transplant the setting from Tokyo to "Little Tokyo in America" and make the lead character American.

This will flop, big time, in Japan.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

@choiwaruoyaji

They don't want to see some weird version of their own culture thrown back in their faces.

You are right on this one , but frankly, who in the world wants to see their culture misused ? As 47 Ronin is prime example , they totally butchered historical story , and created mystical one , and of course, Keanu Reeves had to be main character , and of course, Japanese actors and Japan was only a stage for him , and another stupid thing , making the movie to be out in time of New Year, when people expect happy movies , it should have been in summer time , when people are for action movies . But on other hand , movies like " The Last Samurai" and "Letters from Ivo Jima " had huge success in Japan .

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Nice. :)

0 ( +1 / -1 )

@browny1--Thanks for the info. Learned something new!

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

This will flop big time in Japan.

I do not know if this movie will be a blockbuster or not but I do think that there will be a great deal of interest in it. Japanese people do care a lot about how they are perceived - as a nation - by other people. I haven't had much interest in Disney's most recent offerings. I am hopeful that this one will be at least be decent.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Coco - no probs!

Nenad - 47 ronin has a history of being a base story for a multitude of interpretations, often playing loosely with the historical account. In fact a whole industry has developed over the years - almost exclusiovely in Japan - so K Reeves movie was nothing out of the ordinary. Did Kurosawa butcher King Lear?

And I think many Japanese animation fans will enjoy the Big Hero. It appears to have elements pleasing to most, so I hope to seee it soon.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

@browny1

You compare "Ran" movie with "47 Ronin "? Ran is partially based on King Lear, that means on how the story develops, but the story is not hapening in Britain , but the story is placed in Japan, and there is no western names, people not places mentioned there , bdw read here all the diferences that exist between those two works< http://www.aems.illinois.edu/publications/lessonplans/chalk/chalk_5.html>.Bdw remember "The Magnificent Seven" ? Its a pure example how westerners used Akira Kurosava movie to make their own version, see, and you come and complain how Akira Kurosawa butchered King Lear, o really!!!

And now I need to explain the problem behind "47 Ronin " , its a story totally based in old Japan, with only Japan people, but the western director wanted to inject Keeny Reews in it , and not only that, but also he had to create the story to resolves all around him, while the name of the story is "47 Ronin" , the story should be spreaded all over them, simply to say, the movie is too much centered around one actor, and not around the story , and as the movie is centered around him, Japan people really didnt wanted to see glorification of Keanu Reeves .

For this movie, comparing Frozen and Big Hero 6 is stupid, because it has opposite audience , Frozen had god-bad sister story, and majority of audience was actually females of all ages ,, and most surprisingly, majority were grown up females , who liked the story a lot , while this Big Hero 6 , from what I see, his target audience is male kids , but even they will be probably repelled with that inflating robot , I mean, who wants robot who is so vulnerable ? And also, I have seen photos of that robot in Tokyo movie festival, and it looks more like Mishelin mascot, or that beast from Ghoust Busters , so, frankly, there is no way this movie will get close to the Frozen , not because of its use of Japan influence , but rather of focusing too much only on kids . And there is that feel of "parent dont understand kids " story, or better to say, creating story making the border between two world visible, and there is several scenes that going in my presumtion, in trailer, where he came in police station, office look at him as a kid who is imagining things, or when he came at his home, he is try to hide his robot from parents, it shows that he is afraid of his parents , so again that kids/ grown-ups barrier ,while in Japan , that border dont exist , there is no separation between kids and grown ups .

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Nenad - thank you for your comments.

Firstly - Nowhere did I complain Kurosawa butchered King Lear. I posed a question for comment - NOT a complaint.

And it was posed as a response to your suggestion about the butchering of 47 Ronin - which I suggested has a well worn history of flexible adaptations - some of them far from the truth. Please research. And are you privy to some secret data stating whether "Japanese" wanted to or didn't want to see K Reeves?

And before commenting on Big Hero I'll wait untiil I've seen it. I'm always wary of those who comments are critical of films even before viewing. Like all art forms, movies are subjective in nature and will appeal to some and not to others, but we really need to experience the work in order to truly comment.

And I agree, as millions of others do, "Frozen" & "BigHero" appear to be different films with different characters, different story lines, different empathies etc so I suspect they will not have the same appeal.

And I also can see numerous examples in daily life here that do agree do with you on your final comment - there is no seperation between kids and grown ups.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I hope this new movie will be a failure in Japan. This is not “a love letter to Japanese culture” , they only hope to get another great success like Frozen, of course. The movie isn't born because of their affection for Japanese culture. It's all about money, it's not art or a genuine homage at all.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Lately, Walt Disney Animation Studio alternates every other year between the tried-and-true Disney princesses one year and "other" type of movie another year.

Tangled --> Wreck-It Ralph --> Frozen --> Big Hero 6

0 ( +0 / -0 )

OK I watched the trailer and it seems really cool, and I've written movie debut date but, I personally think this is going to be a big flop in Japan for several reasons: first, it is certainly true that the Japanese do care "how they are perceived" by others almost to the point of obsession, but it's just like they, in real world, want to be flattered; it's not like they are pleased to see fictional pseudo-Japan being shown in a good way. I once heard when Back to the future 2 was on screen, in which a Japanese guy appears as a boss of Marty McFly, the Japanese people were flattered because they come to realise how far Japan could get from godforsaken loser country. Both are films, in which point they are in common, but what Big Hero 6 depicts is, after all, pseudo-Japan whereas BTTF2 followed the reality (at least at that point of age).

Second, if I borrow the "theory" shown by lostrune2 above, I guess the main target for Big Hero 6 in Japan would be Japanese boys. But as long as I'm concerned, I think my boy friends, when they were young, were not that into Disney movies. They certainly appeared to admit that Disney makes nice films, but more importantly they seemed to have regarded their works, for some reason, for girls. I guess that is because of prince-princess stuff. When it comes to frenzy for Japanese boys, Yo-kai Watch has been doing really good job and there seems to be no space for Big Hero 6.

Third, this is also empirical reason, but recent 3D films by Disney, except for Frozen, seem to have failed at least in Japanese market. Cars, Ratatouille, Brave, you name it: even pieces successful around the world can end up being flop in Japan. Frozen was a big surprise in this sense.

Let me clarify something just in case: I don't mean to bash this movie. Watching the trailer on youtube made me really feel like watching it on theatre asap. I had thought it would be heart-warming kind of story with little excitement when I first saw the poster on theatre but it's definitely not. This is going to be awesome instead!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

recent 3D films by Disney, except for Frozen, seem to have failed at least in Japanese market

Pixar in Japan:

Monsters University (2013) - $90M

Brave (2012) - $11M

Cars 2 (2011) - $38M

Toy Story 3 (2010) - $126M

Up (2009) - $51M

WALL-E (2008) - $44M

Disney Studio in Japan:

Frozen (2014) - $249M

Wreck-It Ralph (2013) - $29M

Tangled (2011) - $31M

0 ( +0 / -0 )

lostrune2 OK I admit I screw up. I thought they are not successful because not a word of mouth has been heard about thelr recent works around me, but obviously, as you point out, some people still love to watch them.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Brave did bomb; most of the rest just did OK to well.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I saw this movie last night with my kids. It was a cute movie. I think that the appeal of this movie isn't in the fact that it is Japan influenced, rather that's just the setting. If the setting were the point of the movie, then it probably would flop in Japan. But the fact is that it's an appealing disney story, and I have no doubt that it will do well in Japan.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

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