New Anime Movie Avoids Gore, Focuses on Spiritual Growth

Posted in ANIME NEWS

Spirited anime By SHOJI ICHIHARA A new major TV anime film by an anti-violence director avoids gore and homes in on spiritual growth. AS a special summer project, Japan’s Fuji TV recently aired a big-budget anime, Miyori no Mori (Miyori’s Forest), a film focusing on the spiritual growth of a little girl and the magical power of forests. The director, Nizo Yamamoto, is renowned for his work as art director for Hayao Miyazaki’s anime works, including Mirai Shonen Konan (Conan the Boy in the Future) and Tenku no Shiro Rapyuta (Laputa: Castle in the Sky). The film is the first animated feature Yamamoto has directed. The 53-year-old read the original manga by Hideji Oda about 2½ years ago. He says he was impressed by the story of Miyori, an 11-year-old heroine who is mentally scarred by her parents’ divorce. Miyori gradually recovers from her traumas after encountering the spirits of a forest that is destined to be submerged at the bottom of a reservoir as part of a planned dam project in the near future. Yamamoto says he has been feeling uncomfortable for years about the amount of violence in anime and the number of bloody murder scenes he sees in them. “For a long time I’ve been planning to direct an anime film in which none of the characters dies,” he says. Another reason that spurred Yamamoto to direct the anime by himself, was the sudden death of Yoshifumi Kondo, who served as chief animator for Hotaru no Haka (The Grave of Fireflies). Kondo died in 1998 at age 47. “If he were alive, I would never have been the director (of this project) as Kondo was a genius animator,” Yamamoto says. “After I lost Kondo, whom I looked up to as a professional (in this field), I felt I just had to do it myself.” Yet another factor influencing the decision to make this movie was that Yamamoto knew a girl who had been bullied badly, he says. “These days, there are so many children like that girl. Through this story, I want to convey a message to children who are bullied: ‘Be strong like Miyori. Stand up to bullies!’” About 10 years ago, the average viewing rate of anime programmes for children in Japan in the slot starting at 7pm was about 20%. These days, however, it has dropped to about 6-7% due to the decrease in the number of children in the nation. With Miyori no Mori, Fuji TV producer Koji Kaneda has put priority on creating a show that all members of a family can enjoy watching. For the last three years, Kaneda says he has been wanting to produce a show that would win a high viewing rate in the middle of the prime-time slot – neither in the late-night slot for adults nor in the earlier slot for children. In that sense, Miyori no Mori is the first project to fit in with his dream. The unusually high production standards of this TV anime film put it on a par with a movie, not only in terms of money, but of time, too. The voice cast includes many popular actors. Miyori is performed by Yu Aoi, and her grandmother by veteran actress Etsuko Ichihara. Ippon Zakura no Sei, a cherry tree spirit, is voiced by singer Chitose Hajime. – The Daily Yomiuri / Asia News Network Source: [url=http://www.star-ecentral.com/news/story.asp?file=/2007/9/16/tvnradio/18360243&sec=tvnradio]star-ecentral[/url]