Howl's Moving Castle for Oscar - Anime as Mainstream Film?

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EternalParadox

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For those members who have watched the 78th Academy Awards from the very beginning, you will have noticed that Howl's Moving Castle was nominated for an Oscar in the Best Animated Feature category. It did not win (the Oscar went to Wallace and Gromit), but I think the nomination in itself may herald a new trend for anime films.

Howl's Moving Castle has actually received quite a few good reviews in the States. It has also topped the box office for weeks in Japan. If my memory serves, this is the first time that a Japanese anime is nominated for an Oscar. (Please correct me on any factual errors.)

My question to you all is thus:

Do you think the nomination of Howl's Moving Castle may be a signal that certain anime films may be gaining a bigger foothold amongst "mainstream" American cinema?

Since the Oscar has traditionally been associated with big name American films, and Best Animated Feature has always gone to works of Disney, Pixar, or the like, I think the nomination of a Japanese-produced anime film is quite important. Personal views on whether the film is good or not aside, I think that to have an anime film crack the very exclusive club of nominees is indeed a sign that anime is slowly gaining more attention amongst the cinema establishment in the US. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has always selected films that are a part of the maintream cinematography movements (note: this "mainstream" is different from "popular films." None of the nominations this year really got big box office marks.)

Hopefully, we can see more anime featured as Oscar nominees, and perhaps have an anime film win one of these little golden statues, ne?

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  • Mar 06, 2006

wolfco

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I'm not sure that this is so much an expression of its acceptance in the "mainstream" as it is a demonstration that certain segments of the industry are recognizing its value. As you said, these awards are focused primarily on quality rather than popularity. I think the Academy may be recognizing the art form more than they are exhibiting its prevalence. Of course, I do agree that it is become a more well-known genre.

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  • Mar 06, 2006

shinsengumi

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Quote by EternalParadoxHowl's Moving Castle has actually received quite a few good reviews in the States. It has also topped the box office for weeks in Japan. If my memory serves, this is the first time that a Japanese anime is nominated for an Oscar. (Please correct me on any factual errors.)

Another Studio Ghibli film, Spirited Away, won the Oscar for Best Animated Feature in 2003.

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candy-chan

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haha, Shinsengumi got it right before me. but yeah this aint new :P

Besides these 2 Miyazaki films were nominated only because Ghibli studio was bought by Disney, and only american movies are nominated to the academy awards.

EternalParadox

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Thanks shin. I did think I might have been missing something with Spirited Away, which was featured in TIME magazine a few months back along with Howl's. So I guess anime has won something. Yay! But that's only 1 vs all those winners from disney and pixar.

And let me clarify my definition of "mainstream." When we look at the Oscar nominated and awarded films, these are films that are talked about and raved about by a large proportion of the critics. Such films do not necessarily coincide with the popular, but they are "mainstream" by more than just their quality. I would say that the amount of media attention in terms of reviews and coverage on possible awards chances is a determining standard for mainstream. Brokeback Mountain for example, has been talked about for months by the movie critics as a major contender for the Oscars. We have yet to see the same level of "hype" around anime films.

Edit:

Boo to this time lapse of typing responses and having other people posting before me that I don't know about yet.

Re candy-chan's point:

I have no idea really how the Academy works, but if it is true that only "American" films are nominated, then this makes the point more important.

American firms would only purchase studios if they see potential for growth. So they would only purchase Japanese anime studios if they believe that there is a future for anime in the broad American consumer market. Counting Howls, I guess there have been only 2 of such films, which makes up a tiny proportion compared to the traditional American animated features. So would these two nominations/1 Oscar mean that anime really is becoming a major part of the American film scene, reaching out beyond more than just the hard-core otakus? Furthermore, does this whole American reproduction/dubbing/editing process in anyway affect how these films are perceived?

(And don't count in "popular" stuff like Pokemon or Digimon. I hardly consider those worth mentioning no matter how much they show it on regular broadcast TV)

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  • Mar 06, 2006

SebastianvonKane

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Well (here a very loyal movies follower, critic).
Notice that for "Spirited Away" and "Howl's Moving Castle" to be nominated it was because BuenaVista bought the rights for distribution in america. Besides, these animated feature films does only match in some ceratin mainstream. I mean, They're the artistic kind. Some other anime films non set for american screenings by distributors with academy's membership (required to be nominated, some independetn producers does also have it) are the ones te otakus would really like to see in big screen in wide release. Something that's now not-possible because anime is not that famous such as the movies among the whole public (from children to prime adults).
You don't know how the academy works? you can take a look at oscars.org you might get an idea.
I'll be critic for any story that comes to my "doorstep" (tough I haven't see "Howls" yet), but I knew the award was going to Wallace and Gromit since it was nice, and it got goo reviews from "Ebert & Roeper" and "Rotten Tomatoes".
I'll be awaiting for next nominations.
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SouskeUK

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Don't worry my friends its only the starting. as time goes by and anime gets a better hold on the mainstream then it wil be recognize by more people in academy awards and will get the oscars as well.
Well the dubbing has some major advantage as it makes it easier for mainstream consumers to watch it. There are lots of people who dosen't like reading subs. But I don't think it efects the main story that much.

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  • Mar 06, 2006

SebastianvonKane

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I'm sorry SouskeUK but I could not count on that.
Making the art in motion pictures films does require more than just popularity (unless you want to see your fav animes in the MTV movie awards).
Besides, there's a big difference in the production of anime and motion pictures (as big as an abyss).
Imagining some anime films in the oscars is not unthinkable, but it will require a lot of acceptation amogst worldwide distributors.

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Although I also agree that Spirited Away rather than Howl's was the beginning of the new rise in anime popularity, I think the level of promotion and attention paid to Howl's is a real sign of the growing acceptance of anime in Hollywood
Not only were both films nominated for oscars, I've seen stories on anime films beyond just Studio Ghibli's in Time/Newsweek...even one of my bosses (who clearly doesn't know anything about anime) mentioned Howl's as a movie to see last summer
While it's true that the promoted anime films are the ones being distributed by American companies/branches (Disney, Sony, etc.) I do believe that there is a growing recognition of the genre in the mainstream media and audience.
I think there is also wider knowledge of manga as a literary form...the NYtimes did an article or two recently and manga displays have become more prominent in many bookstores/libraries I've visited
Although there's definitely still a huge gap in mainstream understanding, I'd say there's definitely curiosity and interest in anime/manga now...and I hope that it is a trend that will continue and expand

What does worry me, as EP pointed out, is the fact that much of the mainstream access to anime/manga is through dubbed/translated versions...which certainly affects the presentation of the original work. I'd hope that as anime becomes more mainstream, there will be more of an effort to showcase the original japanese versions.

Also, as a side note, I've seen some previews of new American manga...perhaps this is also a sign of mainstream integration and acceptance of anime/manga as a distinct art form

SebastianvonKane

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Or perhaps the efforts to imitate anime, don't you think?

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I honestly don't think that anime would ever become "mainstream", but I do think it has gained a lot of popularity. However, the big names (Spirited Away, Kiki's Delivery Service, Princess Mononoke) are all somehow related to an American company that wishes to sponsor them.

True anime fans wouldn't care, but people that aren't always exposed to anime would have no idea what it was or why the hell they should care.

I think it's still gonna take a while before anime gets really popular, but Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli's giving it a great start :P

  • Mar 07, 2006

belmikry

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i have also read thatthey are planning on making a blockbuster NGEvangellion or attempting too, for mainstream audiences- interesting, but i don't know if they can pull it off with real actors-

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Mnemeth

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Quote by wolfcoI'm not sure that this is so much an expression of its acceptance in the "mainstream" as it is a demonstration that certain segments of the industry are recognizing its value.

I agree with wolfco. However, this is not to say that it will not become a more common occurence. Having these features merely mentioned at the Oscars is probably catching the attention of the other players in teh industry. Add in the growing anime fan base fueled by the increasing availability of anime and things are headed down the path that anime will move from a cult following to larger niche in the overall industry. Will it ever become mainstream? Only time will tell and if the current trends continue (Anime Network, other networks showing anime, and more anime like shows being produced) then it may become mainstream.

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  • Mar 08, 2006

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