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Spirited Away: Early Oscar Reaction

posted on by Jonathan Mays
Miyazaki, Koizumi, and others provide perspective regarding Spirited Away's Oscar win.

Multiple Sources: Chicago Sun-Times, Daily Yomiuiri, New York Times, Nausicaa.net, Kyodo News, Los Angeles Times

As worldwide reaction to Spirited Away's Oscar success begins to surface, several animators, press members, and even a political figure expressed their opinions today.

Director Hayo Miyazaki, who was unable to attend the 75th Annual Academy Awards in Los Angeles, released a handwritten statement Monday. "It is regrettable that I cannot rejoice from my heart over the prize because of the deeply sad events taking place in the world," he stated. "However, I would like to give my heartfelt thanks to all my friends who have lent their effort in releasing Spirited Away in the United States and to all those who have shown their appreciation of the movie."

Toshio Suzuki held a press conference at Tokyo's Studio Ghibli, remarking, "In the normal course of events, Miyazaki should be making a speech. But he has said that he cannot be truly joyful because of the times we are in now. He has said that he cannot bear to have media broadcasting his happy face." Suzuki added that it was "most moving" to witness Spirited Away's transition from market rejection to victory in such a prestigious competition. Miyazaki was not present at the conference.

Several other production members voiced their opinions as well. Rumi Hiiragi, Chihiro's Japanese voice actress, said, "It is really nice to accept the wonderfulness of movie not only across Japan but across the border in the United States. When I won a prize in the voice actor section of Animation Fair last year, Director Miyazaki blessed me. But now it is my turn to say, 'Congratulations!'"

Joe Hisaishi, who was involved in the film's music, said, "Considering quality of this movie, I think this is a natural result. Even if this movie won Best Foreign Language Film or Best Picture, it was not enough; this is a masterpiece movie with big scale and a profound story over the shell of Anime. If I were to choose five maestros of the movie, I think that one of them would be Mr. Miyazaki."

Theme composer Yumi Kimura reflected on the victory. "I'm very glad because, for a long time, I have been thinking that the view of the world Miyazaki animation impressed on people's hearts transcended culture and lifestyle. I was praying that this movie would be seen by many more people. Now it's possible that it will come true after having received the globally famous prize."

Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi also congratulated Miyazaki on the Oscar victory Monday, saying, ''I'm glad to see the world appreciates Japanese cultural works.''

Domestically, an article appeared in Monday's Los Angeles Times hailing Spirited Away's win as "not only a victory for writer-director Hayao Miyazaki, but also a reflection of the growing popularity and influence of Japanese animation, or anime, in America." Animators are hopeful, the article states, that the win will help to "rehabilitate" hand-drawn animation (instead of those completely computer-generated).

While praise of the film is widespread, Spirited Away's chances of having won the Oscar invite divided opinions. Several reports today described the film's Oscar chances as "strongly favored" to win; others called it one of the "biggest upsets" of the evening.

Anime News Network will continue to provide additional reactions, as well as news on the status of Spirited Away's North American release.

This article has a follow-up: Spirited Away to Receive Wide Release? (2003-03-24 20:22)
follow-up of Spirited Away Captures Oscar
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