From ‘Slam Dunk’ to ‘Suzume no Toshimari’. Director Makoto Shinkai is happy about the popularity of Japanese anime in South Korea.

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The popularity of Japanese animation movies in South Korea continues unabated.

For example, the movie “THE FIRST SLAM DUNK,” released early in the new year, continues to be a long-running hit and has finally surpassed 4 million viewers.

Even now, he is a regular in the top 3-weekend box office rankings and is updating the number of audiences for Japanese animation feature films in Korea that he has repainted. Recently, it seems that celebrities as celebrities and athletes have come to Japan to visit places related to “SLAM DUNK.”

Also, on March 3rd of this month, the movie “Kimetsu no Yaiba: The Gathering of the First Quarters, and the Swordsmith’s Village Edition” will be released, and it will be released in the daily ranking of the movie theater ticket integrated network of the Korean Film Promotion Committee—first appearance in 1st place. Three weeks after its release, it’s still in the top 10 of the weekend’s box office rankings.

And now, the most popular movie is “Suzume no Tojirimari.”

It was released in South Korea on March 8th and suddenly ranked first in the ranking above, and after that, it continued to rank first in the daily rankings. It also topped the weekly ranking for three consecutive weeks, and on March 27th, the cumulative number of spectators exceeded 3 million.

The speed of surpassing 3 million people on the 20th day of release exceeds “THE FIRST SLAM DUNK” mentioned above. And with this breakthrough of 3 million people, a certain “pledge” has come true.

Makoto Shinkai’s visit to Korea has been decided.

Director Shinkai visited Korea on March 8th to promote “Suzume no Tojimemari.” He said, “I want to return to Korea when the number of spectators exceeds 3 million.”

The pledge was fulfilled only 20 days after that, and Japanese anime fans in South Korea were also pleased.

Released in February 2017, “Your name. and Weathering With You,” released in October 2019, were also highly praised in South Korea, but Suzume no Toshimari is even better.

Film reporters and critics of South Korea’s largest portal site, NAVER, gave 7.79 points out of 10 to “Suzume no Toshimari.” It is rated higher than ‘Weathering With You,’ which scored 6.57 on NAVER, and ‘Your Name,’ which scored 7.55.

The movie magazine “Cine 21” critic rating is also 7.56. “Suzume no Tojimemari” is a work based on the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake. It was highly evaluated.

Director Makoto Shinkai is famous for his painting style, which is said to be a “magician of light,” His music fuses with the beauty of his images. It is to such an extent that the article “master of the Japanese animation world” is attached.

However, such a “master of the Japanese animation world” used to work for a game company and was a hard worker who worked on opening animations for adult games during unlucky times.

In 2005, however, he won an award for excellence at the 2005 Seoul International Cartoon and Animation Festival for his first feature film, The Promised Place over the Stars. From around this time, the name became known among Korean anime fans. In other words, the relationship between Shinkai and South Korea began more than 15 years ago.

“The audience in South Korea was the first to recognize my work as a movie,” said Shinkai at a press conference held in South Korea in October 2019 to promote Weathering with You. However, there is probably no other “master” who is as loved by Korean anime fans as Director Shinkai.

In 2007, at the time of “5 Centimeters Per Second”, he became a hot topic for giving fans autographs with his name written in Korean. He once said, “There are Koreans among the staff. It’s the most familiar foreign country to me.”

When he came to Korea in March of this year to promote “Suzume no Toshimari,” he said something like this, which aroused much sympathy from Korean anime fans.

“I am happy that Korean audiences have come to like Japanese anime. I think that there are times when I feel “nostalgic.” That is why Korean audiences enjoy Japanese anime; on the other hand, Japanese people watch a lot of Korean dramas. Politically, Japan and South Korea have had good times and bad times, and it’s been repeated, but culturally, we will be strongly connected.

(Reference article: “Japan and South Korea are similar” Director Makoto Shinkai reveals why Japanese animated films are hits in South Korea )

For that reason, attention and expectations are gathering about what kind of message Shinkai will send out this time when he returns to Korea with more than 3 million viewers.

According to reports, he is scheduled to come to Korea in late April to keep his pledge, but by then, “Your Name.” will easily surpass the cumulative total of 3,673,876 viewers set up in Korea.

Makoto Shinkai’s work may have regained the position of No. 1 Japanese animated feature film in Korean history, which he lost to “THE FIRST SLAM DUNK” in February.

In any case, Japanese anime’s popularity in South Korea will likely continue.

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