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Japanese animation film 'Suzume' a hit in China and South Korea

The Japanese animation film "Suzume" has set a new Chinese box office record in the category of Japanese cartoon works, raking in over 720 million yuan ($105 million) three weeks after its release, according to local movie data app Maoyan Professional.

The latest work of director Makoto Shinkai has captured the hearts of the Chinese youth despite tense bilateral relations following the detention of a Japanese businessman in Beijing last month.

The fantasy film follows the adventures of a 17-year-old girl and a mysterious young man as they work together to prevent disasters across Japan. It has become the highest-grossing Japanese animation film ever released in China, surpassing the success of Shinkai's previous work "your name." released in 2016.

This image shows a scene from "Suzume," an animated film written and directed by Makato Shinkai. Photo: Crunchyroll via AP

As of Friday, Suzume has drawn 21.64 million moviegoers in the mainland, exceeding the 20.68 million audience for your name. that pulled in some 575 million yuan in the country.

Song Yijing, a 20-year-old college student and a fan of Shinkai's works, said she watched the film after researching the 2011 earthquake and tsunami that hit the northeastern Japan region. The disaster is an underlying theme of the film.

She especially liked the mysterious cat character in the movie. Shinkai's films are "attractive because of their exquisite beauty and detailed emotional descriptions of pure love," Song said.

Suzume saw widespread success after its release in Japan last year, becoming the first Japanese animated film in over 20 years to be nominated for the top award at the Berlin International Film Festival.

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