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  • © Hiroko Reijo, Asami, KODANSHA / WAKAOKAMI Project

Excellence Award

Okko’s Inn

KOSAKA Kitaro

Animated feature film [Japan]

Okko’s Inn is a feature-length animated film based on the popular series of chil- dren novels Waka Okami wa Shogaku- sei (“The Young Innkeeper Is a Grade Schooler”) by Hiroko Reijo. After losing her parents in a car accident, Oriko Seki, nicknamed “Okko,” is adopted by her grandmother and goes to live in the countryside where the grandmother runs an inn called “Haru no Ya.” There, Okko proclaims herself the young innkeeper. As her first job, the duties of a young innkeeper are confusing for Okko, but as she befriends those around her, including the ghost of her grandmother’s childhood friend Uribo, the daughter of the owner of a rival inn Matsuki Akino, and all the peculiar and unique guests of the inn, Okko begins to understand better her position as the future innkeeper. The film adds origi- nal elements to the series’ plot, and compiles them into a single complete story. Okko’s Inn was received with rave reviews from an adult audience that greatly exceeds the fanbase of the original children novels, thanks mainly to word of mouth spread via social me- dia. The decision to expand the num- ber of theaters that screened the film and its reruns also made news. Okko’s Inn is directed by Kitaro Kosaka, who is known for his work as animator and animation director of numerous films, including films by the famed director Hayao Miyazaki. As the first feature- length animation he has directed since Nasu: Summer in Andalusia (2003), Okko’s Inn reaffirms his strong pres- ence on Japan’s animation stage.1 h. 34 min.

© Hiroko Reijo, Asami, KODANSHA / WAKAOKAMI Project

Profile

KOSAKA Kitaro

( 2003 )

Award Reason

Helping with chores is an ordinary thing for an elementary-school girl, but what makes this story extraordi- nary and dramatic is the plot setting in which an elementary-school girl becomes the keeper who manages an entire inn. This dramatism, how- ever, is somewhat softened by the straightforwardness and passion of the heroine. The fact that the adults, too, manage to skillfully work with her as a team is also heartening. This is not a story of an exceptional young girl who solves problems on her own. On the contrary, the heroine coop- erates with the adults around her, and then skillfully applies what she learns in these human relations to her work. The cooperation with adults is a process that goes through several stages. In the beginning, the young girl loses both her parents in a car ac- cident, and is left all alone, heartbro- ken. As if a way to heal this trauma, an ability is awakened in her to see ghosts. These ghosts are not at all scary, but help her heal and serve as replacement of her lost relationships. Through the medium of ghosts Okko manages to build and enrich her re- lationships with people in the real world. The fantasy of seeing ghosts helps her adapt to reality and expand her relationships, and it is truly en- joyable to watch how cheerfully sheHelping with chores is an ordinary thing for an elementary-school girl, but what makes this story extraordi- nary and dramatic is the plot setting in which an elementary-school girl becomes the keeper who manages an entire inn. This dramatism, how- ever, is somewhat softened by the straightforwardness and passion of the heroine. The fact that the adults, too, manage to skillfully work with her as a team is also heartening. This is not a story of an exceptional young girl who solves problems on her own. On the contrary, the heroine coop- erates with the adults around her, and then skillfully applies what she learns in these human relations to her work. The cooperation with adults is a process that goes through several stages. In the beginning, the young girl loses both her parents in a car ac- cident, and is left all alone, heartbro- ken. As if a way to heal this trauma, an ability is awakened in her to see ghosts. These ghosts are not at all scary, but help her heal and serve as replacement of her lost relationships. Through the medium of ghosts Okko manages to build and enrich her re- lationships with people in the real world. The fantasy of seeing ghosts helps her adapt to reality and expand her relationships, and it is truly en- joyable to watch how cheerfully she manages to do this. (YOKOTA Masao)

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