Takashi Yamazaki's World War II drama "Eien no Zero (The Eternal Zero)," whose pilot hero joins the tokkōtai (kamikaze) suicide squadron in the closing days of the war, has soared to the box office heights since its Dec. 21 release. After ranking No. 1 in the charts for eight weeks in a row, the film now looks likely to finish its run with more than ¥8 billion, making it one of the 10 top-grossing Japanese films of all time.
Thousands of fans have been giving the film thumbs-up reviews in tweets and on Internet message boards, with one advising viewers to "take more than one handkerchief" to the theater. Even Akie Abe, the wife of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, weighed in after seeing the film with her husband and mother-in-law on Dec. 31: "I couldn't stop crying," Akie wrote on Facebook. "(The film) made me really think how we should never wage war again, and we should never, ever waste the precious lives that were lost for the sake of their country."
"The Eternal Zero," however, has also inspired controversy. After Shinzo Abe described himself as "deeply moved" by the film, posters on Chinese microblogging and news websites blasted both him and the film (though it has yet to be released in China), with one commenter reportedly describing it as "propaganda for terrorism."