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In a quarter-century of reporting on the Japanese film industry, I’ve yet to find one optimist about its future.

I used to regularly hear laments from veteran filmmakers and executives who remembered the industry’s 1950s glory days, when admissions exceeded 1 billion annually and the major studios were churning out new double-bills nearly every week. By the early 1990s, however, admissions were down to about one-eighth of postwar peaks and, with the exception of anime and the occasional domestic live-action hit, Hollywood dominated the box office. No wonder they only saw black clouds on the horizon.

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