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Being selected to represent Japan in any industry is no small feat. But representing Japan in the foreign film category at the Oscars is particularly harrowing. The selection process to make the final five for the ultimate prize is arduous and definitely opaque. Who really knows what goes on in the Academy of Motion Pictures anyway? But the foreign film category is particularly contentious, given the patriotic fervor that prevails throughout the elimination process.

Japan’s ardent cinephiles and casual film viewers alike will be closely watching to see whether “Weathering With You” makes it through to win the top spot. The film by director Makoto Shinkai already has a few domestic firsts under its belt, including first Japanese animation since 1998 to represent the country in the foreign language film category, and raking in more ticket sales in its first three days at the box office than the director’s previous blockbuster. Still, the film’s biggest contribution may well be how it portrays a new form of Japanese identity and even leadership both on and off the screen.

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