Japan should be patting itself on the back after this soft-power success. In particular, “Your Name.” [...] “Your Name.” wasn’t aimed at a global audience — in fact, those involved with it didn’t even realize how big it would be domestically — but still had a universal theme.

While Denison said that the Japanese government’s continued desire to clamp down on piracy demonstrated the soft power value of Japan’s anime industry, she also said that viewing methods had changed considerably over recent years.

The Foreign Ministry pulled an animated 50-second video clip it uploaded last week which ridiculed foreign correspondents for their coverage of last summer’s Israel-Hamas fighting. The video sparked complaints from the foreign press.

A Doraemon movie will be shown in China starting Thursday, becoming the first new Japanese film to be released in the country in nearly three years, diplomatic sources said. “Stand by Me Doraemon” is a 3-D animation film released in Japan last year. The Chinese government strictly limits the showing of foreign movies.

No longer content simply to build movie sets and provide extras in Hollywood films, Chinese studios are moving up the value chain, helping to develop, design and produce world-class films and animated features. They want a bigger role in the creative process, one that will allow them to reap more rewards, financially and artistically.

In Beijing, the country’s leadership was recognizing the importance of soft power. Meanwhile in Hollywood, DreamWorks was given the green light to a movie called Kung Fu Panda. I would love to tell you that we did this as part of a very shrewd strategy to gain entrée into China. It wasn’t. We just liked the idea of a film about a panda who wants to do kung fu.

As the second largest economy in the world, China has been working to improve its cultural soft power. Last week, a consortium of Chinese companies agreed to set up a joint venture with the US-based DreamWorks Animation, with agendas to make a sequel of blockbuster movie Kung Fu Panda 3 later this year.

Without the sex, gore and contemporary politics Beijing's censors deplore, animation is family-oriented and easily redubbed, making it safe and both importable and exportable, and thus likely to lead the charge in a trans-Pacific race for soft power – one that Hollywood's currently leading.