The annual Japanese Film Festival (JFF) formally opened at the Shangri-La Plaza Atrium, hosted by the Japan Foundation Manila, showcasing the best of Japanese cinema to Filipino audiences once again.Marking the grand opening of a cinematic celebration, the Japan Foundation Manila hosted a special reception on February 1, transforming the Atrium into a hub of cultural celebration. Deputy Chief of Mission and Minister Kenichi Matsuda joined the festivities, along with Japan Foundation Manila Director Ben Suzuki, and Shangri-La Plaza Head of Operations Johnny Rios.Guests were also treated to an exciting trip down memory lane as Sharilla Cerilles showcased her talent with performances to the mesmerizing music of 'Voltes V' and 'Slam Dunk.' This year, 'The First Slam Dunk' headlined the JFF 2024. A sequel of the Pinoy-beloved anime Slam Dunk, Audiences got a chance to witness the Takehiko Inoue classic for free.In a momentous gesture, the reception also set the stage for the awarding of the Ambassador's Commendation to Japanese pop culture trailblazers in the Philippines – Larry Chan of Telesuccess Productions, and the GMA Network Inc.Chan's legacy, highlighted by bringing iconic titles such as 'Super Electromagnetic Machine Voltes V,' 'Slam Dunk,' 'YuYu Hakusho,' and 'Boys Over Flowers,' to the Philippines, has played a pivotal role in shaping the cultural landscape of the Philippines. The award also celebrated the GMA Network's epic live-action adaptation, 'Voltes V Legacy.' Premiering April last year, the film has not only resurrected the beloved animated classic but has also triumphed over global challenges, achieving a remarkable viewership and adoration.Recognizing the trailblazers, Deputy Chief of Mission and Minister Kenichi Matsuda expressed his appreciation to the awardees for their efforts in laying 'the foundation for Japanese pop culture to become the gateway to a rich tapestry of Japanese traditions for countless Filipinos.''This pioneering work stands as a legacy chapter in the history of cultural exchange between Japan and the Philippines' Matsuda added.