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Source: Vimeo

Every day several Japanese tourists visit the cathedral of Antwerp in Flanders. In front of Rubens' Descent from the cross they start to cry. Why? Nobody in Flanders has any idea that they are moved because of a tiny book written by Louise de La Ramée 133 years ago. The novel recounts a honeysweet story about a poor boy Nello and his dog Patrasche. The two main characters die in each other's arms in front of the Rubens' painting. Today this book, A Dog of Flanders is taught in Japanese high schools, it is a classic in the UK and the States and has inspired numerous films and TV series in Japan and the States. The most important of them being the Japanese animated series of 1975 that counted 52 episodes and influenced the Japanese culture intensely (30 million television Japanese viewed the last episode. Many of them can still sing the series opening song, ... in Dutch! ). By contrast, the novel was translated into Dutch only in 1987, on initiative of Willy Vandersteen who also devoted one album of his influential cartoons Suske en Wiske to the story. Despite this album and some minor tourist attempts the people of Belgium are hardly interested in A Dog of Flanders and its many admirers worldwide.

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