Thursday, July 28, 2011

Japan Sinks author Komatsu passes on

Just found out that the great Sakyo Komatsu, author of the novel Japan Sinks (日本沈没 Nihon Chinbotsu) passed away on 26 July, at the venerable age of 80.

"Japan Sinks" might fittingly apply to this country itself in 2011 with the slew of disasters since March. Five years ago it was adapted as a fairly mediocre SFX/romance yarn starring Tsuyoshi Kusanagi (from J-pop group SMAP) and Kou Shibasaki (Battle Royale, 47 Ronin) in which - racked by earthquakes, firestorms and volcanoes - Japan is slowly sinking into the sea.

Much better was the 1973 version (also called Tidal Wave) directed by Shiro Moritani, starring Keiju Kobayashi (Samurai Assassin) and Kunihiro Fujioka (the first Kamen Rider), along with a soundtrack by Masaru Satō - who scored the Akira Kurosawa films Throne of Blood, The Bad Sleep Well, Yojimbo and Sanjuro.

Komatsu even makes a cameo at the beginning of the movie.

Less renowned in the West is the entity alternately known as Sayonara Jupiter (さよならジュピター) or Bye Bye Jupiter - a novel he adapted himself for the somewhat ill-conceived trilingual 1984 Toho movie directed by Koji Hashimoto (Godzilla 1985: The Legend Is Reborn).

That outing is just plain bizarre, yet worth another ride into the imagination conjured up by one of Japan's more creative writers. As a tribute, here's something a wee bit oddball: the Russian-dubbed trailer for the 1973 version of Japan Sinks.

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