Barefoot Gen to Become Live-action Drama

posted on 2007-06-13 16:54 EDT
2-episode special to use 3 sets, CG for adaptation of famous postwar manga

Major Japanese television network Fuji Television announced on Tuesday that it is filming a live-action drama based on Barefoot Gen, Keiji Nakazawa's famous manga that focuses on the atomic bombing of Hiroshima in 1945. Using Masafumi Akikawa's hit song Sen no Kaze ni natte (A Thousand Winds*) as a motif for the drama, the drama aims to recreate scenes of Hiroshima before and after the bombing occurred. The drama will star Kiichi Nakai and Yuriko Ishida. The role of Gen will be played by Ren Kobayashi, a ten-year-old boy who was selected from a group of 80 people who auditioned. The drama will be aired on Fuji TV on August 10 and 11 as a two-part drama special.

The Barefoot Gen manga has been made into anime before, but this is the first time a live-action adaptation has been proposed. Drama producer Jun Matsumoto, who also produced the popular TV drama series Shiroi Kyotō (The White Tower), said that "through the eyes of a family in Hiroshima," the drama aims to "…present the war and the bombing, the sadness and anger the people faced, and the courage and strength that people developed" to the viewers. Original manga author Nakazawa, who experienced the bombing first hand, said that the drama "brings the story together well," adding that "I would feel lucky if I could present a difficult theme like the bombing through the format of a drama."

According to Fuji TV, the scenes of Hiroshima before the bombing will be filmed in Fukuyama, Hiroshima Prefecture and Takeo, Saga Prefecture. The post-bombing filming will take place on a large-scale open set in Ibaraki Prefecture. CG special effects will be used to show a contrast between the city as it was and its instant transformation into a scorched plain. News reels from the era will also be used in the drama.

Nakai, who read the original manga when he was a child, said the story has a "strong message that the weakest beings are the first to be affected." Ishida added that "some scene sequences were rough, but I wholeheartedly want to present the brutality of war and the desire that some families had to live amongst the despair and sadness [of the bombing]."

Source: Sanspo

*"A Thousand Winds" is actually a Japanese adaptation of the poem "Do not stand at my grave and weep" by Mary Elizabeth Frye.

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