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Manga Creator Machiko Kyō Designs Anime Short for Documentary About Japanese-American Zen Monk

posted on by Jennifer Sherman

Manga creator Machiko Kyō (Mitsuami no Kami-sama, Sennen Gahō, Mikako-san, Girls Bijutsu) provided the character designs for the "Henry no Akai Kutsu" ("Red Shoes") anime short that appears in the Zen to Hone (Zen and Bones) documentary film about Japanese-American Zen monk Henry Mittwer. Transformer began streaming a promotional video on Monday that features an unused part of the anime short and a promotional video for the documentary's upcoming screenings.

The project's staff also revealed Kyō's character designs for the short.

Takayuki Nakamura directed and was in charge of the composition for the documentary. The film will open at Tokyo's PorePore Higashinakano, Tokyo's Cineka Ōmori, and Kanagawa's Yokohama New Theatre on September 2. The film debuted at select theaters in Japan in 2014.

The University of Southern California's USC Dana and David Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences screened the film last August. The college describes the documentary:

93-year-old Zen monk Henry Mittwer is determined to make a movie – about an orphaned child's longing for her mother. He himself was torn from his Japanese mother when World War II broke out. This film tells the story of an idiosyncratic free spirit with a mother complex, covering his childhood in Yokohama, his wartime in various U.S. Nikkei camps, as a 1960s American dad-turned-Zen monk, and his lifelong passion for movies.

At his seasoned age, Henry should be living his remaining days in peace in his Kyoto temple residence. But his greatest passion and dream is to make a film. For years, he has been pitching his project Red Shoes to Kyoto movie studios and financiers. Apparently, the Buddhist search for nothingness does not interfere with this obsession of his.

Born in 1918 in Yokohama to an American father who ran United Artists' Far East Office and a former geisha, Henry grew up in Japan. At 22, he travels to America by ship to search for his father. Soon World War II breaks out and he is detained in concentration camps for enemy Japanese. He marries Sachiko and has three children, of which two were born in the camps. In 1961, he returns to Japan and becomes a Zen Buddhist monk and emissary for the Urasenke Tradition of Tea.

Henry falls ill in 2012 and is admitted to the hospital. The documentary crew continues to film, uncovering evidence and gathering testimonies about his extraordinary past from movie moguls, U.S. government files, and interviews with Zen masters. The truth behind Henry's obsession for filmmaking slowly takes shape. Meanwhile, actors play out Henry's life as a young man, and an animated version of Henry's dream film comes true.

Kyō's Mitsuami no Kami-sama (Braided Pig-Tail Deity) manga about the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami disaster inspired a mixed-media stage production in 2015. The play's 28-minute animation part screened internationally.

Source: Comic Natalie


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