Chihayafuru's Suzu Hirose Stars in Live-Action Show About Early Anime Industry

posted on by Jennifer Sherman

NHK unveiled its 100th "serial television novel," titled "Natsuzora," on Monday. The series will star Suzu Hirose (live-action Chihayafuru's Chihaya Ayase, Umimachi Diary's Suzu) as a girl growing up in rural Hokkaido in the postwar period. She becomes fascinated with animation and moves to Tokyo to work in the early days of the anime industry.

The series' story of "dreams and adventures, love and passion" begins in the early summer of 1946 after the end of World War II. A nine-year-old girl named Natsu Okuhara survived air raids but lost both of her parents in the war. She gets separated from her older brother Saitarō and her younger sister Chiharu. As Natsu recovers, she goes to live in the vast wilderness of Tokachi, Hokkaido, and her growth there comes to define her as a person.

Natsu moves in with Takeo Shibata, a dairy farmer and her father's friend from his time serving Japan in the war. Natsu's father and Takeo had promised each other to take care of the other's family if anything happened to them. Takeo's father Taiju had moved the family from Tokyo to Tokachi, and they become pioneers in the area as farmers. Taiju initially views the young Natsu as a burden to the family, but he also has compassion for her. Natsu soon becomes another worker on the farm and grows as she learns to milk cows and tend cattle.

In elementary school, Natsu meets a boy named Tenyō Yamada, who draws impressive pictures of horses. Tenyō tells Natsu about cartoon films that are gaining popularity in America. Natsu marvels at the world of moving pictures Tenyō tells her about. As a high school student, Tenyō tells Natsu of his dream to move to Tokyo and go to a college for art. Natsu also begins to consider her own future.

Due to Tenyō's influence, Natsu starts to want to draw pictures as a career. However, Takeo wants Natsu to marry his only son to ensure the farm's future. Suddenly, Natsu learns that her brother is alive and working in Tokyo. Natsu prepares for her own trip to Japan's capital to become a member of the developing animation industry.

Tomoaki Iso is supervising the production, and Sumio Ōmori is writing the original script. The series' directors include Takafumi Kimura and Masahiko Tanaka. Toshitake Fukuoko is serving as producer.

The show is planned to air from April to September 2019 and run for 156 episodes.

Hirose's anime roles include Fireworks, Should We See it from the Side or the Bottom?'s Nazuna Oikawa and The Boy and The Beast's Kaede.

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