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TAC Revisits Fable by Galactic Railroad's Miyazawa

posted on by Egan Loo
Sugii (Galactic Railroad, Touch) to direct new Guskou Budori allegorical film

The Group TAC studio (Touch, Viewtiful Joe, Saiyuki) will once again animate a story from author Kenji Miyazawa of Night on the Galactic Railroad fame. At Tokyo International Anime Fair 2008, the studio has announced that Miyazawa's The Life of Guskou Budori (Guskou Budori no Denki) allegorical fable will become a feature-length film for spring of 2009. Gisaburō Sugii, the director of Galactic Railroad and Touch, will oversee the project, and Sadayuki Murai (Kino's Journey, Millennium Actress, Steamboy) is scripting.

This children's tale is set in a mythical version of northern Japan, where a ten-year-old boy named Guskou loses his little sister to a mysterious kidnapper. Despite the traumatic incident, he grows up, pursues his fascination with volcanoes, and becomes a researcher. He devotes his whole life to understanding the power of volcanoes and protecting his land. The story premise is tied to one of the first layperson descriptions of the greenhouse effect. Miyazawa wrote the story in 1932, when the scientific theory (that higher levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere would raise temperatures) was still a new concept.

Miyazawa's stories of a dreamland version of Japan and the greater cosmos have already been adapted into anime by several studios, including Group TAC (Galactic Railroad) and Studio Ghibli. Ryutaro Nakamura (Kino's Journey, Ghost Hound, Serial Experiments Lain) wrote and directed his own version of Guskou Budori in 1994. A homage to Miyazawa's "Futago no Hoshi Sakusen" story appeared in the parade scene from Isao Takahata and Ghibli's Pom Poko film (1994), and Ghibli master artist Kazuo Oga created a short experimental film based on Miyazawa's Night of Taneyamagahara short story in 2006. Director Shoji Kawamori (Macross, Escaflowne) even dramatized Miyazawa's own life in the animated Vision of Ihatov: Kenji's Spring television movie. Several of these earlier works depicted all the characters as cats — a Miyazawa trademark, and the new Guskou Budori film will do the same.

CPM released Galactic Railroad in North America, and Tokyopop released Kenji's Spring under the name Spring and Chaos. The original Guskou Budori story has been translated into English by Tatsuo Hamada and published by Abiko Literary Press in the Sacred Fool, Works of Kenji Miyazawa collection.

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