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Manga Creator Kaiji Kawaguchi Designs Characters for Hiroshima: The Last Summer Rose Anime Film

posted on by Crystalyn Hodgkins
A-bomb film based on work of historian Shigeaki Mori fulfills dying wish of Japanese-American animation director Jimmy Murakami

The Mainichi Shimbun newspaper reported on August 22 that manga creator Kaiji Kawaguchi is providing the character designs for an animated film titled Hiroshima: The Last Summer Rose (Hiroshima: Natsu no Nokgori no Bara).

The film is the dying wish of Japanese-American animation director Jimmy Murakami, who passed away in 2004 at 80 years old. Murakami is known for the animated adaptations of When the Wind Blows and The Snowman, both books by Raymond Briggs. During World War II, Murakami was imprisoned at the Tule Lake War Relocation Center internment camp. He had told friends that he wanted his last work to be themed on Hiroshima.

Murakami had wanted the film to be based on the life's work of historian Shigeaki Mori, who has spent more than 40 years gathering details on the 12 U.S. bomber crew members and prisoners of war who were killed during the atomic bombing of Hiroshima in 1945. Mori is himself a survivor of the bombing of Hiroshima, and is the subject of a recent documentary titled Paper Lanterns, which launched digitally and on home video on August 7.

Hiroshima: The Last Summer Rose, based on Mori's books, will tell a story of an American prisoner of war and a Japanese nursing student who fall in love, but are torn apart by the atomic bombing. The title comes from the Irish folk song "The Last Rose of Summer," which is itself the basis for the famous Japanese song "Niwa no Chigusa."

The film will be the first anime work for Kawaguchi, who is himself from Onomichi in Hiroshima prefecture. Viz Media published Kawaguchi's political manga Eagle in North America. Central Park Media released the naval anime special The Silent Service inspired by Kawaguchi's manga, and Geneon Entertainment (USA) released the Zipang television anime, also inspired by Kawaguchi's manga.

Playwright Motofumi Tomikawa (The Eel) has written a script for the film. Tōki Udagawa (Kaze to Ki no Uta SANCTUS -Sei naru kana-, Take the X Train, Zō no Inai Dōbutsuen), who knew Murakami for 30 years, is producing the film. The staff plan to complete the film by summer or fall 2020, which will mark the 75th anniversary of the two atomic bombings in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The staff are considering raising funds for the film through crowdfunding.

Image © Kaiji Kawaguchi

Sources: Mainichi Shimbun (Yudai Nakazawa) (link 2), NHK

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