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The Tale of Genji Museum to Debut 'Genji Fantasy' Anime Short in April

posted on by Egan Loo
MAO, Tomoaki Maeno star in short about girl transported to era of Japan's most famous novel

The Tale of Genji Museum in Uji City, Kyoto has completed "Genji Fantasy: The Cat Fell in Love With Hikaru Genji" ("Genji Fantasy Neko ga Hikaru Genji ni Koi Shita"), a 20-minute original anime that the museum will start screening on April 2. Uji City began streaming a trailer on Wednesday:

Blending history and fantasy, the story follows a modern high school girl named Hana who is transformed into a cat and transported back in time. She travels 1,000 years ago to the Heian Era as portrayed in The Tale of Genji, arguably the most famous novel in Japanese literature.

Guided by the novel's titular character Hikaru Genji, Hana experiences firsthand the emotions that the author Murasaki Shikibu depicted in her novel. The short features scenes based on The Diary of Lady Murasaki and other historical materials, such as the real-life noble Fujiwara no Michinaga swiping early drafts of The Tale of Genji because he could not wait to read chapters as Murasaki wrote them.

In the order the trailer above introduces the characters, the anime stars:

  • Kikuko Inoue as Murasaki Shikibu, the novel's author
  • Keiji Fujiwara as Fujiwara no Michinaga, the behind-the-scenes ruler of Japan
  • Hisako Tōjō as Fujiwara no Shōshi, the empress and Michinaga's daughter
  • MAO as Hana, a modern high school girl
  • Tomoaki Maeno as Hikaru Genji, the novel's main character

(Note: Names of historical Japanese characters are written here with family or clan name first.)

32-year-old Rika Ōta (episode director on Chūnibyō demo Koi ga Shitai! Lite, Free! - Iwatobi Swim Club) directed the short at LIDEN FILMS Kyoto Studio, and Haruka Sagawa (Monster Strike: A Rhapsody Called Lucy -The Very First Song-) designed the characters. Kazuya Sakamoto served as animation producer, and NHK Planet Kinki Sōshisha and Uji City are presenting the project.

The anime's staff held a private preview screening to commemorate the anime's completion on Tuesday. Budgeted at 50 million yen (about US$500,000), the project is part of the museum's renewal to celebrate its 20th anniversary.

The original novel already inspired numerous screen adaptations, including a 1987 anime film by Gisaburō Sugii at Group TAC and a 2009 television series by Osamu Dezaki at Tezuka Productions and Tokyo Movie.

Source: Kyoto Shimbun via Ota-Suke

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