Masaaki Yuasa's Japan Sinks Anime Competes at Annecy

posted on by Jennifer Sherman
10-episode series debuts on Netflix worldwide in 2020

The official website for Science SARU and Masaaki Yuasa's upcoming anime series adaptation of Sakyo Komatsu's Japan Sinks (Nihon Chinbotsu) science-fiction novel revealed on Thursday that the anime is screening in competition at this year's Annecy International Animation Film Festival in the TV Films category. The website also revealed a new key visual for the anime.

Yuasa's Ride Your Wave anime film screened in competition at Annecy last year in the Features category. His Lu over the wall anime film earned the top "Cristal for a Feature Film" award at Annecy in June 2017.

The only other Japanese work screening in competition at Annecy this year is Isaku Kaneko's "The Balloon Catcher," which is screening in the Graduation Short Films category.

This year's physical Annecy International Animation Film Festival is canceled due to concerns about the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus disease. Instead, an online version of the festival will be held from June 15 to 30.

Established in 1960, Annecy is the world's oldest and largest animation film festival. Next year's festival will be held from June 14 to 19, 2021, and it will celebrate the event's 60th anniversary.

The cast of Japan Sinks includes (from left to right in image above):

  • Reina Ueda (Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba's Kanao Tsuyuri, Darwin's Game's Shuka) as Ayumu Mutō, the 14-year-old protagonist who throws herself into track team practice in her hope to participate in the Olympics
  • Tomo Muranaka (World Trigger's Yūma Kuga) as Gō Mutō, Ayumu's younger brother who connects to the world through online games
  • Yuko Sasaki (Chibi Maruko-chan's Kotake Sakura) as Mari Mutō, the Mutō family's mother and a former competitive swimmer who is optimistic even in the face of disaster
  • Masaki Terasoma (Detective Conan's Ginshiro Toyama) as Kōichirō Mutō, the Mutō family's clever and tenacious father

The 10-episode series will debut worldwide on Netflix in 2020.

The original disaster sci-fi novel begins when a series of natural disasters hit Japan. Massive tectonic shifts cause volcanic eruptions from remote Japanese islands, triggering earthquakes, and eventually triggering more eruptions in volcanoes in the Japanese mainland. Through it all, a team of scientists attempt to convince the Japanese government that the Japanese archipelago will soon sink beneath the sea sooner than anyone expected.

The new anime moves the setting from 1970s Japan to modern Japan. While the original announcement of the anime mentioned the story would be set just after the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, this detail has now been removed in the recent announcement, and is now simply set in "modern Japan" (the Olympics are now delayed). The story centers on the Mutō family, and the siblings Ayumu and Gō. The four members of the Mutō family are caught in an earthquake that hits Tokyo, and attempt to escape the city, while disaster claws at their heels.

Yuasa is directing the anime at his Science SARU studio, with Pyeon-Gang Ho credited as series director. Toshio Yoshitaka (Dragon Ball Super) is penning the script. The musician kensuke ushio, who has collaborated with Yuasa in the Ping Pong and DEVILMAN crybaby anime, is composing the music. Naoya Wada (DEVILMAN crybaby episode director) is drawing the character designs. Ken Hashimoto is the color key artist. Toshikazu Kuno is the compositing director of photography. Eriko Kimura is the sound director. Kiyoshi Hirose is in charge of editing.

Komatsu debuted the original novel in 1973, and the novel has inspired two live-action films — one that also debuted in 1973, and another in 2006 by Gainax co-founder and Shin Godzilla director Shinji Higuchi. It also inspired a 1975 live-action series, as well as two manga adaptations: the first by Golgo 13 author Takao Saito, and a 2006-2009 manga by Tokihiko Ishiki. The novel is regarded as a science-fiction classic in Japan and around the world.

JManga and Crunchyroll posted Saito's manga adaptation in English, and British video distributor Tartan Video released a subtitled DVD of Higuchi's live-action film.

Yuasa and Science Saru are also creating a Super Shiro anime spinoff from the Crayon Shin-chan franchise, recently adapted Sumito Ōwara's Eizouken ni wa Te o Dasu na! (Keep Your Hands Off Eizouken!) manga into a television anime, and are producing a new musical anime feature film titled Inu-Oh based on Hideo Furukawa's novel.

Sources: Press release, Japan Sinks anime's website, Annecy's website, Animation Business Journal (Tadashi Sudo)

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