The Witches of the Orient Documentary Feature Now Screening in the UK and Ireland (Updated)
posted on by Andrew Osmond
The live-action/animated documentary film The Witches of the Orient is now screening at venues in the U.K. and Ireland. The film is about the Japanese women's volleyball team which won a gold medal at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, shocking the entire world. 10 out of the 12 players were from the Nichibo Kaizuka, a factory volleyball team representing the Nichibo textile company.
This true story was the direct inspiration for Attack No. 1. Chikako Urano's classic volleyball manga, which originally ran from 1968 to 1970. It was the first ever shojo manga with a sports theme to become a TV anime. The series is still influential to this day, inspiring a stage play in 2018.
The new documentary is by the French filmmaker Julien Faraut. It tells the story of the real women, combining historical archive footage with interviews of the women, and incorporating footage from the anime. There is more information in Kim Morrissy's article on the film here.
Additionally, there will be a discussion about the film as part of the online Hyper Japan event, between the director and the comics expert Paul Gravett. The talk will take place on Monday July 26 at 6.30 p.m. It will be about "how anime and manga play a vital role in the story's filmic retelling." Other details of the talk are TBC as of writing, according to the film's website.
Update - Another online talk about the film will take place on Wednesday July 21, this one between the director and Dr. Helen Macnaughtan (SOAS), an expert on the history of the volleyball team and sport in Japan. The talk will be from 6.30 to 7.30 p.m. and can be booked free here.
Kim Morrissy writes, "Although Faraut admits that he initially thought of using anime clips as a way to supplement the sparse amount of archive footage he could obtain, his approach inspired contemplation about the relationship between fantasy and reality. Animation from Attack No. 1 is sometimes imposed directly over the live action footage, blurring the boundaries even further and affirming the symbiosis between the two."
Thanks to Jordan Scott for the heads-up.
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