Thursday, January 17, 2013

Youkame no Semi

Youkame no Semi (八日目の蝉 or 8 Day Old Cicada), is a novel written by Mitsuyo Kakuta (角田光代) originally published in 2007. In 2010 it was adapted into a 6 part TV Drama and then a movie adaptation directed by Izuru Narushima (成島出) was released in 2011. I'm only familiar with the movie adaptation, but hope to get around to reading the book someday.

It dominated at the 35th Japanese Academy Awards, winning 10 awards including Best Picture, Best Director (Izuru Narushima), Best Sceenplay, Best Actress (Mao Inoue), Best Supporting Actress (Hiromi Nagasaku), Newcomer Award (Nokomi Watanabe), Best Music, Best Cinematography and Best Lighting.
The story revolves around a young girl, Erina who is kidnapped at birth and raised by her kidnapper under a new name, Kaoru, until the age of 4. Young Kaoru, assuming her kidnapper is her mother, faces a rather shocking change of life when she is reintroduced to her biological parents. Feeling like she is being raised by strangers, it creates family tension that never quite heals.

The role of Erina/Kaoru is played by Mao Inoue (井上真央), who I've seen in the movei adaptation of My Darling is a Foreigner, and is also due to star in adaptaion of Hyakuta Naoki's (百田尚樹) Eien no Zero (永遠の0).

One of the main themes dealt with in this story is effect of the rather pervasive sects and cults of Japan's "New Religions" or Shinshukyo (新宗教),  and their effect on Japanese society. This was also a topic discussed in Murakami's 1Q84, but I don't think it highlighted the real problems these cults produce due to the science fiction nature of 1Q84. Youkame no Semi shows a more realistic portrayal of everyday within one of these groups which are more prominent in the corners of Japanese society than many people realize. I receive spam/pamphlets/newsletters in my mailbox from several groups every couple of months.

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