Many big events are happening next year in Japan. The Rugby World Cup. A new emperor will be enthroned. Preparations will also be in full gear for the 2020 Olympics.
2019, however, also marks the 50th anniversary of the first Tora-san movie! Shochiku’s Tora-san 50th anniversary website went live today. Here is a summary of what was announced today.
1) A new Tora-san movie will be released! I was a bit worried when I first read about it, as Atsumi Kiyoshi was announced to be in it. I was worried there would be a CGI Tora-san running around even a newly cast Tora-san? However, from what I have read, they will be using old footage of Tora-san while showing his sister Sakura (Chieko Baisho), his brother-in-law Hiroshi (Gin Maeda), and his nephew Mitsuo (Hidetaka Yoshioka) in the present day. Mitsuo was really the focus in the last 9 or so films, so I would guess Mitsuo will have some problem or issue in which memories of Tora-san are involved. Since it will be the 50th Tora-san film, it will be fitting it is released on the 50th anniversary of the first film.
2) All the films will be given 4K restorations. Honestly, I was expecting this. I have seen more than half of the Tora-san films on film by now. They aren’t always in great shape, so in terms of preservation it is good that they are doing this. However, I hope they still preserve the original film prints and show them every once in a while. In any case, next summer Shochiku will release blu-ray versions of all the films and then have special screenings in theaters across Japan.
3) Shibamata will of course be the center of a few events.. The Tora-san museum in Shibamata will be given another renovation, including an addition of a café space. The Tora-san summit, which is usually held the first weekend in November, will be the center of other events happening in Shibamata, such as screenings and stamp relays, throughout the next year.
4) Tora-san’s character design will be updated by goen゜, a design firm that has done work for NHK as well as various brands and musicians.
5) You will be able to watch Tora-san on BS TV Tokyo (known as BS TV Japan until October 1st) every Saturday, starting with the first film on October 6th at 6:30 pm.
6) There will be a special Tora-san 50th anniversary exhibition at the Nihonbashi Mitsukoshi Department Store from August, 2019, which will subsequently travel all around Japan.
7) Shochiku has several tie-ups planned with other companies. Japan Post will be offering Tora-san nengajo, while Tanita will be offering Tora-san branded weather and health devices. More will be announced as the year goes on.
8) There will be a special event entitled “Tora-san x Rakugo x Talk that will be held at the Yurakucho Yomiuri Hall on September 28, 2019, to celebrate Tora-san. Rakugo was a major influence on the Tora-san films, so this should be interesting.
9) Another satilate channel, this time CS Eigeki, will also be showing all 49 Tora-san films.
10) Yoji Yamada’s novel about the origins of Tora-san, described by the website as Tora-san Episode 0, called Warugaki (Shosetsu) Torajiro no Kokuhaku (悪童 小説 寅次郎の告白 which to somewhat liberally translate as The Bad Seed: Torajiro’s Confessions, a novel) will be rereleased next month. I have read about this but haven’t been able to find it. Shochiku says this is being rereleased due to fan demand and as a fan I will buy it as soon as it comes out.
I assumed Shochiku planned to heavily commercialize the 50th anniversary and so I am not surprised about it. I have been thinking about setting up my own Tora-san website in preparation for the 50th anniversary, so I should get on that, as well. The new Tora-san film worries me a bit, but I shouldn’t doubt Yoji Yamada and I will, of course, be at the theater on the first day, perhaps holding my entire blu-ray collection in my backpack.
Anyways, I will keep everyone up to date on Tora-san events here, so keep checking here if you are interested.