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Nippon Chinbotsu

Entry updated 31 May 2021. Tagged: Film.

1. Film (1973; vt The Submersion of Japan; vt Tidal Wave US). Directed by Shiro Moritani. Written by Shinobu Hashimoto, based on Nippon Chinbotsu (1973; cut trans as Japan Sinks 1976) by Sakyō Komatsu. Cast includes Hiroshi Fujioka, Ayumi Ishida, Keiju Kobayashi and Tetsuro Tamba. 140 minutes, cut to 110 minutes, then to 81 minutes. Colour.

This film is more sophisticated than the usual Japanese Disaster or Monster Movie, and involves natural rather than fantastic forces. Changes within the Earth's core result in the chain of islands which make up Japan sinking beneath the ocean over a period of two years. Other countries are not eager to accept millions of homeless Japanese citizens, although Australia offers its Northern Territory as a new Japanese homeland. The film has been praised for the elegiac feeling aroused by the dying of Japan and her culture, but not especially for its special effects (by Teruyoshi Nakano), which though spectacular are less than wholly convincing.

Tidal Wave is the title of the tawdry 1974 version released to universal execration by Roger Corman's New World company. It was cut to 81 minutes and little more than the special effects remains; it includes specially shot US footage written and directed by Andrew Meyer and starring Lorne Greene and Rhonda Leigh Hopkins. [JB/PN]

2. Japanese tv series (1974-1975; TBS). Directed by Jun Fukuda, Kiyoshi Nishimura et al. Cast includes Keiju Kobayashi, Takenori Murano and Kaoru Yumi.

3. Film (2006; vt The Sinking of Japan US). Directed by Shinji Higuchi. Written by Masato Kato. Cast includes Tsuyoshi Kusanagi, Kō Shibasaki and Etsushi Toyokawa. 135 minutes. Colour.

Two Manga versions also exist, each commissioned as Ties with the release of the corresponding theatrical features. The first, credited to the Saito Pro studio owned by Takao Saito, was serialized in the weekly boys' magazine Shōnen Champion (1973); the second, drawn by Toshihiko Ishiki, appeared in the men's magazine Big Comic Spirits (2006). There is also a Japanese-language Radio version (1980), first broadcast on NHK-FM in ten 15-minute segments.

As befits such an iconic text, the story has been parodied (see Parody) on multiple occasions in the Japanese media, beginning with a darkly comedic pastiche by Yasutaka Tsutsui in his short story "Nippon Igai Zenbu Chinbotsu" (1973 All Yomimono; vt Everything Apart From Japan Sinks), which won a Seiun Award the following year in the Best Short category. Tsutsui's pastiche was itself turned into a movie in the wake of the success of the 2006 Higuchi remake: Nippon Igai Zenbu Chinbotsu (2006). [JonC]

4. Nippon Chinbotsu 2020 (2020; vt Japan Sinks 2020). Japanese original net animation series. Science SARU. Directed by Pyeon-Gang Ho and Masaaki Yuasa. Written by Toshio Yoshitaka. Voice cast includes Tomo Muranaka and Reina Ueda. Ten circa 30-minute episodes. Colour.

This Anime's story differs from previous versions. In 2020 Japan is hit by a massive earthquake: Filipino-Japanese siblings Ayumu (Ueda) and Gou (Muranaka) Mutou, their family and the people they meet along the way, struggle to survive as the Islands sink into the sea; most do not make it. Racism (see Race in SF), nationalism and other bigotries are addressed. The ending, which covers the Near Future, is optimistic and includes the start of the islands' gradual re-emergence.

The series was subsequently edited into a film for theatrical release in Japan as Nihon Chinbotsu 2020 Gekijô Henshû-ban Shizumanu Kibou (2020). [SP]


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