Saturday, May 12, 2007

Movie "Summer Vacation 1999"

I was looking up "Moto Hagio" in YouTube and came across this video. Inspired by "Tooma no Shinzou" by Moto Hagio, the story takes plance in an all-boys boarding schoool (their characters are played by young actresses). Now, I have no idea what this movie is about, but when I saw this clip, I felt a bit "hazukashii" (embarrassed). It is not really part of my culture that women play male roles. But this is part of the culture in Japan, and especially for Shojo Manga, because of the Takarazuka Revue - an all-female musical theater company they have a huge female fan base.

Osamu Tezuka grew up in Takarazuka City and went to see Takarazuka Revues when he was little. So when he started drawing Shojo Manga, he was said to have been inspired by his childhood memory of the revues to do "Princess Knight." So the Takarazuka Revue and Shojo Manga have a strong connection at the root.

So it may not be very strange for this movie to cast actresses in boys' roles, but it looks silly to me. In fact, "Tooma no Shinzou" was dramatized by an all-male theater company Studio Life (that's also popular with women). Personally, I would be more interested in that.

Studio Life - Tooma no Shinzou - CastJapan has no shortage of "bishonen" or pretty boys, so why bother with an all-girls cast? If someone is planning to dramatize or cinematize "Poe no Ichizoku", please consider using real boys.

So I have two questions.
  1. I have never seen "Poe no Ichizoku" dramatized or cinematized (my husband heard a radio drama when he was young, but he said it was not good). Is "Tooma no Shinzou" more popular in Japan than Poe?
  2. If we could produce Poe movie, who would you cast (Japanese or westerner, but real men)? David Bowie could have done it when he was younger, but I am not very familiar with who is available today.
Give me your comments!


Sakio said...

Hello, I found your blog by chance today. It is really wonderful....!

>so why bother with an all-girls cast?

As to the movie "summer vacation 1999", its filmmaker clearly says in a interview(I forgot which one it is) that all-boys cast wasn't tempting to him, because, according to him, it would give kind of "sexual mood" to the movie, while all-girls cast makes it rather a-sexual and angelic. I myself don't understand exactely what he says, but I suppose some unconscious homophobe feeling in it.

About your questions,

1. I don't think "Tooma" is more popular than "Poe", but it seems to me that the former has clearer target in the market: fans of yaoi(shonen-ai). So from the commercial point of view, its dramatizing would be easier.

2. Hmmm....good question.
Perhaps.....Gaspard Ulliel for Oskar?
For Yuri, Thomas and Erik, I have no idea.

Anonymous said...

Probably you have known this already, as of december last year, Poe no Ichizoku has been released as Drama CDs. I think there would be 3 volumes total. More information at here

Thank you for making this site, I really enjoy reading your writings.

Anonymous said...

"Summer Vacation 1999" is a beautiful film, probably one of the best romances I've seen out of any country. I'm sorry having females play male parts repulses you, but let me tell you that it works quite well. Women playing young boys is really rather common - think Peter Pan or Puck - due to a lack of sufficient talent or willingness in the below-15 male set.

Personally, I think having grown men play the parts of young boys looks much sillier. Women, especially those of the Asian facial structure, can look like young boys. Most grown men cannot. I saw the stage play of Thomas no Shinzou when I was in Japan several years ago - it's staged every year - and I enjoyed it much less than I expected myself to. The men were completely masculine-looking, and in those little shorts and orange wigs they made the beautiful story seem silly and camp. There was also plenty of overacting and cheap sets, but the overgrown look is what really took away from the experience.

Although seeing real boys kiss may tickle you more than seeing those girls in drag do so, neither Thomas no Shinzou nor Summer Vacation 1999 are meant to scintillate. They're timeless romances that test the bounds of gender and sexuality. In that way, it hardly matters whether the gender being tested is male or female.