ALWAYS -SUNSET ON THIRD STREET- 3 Production Notes
SciFi Japan is pleased to present an early look at ALWAYS- SUNSET ON 3RD STREET- 3 (ALWAYS 三丁目の夕日’64, Always San-Chome no Yuhi ’64), the latest chapter in the smash hit ALWAYS movie series. The following photos and detailed production notes are courtesy of NTV. Toho will release the film to theaters across Japan on January 21, 2012.
SPOILER WARNING: This article contains plot details for a new movie.
Released in Japan in November 2005, ALWAYS- SUNSET ON THIRD STREET (ALWAYS 三丁目の夕日, Always San-Chome no Yuhi) enjoyed a long theatrical run, won countless awards (including numerous Japan Academy Awards), and became one of the most successful films in recent memory. Two years later, the sequel, ALWAYS- SUNSET ON THIRD STREET- 2 (ALWAYS 続・三丁目の夕日, Always Zoku San-Chome no Yuhi, 2007), surpassed the box office success of the original, capturing the hearts of audiences across the nation.
Five years later, the beloved characters of this popular franchise return to the big screen in ALWAYS- SUNSET ON 3RD STREET- 3 — this time in 3D.
The film is set in 1964, about five years after the last film had left off, the year Tokyo hosted the Summer Olympics. Having staged a remarkable recovery just 19 years after the devastation of World War II, Japan was in the midst of rapid economic growth and was bursting with energy. When Japan’s aerobatic squadron drew the Olympic rings in the clear blue sky during the Opening ceremony, it represented a moment that inspired people with the hope that an even better future awaited. Against this backdrop, new stories unfold among the now-familiar characters of Third Street, all with the same, warm humanity that marked the first two films. While the Chagawa family prepares for a new baby, Suzuki sets his sights on turning his auto repair business, Suzuki Auto, into the top company in Japan. The residents of the community each lead eventful lives, but some among them are about to find themselves at a turning point in their lives…
The film is adapted from Ryohei Saigan’s award-winning manga series Sunset on Third Street (San-Chome no Yuhi), which has published an astounding 58 volumes to date. At the helm is Takashi Yamazaki (SPACE BATTLESHIP YAMATO), who also directed the first two movies. Also the leading visual effects figure in Japan, he takes on the enormous challenge of recreating the details of the period — still vividly remembered by many in the audience — in 3D, using the same real 3D technology employed by such projects as Avatar. In addition to the familiar streets of Third Street as well as the Tokyo Tower, this sequel features the iconic Olympic rings clouds during the Opening ceremony as well as the Tokaido Shinkansen, the bullet train line that had just opened that year. The film continues the mission of allowing the audience to travel back in time to those vibrant days of postwar Japan, but with the advancement in 3D technology, the audience can now experience 1964 Tokyo with more realism than ever before.
The entire All-Star ensemble cast return, including Hidetaka Yoshioka, Shinichi Tsutsumi, Koyuki, Maki Horikita, Masako Motai, Tomokazu Miura, and Hiroko Yakushimaru. They’re joined by some new cast members playing colorful new characters. The creative team that swept the Japan Academy Awards with the first film reunites once again to create a moving, inspiring and heartwarming tale. The 3D glasses at the theater will serve as a ticket to 1964 Tokyo, inviting the audience to relive the passion, laughter and tears with the residents of Third Street.
The year is 1964. With Tokyo preparing to host the Olympics, buildings and highways are being constructed at a feverish pace, and excitement fills the air. Amidst all the change and commotion, the people of Third Street continue to carry on with their lives, as colorful and vibrant as ever.
The novelist Ryunosuke Chagawa (Hidetaka Yoshioka) has married Hiromi (Koyuki), and the two now share a happy life with Junnosuke (Kenta Suga), the young boy he had taken in during the first film, who is now in high school. Chagawa’s candy shop has been renovated to include a small restaurant, which Hiromi runs. Hiromi is also pregnant, and the family prepares to welcome a new addition to their household. Chagawa continues to write his serial as the lead writer on the Adventure Boys Book magazine, but his popularity is threatened by a new writer. Asked by the editor, Tomioka (Nao Omori), to “give it a fresh new feel,” Chagawa begins to sink into a rut.
Meanwhile, Norifumi Suzuki (Shinichi Tsutsumi), his wife Tomoe (Hiroko Yakushimaru), their only son Ippei (Kazuki Koshimizu) and their live-in employee Mutsuko Hoshino (Maki Horikita) have gradually expanded their auto repair business, which has gotten an impressive makeover. Mutsuko now manages a new employee, and she has grown into an indispensible part of Suzuki Auto. But every morning, Mutsuko puts on makeup and steps out of her home — all so she can “happen to” run into and say hello to the young doctor, Kotaro Kikuchi (Mirai Moriyama), who passes by on his way to work. Kin Ohta (Masako Motai) watches over Mutsuko’s burgeoning romance with maternal warmth, while the pediatrician, Shiro Takuma (Tomokazu Miura), continues to treat the townspeople.
One day, Hiromi discovers a telegram that Chagawa had hidden. Who sent this telegram? What is the surprising identity of this new, rival writer? Will Mutsuko’s affections be returned? And what future awaits the people of Third Street?
ABOUT THE 3D TECHNOLOGY
The movie industry has been ushered into the era of next-generation 3D technology, thanks to the revolution that AVATAR represented. Yet many recent releases in 3D are actually filmed in 2D like any other film, only to be converted into 3D later (including such films as ALICE IN WONDERLAND and HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS – PART 2).
What’s notable about ALWAYS -SUNSET ON THIRD STREET- 3 is that it was filmed in real 3D, just as AVATAR was. This allows for a more natural 3D appearance and depth that are easier on the eyes, enabling a 3D film that can be enjoyed by audiences of all ages.
The camera that was used, “3ality,” features two cameras positioned one on top of the other. The top camera films the left-eye image, while the bottom camera films the right-eye image simultaneously. (The right-eye image becomes the primary image, so the material filmed by the bottom camera is what is used when creating a 2D version later.) During production, three 3D monitors were set up, with the largest one being 46 inches. The director and the other crew wore 3D glasses and checked images on the monitors while filming.
RECREATING 1964 TOKYO IN 3D
The first two ALWAYS -SUNSET ON THIRD STREET- films meticulously recreated the world of late 1950s Tokyo by building massive sets and employing the latest in visual effects technology to blend in such details as the Tokyo Tower under construction, the Nihonbashi bridge without a highway looming over it, and even Godzilla. In this third installment, however, the creative team was faced with the added challenge of rendering these visual effects in 3D. Though it’s an undertaking uncommon even among overseas productions, cutting edge technology from various fields have been assembled to carve out new cinematic territory.
For instance, a surveying technician was brought on to create a three-dimensional scan of the sets. In order to combine live action images with massive amounts of 3D computer-generated images and miniatures, each set is first laser-scanned and reconstructed in computers before a virtual Third Street is created. The CG elements are then added in (such as buildings that were missing from the set, or a second floor to a building), and finally, the completed virtual Third Street is filmed with the same camerawork as the live action material and then composited.
Composites in 2D (as in the first two films) were considered successful as long as they appeared natural and created the appropriate illusion of depth. In 3D, however, the depth must be precisely calculated when compositing three-dimensional objects. Otherwise, when seen through 3D glasses, the positional relationships may be misaligned, or the three-dimensional effect may not be properly expressed. In order to prevent these, it becomes necessary to create a virtual version of the setting before it is composited with the live action.
Through this painstaking process, the filmmakers will allow audiences to enter a wholly believable world and experience it as if they are right there.
THE YEAR 1964 IN JAPAN
April 1: Japanese citizens are permitted to freely travel overseas.
April 6: HYOKKORI HYOTAN-JIMA, a wildly popular TV show, begins airing.
September 8: Japan signs the Road Traffic conventions of the Geneva Convention, making it possible for Japanese citizens to obtain international driving permits.
September 17: The Tokyo Monorail opens.
October 1: The Tokaido Shinkansen (bullet train) opens, making it possible to travel between Tokyo and Osaka in just four hours.
October 3: The Nippon Budokan, a landmark indoor arena, opens.
October 10 – 24: Tokyo hosts the Summer Olympics, becoming the first Asian city to host the Olympics. A record 94 nations were represented.
Ryunosuke Chagawa (Hidetaka Yoshioka)
Though a graduate of an elite university, Chagawa is a struggling writer hoping to become a first-rate novelist. He writes an adventure serial for a third-rate literary magazine for boys, but when his popularity is usurped by a new writer, his own series is faced with the threat of being discontinued. He’s dependent on his wife Hiromi’s income. He runs a candy shop on the side.
Hiromi Chagawa (Koyuki)
Chagawa’s wife. Though pregnant, she runs a small restaurant in a renovated section of Chagawa’s candy shop and financially supports the family. In addition, when Chagawa is depressed, she cheers him up and becomes his strength. She has fit nicely into the Third Street community, and often serves as a confidant to Mutsuko.
Junnosuke Furuyuki (Kenta Suga)
After being taken in by Chagawa as a young child, Junnosuke has been raised by Chagawa and Hiromi like a son rather than returning to his biological father. Believing that he must choose a stable career path to thank the two, he represses his dream of becoming a novelist and instead focuses on studying hard to get into an elite university. As an avid fan of Chagawa’s work, he’s sensitive to Chagawa’s depression over the rise of the new writer.
Norifumi Suzuki (Shinichi Tsutsumi)
Runs Suzuki Auto, an auto repair shop. His pride and passion for his work is second to none, and he dreams of growing his business into a world-class entity. He gets along well with his wife and leads a happy family life, yet he secretly harbors disappointment that his son Ippei — now in his rebellious phase — has no intention of taking after the business.
Tomoe Suzuki (Hiroko Yakushimaru)
Norifumi’s wife. A hard worker, she makes up for her husband’s shortcomings, supporting him behind the scenes. With love and empathy, she serves as a mother figure not only to her own son Ippei and live-in employee Mutsuko (who is practically family by now), but also the new employee Kenji.
Mutsuko Hoshino (Maki Horikita)
Mutsuko came to Tokyo from Aomori prefecture to work at Suzuki Auto and in six years has become a daughter figure to the Suzuki family. Constantly improving her auto repair skills, she has developed into an indispensible part of the business. Her heart flutters when she thinks of Dr. Kikuchi, who had treated her burn injury once.
Ippei Suzuki (Kazuki Koshimizu)
The only son of the Suzuki family. Now in high school and entering puberty, he has a tendency to take a rebellious attitude against his parents. Idolizing the guitar-wielding star of a popular movie series, he forms a band with his classmates and plays the lead guitar. He practices diligently to improve, but his skills leave much to be desired.
Kin Ohta (Masako Motai)
An older lady who runs a cigarette shop. She notices Mutsuko’s affections for Dr. Kikuchi before anyone else, and offers romance advice. She looks on with warmth as Mutsuko and Kikuchi grow closer, but one day she hears a rumor about Kikuchi at the hospital…
Shiro Takuma (Tomokazu Miura)
A pediatrician, Takuma has lived alone ever since losing his beloved wife and daughter to the air raids during World War II. Trusted by the Third Street community, he quickly responds to calls by rushing over in his signature scooter.
Kotaro Kikuchi (Mirai Moriyama)
A young doctor, Kikuchi meets Mutsuko when she comes in for an exam. He’s a serious, hard worker, but off duty, he’s a stylish, trendy young man who likes to drive in his car while clad in Ivy style outfits. He visits Suzuki Auto one day to get his car fixed.
Tomioka (Nao Omori)
An editor at the Adventure Boys Book magazine. In addition to Chagawa, he also oversees Akira Midorinuma, a new novelist who emerged out of nowhere. While the editorial team discusses moving to an all-comics magazine, Tomioka tries to save Chagawa’s serial from being cut.
Rintaro Chagawa (Masakane Yonekura)
Chagawa’s father. Stubborn, awkward, and traditional, he disowned his son Chagawa 20 years ago over his insistence on becoming a novelist rather than a more “respectable” occupation. Weakened by an ailment, he’s visited by Chagawa, who returns for the first time since being disowned, but Rintaro can’t help but be cold to him.
Natsuko (Atsuko Takahata)
Chagawa’s aunt. She diligently nurses Rintaro, insisting that people ought to “help each other out in times of need.”
Ryohei Saigan | Author of Sunset on Third Street
Born 1947, Tokyo.
1970: Makes his debut as a manga writer, winning a ‘Fine Work Prize’ of ‘Shogakukan Big Comic Award’.
1974: The original story San-chome no Yuhi started the serial in a magazine Big Comic Original. (It is still continuing, and 54 volumes of the comic Yuyake no Uta aka San-chome no Yuhi has already been published.)
1982: Won ‘27th Shogakukan Manga Prize’
2010: Awarded Medal with Purple Ribbon from Cabinet Office, Government of Japan
Main titles: San-chome no Yuhi (still serially published), Kamakura Monogatari (still serially published), Tanpopo-san no Uta, Shinkirou, and more.
I look forward to seeing how much Ippei, Junnosuke and “Roku” (Mutsuko) have grown in the five years since the last film. In 1964, I remember being glued to the TV, watching the Tokyo Olympics. With the latest film being in 3D, I can’t wait to travel back in time again to those nostalgic days.
THE DIRECTOR’S STATEMENT
YAMAZAKI Takashi | Director, screenwriter, visual effects supervisor
Born June 12, 1964, Nagano Prefecture. After graduating from Asagaya College of Art and Design, he joined Shirogumi where he developed highly-skilled visual techniques, working on films such as Juzo Itami’s THE LAST DANCE (大病人, Daibyonin, 1993) and A QUIET LIFE (静かな生活, Shizukana Seikatsu, 1995) and creating digital compositions and images for promotional events.
In 2000, he made his directorial debut with JUVENILE (ジュブナイル, Jubunairu), which received high acclaim, winning the prize for Best Children’s Film at the Giffoni International Film Festival in Italy, and the Best Visual Effects at the domestic Nifty Film Awards in 2000. His next film, RETURNER (リターナー , Ritanaa, 2002), had Hollywood people marveling at his technical of VFX, also was released in North America. In 2005, ALWAYS -SUNSET ON THIRD STREET- was a huge box office hit in Japan and was awarded numerous prices. After that, ALWAYS -SUNSET ON THIRD STREET- 2 (2007), BALLAD (BALLAD 名もなき恋のうた, Ballad: Namonaki Koi no Uta, 2009) and SPACE BATTLESHIP YAMATO (SPACE BATTLESHIP ヤマト, Uchu Senkan Yamato, 2010) proved that Takashi Yamazaki is currently Japan’s most remarkable visual artist working to create pure entertainment.
As soon as we’d completed ALWAYS -SUNSET ON THIRD STREET- 2 , we’d already been saying to each other that if we were to do a third one, it should be set in 1964, the year of the Tokyo Olympics. It was a seminal event that announced to the world that Japan had successfully recovered from the war. It represented a climactic moment in postwar Japan and a milestone that marked a turning point in many lives. Having been born in 1964 myself, it’s a year that has special meaning for me, and I was excited to travel back in time to those days in a very different experience from the first two films.
The ALWAYS -SUNSET ON THIRD STREET- series has been characterized by the use of cutting edge visual effects to recreate the nostalgic details of the period. This time, we use the third-generation 3D technology that’s become the mainstream standard ever since AVATAR. Filming with a 3D camera and doing the post-production in 3D is a first for a Japanese film, and it hasn’t been easy, but it’s only fitting, since this series has always taken on the challenge of utilizing the latest in visual effects. 3D should heighten the sensation of “time-traveling” to that period, with audiences feeling as if they’re truly in that world, even more so than they did in the first two films. Also, because many of the 3D films have been intense action movies, I think many elderly audiences have tended to avoid seeing them, even if they were interested in the technology. With this film, I trust that such viewers will be able to experience a 3D film for the first time.
In terms of the story, I hope to make it a film that allows audiences to feel as if they’re meeting these characters for the first time after a long absence — the sort of film that makes one want to say, “Long time, no see.”
CAST & STAFF
MIURA Tomokazu (Special thanks)
Directed and VFX by YAMAZAKI Takashi
Original Story San-chome no Yuhi (Shogakukan Big Comic) by SAIGAN Ryohei
Screenplay by KOSAWA Ryota / YAMAZAKI Takashi
Music by SATO Naoki
Executive Producers: ABE Shuji / OKUDA Seiji
Production: MIYAZAKI Hiroshi / KABUTO Takaaki / KAMEI Osamu / HIRAI Fumihiro / ICHIKAWA Minami / HATTORI Hiroshi / HIRONAKA Ken / ABE Shuji / OHASHI Yoshimitsu / SHIMAMURA Tatsuo
Producers: ANDO Chikahiro / TAKAHASHI Nozomu / IINUMA Nobuyuki
Associate Producers: KOIDE Masaki / SAWABE Nobumasa
Line Producer: TAKEUCHI Shoichi
Co. Producer: MORIYA Keiichiro / OMURA Makoto
Cooperation Producer: YAMAGIWA Shinpei
Cinematography: SHIBASAKI Kozo
Lighting: MIZUNO Kenichi
Sound Recording: TSURUMAKI Hitoshi
Production Designer: JOJO Anri
Props: TATSUTA Tetsuji
VFX Director: SHIBUYA Kiyoko
Editor: MIYAJIMA Ryuji
Sound FX Design: SHIBASAKI Kenji
Assistance Director: KAWAMURA Naoki
Production Manager: ABE Go
Planning: Abe Shuji, Inc.
Production Company: ROBOT
Production Companies: “ALWAYS -Sunset on Third Street- 3”Film Partners (NTV / ROBOT / SHOGAKUKAN / VAP / TOHO / DENTSU / YTV / ABE SHUJI, INC. / THE YOMIURI SHIMBUN / SHIROGUMI / STV・MMT・SDT・CTV・HTV・FBS)
©2012 “Always3” Film Partners
For more on the ALWAYS- SUNSET ON THIRD STREET films please see the earlier coverage here on SciFi Japan: