THE LIFE OF BUDORI GUSUKO
Source: Warner Bros. Pictures Japan
Official Site: warnerbros.co.jp/budori (Japan)
Additional Material: Nippon Connection
SPOILER WARNING: This article contains plot details and images from a new Japanese movie not yet released in the United States.
Following the Japanese theatrical run and several international festival screenings, the anime feature THE LIFE OF BUDORI GUSUKO (グスコーブドリの伝記, Gusuko Budori no Denki, 2012) made its North American premiere June 16, 2013 at the Toronto Japanese Film Festival and Comic Con International.
The film was directed by acclaimed animator Gisaburo Sugii with character designs by Masumura Hiroshi, and is based on the classic fairy tale A Biography of Gusuko Budori by poet and author Kenji Miyazawa, first published in the April 1932 edition of Japan Children’s Literature (日本児童文学, Nihon Jido Bungaku). The same creative team was responsible for the award-winning box office hit NIGHT ON THE GALACTIC RAILROAD (銀河鉄道の夜, Ginga Tetsudo no Yoru) in 1985. As with the earlier film, THE LIFE OF BUDORI GUSUKO portrays the characters as anthropomorphized cats, a stylization also used for the Miyazawa adaptation SPRING AND CHAOS (イーハトーブ幻想, Kenjiの春 Iihatoobu Gensoo Kenji no Haru, 1996).
Production of THE LIFE OF BUDORI GUSUKO was started in 2008 by Group TAC (THOSE WHO HUNT ELVES, STREET FIGHTER, AREA 88). But in September 2010 the studio declared bankruptcy following the death of founder Atsumi Tashiro. Tezuka Productions (ASTRO BOY) stepped in to finish the film for a July 2012 release in Japan.
In the 1920s, a boy named Budori Gusuko lives peacefully and happily with his parents and younger sister Neri in the beautiful Tohoku forests of northeastern Japan. But following a devastating bout of cold weather, Budori’s family is lost and he suddenly finds himself alone.
Deciding to leave the forest, Budori sets out on a journey and soon comes to Akahige’s marsh lands. He works himself to the bone in the fields, but not long afterward the crops there are also destroyed by the cold.
Wandering aimlessly, Budori eventually arrives in the city of Ihatove. There he meets Doctor Kubo, who helps him get a job at the Volcano Office. Budori works diligently with his colleagues and grows into a strong young man. But once again the region is hit by a cold front. Thinking to himself, “That’s not going to happen again. There must be something I can do,” Budori vows to protect his beloved homeland and the people so dear to him.
With a storm approaching, the Volcano Department needs a volunteer to stay behind and induce an eruption in order to prevent widespread devastation. Budori agrees, but the heartbreaking memory of losing his family still remains and influences his actions…
Director Biography: Gisaburo Sugii
Joining Toei Doga (Toei Animation) in 1959, Gisaburo Sugii learned the basics of animation. Then he served as an animator on several works such as THE WHITE SNAKE (白蛇伝, Hakujaden, 1958), THE ADVENTURE OF LITTLE SAMURAI (少年猿飛佐助, Shonen Sarutobi Sasuke, 1959), and THE ENCHANTED MONKEY (西遊記, Saiyu-ki, 1960).
In 1961, he joined Mushi Production, the animation studio run by Osamu Tezuka, known as a leader in the realm of Japanese animation. Sugii directed ASTRO BOY (鉄腕アトム, Tetsuwan Atomu, 1963), ADVENTURES OF THE MONKEY KING (悟空の大冒険, Goku no Daiboken, 1966), DORORO (どろろ, 1969) and other works.
He also joined the production of Tazuka’s A THOUSAND & ONE NIGHTS (千夜一夜物語, Senya Ichiya Monogatari, 1969), and CLEOPATRA (クレオパトラ, Kureopatora, 1970) as a guest animator. At that time, adult-oriented feature animations of that nature were rare in Japan.
In 1969, he co-established Group TAC with Atsumi Tashiro and directed the feature animation JACK AND THE BEANSTALK (ジャックと豆の木, Jack to Mame no Ki, 1974) and some TV animation series such as MANGA TALES OF OLD JAPAN (まんが日本昔ばなし, Manga Nippon Mukashi Banashi, 1975), NINE (ナイン, 1983), and TOUCH (タッチ, 1985). In 1985, he turned Kenji Miyazawa’s representative work Night Train to the Stars into the sensational feature animation NIGHT ON THE GALACTIC RAILROAD, receiving the Noburo Ofuji Award at the Mainich Film Awards. In 1987, he turned the oldest Japanese novel, The Tale of Genji (源氏物語, Genji Monogatari), into an animation film under the same title as the original story. The film was well-received in various fields.
In 2005, he directed ONE STORMY NIGHT (あらしのよるに, Arashi no-Yoruni) which was nominated for the 30th Japan Academy Prize for Animation of the Year. In 2010 he was awarded the distinguished service award for film by the Agency for Cultural Affairs, and in 2011 he was appointed to a member of the jury panel for Japan Media Arts Festival. In 2012, his latest work, THE LIFE OF BUDORI GUSUKO, was released.
Japanese Release Date: July 7, 2012
Running Time: 108 Minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Budori Gusuko: Shun Oguri
Neri Gusuko: Shiori Kutsuna
Budori’s Mother: Tamiyo Kusakari
Budori’s Father: Ryuzo Hayashi
Doctor Kubo: Akira Emoto
Kotori: Kuranosuke Sasaki
Red Beard: Shozo Hayashiya
Director: Gisaburo Sugii
Screenplay: Gisaburo Sugii
Original Story: Kenji Miyazawa
Producer: Yoshihiro Shimizu
Supervisor: Taijiro Amazawa
Character Design: Hiroshi Masumura
Animation Director: Marisuke Eguchi
Art Director: Yukio Abe
Storyboard: Gisaburo Sugii
Animation: Marisuke Eguchi
Music: Ryota Komatsu
Production Company: “A Biography of Gusuko Budori” the Movie Committee
Animation Studio: Tezuka Productions Co., Ltd.
Distributor: Warner Bros. Pictures Japan
© 2012 “A Biography of Gusuko Budori” the Movie Committee/ Hiroshi Masumura