> This week at the Japan Film Festival, I caught the U.S. Primiere of “Yunagi City, Sakura Country.” This adaptation of the Fumiko Kouno’s manga, known in the U.S. as “Town of Evening Calm, Country of Cherry Blossoms,” is even better than the manga itself. Hopefully a publisher will deem this worthy of an American release.
“Yunagi City, Sakura Country” is actually set in two parts. This first half, Yunagi City, focuses on Minami, a young office worker woman in Hiroshima after World War II. One of her male coworkers, Yutaka, really likes Minami, and even gives her new straw sandals. However, her memories of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima still haunts her. The second half, Sakura Country, is set 50 years after the war. Nanami’s father, Asahi, sneaks off in the night to visit Hiroshima. Little does Nanami know about Asahi’s relations with Minami, and his past in Hiroshima.
There haven’t been too many movies about the atomic bombing of Japan released in the U.S., except for an old audiobook of the story of Sadako and the Thousand Cranes. However, for a post-war movie, it is very sensitive in its treatment of the repercussions and diseases of the atomic bomb. I was heartbroken when Nanami saw her mother and her grandmother die in the same apartment. However, through the magic of film, Nanami is one of the few descendants of the atomic bomb who managed to live on, to defy the curse of the atomic bomb.
This is one hell of a tearjerker, and the second half is really emotional. More importantly, the movie connects the events of the first and the second story together seamlessly. I love how director Kyoshi Sasabe managed to pass the ancient hairpiece on to each succeeding member of Nanami’s family. I think the actor of Nanami pulled off a stunning performance, observing the pain and suffering of the victims of the atom bomb without looking away.
If you read the manga, you will definitely need to look out for the movie, filled with even more heartbreaking, emotional dialogue. Plus, Nanami looks really cute…
Image courtesy of skipcity-dcf.jp