Ichikawa Jun (1948-2008)

Aaron Gerow aaron.gerow
Fri Sep 19 10:54:07 EDT 2008

Yes, it was quite a surprise. He was a much better director than the  
critics and the festivals who defined his international reputation  
thought. While I didn't like all of his films, he was always a  
skilled director and consistently pursued at least two important  
aesthetic issues: the cinematic rendering of the city, and the  
aesthetics of the long take. He was one of the central directors in  
the rise of long shot, long takes in Japanese independent cinema from  
the 1990s (after Somai, of course). I also think he was the best  
director to adapt Murakami Haruki, and it would have been nice to see  
him tackle him again.

I remember seeing a press screening of his Tokiwa-so no seishun at a  
hall in Kyobashi, a marvelous film about the young manga artists who  
congregated around Tezuka Osamu in the 1950s. While the film covers  
Akatsuka, the Fujiko Fujio pair, etc., its focus is on Terada Hiroo,  
an artist who got left behind because his manga did not follow  
Tezuka's more "cinematic" style that breaks up space with editing. It  
was in fact closer to Ichikawa's style, so what you saw here was a  
loving match of Ichikawa's cinema and Terada's manga, one which  
nostalgically made you think about the two media. Tezuka's wife was  
at the screening and asked me afterwards on the street what I thought  
of it. I said it was great, but I couldn't manage to tell her that  
this film, in its essence, was enamored of another kind of manga than  
her husband's.

A sad loss.

Aaron Gerow
KineJapan owner

Assistant Professor
Film Studies Program/East Asian Languages and Literatures
Yale University

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