by Chris MaGee
We don't spend a lot of time covering Japanese television on the J-Film Pow-Wow, but there's the occasional nod to an old tokusatsu series from the 70s, a particularly absurd celebrity appearance in a commercial, or a notable film star in a series or TV movie. This story covers the latter of those options. The NHK Hiroshima TV adaptation of the 1960 Muro Saisei novel "Hi nio Sakana" not only stars one of my favorite Japanese actors, Yoshio Harada, but the film directed by Aya Watanabe, recently won the Best Movie award at the 50th annual Monte Carlo Television Festival. In the film Harada, whose previously starred in such films as Seijun Suzuki's "Zigeunerweisen", Toshiaki Toyoda's "9 Souls" and Hirokazu Koreeda's "Still Walking", portrays Murata, an elderly bohemian author living in a town on the coast of the Seto Inland Sea. A bit of a curmudgeon, Murata prefers to be alone with his pet goldfish and in a particularly grumpy moment dismisses his female editorial assistant. His publisher has no other choice but to replace her with a young woman named Tochiko, played by Machiko Ono. The two begin friendship that ultimately deepens when Tochiko is diagnosed with a serious illness.
What makes this win at the Monte Carlo Television Festival notable, besides Harada's involvement, is that it's been 26-years since a Japanese television movie won this award. Thanks to Japan Zone for pointing the way to this.