Animated film to feature story of A-bombed American POW

by Junji Akechi, Staff Writer

An animated film will be made based on the historical facts of the American soldiers who became prisoners of war (POWs) and died as a result of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima. The title of the film is “Hiroshima, Natsu no nagori no bara” (“Hiroshima, The Last Rose of Summer”) and it is scheduled for completion in the fall of 2020. The late Jimmy Murakami, an American animator who died in 2014, originally planned the film production before his death. On August 27, Toki Utagawa, 70, a film producer based in Tokyo, and others who have taken up Mr. Murakami’s last wish, held a press conference at Hiroshima City Hall and expressed their enthusiasm for the project.

The story of the film is fictional but based on the real history of an American bomber crew who became POWs and died as a consequence of the U.S. A-bomb attack on Hiroshima on August 6, 1945. It will feature the heartfelt connection between a captured American soldier and a female student, who takes care of him, transcending their circumstances as enemies. The film will also show how people of both countries faced suffering as a result of the war between these two nations. The title is derived from a song called “The Last Rose of Summer,” which plays a key role in connecting the two main characters early on.

Mr. Murakami, who was known for impressive films that included “When the Wind Blows” (1986), an animated film that depicts the horror of nuclear war, began to produce the film about American POWs in 2010. With help from Shigeaki Mori, 81, an A-bomb survivor and local historian living in Nishi Ward who has long investigated the fates of the A-bombed American soldiers, Mr. Murakami worked on developing the script and pursuing other preparations for the film.

Mr. Murakami, who was Japanese-American, was confined to an internment camp during the war, and lost his elder sister there. Mr. Utagawa said, “I want the film to depict the inhumanity of nations ignoring human beings, and the relationships between people under such circumstances.” Mr. Mori shared his hopes for the animated adaptation, saying, “The fact that American soldiers experienced the atomic bombing still isn’t well known.”

Motofumi Tomikawa, 69, a playwright known for the film “The Eel” (directed by Shohei Imamura), is writing the script. The characters are being designed by Kaiji Kawaguchi, 70, a manga artist known for the series “The Silent Service.” Mr. Tomikawa said, “I want to fully incorporate Mr. Murakami’s anger against the atomic bombing and his global viewpoint into the film.”

(Originally published on August 28, 2018)