TORA-SAN, WISH YOU WERE HERE, from legendary director Yoji Yamada, will open Tokyo International Film Festival (TIFF) on October 28. The film has been completed in time to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Japan’s most beloved comedy film series, OTOKO WA TSURAI YO (IT’S TOUGH BEING A MAN). The series holds a Guinness World Record for longest-running film series starring the same lead actor; and this marks both the 50th title as well as the first film to be released since 1995, following the untimely death of star Kiyoshi Atsumi.
The OTOKO WA TSURAI YO follows the travels of a kind-hearted vagabond, Torajiro Kuruma (“Tora-san”) who is always unlucky in love. Each film features a different leading lady, called a Madonna, and a different region of Japan.
The latest film picks up with the adult Mitsuo, Tora-san’s nephew, who runs into Izumi, his first love, whom he had once promised to marry. The familiar faces of Kurumaya Cafe, which Tora-san’s family ran in Shibamata, also return. Catching up with old friends, it is always their dearest memories of Tora-san which everyone shares on such occasions…
It will star Kiyoshi Atsumi as Tora-san, brought back to vibrant life onscreen long after his untimely death in 1996. It co-stars Chieko Baisho, Gin Maeda, Hidetaka Yoshioka and Kumiko Goto, all recreating their roles from the long-running film series.
TIFF Festival Director Takeo Hisamatsu expressed his delight about the Opening Film, saying: “Watching the end credits, tears came to my eyes. It was always very exciting to anticipate the latest work in this series every summer and New Year holiday. I believe the Tora-san series was a nationwide favorite, and looking back, it also captures the history of popular actresses in Japan. The series has now been revived by the magic of director Yoji Yamada. I am delighted to host the world premiere at the 32nd Tokyo International Film Festival.”
Director Yoji Yamada commented, “I am pleased that the 50th film in the Tora-san series, Welcome Back, Tora-san (tentative title), has been selected as the Opening Film of the Tokyo International Film Festival. In this age of uncertainty and unease, I sincerely hope that, like Tora-san’s line “There are times when I think it was good to be born,” this film’s 50 years of production history will once again light a beacon of hope for audiences around the world.”