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Princess Toyotomi
Background STORY

PROFILE

A hitherto unknown story.
It happened at 4pm on Friday, July 8th.
The city of Osaka ground to a halt.
And the catalyst that stirred this long-quiet brew?
The unlikely pairing of 3 elite accountants from
the National Audit Bureau in Tokyo and 2 local Osaka kids from the bustling economic heart of the city.

Saturday, May 28th, 2011 - Japanese Theatrical Release

WMP

Background

Though young, his unexpected story milieus and superb plotting, soon propelled author, Manabu Makime, to the ranks of the bestsellers. His debut novel, "Battle League Horumo" was set in Kyoto and featured young college kids battling each other through the control of tiny demon sprites. His second book, "The Fantastic Deer Man" was a comic take on the trials and tribulations of a man entrusted with saving the world by a deer able to talk. This time out, Makime has found an opportunity to use the unique identity of the city of Osaka. The story derives from the extraordinary idea that the descendants of the Shogun Hideyoshi Toyotomi somehow survived into the present day to found Osaka as an independent nation. The story features the cat-and-mouse struggle between Tokyo-based government auditors and local menfolk sworn to defend this 400-year-old secret. Having showed how far Makime can push the boundaries of imagination, the book was selected as a candidate for the 141st Naoki Literary Award. Then, when the filmmakers secured total cooperation from the city of Osaka itself, they were set to be able to bring this astounding work of entertainment to the big screen.

The key players in the film represent the flower of Japan's acting talent. Leading the trio of auditors from the National Audit Bureau is Shinichi Tsutsumi, going by the unusual nickname of "Demon" Matsudaira, the uncompromising Vice-Chief of Investigations. Haruka Ayase plays female auditor, Ms. Torii, whose sixth sense for sniffing out misdemeanors has earned her the nickname, "Miracle" Torii. The third member of the team is the elegant, Asahi Gainsbourg of half-French heritage and newly set on an elite course for success, played by Masaki Okada. Veteran actor, Kiichi Nakai plays Koichi Sanada; humble owner of a typical Osaka okonomiyaki restaurant, who is actually the Prime Minister of the Osaka nation. Emi Wakui plays his steadfast wife, Takeko.

To cast typical local middle-schoolers raised in the commercial heart of the city, auditions were held in Osaka and from over 2,000 applicants, two newcomers stood out. Playing the orphaned tomboy, Chako Hashiba, is Ruka Sawaki. Her best friend from childhood and the Sanada family's only son, Daisuke, who is a boy wishing to be a girl, is played by Yuki Morinaga. Other of Japan's star actors make surprise appearances throughout the film.

The script is by Tomoko Aizawa who made a name for herself with hit TV dramas such as "Yamato nadeshiko" and "Koi no chikara" as well as recent forays into movies like "Gravityfs Clow". The director, Masayuki Suzuki was behind 2007's massive hit, "Hero" and his pairing with Aizawa and Makime represents a return to their incredibly well-received work on 2008's "The Fantastic Deer Man". With this A-team back together, "Princess Toyotomi" takes Makime's bold vision to a new dimension of entertainment.

Japan's Board of Audit

This is a government agency committed to the review of just public expenditure across the three branches of government yet independent of any of them. Its jurisdiction extends across all government ministries, the legislature, judicatory and all local government grant-spending bodies to total over 30,000 organizations. Its auditors carry out administrative and actual inspections in 3 - 5 year cycles although they do not have the right of compulsory search.

STORY

Friday, July 8th at 4:00pm...Osaka grinds to a halt

It started four days before, on the Monday. Two men and a woman head to Osaka from Tokyo. They are government auditors on a constant mission to check on the correct use of federal money. Their jurisdiction is almost limitless, running the gamut from government ministries down to any local organization in receipt of government grants. This time they are on the hunt for financial irregularities among the local institutions in the proud city of Osaka.

Mr. Gen Matsudaira (Shinichi Tsutsumi) is an elite bureaucrat who aced his civil service entrance exams. His hatred of wasting tax-payers' money and the thoroughness of his inspections has led him to be dubbed "The Demon" Matsudaira and ensures he is widely feared. Haruka Ayase plays one of his assistants, a somewhat ditzy young woman who is nonetheless prone to bouts of instinctive genius and thus nicknamed Ms. "Miracle" Torii. The other is Masaki Okada as the cool, calm and collected Asahi Gainsbourg, an elite prodigy from the government ministry.

Their audits of a local government and a public middle school go without a hitch but things start to get interesting when they arrive at a certain shopping district.

The Karahori district is nicknamed, "The Town on the Hill" and its main shopping street, surrounded by nagaya dwellings, is typical of historical heart of Osaka. In this town, we encounter a couple of special kids. Daisuke's father, Koichi Sanada (Kiichi Nakai) is a silent, regular guy, who runs an okonomiyaki restaurant. He exhorts his son to be a solid and worthy guy but Daisuke (Yuki Morinaga) is finding this difficult because more than anything in the world, he wants to be a girl. His best friend, the tomboyish Chako Hashiba (Ruka Sawaki) who has been raised by her aunt since losing her parents in an accident when she was young, protects him from bullying at school.

The trio of auditors pay a visit to the H.R.H. Foundation, an institution committed to the preservation of Osaka castle's historical heritage. The audit finds nothing and the case is closed. However, when Ms. Torii's legendary gluttony dictates that they grab lunch in Sanada's nearby okonomiyaki restaurant, the plot thickens. No sooner have they sat down when Matsudaira realizes he has forgotten his phone. He heads back to the HRH Foundation on his own. When no-one answer the intercom, he takes a peek inside. What was previously a bustling office is now totally deserted, the ordered ranks of desks sitting silent and unmanned. He dials the foundation's number on his cellphone but the phones on the desks around him don't respond. Checking further, he sees they're not even connected and the drawers of the desks themselves lie empty. When they return the next day in search of some kind of explanation, the HRH Foundation's head of accounts, Mr. Chosakabe just gives them the runaround. Now, with his suspicions building, Matsudaira decides to launch a thorough investigation into the shadowy organization.

Despite these efforts however, they find themselves no closer to solving the mystery. Then, Ms. Torii's throwaway remark gives Matsudaira the break he needs.

TORII
"If they are lying to us, the entire city
of Osaka must be in cahoots with themc"

MATSUDAIRA
"That's it! The entire city of Osaka is in cahoots!"

Back at the HRH Foundation's office, Matsudaira finds an unmarked door which he requests to be opened. When Chosakabe resolutely turns down his request, a gentle voice interjectsc"Allow me to show you around." It is Mr. Sanada, the silent keeper of the okonomiyaki restaurant.

Mr. Sanada has the door opened up and takes Matsudaira on a tour down a long, long tunnel. They arrive in an underground space bearing an exact similarity to the interior of the parliament building in Tokyo. As Matsudaira stares around in astonishmentc

SANADA
This is the parliament of the Osaka National Government.

MATSUDAIRA
National Government?

Mr. Sanada replies to the astonished inquiry with the wordsc

SANADA
And I am its Prime Minister, Koichi Sanada.

What on earth could be next?

The curtain is about to go up on a piece of historical speculation that produces wonderfully entertaining results!

PROFILE

Original Story: Manabu Makime

Born in Osaka, 1976. Graduated from Kyoto Universityfs Faculty of Law. His first book "Battle League Horumo" won the 4th "Boiled-Eggs" New Writer Award in 2006. His second book "The Fantastic Deer Man" was nominated for 2007's prestigious Naoki Literary Award, as was "Princess Toyotomi" in 2009. His latest work, "Kanoko-chan & Mrs. Madeleine" was also nominated for the same award in 2010.

"The Fantastic Deer Man" was adapted into a TV series in 2008 and "Battle League Horumo" as both a film and a play in 2009. His unique creative vision ensures that he will continue to get offers from those eager to bring his fantastically entertaining imagination to a wider audience.

Bibliography:

Battle League Horumo
The Fantastic Deer Man
Horumo Six Stories
The Pedometer
Princess Toyotomi
Kanoko-chan & Mrs. Madeleine
The Manyuki

Director: Masayuki Suzuki

Born in Tokyo, 1958. Joined Kyodo Television Ltd. First recognized for his direction of TV dramas such as "Yonimo kimyo na monogatari" (1990) & "Shiratori Reiko de gozaimasu" (1993). Then moved to Fuji TV in 1994 and thereafter directed numerous TV shows and dramas such as "29 sai no Christmas" (1994), "Osama no restoran" (1995), "Sekai de ichiban papa ga suki" and "Shomuni" (1998). These established his solid reputation as a director adept at bringing out superb performances while preserving an excellent balance of comedy and emotion. Has been at the helm of a number of widely talked-about Fuji TV shows, among them, "Furuhata Ninzaburo (1999) and "Hero" (2001). "Princess Toyotomi" marks his 5th foray into cinema.

Theatrical Filmography

GTO (1999)
Tales of the Unusuals (episode "Samurai Cellular") (2000)
Nin~Nin Ninja Star Hattori (2004)
Hero (2007)

 

(C)PONYCANYON