The Great Passage (or Fune wo Amu) is a novel by Shion Miura. It’s getting an anime next season, featuring character designs by the Rakugo Shinjuu artist and a spot in the Noitamina TV block. I suppose most anime viewers should have it pegged as a mature and down-to-earth drama, especially after seeing the trailers. This was my impression of the anime as well.
As it turns out, the anime’s style is only one interpretation of the novel’s story, and the live action film directed by Yuya Ishii appears to be quite a different beast, judging by its trailer. It depicts the story as a quirky romcom, complete with a socially inept male protagonist, before taking a melodramatic turn. The light-hearted approach to weighty topics is reminiscent of the “trendy dramas” of the 1980s and 1990s. (It’s worth noting that the novel, despite being published in 2011, is set in the 1990s.)
I haven’t read the original novel, so I can’t tell you how faithful either adaptation is to the story. Nor have I watched the anime or film themselves. I only have access to the trailers, so I can only comment on how these adaptations have been pitched to their audiences. The two trailers strike a completely different tone and feel, to the extent that I initially found it hard to believe that they were adaptations of the same story. This says something interesting about the leanings of their directors, as well as the perceived target audiences of the live-action film and television anime in Japan.
Natsume Sōseki is going to be resurrected as an android university professor. This is an actual thing that will happen.
Funnily enough, this might not actually be the quirkiest interpretation of Japan’s most admired author. Not only have his major works been adapted into anime and manga, Sōseki has appeared as a manga character before. In Koisuru Bungou, the Meiji author is portrayed as a romantic shojo lead character, who also happens to be a sparkling bishonen. Apparently, this manga was part of a “Kyun-kyun Kuru!” educational series created in order to get kids interested in literature. Okay.
Then there’s the 4koma manga Sensei to Boku – Natsume Souseki wo Kakomu Hitobito, in which Sōseki is portrayed as a neurotic university professor and a bit of a tsundere. This might be an accurate description of him, given that Sōseki smiles in exactly none of his photos in real life.
Natsume Sōseki is too moe.
All these things got me thinking: what if Natsume Sōseki were a tsundere android professor in an anime? I feel that he could easily fit into the worlds of Joker Game or Bungou Stray Dogs, two anime airing this season. Let’s run them down.