SciFi Japan

    TORA-SAN COLLECTOR’S SET: VOL. 1 Coming from AnimEigo

    The traveling salesman Tora-san (Kiyoshi Atsumi) back on the road and telling fortunes in TORA-SAN`S GRAND SCHEME, one of four early TORA-SAN movies featured in AnimEigo`s new DVD box set. Photo courtesy of AnimEigo, Inc. © 1970 Shochiku Co., Ltd.

    DVD Box Set of First Four Films Arrives November 10 Source: AnimEigo, Inc., Shochiku Co., Ltd. Special Thanks to Stuart Galbraith IV, Aaron Cavazos, and Steve Ryfle

    The hugely popular TORA-SAN (Otoko wa Tsuraiyo, lit. “It’s Tough Being a Man”) series is finally coming to North America in a special 4-film DVD box set from AnimEigo. Featuring Kiyoshi Atsumi as the beloved loser Torajiro Kuruma, the 48-movie TORA-SAN is Japan`s longest running motion picture series and holds the Guinness Book World Record as the longest film series starring the same acator. In a typical storyline of the series, Tora-san— a suitcase carrying, a checked jacket and tummy-warmer wearing, traveling salesman— who in almost every film falls in love with a beautiful woman (played by Japan’s most popular and respected actresses), while selling his wares across the Japanese countryside, or while at home visiting his disapproving family in Shibamata, an old-fashioned neighborhood in Tokyo. Kiyoshi Atsumi first played Tora-san in the IT`S TOUGH BEING A MAN television series, which ran for 26 episodes in 1968-69. The character was soon recognized as a charming symbol of Japan... a bumbling, comedic counterpoint to the slick movie tough guys that were so popular at the time. When Tora-san died from snakebite in the final episode of the TV series, fans were so outraged writer/director Yoji Yamada convinced Shochiku Studios to immediately revive the franchise on the big screen. Shochiku made the most of the overwhelming demand by releasing an average of two TORA-SAN movies each year, each one becoming a certified blockbuster. Between the first film in 1969 and the last in 1995, more than 80 million people have seen TORA-SAN in theaters across Japan. Alongside its mass appeal, the series has also been hailed by critics worldwide for its well-written scripts, endearing protagonist, and its thoughtful and nostalgic look into post-war Japanese culture. Much of the credit for the series` popularity goes to Yamada, who co-wrote all 48 and directed all but two. The franchise also attracted some major acting talent, including acclaimed stars Toshiro Mifune, Takashi Shimura, and Kyoko Kagawa.

    Tora-san (Kiyoshi Atsumi) and Fuyuko (Sachiko Mitsumoto) in the first film, IT`S TOUGH BEING A MAN. Photo courtesy of AnimEigo, Inc. © 1969 Shochiku Co., Ltd.

    Despite TORA-SAN`s fame in Japan, the series has not been widely seen in the United States. Shochiku Films of America did release subtitled versions of many of the films for showings at Japanese language cinemas, and there have been the occasional art house and repertory screenings— most notably the successful "Best of Tora-san" series at the Japan Society in New York, which ran for several months beginning in October, 2008. Now AnimEigo is releasing the TORA-SAN COLLECTOR’S SET: VOL. 1, a Region 1 DVD collection of the first four TORA-SAN films... IT`S TOUGH BEING A MAN (Otoko wa Tsuraiyo, aka TORA-SAN OUR LOVABLE TRAMP) Released: August 27, 1969 Director: Yoji Yamada Running Time: 91 minutes

    Tora-san (Kiyoshi Atsumi), an itinerant peddler long estranged from his family, returns home to Shibamata after many years of wandering. He is reunited with his only sibling, sister Sakura (Chieko Baisho), and interferes with her marriage plans while falling in love with Fuyuko (Sachiko Mitsumoto), the daughter of the local Buddhist priest (Chisu Ryu). TORA-SAN`S CHERISHED MOTHER (Zoku Otoko wa Tsuraiyo) Released: November 15, 1969 Director: Yoji Yamada Running Time: 93 minutes Peddler Tora-san returns to Shibamata after Sakura, now married to Hiroshi (Gin Maeda), has given birth to their son. Meanwhile, Tora-san falls for Natsuko (Orie Sato), the daughter of his one-time English professor Sanpo Tsubouchi (Eijiro Tono), and learns his mother may be alive and living in Kyoto. TORA-SAN, HIS TENDER LOVE (Otoko wa Tsuraiyo: Fuuten no Tora) Released: January 15, 1970 Director: Azuma Morisaki Running Time: 90 minutes

    Wanting their nephew to settle down, Aunt Tsune (Chieko Misaki) and Uncle Tatsuzo (Shin Morikawa) arrange a prospective bride for Tora-san. However, he quickly turns an arranged marriage-meeting into an expensive disaster. After leaving Shibamata in a huff, Tora-san helps Shizu (Michiyo Aratama), the beautiful owner of an old inn. TORA-SAN`S GRAND SCHEME (Shin Otoko wa Tsuraiyo) Released: February 27, 1970 Director: Shunichi Kobayashi Running Time: 92 minutes Unexpectedly flush with money, Tora-san plans to send his family on a lavish Hawaiian vacation. But when a crooked travel agent runs off with the money, he concocts an elaborate scheme to save his family the shame of returning home empty-handed. Guest-starring Komaki Kurihara as Tora-san`s love interest, Haruko Usami. TORA-SAN COLLECTOR’S SET: VOL. 1 will be available directly from AnimEigo later this month and from stores and online retailers on November 10. Exclusive extra features include an audio commentary by film historian and reviewer Stuart Galbraith IV (Monsters Are Attacking Tokyo, Taschen’s new Japanese Cinema) on IT`S TOUGH BEING A MAN; interactive maps, trailers, cast bios, and image galleries; a 28-page booklet with essays by Galbraith, acclaimed Japanese observer Donald Richie, film programmer and Japanese film distributor Michael Jeck, Los Angeles Times film critic Kevin Thomas, and Japanese cinema historian Alexander Jacoby. Also included are program notes and a remembrance by Yoji Yamada.


    DVD Label: AnimEigo Release Date: November 10, 2009 SRP: $79.98 Format: 2:35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen Language: Japanese Subtitles: English Number of Discs: 4 Running Time: 365 minutes (4 films) Special Features: 28 page booklet of critical essays and director`s reflections Audio Commentary from Stuart Galbraith IV Theatrical trailers Program notes Image gallery Interactive maps Cast & crew bios

    About AnimEigo, Inc.

    AnimEigo, which celebrates its 20th anniversary this year, is known as a foremost releaser of Japanese films on DVD in North America. AnimEigo’s catalogue comprises of a variety of genres, including several quintessential samurai films, such as SHOGUN ASSASSIN, LONE WOLF AND CUB, ZATOICHI, and SLEEPY EYES OF DEATH as well as award-winning art films such as THE BALLAD OF NARAYAMA (Palme d’Or winner). As the oldest surviving releaser of anime in North America, AnimEigo has released such classic titles as URUSEI YATSURA, MACROSS, RUPAN III, OH MY GODDESS!, and many more.

    About Shochiku Co., Ltd.

    Founded in 1895, Shochiku functions as a highly-tuned vertically integrated entertainment entity, encompassing feature film and television production, theatrical distribution of Japanese & foreign motion pictures, worldwide sales, exhibition, DVD and home video distribution and the Kabuki Theater. Shochiku operates one of the most successful motion picture divisions in Japan. The company has produced a number of critically and financially successful films, including the 2002 Academy Award nominee for best foreign language film THE TWILIGHT SAMURAI, directed by Yoji Yamada, the first Japanese Academy Award nomination for a live-action film in 22 years. Shochiku’s latest include DEPARTURES by Yojiro Takita, the 2009 Oscar winner for Best Foreign Film.

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