“Nihon Chinbotsu” – Japan Gets That Sinking Feeling… twice

In the next of my posts about movies which I studied for my article “Disaster Narratives by Design: Is Japan Different?“, I am writing about Nihon Chinbotsu (日本沈没) known as ‘Japan Sinks‘ in English. As mentioned in an earlier post, given that Japan experiences frequent earthquakes, including major ones, and the long history of disaster movies, it is no surprise that there are some that deal with Japan dealing with huge deadly earthquakes. What is a bit different with Nihon Chinbotsu is that there are two versions – the original directed by Shiro Moritani in 1973 and the other directed by Shinji Higuchi in 2006.

A summary about the 2006 version movie on IMDb is as follows.

Japan will sink down to the deep sea. The governments only hope is evacuate all Japanese to some other countries.

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0473064/?ref_=fn_tt_tt_1

It is not unusual for dramatizations to have remakes in Japan. I have previously discussed how there are currently two versions of Climber’s High and Shizumanu Taiyo, for example. In my novel Hijacking Japan, there is also discussion about the remake of Sanjuro (Akira Kurosawa 1962 and Yoshimitsu Morita 2007). When it comes to Nihon Chinbotsu, I first came across the story when I read the English translation of the original novel by Sakyo Komatsu. There are some interesting differences between these three versions – as Griseldis Kirsch has discussed in more detail. I have also discovered that there is also a 2020 anime version of the story – which wouldn’t have been part of my study as it didn’t include anime (click here to read about that version).

Looking at the revised list of conventions that I developed as part of my article “Disaster Narratives by Design: Is Japan Different?“, the 1973 version of Nihon Chinbotsu has 11 out of 17, while the 2006 version has 15. This shows again how there are some significant differences – the question is why?

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