Kudo Kankuro’s “A Town Without Seasons” Shines Bright as the Tragedy Unfolds After the Release of Akira Kurosawa’s “Dodesukaden” | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Kudo Kankuro’s “A Town Without Seasons” Shines Bright as the Tragedy Unfolds After the Release of Akira Kurosawa’s “Dodesukaden”

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Director Akira Kurosawa during the filming of the 1993 released movie “Madadayo.” In the background, you can see singer George Tokoro and actress Hisashi Igawa.

The drama “A Town Without Seasons” (TV Tokyo), written and directed by Kankuro Kudo, is outstanding.

The story is set in a town of temporary housing units created by a disaster called “Nani” 12 years ago. It depicts a mosaic of people who society might deem not quite right, such as construction workers who drunkenly swap wives, homeless parents and children who cannot even enter the temporary housing, and a young man and his mother who pretend to be a train and its conductor.


“‘Nani’ likely refers to the Great East Japan Earthquake, and the series portrays impoverished people living together uncertain of when they might be ordered to evacuate by the government. Amidst this, tragedies such as a homeless boy dying from food poisoning or a woman suffering sexual abuse from her uncle occur in each episode, making it difficult to watch. However, Kankuro Kudo’s pop-style direction turns it into an excellent ensemble drama.

Last August, it was exclusively streamed on ‘Disney+’ with all 10 episodes, generating buzz. Even in its terrestrial broadcast debut, it’s receiving rave reviews on social media, with comments praising Kudo Kankuro’s excellent pacing that seamlessly mixes comedy into serious and heavy topics, noting that each episode is only 30 minutes long, but the content is packed, and admiring the amazing cast, with everyone delivering outstanding performances.” (TV Magazine Writer)

The original novel of the same name, written by Shugoro Yamamoto, was serialized in the Asahi Shimbun in 1962, and it was adapted into a film by director Akira Kurosawa. The movie, “Dodesukaden,” released in 1970, was a significant topic of discussion at the time as it was Kurosawa’s first color film.

“During a slump in the Japanese film industry, in an attempt to break through the trend, the film production company ‘Yonki no Kai’ was formed in 1969 by four masters: Kurosawa, Kon Ichikawa, Keisuke Kinoshita, and Masaki Kobayashi. It was decided that ‘Dodesukaden’ would be produced by these four, but both Ichikawa and Kinoshita opposed it, considering the storyline to be too dark. Eventually, Kurosawa ended up directing the film alone.” (Movie Magazine Editor)

However, without sponsors, director Kurosawa mortgaged his home to raise the production funds. Then, he constructed an open set on a garbage dump of about 10,000 square meters in the Edogawa Ward of Tokyo, sourcing building materials from the piles of garbage. The film was completed in just 28 days, becoming a low-budget movie. Yet, the film itself was not critically panned; it even earned a nomination for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 44th Academy Awards, but it was a commercial failure.

“Director Kurosawa found himself deeply in debt, and the following year, he attempted suicide at his home. While he survived without any serious injuries, Kurosawa himself never disclosed the reasons behind the incident. The American media reported that he was removed as the director of the 1970 Japanese-American co-production film ‘Tora! Tora! Tora!’ midway through, which was cited as the cause.

The reason for the interruption in filming was announced unilaterally by the American production company as Director Kurosawa suffered from a mental illness. It was reported that this shock led to his suicide attempt. However, Chieyo Nogami, a renowned scriptwriter for Kurosawa’s films since ‘Rashomon,’ expressed in an interview (distributed in Cinema Today in June 2008) that she believed the suicide attempt was influenced by the failure of ‘Dodesukaden.'” (Same Movie Magazine Editor)


Daughter Kurosawa Kazuko also spoke about this in the article “The Emperor of the Film World, Akira Kurosawa: The Crown of the Shocking Razor Suicide Attempt” published in “Daily Shincho” on May 8, 2017.

“Rather, my father’s distress was intertwined with the decline of Japanese cinema. He made efforts to revitalize the film industry and felt responsible for it. He reflected on his own limitations and gradually crumbled due to the fragility of his innocence.”

Director Kurosawa, who had fallen to the depths of despair, signed a contract with a Soviet film company two years later for the production of the film “Dersu Uzala.” Released in 1975, this film won the Best Foreign Language Film at the 48th Academy Awards, marking his complete comeback. 

Subsequently, he released films such as “Kagemusha” and “Ran,” renowned for their visual beauty worldwide, and his reputation endures to this day.

“The first color film, ‘Dodesukaden,’ is known for its visually stunning cinematography, emphasizing color, and it is said to have had a significant influence on subsequent works such as ‘Kagemusha’ and ‘Ran.’ Although it was a film that Kurosawa struggled through, it also served as the catalyst for his resurgence.” (Same Movie Magazine Editor)

On the other hand, regarding the motivation behind the production of “A Town Without Seasons,” Kankuro Kudo discussed in an interview article (distributed on August 6, 2023, by “MOVIE WALKER PRESS”) that ever since he read the original novel at the age of 20, it had been a cherished work for him.

“When I look back later and ask myself what I have done, I think ‘A Town Without Seasons’ will undoubtedly come to mind with high priority. It’s a significant milestone for me because I’ve been fond of and wanted to work on this project for a long time, and now I’ve finally brought it to life.”

Similar to director Kurosawa, this seems to be a major turning point for Kudo as well. Anticipation for Kudo’s future works is growing more than ever.

Sousuke Ikematsu in a storytelling role in “A Town Without Seasons” (April ’23).
In 2021, during the location filming for “#Family Wanted” (TBS), Taiga Nakano co-starred with Hiroki Shigeoka from “WEST.” They are scheduled to appear in another Kankuro Kudo production in the drama airing in July. (July 9, 2021 issue)
Daichi Watanabe, who also appeared in NHK’s historical drama “Dear Radiance,” is featured. On the left is Fumino Kimura. (March 11, 2022 issue)
  • PHOTO. Eiji Ikeda, Shu Nishihara, Yusuke Kondo, Takahiro Kagawa

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