The 23rd Bucheon International Animation Festival (BIAF) announced on Sunday that Fortune Favors Lady Nikuko, Studio 4°C‘s anime film of Kanako Nishi‘s Gyokō no Nikuko-chan (Nikuko of the Fishing Harbor) novel, has won the Korean Society of Cartoon and Animation Studies (KOSCAS) President’s Prize in the Special Awards category, and Masaaki Yuasa‘s INU-OH, the musical anime feature film of Hideo Furukawa‘s Heike Monogatari: INU-OH no Maki (Tales of the Heike: INU-OH) novel, has won the Special Distinction Prize in the International Competition – Feature Film category. In addition, Yoriko Mizushiri’s “Anxious Body” (“Fuan na Tai”) short won the Special Distinction Prize in the International Competition – Short Film category.
Fortune Favors Lady Nikuko opened on June 11.
Ayumu Watanabe (Children of the Sea, Space Brothers) directed the anime at Studio 4°C. Satomi Ooshima (Hataraki Man) is penning the script. Kenichi Konishi (Children of the Sea, A Good Librarian Like a Good Shepherd) was the character designer and chief animation director. Sanma Akashiya (Santa Claus Tsukamaeta! screenwriter and original creator) planned and produced the film. ASMIK Ace is distributing the film.
10-year-old Kurumi Inagaki sings a GReeeeN-produced cover of “Image no Uta,” the debut single of veteran singer-songwriter Takuro Yoshida, as the film’s theme song. GReeeeN performs the film’s ending theme song “Taketen.”
Gentosha published the original novel in April 2014. The “human drama” novel centers on a mother named Nikuko and her daughter, Kikuko, who live on a boat. The novel follows their paths in life, and their growth. The novels have more than 350,000 copies in print.
INU-OH made its world premiere in the 78th Venice International Film Festival on September 10. It was the first 2D Japanese film to compete in the Venice International Film Festival’s Horizons category. The film will open in Japan in early 2022. The film was originally scheduled to open in theaters in 2021.
GKIDS licensed the film, and it describes the film’s story:
INU-OH is born with unique physical characteristics, and the horrified adults cover every inch of his body with garments, including a mask on his face. One day, he meets a boy named Tomona, a blind biwa player, and as Tomona plays a delicate song of tangled fate, INU-OH discovers an incredible ability to dance.
INU-OH and Tomona become business partners and inseparable friends, using their creative gifts to survive on the margins of society, as song after song gain them notoriety and propel them to stardom. Through the songs, INU-OH mesmerizes his audiences on stage, and gradually begins to transform into someone of unequaled beauty. But why is Tomona blind? Why was INU-OH born with unique characteristics? It is a story about the friendship of INU-OH and Tomona, who dance and sing to get to the truth and break each other’s curse.
Yuasa (DEVILMAN crybaby, Ride Your Wave, Japan Sinks: 2020) directed the film. Manga creator Taiyo Matsumoto drafted the original character designs for INU-OH in his second collaboration with Yuasa, who directed the anime of Matsumoto’s Ping Pong manga. Akiko Nogi wrote her first anime film after scripting such live-action works as I am a Hero, We Married as a Job!, and Unnatural.