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Helmer Sabu adapts manga ‘Bunny Drop’ to the big screen

Bunny Drop
‘Bunny Drop’
TOKYO (TR) – One of the aspects inherent within the hundreds of manga titles released each year that keeps readers loyal is that they often contain themes and story lines that are not too dissimilar from ordinary life.

That might be fine in winning a readership, but it poses a challenge when it comes to a film adaptation. This year’s drama “Usagi Doroppu (Bunny Drop),” based on the popular nine-volume series of the same name by Yumi Unita, offered such a dilemma to veteran helmer Sabu.

“The manga is characterized by a very ordinary quality,” said the 46-year-old director, whose real name is Hiroyuki Tanaka, following a press screening of the film last week at The Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan. “It doesn’t contain anything too spectacular.”

The film, shot in August of last year, tells the story of the unlikely cohabitation of 27-year-old Daikichi (Kenichi Matsuyama, “Gantz,” “Death Note”), a bachelor working at a publishing company, and Rin (Mana Ashida), the six-year-old daughter of his deceased grandfather.

“Because the original manga is so modest in its tone and qualities,” said Sabu, “I knew I wanted to give it a little larger scale in feeling so that it would work in a movie setting.”

That meant, for example, interspersing random dance scenes into the script. During points of contemplation, Daikichi catches himself daydreaming, whereby he envisions himself in an exotic setting and strutting with a shapely fashion model (Karina).

Such sequences are not out of place in a Sabu film. The helmer has made his name over the course of his 13-film career by delivering capricious comedies with random bits of action, usually including chase scenes. His directorial debut arrived in 1996 with “Dangan Runner,” a caper film that involving guns, gangsters, and running — plenty of running.

Yet in his films the relationship between the audience and the cast is not to be overlooked, he said. The not-exactly-predictable ending of “Bunny Drop” is no exception.

“My preference in my own films is to allow characters to be able to move maybe one step forward in their life,” he said, “but at the same time I’ like to allow the audience’s imagination, about what they would expect or want out of the characters, to complete that story,” he said.

“Bunny Drop” will be released domestically on August 20.