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'Tora-san' movie series to return for 50th anniv. with late actor in main role

The late actor Kiyoshi Atsumi, who played Torajiro "Tora-san" Kuruma in the long-running movies series "Otoko wa tsurai yo" (It's tough being a man). (Mainichi)

TOKYO -- A fresh installment in the long-running "Otoko wa tsurai yo" (It's tough being a man) film franchise will hit theaters in 2019, the series' 50th anniversary, production firm Shochiku Co. revealed on Sept. 6.

Yoji Yamada, 86, will be in the director's chair for the new feature, the first "Otoko" film in 22 years. Actor Kiyoshi Atsumi, who died in 1996, will again appear as the series' main character Torajiro "Tora-san" Kuruma, with Yamada planning to use scenes with the late actor from previous "Otoko" movies intercut with new material about Torajiro's family.

"(Japanese) society was lively and affluent when Torajiro was alive," Yamada told a Sept. 6 news conference also attended by actress Chieko Baisho, 77, who played Torajiro's younger sister Sakura. "I would like to think back on those days and ask whether we are happy now." Baisho added, "'Tora-san' lives in our hearts. I want to play the present-day Sakura with confidence."

(Japanese original by Yoshiaki Kobayashi, Cultural News Department)

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