The Eternal Zero
|The Eternal Zero|
Film poster advertising The Eternal Zero in Japan
|Directed by||Takashi Yamazaki|
|Written by||Takashi Yamazaki
|Based on||Eien no Zero
by Naoki Hyakuta
|Music by||Naoki Sato|
|Edited by||Ryuji Miyajima|
|Running time||144 minutes|
|Box office||¥8.1 billion|
Towards the end of the Pacific War, a Zero fighter plane threatens the United States Pacific Fleet by cutting through its volley of fire. Kyuzo Miyabe, the pilot of the Zero fighter is highly skilled but regarded by his comrades as a coward for consistently returning alive from missions, saying "I don't wanna die". Miyabe leaves battles when they become chaotic, the result of a promise made to his wife Matsuno and daughter Kiyoko to return from the war alive.
In 2004, twenty-six-year-old Kentaro Oishi has repeatedly failed the National Bar Examination and is uncertain about his future. One day he learns that there is no tie of blood between his maternal grandfather Kenichiro and him and his older sister Keiko after the funeral of his grandmother, Matsuno. Keiko and Kentaro start hearing stories about their real grandfather, Kyuzo Miyabe and visit many of his former comrades all of whom criticise his timidity. Kentaro finally learns the reason why Miyabe became a Kamikaze pilot during the conversation with one of them called Izaki who is in hospital. Though suffering from terminal cancer, Izaki talks about his past experience to Keiko and Kentaro.
After attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, the Imperial Japanese Navy attempts to advance towards the southern part of the Pacific Ocean but is beaten hollow in the battles as Battle of Midway and Bombing on Rabaul by the United States Navy. Under such severe situation, some of Miyabe's men wish to die gloriously in battle but he persuades them to survive and Miyabe himself hopes to return to his family alive in spite of coming into collision with senior officers.
Both Keiko and Kentaro still wonder why their grandfather volunteered for Kamikaze Attack. But they continue hearing survey and notice a good reaction at last. They also learn that there was a promise between Miyabe and their another grandfather Kenichiro before the attack.
One summer morning in 1945, Kyuzo Miyabe boards a Zero fighter but then changes it for another one. After boarding it, he flies high and targets an Essex-class aircraft carrier and begins crashing against it without being hit by shells from the carrier.
- Junichi Okada as Kyuzo Miyabe
- Haruma Miura as Kentaro Saeki
- Mao Inoue as Matsuno Miyabe, later Matsuno Oishi
- Isao Natsuyagi as Kenichiro Oishi
- Jun Fubuki as Kiyoko Saeki
- Kazue Fukiishi as Keiko Saeki
- Min Tanaka as Kageura
- Gaku Yamamoto as Takeda
- Mikijiro Hira as Hasegawa
- Isao Hashizume as Izaki
- Hirofumi Arai as young Kageura
- Takahiro Miura as young Takeda
- Gaku Hamada as young Izaki
- Shota Sometani as young Kenichiro Oishi
- Tatsuya Ueda as Koyama
This film is based on a novel of the same name by Naoki Hyakuta. However, director Yamazaki and scriptwriter Tamio Hayashi had to made edits to the original story and remove many of the novel's character and scenes. Yamazaki said that the production team had "really struggled at the script stage, trying to extract the essence of the novel." Hyakuta himself had not expressed any objections to the final film script.
With regards to casting, Yamazaki said that they had cast actors on "the basis of whether they were right for the role, not their popularity". He also said that the crew wanted "young actors who had something of the atmosphere of that time about them". Specifically, Yamazaki referred to Okada, saying that "He was extremely close to our image of Miyabe". He further elaborated by saying that "In the film the character knows martial arts, so Okada studied hard. He got so much into it that he became a shihan [qualified teacher].". He praised Okada as a guy "who's really thorough when he focuses on one thing."
The film uses Computer-generated imagery to replicate the scenes of bombing runs and dogfights, given the limitation of having a tiny number of zero fighters being in a flyable condition having survived till the present day.
As of early January 2014, the film had grossed ¥3.21 billion (US$30.8 million) at the Japanese box office. By January 19, it had grossed ¥5.17 billion (US$49.45 million). By the end of January it had grossed ¥5.89 billion (US$57.3 million). The film had grossed ¥6.5 billion (US$64.1 million) about a month and a half after being released. It matched the last record for a Japanese live action film with seven successive weeks at number one with Hero (2007). With more than seven weeks in cinemas, it had grossed ¥6.98 billion.
The Eternal Zero has came under criticism for its nationalistic and sympathetic depiction of wartime Kamikaze pilots. Director Hayao Miyazaki accused the film of "trying to make a Zero fighter story based on a fictional war account that is a pack of lies" in an interview. He added that this film was "just continuing a phony myth" and that he had "hated that sort of thing ever since [I] was a kid." Kazuyuki Izutsu, the director of the 2005 film Pacchigi! said that the film had "no basis in fact". The film has also courted controversy amongst Japan's neighbors, especially China, with one Chinese commentator reportedly accusing the film of being "propaganda for terrorism".
However, the film's director, Takashi Yamazaki, questions such interpretations of the film since, "The film depicts the war as a complete tragedy, so how can you say it glorifies war?... I really don't get it." He eventually dismissed such criticism, saying that "In the end, people see what they want to see. If you think from the start that 'this movie glorifies war' you're going to see it as a movie that glorifies war, no matter what." Similarly, the author of the original book, Naoki Hyakuta, refuted this kind of criticism, stating in a tweet that "In my book Eternal Zero, I opposed suicide attacks with determination", "I have never ever viewed wars in a positive light", and the theme of the book was "not to allow our memories of war to fade away". The author also added in a tweet, "I feel sorry for Eternal Zero. [...] The military freaks say that the book is plagiarism, right-wingers are mad about its criticism on high-ranking Japanese government officials, left-wingers criticise it as glorification of wars, Hayao Miyazaki rebukes it for fabrication [...]. It is drawing fire literally from all directions."
Yet many Japanese have expressed support for the film; the book and the film have been warmly received by its Japanese audience and the film is one of the highest grossing films in Japan. Notably, Shinzo Abe, the Prime Minister of Japan, declared his support for this film and the book, saying that he had been "moved" by it. Yoko Ono also dedicated a special message to the brochure of the film, expressing her concurrence to the film.
Critics have accused the film of misrepresenting Kamikaze pilots. They argued that instead of the pilots being willing to sacrifice themselves for Japan as depicted in the film, these pilots were actually forced to take part in these suicide missions.
In June 2014, TV Tokyo announced that the station would adapt the film for a TV drama featuring Osamu Mukai. Some parts in the original book which don't appear in the film will be described in the drama. It will be broadcast in 2015 for three nights straight.
The film will be issued on DVD and BD in Japan on 23 July 2014.
- Kevin Ma (24 December 2013). "Eternal Zero claims number one spot in Japan". Film Business Asia. Retrieved 8 January 2014.
- "永遠の0". eiga.com (in Japanese). Retrieved 8 January 2014.
- Mark Schilling (May 11, 2014). "http://www.scmp.com/lifestyle/arts-culture/article/1508179/flights-fancy-box-office-smash-eternal-zero-reopens-old". South China Morning Post. Retrieved June 3, 2014.
- Mark Schilling (February 20, 2014). "Debate still rages over Abe-endorsed WWII drama". The Japan Times. Retrieved June 3, 2014.
- Kevin Ma (8 January 2014). "Eternal Zero tops Japan's New Year's B.O.". Film Business Asia. Retrieved 8 January 2014.
- "Japan Box Office Report – 01/18~01/19". tokyohive. 6Theory Media, LLC. January 22, 2014. Retrieved January 23, 2014.
- Kevin Ma (29 January 2014). "Eternal Zero leads Japan B.O. for sixth weekend". Film Business Asia. Retrieved 29 January 2014.
- Kevin Ma (5 February 2014). "Thor and Wolf fail to dethrone Eternal Zero". Film Business Asia. Retrieved 6 February 2014.
- Kevin Ma (February 13, 2014). "Eternal Zero tops Japan B.O. for 8th week". Film Business Asia. Retrieved February 13, 2014.
- Mark Schilling (May 3, 2014). "Japanese Pic ‘Eternal Zero’ Wins Italy’s Udine Audience Prize". Variety. Retrieved June 3, 2014.
- "Japan’s right wing: Mission accomplished?". The Economist. March 1, 2014. Retrieved June 3, 2014.
- "（楽屋ハナシ）百田尚樹×山崎貴 幸せって何だろう". 朝日新聞デジタル. 2013-12-30. Retrieved 2014-01-28.
- Official brochure of the film Eien no Zero (2013). p.40, Tokyo: Toho Pictures Inc. Visual Department.
- "【スペシャルドラマ】 永遠の０(ゼロ)" (in Japanese). TV Tokyo. Retrieved 2014-06-08.
- "永遠の0 Blu-ray/DVD 7月23日発売" (in Japanese). Retrieved 2014-06-08.