Wednesday, December 17, 2014

A Tribute to Bunta Sugawara

It's never late to make a tribute for this great and big Japanese cinema icon! Bunta Sugawara, who rose to fame in the 1970s playing wild-at-heart gangsters on the mean streets of post-war Japan, died on Friday, November 28 at age 81 of liver cancer in a Tokyo hospital, the Toei studio announced.

Bunta Sugawara 菅原 文太 (August 16, 1933 – November 28, 2014) was a Japanese actor from Sendai, Miyagi Prefecture who appeared in almost 200 feature films. He is the father of one son, and two daughters.

And from these movies, Sugawara starred in Fukasaku's Cops vs. Thugs in 1975. The character design of Admiral Akainu from One Piece is based on his appearance from these films.

In the succeeding decades Sugawara continued to work steadily in both films and television, including voice roles in Hayao Miyazaki’s 2001 Academy-Award-winning animation “Spirited Away” (2001) and Goro Miyazaki’s 2006 hit “Tales from Earthsea”. By the time of his death, the “Battle Without Honor and Humanity” series was widely recognized by Japanese critics as a post war masterpiece, while Sugawara himself had become a tough-guy national icon, similar to fellow Toei star Ken Takakura, who died on Nov.10.

Eiichirō Oda wrote some deep words toward this sad event, and he promised to continue drawing Akainu with great respect:

"Bunta Sugawara, the greatest-looking guy in the world with the best bone structure. Rest in peace. I have no words. I will draw Akainu with great respect."

Eiichirō Oda