Shihori Kanja to reprise stage role

TOKYO — Yukihiko Tsutsumi, a veteran hitmaker whose career has taken a more serious turn recently, will film the heart-warming hit play “Kuchizuke,” for which the literal translation is “Kiss.”

Shihori Kanja will reprise her stage role as a mentally challenged girl living in a group home, while Takayuki Takuma stars as her best friend and Naoto Takenaka (“Shall We Dance?”) as her cartoonist dad. Takuma also wrote the play and heads the Tokyo Seleccion Deluxe theater troupe that first staged it.

After bowing at the Theater Sun Mall in Tokyo in 2010, “Kuchizuke” enjoyed SRO crowds daily, while expanding its run to four venues.

“I laughed deeply and cried deeply,” Tsutsumi said, describing his own reaction to the play. “I was charmed by the story and cried while I laughed. At the end the play made me question my own attitude towards life.”

Though best known for such domestic blockbusters as the “20th Century Boys” trilogy, Tsutsumi recently released “My House,” a deeply researched black-and-white drama about the homeless in his native Nagoya.

“Kuchizuke” is skedded for release in the spring of 2013, with distrib yet to be announced.

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