Saho Sasazawa (1930-2002) could well be the Japanese writer whose work has been most adapted to TV and film. He’s had over 380 production credits in Japan related to his writing and help define the samurai cum western genre that saw its fulfillment in “The Magnificent Seven,” a remake of Akira Kurosawa’s “The Seven Samurai.”
Tokyo-based company, Soon Inc. owns the copyright to Sasazawa’s work and its president Satoru Sugaya highlighted its potential at TIFFCOM, on the margins of the Tokyo International Film Festival, this week. “Sasazawa’s work is rich in imagery and extremely suspenseful. He has both modern and historical stories, either of which could easily be adapted to film or role-playing games.” In the past Sugaya has optioned the rights of Sasazawa’s work to pachinko game makers, which use themes for each machine, often from popular fiction.
Sugaya notes: “Since Sasazawa is legendary in Japan I’ve had discussions on optioning his stories for film scripts with major studios like Shochiku. But he’s not that well-known internationally so I’m trying to focus attention on the vibrancy of his writing.” Sugaya suggests that the classic TV show “Wanted: Dead or Alive,” which catapulted Steve McQueen to stardom, exhibits very similar qualities to stories by Sasazawa, and is part of the samurai-western nexus that the writer helped develop.
Sugaya suggests Sasazawa’s stories have a sense of expansive adventure and riding into the unknown that can be reminiscent of John Ford’s films. “In the current era where producers are searching for stories to base content on they would be well served to have a look at Sasazawa’s body of work,” he told Variety.