Sensou Douwa (War Fables or War Tales) was a series of TV specials by Shin-Ei Animation that ran annually from 2002 to 2009. In chronological order:
- 2002 Umigame to Shounen (The Boy and The Sea Turtle)
- 2003 Tako ni Natta Okaasan (The Mother Who Became a Kite)
- 2004 Chiisai Sensuikau ni Koi wo Shita Dekasugira Kojira no Hanashi (The Tale of the Ginormous Whale That Fell in Love with a Little Submarine)
- 2005 Boku no Boukuugou (My Air Raid Shelter)
- 2006 Yakeato no, Okashi no Ki (The Cake Tree in the Ruins)
- 2007 Futatsu no Kurumi (Two Walnuts)
- 2008 Kiku-chan to Ookami (Kiku and the Wolf)
- 2009 Aoi Hitomi no Onnako no Ohanashu (The Girl with Blue Eyes)
Orphan has already released The Boy and the Sea Turtle, The Cake Tree in the Ruins, The Mother Who Became a Kite, The Tale of the Ginormous Whale That Fell in Love with a Little Submarine, and My Air Raid Shelter. Today, we're releasing Kiku-chan to Ookami (Kiku and the Wolf). Saizen has already done Two Walnuts, so there's just one more to go.
Kiku-chan to Ookami is, like most of the Sensou Douwa specials, based on a short story by Nosaka Akiyuki. It is set in the Japanese puppet state of Manchukuo (the Chinese province of Manchuria) during the closing days of Word War II. Life for the Japanese colonists is tranquil, with none of the hazards and shortages occurring in the Japanese homeland. Then, on August 9, 1945, the Soviet Union, fulfilling its obligations to the Western Allies, declares war and invades. The local Kwantung Army folds up like a house of cards, leaving the Japanese colonists exposed to the invading Russians and Chinese.
The story focuses on a typical family - Kiku, her old brothers Ko and Yo, and her mother, who is holding the family together while her husband is fighting in the army. Kiku, Ko, and Yo have nothing more serious on their minds than cadging hot sweet buns from the shop next door, but that changes when the Soviets invade. The colonists flee southward for their lives, hoping to reach Korea and be repatriated to Japan. (The Japanese in Korea were also fleeing southward, hoping to reach the American zone of control; see Ohoshi-sama no Rail.)
Kiku and her family head south by train, abandoning most of their possessions and the family dog, Belle. When the train is bombed, they are forced to continue on foot. However, Kiku falls severely ill and cannot go on. Faced with an impossible dilemma, Kiku's mother abandons her in order to continue south with her other children. Kiku becomes the target of an aging, famished she-wolf. In her delirium, Kiku mistakes the wolf for Belle, and the wolf becomes her maternal keeper. Together, they try to survive in the war-torn landscape, but the hazards are great, and the odds of success slim.
Like the other shows in the Sensou Douwa series, Kiku-chan to Ookami uses the pathos of children in danger to crusade against war, while ignoring the larger historical context. The Kwantung Army - the source of many of Japan's bellicose militarists and eventual war criminals - was a prime provocateur in sparking the Japanese invasions of China in 1931 and 1937. It used slave labor to build its installations and fortifications. Its infamous Unit 731 worked on bacteriological and chemical weapons and performed human medical experiments on prisoners. (In an equally infamous deal, the Americans pardoned the perpetrators in return for the data.) Despite its formidable reputation, the Kwantung Army was soundly defeated by the Red Army in the unofficial Soviet-Japanese border war of the late 1930s. By 1945, it was a hollow shell and put up little resistance.
The Soviets captured 850,000 Japanese settlers (colonists). Most of them were repatriated to Japan in 1946 and 1947. However, orphans left behind in the confusion were adopted into Chinese families; some refused to return home under later repatriation programs. Further, stranded women that married Chinese husbands were not allowed by the Japanese government to bring their children to Japan. To the end, Japanese xenophobia and denial of responsibility trumped humanitarian action.
The voice cast includes:
- Shimamoto Sumi (Mother) debuted as Clarisse in The Castle of Cagliostro. She starred as Sara in Princess Sara, Nausicaa in Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind, Otonashi Kyouko in Maison Ikkoku, and Dayan in Neko no Dayan. She also played Shokupanman in the Soreike! Anpanman franchise, Tinkerbell in Peter Pan no Bouken, Antoinette in Reporter Blues, Big Mama in Bakuretsu Hunter, Sue in Maris the Choujo, and Elice in Fire Emblem. The last two are Orphan releases.
- Nozawa Masako (Wolf) is a legend. She played the title roles in The Adventures of Gamba, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Huckleberry no Bouken, Billy Inu nan demo Shoukai, and Hey! Bumboo. She was Enma-kun in the original Dororon Enma-kun, Son Goku in the original Dragonball, and Kitarou in the 1968 and 1971 versions of GeGeGe no Kitarou, as well as Hakaba Kitarou. Even though her first role was in 1965, she is still active, appearing as Obaba in Ping Pong the Animation, Madame Curie in Marie & Gali, and of course, Medama Oyaji in the most recent version of GeGeGe no Kitarou. She played the title roles in Manxmouse and The Green Cat, Isamu in Kaitei 3-Man Mile, Lek in Cool Cool Bye, and Costar in 15 Shounen Hyouruuki, all Orphan releases. She won a lifetime achievement award in 1997.
- Kawasumi Ayako (Kiku-chan) starred as Mogi in the Initial D franchise, Sakuraba in Ai Yori Aoshi, Fuu in Samurai Champloo, Sara in Gallery Fake, Lafiel in the Crest of the Stars franchise, Henrietta in the Zero no Tsukaima franchise, Saber in the Fate/Stay Night franchise, Ohno in the Genshiken series, Mahoro in the Mahoromatic franchise, and my personal favorite, Nodame in the Nodame Cantabile franchise.
- Satou Ai (narrator) played many maternal roles, including Light's mother in Death Note, Masami's mother in Wedding Peach, Misaki's mother in Dear Brother, Ban's mother in Getbackers, Shigeru's mother in Noramimi, the unnamed mothers in Cinderella Express, Ai Monogatari, and Guyver: Out of Control, as well as Kristin Adams in Yawara!. Other roles include the refined mother in Eguchi Hisashi no Kotobuki Gorou Show, Ibuki's mother in Kiss wa Me ni Shite, Taichi in The Cake Tree in the Ruins, the narrator in The Boy and the Sea Turtle and The Mother Who Became a Kite, and the unnamed girlfriend in Lunn Flies into the Wind, all Orphan releases.
- Kumai Motoko (Yo) played Gorou Honda in the Major franchise, Ginta in Mar, Banba in Kurage-hime, Yuuna in the Stitch TV franchise, and the title roles in Gon, Gakyuu ou Yamazaki, and Papuwa. She appeared in Tezuka Osamu's In the Beginning: Tales from the Old Testament, an Orphan release.
- Yoshida Konami (Ko) played the title roles in Asobo Toy-chan and Metal Fighter Miku and the lead in Idol Fighter Su-Chi-Pai. She appeared in Akuemon, Kiss wa Me ni Shita, and Yamato 2520, all Orphan releases.
The director, Hirai Minetarou, also directed two other Sensou Douwa specials, Two Walnuts and The Girl with Blue Eyes.
As he's done for all the other Sensou Douwa releases, kokujin-kun translated Kiku-chan to Ookami. Yogicat timed. I edited and typeset. Nemesis and Uchuu QCed. The raw is a 1080p webrip from UNEXT, rather bit-starved. kokujin-kun omits honorifics, so the translated title in the anime is Kiku and the Wolf.
Kiku-chan is an instance where my (distant) background as a historian distorts my reaction to the anime itself. The show is very moving, particularly the second half where Kiku and "Belle" are trying to survive. Nozawa Masako's performance as the wolf is both comic and poignant. The show makes it case more subtly than the blunt instrument approach of The Cake Tree in the Ruins or The Mother Who Became a Kite, but it's still effective. (Nosaka Akiyuki original short story retains the blunt instrument approach.)
You can get Kiku-chan to Ookami from the usual torrent site or from IRC bot Orphan|Arutha in channels #nibl or #news on irc.rizon.net.