Asako (I & II) is an upcoming adaptation of Netemo Sametemo, a 2010 novel by Tomoka Shibasaki. It tells the tale of a quiet young woman, Asako (Erika Karata), who falls in love with a mysterious man named Baku (Masahiro Higashide), only for him to suddenly disappear. Years later, she meets another man who is so much Baku’s doppelganger that it terrifies her, though they eventually begin a relationship without Asako telling him of the uncanny resemblance.
In an interview with Hollywood Reporter, he talks about how in Japan, authors of books or manga usually retain a far greater degree of creative control over screen adaptations than is the norm elsewhere, but Hamaguchi says he and scriptwriter Sachiko Tanaka were given significant freedom with the adaptation. The most significant change Hamaguchi made to the source material was to set the story against the backdrop of the devastating earthquake, tsunami and nuclear meltdowns that occurred in Japan in 2011 — even though the novel was published before they occurred. Ironically, he says he did this to stay true to the spirit of Shibasaki’s work.
It will debut at Cannes this week.