Matsubayashi Shūe

The Asahi reports this morning that the director Matsubayashi Shūe passed away on August 15th at the age of 89. The son of a Buddhist priest, Matsubayashi studied at Nihon University before entering the Toho Studios in 1942. He joined the Navy during the war, becoming an ensign, a position in command that provided him the background for many of the war films he directed after the war, including Ningen gyorai Kaiten (1955), Storm over the Pacific (1960), The Last War (1961), and Rengo Kantai (1981). He rejoined Toho after the war, eventually debuting as a director in 1952. In addition to war films, he also specialized in comedy, helming many of the "Shacho" or "Company President" films. His critical reputation usually focused on his Buddhist background to find moments of "emptiness" in his war films, but in general his war films emphasized the professionalism and sacrifices of wartime Navy officers. I have an article coming out on cinematic representations of the Battleship Yamato, which includes a section on Rengo Kantai.

In terms of the box office, he was one of the most successful directors at Toho, so a farewell ceremony will be held on Stage 8 of the Toho Studios (the largest sound stage in Japan and the site of the filming of many of Toho's great works from the 1950s on) on September 10.

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