Harada Yoshio Passes Away

I just saw this on the net, but the great actor Harada Yoshio passed away today, July 19, of complications from pneumonia as he was fighting cancer. He was only 71.

Harada was clearly one of the most important actors in post 1970 Japanese cinema, starring in many of the great independent films directed by such masters as Terayama Shuji (Den'en ni shisu), Suzuki Seijun (Zigeunerweisen), Morisaki Azuma (Ikite iru uchi ga hana nano yo shindara sore made yo to sengen), and Mochizuki Rokuro (Onibi). He was a regular in films directed by Kuroki Kazuo (Ryoma ansatsu) and Sakamoto Junji, and appeared in Koreeda Hirokazu's recent movies like Still Walking and I Wish. His last starring film will be Oshika-mura sodoki, which opened in theaters only a few days ago. Harada appeared in a wheelchair in front of cameras to make the stage greeting on opening day.

Some don't realize that Harada was the product of the last years of Nikkatsu Action, establishing his image there of the young, rebellious outlaw in such films as Hangyaku no merodi. As part of that image, he appeared in a lot of independent films, especially those of ATG, while also making a name for himself on television. In recent years, he has become an essential by player in films by many young directors like Miike Takashi, Toyoda Toshiaki, Shinohara Tetsuo, Ishii Katsuhito, etc. He could do comedic and gangster roles with equal ease. He won numerous awards as both best lead and supporting actor.

His was a powerful presence who will be sorely missed.

Here is the trailer for Oshika-mura sodoki, his last film.

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