Natsume Masako

Natsume Masako
Natsume Masako (1957-1985) was a Japanese star. She played the part of "Tripitaka" (Sanzo-hoshi, Japanese translation of Sanzang-fashi) in the 1970s Japanese TV program Saiyuki which proved amazingly popular in many English-speaking countries in the 1980s when dubbed by the BBC and titled Monkey. Apparently, the real Tripitaka who went to India to collect the Buddhist scriptures was said to have been a very good looking monk and that his looks were akin to the beauty of a woman (hence female Masako plays him). After "Monkey" was aired, everyone got the impression that Tripikata has to be played by a (pretty) girl. So Tripitaka is played by one in all the remakes of "Monkey"! Natsume died from acute leukemia at the age of 27. She did a number of movies and TV dramas. She was usually the nicely-bred-shy-young-heroine. The general public didn't think much about her acting talent. Papers criticized them as cheap, or too girlish. This image changed in her movie "Onimasa". In "Onimasa" she played the daughter of a Yakuza (mafia) leader. Her dialogue "I'm the daughter of the fearless Onimasa. So DON'T YOU SHIT WITH ME!" became a very popular phrase in Japan that year. Perhaps her best movie is Setouchi Shonen Yakyu Dan (1984) ("'Setouchi' boy baseball team")/MacArthur's Children. Setouchi is an inland sea between Japanese Honshu and Shikoku. It is a posthumous work movie of Masako. Masako plays a teacher of an elementary school of Awajishima Island just after World War II. It is the impressive movie that it expressed association of a woman teacher and children of Awajihima Island. In this movie, she was so beautiful, before her short life ended, just beautiful. She showed us she was truly movie star.