film may popularize books by author Kotaro Isaka

Bullet Train, a film by David Leitch with Brad Pitt and Sandra Bullock, surprised expectations and had a good opening in theaters. Globally, the action feature grossed US$ 62.4 million in its first weekend – in Brazil, the production was in third place, earning R$ 3.7 million. The success on the big screen is a reflection of the book by the Japanese author Kotaro Isaka.

The book, originally released in 2010, became a publishing phenomenon in Japan and takes advantage of the release of the movie starring Brad Pitt to become popular in the West as well. In Brazil, Trem-Bala was launched in 2022 by Editora Intrinseca.

More than making the novel known, the film has the chance to introduce the public to Kotaro Isaka, one of the main best sellers of the moment. The writer has an intense production of books – even if only Trem-Bala has been translated into Portuguese – and began his career in 2000, with the publication of Odyubon no Inori. In his debut, he won one of the most traditional Asian awards.

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Awards and controversies

At 51, Kotaro Isaka accumulates other awards, such as Yoshikawa Eiji. Even with the local success, the author is still little known in the West. “I don’t have the slightest expectation that people understand Japanese literature or culture. Even I don’t understand Japan very much,” said the writer in statements to the press.

Like the movie, the book travels at the speed of the Shinkansen, Japan’s famous high-speed train, marked by an agile read that seems to be born for the movie adaptation. And here, perhaps, the big differences (and perhaps problems) arise.

The point is that, in the book, the characters of Bullet Train are Asian and, in the movie adaptation, the cast is formed by Western stars, such as Brad Pitt and Sandra Bullock. Another criticism is that the film does not make it 100% clear that it is set in Japan, reinforcing the thesis of whitewashing the plot.

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