This week’s news roundup is dominated by two popular franchises: The Legend of Zelda and Godzilla. We also report on a new island that has emerged in the Japanese archipelago and have the latest on the Unification Church. In baseball, after a 38-year drought, fans of the Hanshin Tigers could finally celebrate a Japan Series triumph. 

Wes Ball to Direct The Legend of Zelda Movie

Nintendo’s shares jumped 6.46% on Wednesday after the gaming giant confirmed that a live-action movie adaptation of The Legend of Zelda is in development. The film is to be co-financed by Nintendo and Sony Pictures Entertainment. While there’s no information regarding cast members, we know it will be directed by Wes Ball, best known for The Maze Runner trilogy. Shigeru Miyamoto, the legendary game designer behind franchises such as Mario, Donkey Kong and The Legend of Zelda, is co-producing the film alongside Avi Arad, whose movie credits include X-Men, Fantastic Four, Iron Man and Spider-Man.

“This is Miyamoto. I have been working on the live-action film of The Legend of Zelda for many years now with Avi Arad-san, who has produced many mega hit films,” said Miyamoto in a statement on X (formerly Twitter), that’s been viewed more than 27 million times. The game franchise, which debuted in 1986, centers around an elf-like character named Link and the magical Princess Zelda as they battle to save the land of Hyrule from the evil warlord turned demon king, Ganon. The debate as to who should play these iconic characters has already begun.

Godzilla Minus One Truck | Ned Snowman via Shutterstock

Godzilla Minus One Proves an Instant Box-Office Hit  

Sticking with live-action films, Godzilla Minus One enjoyed a fine opening weekend, dominating the Japanese box office. The closing movie of the Tokyo International Film Festival, it debuted nationwide on Friday, November 3 — the same date that Ishiro Honda’s original premiered in 1954 — and was shown at more than 500 theaters. According to reports, it racked up over ¥1 billion in its first three days, selling close to 650,000 tickets. That’s more than Shin Godzilla — the highest grossing Japanese movie of 2016 — managed on its opening weekend.  

Directed by Takashi Yamazaki (The Eternal Zero), the film stars Ryunosuke Kamiki (Rurouni Kenshin: The Final) and Minami Hamabe (Shin Kamen Rider), both of whom had leading roles in this year’s asadora (morning drama) series Ranman. The story is set in post-World War II Japan as a disillusioned nation tries to recover from the destructive conflict. A new challenge then emerges in the shape of a giant reptilian monster that wreaks havoc. The 37th film in the Godzilla franchise — and the 33rd made by Toho — will premiere in North America on December 1. 

New Island Forms Following Undersea Volcanic Eruption  

Using advanced mapping technology, Japan “discovered” more than 7,000 islands it didn’t know existed earlier this year. That took the total to an estimated 14,125. That number has now grown by one with a new island rising from the sea near Iwo Jima, which Japan calls Ioto, approximately 1,200 kilometers south of Tokyo. Its emergence is due to an underwater volcano that began erupting on October 21. In the days that followed, ash and rocks began piling up on the shallow seabed. By the start of November, a tiny island had formed. 

According to Yuji Usui, an analyst in the Japan Meteorological Agency’s volcanic division, it measured approximately 100 meters in diameter and reached as high as 20 meters above sea level a few days ago. However, since then, added Usui, it’s decreased in size due to the reduction of volcanic activity and parts of the “crumbly” surface being washed away by waves. “We just have to see the development. But the island may not last very long,” he said. Japan has lost islands before. Esanbe Hanakita Kojima, near the coast of Hokkaido, reportedly slipped below the waves in 2018. 

The Unification Church

Government Expected to Refuse Money Offer from the Unification Church  

At a press conference in Tokyo on Tuesday, Tomihiro Tanaka, the head of the Unification Church, announced that the Japanese branch of the organization is planning to deposit a fund of somewhere between ¥6 billion and ¥10 billion to the government. The intention is for this money to be used to compensate former members of the group who have come forward with claims against the church due to its manipulative donation solicitation tactics. “We’re ready to collaborate with the government to create one-off legislation to address this and make necessary preparations,” Tanaka said. 

According to NHK, though, the government is expected to reject the offer as there are no legal grounds to accept the money. Last month, Fumio Kishida’s administration requested a court order to dissolve the church following an 11-month investigation that involved collecting testimonies from more than 170 people. At the press conference, Tanaka vowed that his organization would continue to fight against the court order. “We cannot accept a dissolution order at all from the viewpoint of freedom of religion and the rule of law,” he said. “We will continue to stand firm on that legal ground.” 

Hanshin Tigers End 38-Year Drought  

After a 38-year wait, fans of the Hanshin Tigers could finally celebrate a Japan Series triumph on Sunday. According to much of the media, it means that the famous “Curse of the Colonel” has been lifted. This refers to the team’s struggles since 1985 when a statue of KFC founder Colonel Sanders was thrown into the Dotonbori Canal. However, that incident took place after the Tigers secured the Central League pennant. They followed that up with the Japan Series win just over two weeks later. So, in reality, there has never been a curse.  

Still, it makes for a good story and during Sunday’s celebrations, a man dressed as the Colonel was thrown into the canal. Dozens of other fans jumped in as well, despite a warning from the police, who said it would “be like swimming in toilet water.” Having waited so long to win the pennant, though, that wasn’t going to stop them. The Tigers defeated the Orix Buffaloes 4-3 in the best-of-seven-play-off. It’s only the second time that two Kansai-based teams have met in the Japan Series. The first was back in 1964.

Could Eddie Jones make a return to Japan? | Image courtesy of the JRFU

Yamamoto Set for MLB  

It was a disappointing end to Yoshinobu Yamamoto’s time at the Buffaloes. Following Sunday’s defeat, the club announced that the ace pitcher will now be available to MLB teams through the posting system and there’s expected to be a lot of interest. A two-time Pacific League MVP winner, he has a 70-29 record in Japanese baseball. The 25-year-old right-hander endured a difficult start to the Japan Series, allowing seven runs in Game 1. He came back strongly, though, striking out 14 batters in Game 6 — a series record — to help tie the playoffs at 3-3.  

In other sports news, Eddie Jones told Kyodo News that he would “definitely be interested” in coaching the Japan rugby team again. However, the 64-year-old Australian insists he’s “had no offer.” During the recent Rugby World Cup, The Sydney Morning Herald reported that Jones had secretly been interviewed by the JRFU. He refused to answer questions about it at a press conference during the tournament. It was a disastrous competition for the former Brave Blossoms coach as his Wallabies side were knocked out at the pool stage for the first time ever.