Television Puppetry

Catching up with Sherlock Gakuen

By December 5, 2014 May 10th, 2015 No Comments

It seemed like a good time to catch up with Sherlock Gakuen (シャーロック学園), a really interesting Japanese series that was first mentioned here on the blog a few months ago.

Created by Kōki Mitani, Sherlock Gakuen is a Young Sherlock Holmes-esque riff on Arthur Conan Doyle famous detective stories that features Sherlock Holmes and his classmate John Watson as sleuthing students at a London boarding school. The series debuted earlier this year and seems to be a big hit in Japan, where Sherlock Holmes has always been a popular character (perhaps never more so than now thanks to the popularity of Benedict Cumberbatch and the BBC series Sherlock).

Most of the Sherlock Gakuen crew also worked on Mitani’s previous Japanese puppet series, Shin Sanjushi. The puppets were designed by painter Bunta Inoue and are partially inspired by the Noh and Bunraku tradition of neutral, expressionless faces. They are built and performed by Studio Nova, the TV and puppet fabrication arm of Tokyo’s famous PUK Puppet Theatre.

Popular Japanese actor and YouTube star Kōji Seto recently hosted a TV special that gave viewers a behind-the-scenes look at the making of the show:

(you can watch a little more of the special here).

For anyone who is in or near Tokyo this month, there is a special Sherlock Gakuen exhibit at the NHK Broadcasting Center’s Studio Park until December 28th. The best time to visit is on Sundays, when puppet demonstrations are held for the public.

Sherlock Gakuen is broadcast Sunday nights in Japan on NHK Educational TV. Episodes of the series are available internationally on DVD.

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