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Yumeji Asaoka

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The Shelved Deluxe Edition of The Little Prince

Yumeji Asaoka
Associate Professor, Faculty of Law, Chuo University
Areas of Specialization: French and Canadian Literature, Thought, Philosophy, Therapy Theory

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The Visualization of The Little Prince

As announced in a press release on January 21, 2015, a Japanese e-book version of The Little Prince (Author: Antoine de Saint-Exupéry; Translator: Yumeji Asaoka; Illustrator: Shomei Yoh; Publisher: Goma Books) available on iBooks is now listed in the “Comics and Books Made into Movies” section on the app. The first American film adaptation of The Little Prince was the 1974 live-action musical directed by Stanley Donen. The upcoming animated film The Little Prince is scheduled to be released in Japan in December under the title Ritoru Purinsu: Hoshi no Ōji-sama to Watashi (Little Prince: The Prince of the Stars and Me). You can watch a preview here: http://bit.ly/15wgaZgnew window.

Incidentally, the Goma Books edition of The Little Prince is also available in e-book form (Kindle) on the Amazon Japan site (amazon.co.jp). The Kindle edition has remained the No. 1 bestseller in both the French Literature and French Fiction & Literary Works categories for over a year.

Meanwhile, in France, a live-action musical directed by Daniel Lavoie was released to DVD in 2003, and the story was turned into an animated TV series by Jérôme France and Pierre-Alain Chartier in 2013. The animated series spans 24 volumes (1,248 minutes); despite the title Le Petit Prince (The Little Prince), it is an epic adventure tale with completely different content from the original.

The Little Prince CD

There is also an audio CD version of The Little Prince. It is an excellent recording, with the pilot protagonist voiced by former film star Gérard Philipe. I highly recommend this CD to anyone studying French (it is available in Japan).

Return to the Starry Skies

Although not an adaptation of The Little Prince, a film called Saint-Exupéry: La Dernière Mission (Japanese title: San Tegujuperi: Hoshizora e no Kikan (Saint-Exupéry: Return to the Starry Skies)) was also made by Robert Enrico, director of notable films such as Le Vieux Fusil, Tante Zita, and Les Aventuriers. Actor Bernard Giraudeau, who has given dignified performances in films like Hécate and Poussière d'Ange, is said to have lost 7 kg (15.4 lbs.) for the starring role. Only the VHS version is available in Japan, however, and it is unfortunately out of print.

The Story Behind the Goma Books Edition of The Little Prince

I will now relate the sequence of events that led up to the release of the Goma Books edition of The Little Prince. It was 2007. I was working on a new translation of The Little Prince, and an acquaintance who had heard that I wanted to publish it with new original illustrations offered to introduce me to Shomei Yoh. I took the translated manuscript to a “discussion meeting” arranged by Mr. Yoh at a certain location. He greeted me with a smile, and I told him about my purpose in translating the book and my ideas for the illustrations.

Mr. Yoh then said, “I've always loved The Little Prince. I'm interested in your work. Would you let me borrow the manuscript?” Naturally, I was happy to oblige.

After that meeting, our talks progressed smoothly. I gave Mr. Yoh free reign to design full-scale illustrations and planned to publish the translation as a deluxe edition full of these illustrations. The editor for the project was the dynamic Mr. R.E., who was known as a “charismatic editing guru.” Like Mr. Yoh, Mr. R.E. had the beautiful quality of being forever young at heart. I could not have asked for a more perfect team for publishing The Little Prince. I even heard that Mr. Yoh said, “This may be the culmination of my life's work.” I looked forward to the completion of our deluxe version of The Little Prince with genuine excitement.

A Sudden Change of Events

Just when Mr. Yoh was completing his illustrations, however, Mr. R.E. suddenly moved to another publishing company.

The editor who replaced him had a completely different objective. He rejected the illustrations Mr. Yoh had made and told him to sketch drawings for a cheap popular edition of the book. I tried my best to convince the new editor that we needed to publish a deluxe edition, but he would not be swayed.

I thus reluctantly watched as the book was published in its current form. Naturally, I like the drawings and format of the current edition as well and am very happy we could publish it. I also love the translation, which was designed around the question of what The Little Prince would look like if Saint-Exupéry had written it in Japanese.

And yet, and yet…I cannot forget the deluxe edition that was shelved.

The Shelved Deluxe Edition of The Little Prince

As mentioned earlier, the Kindle edition of The Little Prince is selling very well. What do you say, Shomei Yoh, R.E., and Pres. Hiroshi Akai (President and CEO of Goma Books)—wouldn't you agree this is a good time to bring out that shelved deluxe edition?

Yumeji Asaoka
Associate Professor, Faculty of Law, Chuo University
Areas of Specialization: French and Canadian Literature, Thought, Philosophy, Therapy Theory
Professor Asaoka was born in Tokyo in 1952. He received his bachelor's degree in French Literature at the Faculty of Letters, Keio University. After completing a doctoral program at Meiji University, he assumed his current position as Associate Professor of French on the Faculty of Law at Chuo University. He specializes in French and Canadian (Quebec) literature, thought, philosophy, psychotherapy, and therapy theory. At present, he is constructing a form of “integrated human studies” (general energetics) based on human nature (energy).
Prof. Asaoka vigorously translates and introduces literature on spiritualism in Francophone countries, various therapies, personal development, and the inner world. He also holds “Workshops on Healing Your Inner Child” in numerous locations. His many translations include Lise Bourbeau's Listen to Your Body (Heart Shuppan) and Saint-Exupéry's The Little Prince (Goma Books), and his authored publications include French Literature and Mysticism [Furansu Bungaku to Shinpi-shugi] and Baudelaire and the Spiritual World [Bōdorēru to Reiteki Sekai] (both published by the Society of Human Happiness Studies).