Novelist Kenichi Sakemi passed away on November 7 due to respiratory failure. He was 59. His family held a private funeral.
Sakemi was born in Fukuoka Prefecture in 1963. He debuted as a novelist in 1989 with the palace intrigue novel Kōkyū Shōsetsu (The Royal Harem Tale). The novel won the first ever grand prize of the Japan Fantasy Novel Awards. The novel would later inspire Like the Clouds, Like the Wind, the 1990 Studio Pierrot television anime film noted for its character designs by long-time Studio Ghibli animator and character designer Katsuya Kondo.
Sakemi later released the Bokkō novel in 1991, with a story set in China’s Warring States period. According to director Mamoru Oshii in his 2017 book Daremo Kataranakatta Ghibli o Katarō, Studio Ghibli was considering adapting the novel, with Katsuya Kondo going so far as to draw image boards based on the book. However, the project did not move forward. The novel inspired a manga adaptation by Sentarō Kubota and Hideki Mori. Both Kōkyū Shōsetsu and Bokkō were nominated for the Naoki Prize, a prestigious Japanese literary award.
Sakemi penned the story for the D’ARC manga, with art by Katsuya Kondo.