Ri Kōran

is a two-part historical and biographical film portraying the turbulent life and times of legendary pan-Asian singer and actress Ri Koran. A tragic figure pitted into the limelight of fame by the unpredictable forces of history, Ri is caught between competing nationalisms and political conflicts, her life and career sculpted by the turbulence of war and global power shifts. Loosely based on Otaka's memoir Ri Kouran wo Ikite: Watashi no Rirekisho, the two-episode film production was directed by Horikawa Tonko and starred Ueto Aya as Ri Koran, first broadcasting in Japan by TV Tokyo on February 11 and 12, 2007. Subtitled versions were subsequently made available online to pan-Asian audiences on major Asian video sharing platforms.


The film follows Li Xianglan/Ri Koran's life from childhood to adulthood, portraying her tragic identity crisis and internal cross-cultural conflict. Born Yoshiko Yamaguchi in 1920 to well-educated Japanese expatriates in increasingly Japanese-dominated northeastern China, she was raised in a multi-ethnic, transnational social circle consisting of various Chinese, Japanese and European acquaintances, many of whom hail from an intellectual or artistic background. The film details her friendship with Lyuba Monosova Gurinets, the daughter of a Russian aristocratic family exiled by the 1917 Revolution and learned music from the Italian soprano Madam Podresov, who was married into exiled Russian aristocracy.