Fuji TV producer Hirotsugu Usui has announced a third sequel in the hit Umizaru marine action franchise.

The news comes after two years of petitions by fans for a continuation in the story, leading Usui and the network to start work on a third installment. Umizaru 3 will again be produced by a consortium led by Fuji TV, along with distributor Toho, production house Robot, Pony Canyon and publisher Shogakukan.

The second film, Umizaru 2: Test Of Trust, was released in May 2006 and went on to earn $64.5m (Y7.1bn) as the territory's highest-grossing local live-action film that year. Since that time the film's official site, where the latest news was revealed, has been flooded with requests for more.

Although no cast or shooting date has been announced, Hideaki Ito (Sukiyaki Western Django) is expected to again play the lead role of a Japanese coast guard rescue diver in a story that combines high-seas action spectacle and romance.

Based on Shuho Sato's popular manga, Umizaru (literally 'Sea Monkey') was adapted into a feature film in 2004 followed by a hit TV series with the same cast, in a reversal of the typical franchise path. The series helped boost the second film into megahit status.

Usui has also served as a producer on other Fuji franchises such as Bayside Shakedown, Unfair, and standalone movies Lorelei and Shaolin Girl. Fuji is currently in pre-production on a third Bayside Shakedown film, announced this April.