Thursday, May 22, 2008

Kadokawa Haruki on the verge of solving "God's Puzzle", part two

That's "God's Puzzle" star Ichihara Hayato and executive producer Kadokawa Haruki indulging in the aforementioned spot of promotional tomfoolery in the skies between Nagoya and Tokyo. In part two of Cyzo's third-eye opening interview, we learn that even astral-projecting superhumans think the current state of mainstream Japanese cinema is a bit crap.
Kadokawa continues to shock Japan with his larger-than-life talk and actions beyond the ken of ordinary men. Recreating the battleship Yamato to scale in "Yamato", (2005), telling the life story of his former existence Genghis Khan in "Blue Wolf: To the Ends of the Earth and Sea" (2007), and remaking Kurosawa's masterpiece "Sanjuro" with Oda Yuji in the lead (also 2007)... even after his comeback he has continued to bring us incredible films, and his latest work "God's Puzzle" is a youth drama in which university students investigate the 'creation of the universe'. Kadokawa devised the film adaptation [of Kimoto Shinji's book] while incarcerated. Did his isolation from society cause him to consider the existence of space and god?

"No, it wasn't like that. For the first three days of 2003 during the new year's holiday, there was no work in prison and I had nothing to do. Then all these visions suddenly came to me. It wasn't like I was meditating, but somehow my soul took flight into space. And then I saw outer space beyond that which humanity is aware of, and even further beyond was the sun-like presence that the universe originated from. I realised that it drives the entire universe. And I also realised that the universe itself has no interest in the existence of human beings. Essentially, the presence we call god is created by human thought, and can be found within ourselves. I discovered this by taking flight into space and returning to earth. At that point, I didn't know whether I could make a comeback in the film business, but after ordering the "God's Puzzle" novel and reading it in prison, I felt an intense desire to make it into a film. I'd already produced school-based dramas like 'School in the Crosshairs' (Nerawareta Gakuen) and 'The Little Girl Who Conquered Time' (Toki o Kakeru Shojo), so I thought I could probably pull off a school drama set at a university."

For his director, he employed the services of the red-hot Miike Takashi for the first time. The completed "God's Puzzle" is a refreshing scientific and mathematic youth drama, strikingly different from previous Miike works such as "Big Bang Love, Juvenile A", a portrayal of love between homosexuals, and "Imprint", which Eirin refused to rate.

"It was my first time working with Miike, but I'm convinced we made a great duo. I watched his 'Sukiyaki Western Django' and told him 'You're a nutcase!' (laughs) So for this film I explicitly told him to 'do it orthodox'. I wanted him to make a film unlike anything he'd done before. Still, I think it's got just the right amount of Miike-ness. That guy, apparently he couldn't sleep the night before the first preview screening because he thought I was going to hit him (laughs). I'd no idea he was that sensitive. I guess he had quite a reputation in his youth, but I'm a delinquent too, so I get on well with people like that. You see, this film is a youthful rom-com made by two delinquents - Miike and me. That's already a comedy in itself". (laughs)

Kadokawa believes in living as a free spirit, without being shackled by conventional thinking. We wanted to asked him for his thoughts on a Japanese film industry where paltry terminal disease stories, mobile phone novel adaptations and other such superficial tearjerkers run rampant.

"Well, movies have to work in a business sense, but today's film companies have turned into subcontractors for TV stations. They're making films out of things that rated well on TV, but you have to come up with original projects apart from that. If there are times when you team up with TV companies, there have to be other projects where you don't. Marketing's important too, but film companies today are placing way too much emphasis on that. Nothing new will emerge out of that kind of situation. There's no point in making a film out of some TV drama that's neither here nor there. Films have to be either here or there."

Self-professed lifelong "delinquent" Kadokawa says that in business, a sense of playfulness is important too.

"There's a school of thought that believes we're born into this world to train in preparation for the next life, but that's a lie. Religion is a lie. Human beings are born for one purpose: to have fun. I know this from my experiences of space while I was in prison. Everything I do, from one phrase poems to company management, is a game. Film production's another game, but on a rather larger scale. Enjoying life is the ultimate state of being!"

He also says he's moving ahead with big business plans outside of film and publishing. As his countdown to divinity progresses, it's getting harder and harder to take our eyes off Kadokawa!


  1. [...] Ryuganji has the second part of a Japanese magazine interview with mega-producer Haruki Kadokawa. He makes more sense in this [...]

  2. i can't tell if he's getting less crazy or i'm getting more crazy. because this time it all sounds perfectly reasonable.

    what's the deal with the name anyway? God's Puzzle sounds so much better to me but the flyer says The Puzzle of God. Seems like Toei should have nailed that down sooner and left no doubt.

  3. Hey Kevin,

    I've been calling it "God's Puzzle" based on mentions of the film on Jason Gray's blog, as he's much more clued-up on these things. I presumed the "Puzzle of God' titling on the flyer/poster was just 'decorative' English aimed at the Japanese audience.

  4. ahh good call. it was shopped around at Cannes as God's Puzzle. better-sounding name wins out