Wednesday, May 21, 2008

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

As if the bared flesh of its barely-legal star Tanimura Mitsuki wasn't enough, the promotional onslaught for the new Miike Takashi film "God's Puzzle" (opening on June 7th) moved up a gear overnight, with various media carrying reports from the film's premiere and a typically outlandish zero-gravity publicity stunt by executive producer Kadokawa Haruki. I won't rehash the sordid details of the old-school movie mogul's storied career here (Wikipedia does a fine job of that), but his team-up with Miike promises to be nothing if not, er, 'eventful'. After making a triumphant comeback with the long-running box office success of patriotic WWII hankie-wetter "Yamato", his even more ambitious Genghis Khan biopic "Blue Wolf: To the Ends of the Earth and Sea" subsequently suffered the derision of critics and the indifference of audiences, leaving him needing another hit to make himself relevant again. However, as the first part of this bizarre interview with self-styled taboo-breaking magazine Cyzo shows, these days film appears to be the least of his concerns.

"My dream is to conquer the world peacefully, bloodlessly, through cultural invasion." These passionate words were uttered by Mr. Kadokawa Haruki, Japanese film and publishing's soldier of fortune, to this magazine last year. We learned that his latest film "God's Puzzle" [Kamisama no Pazuru] is about to be released in June this year, so we visited his home. The gentleman emerged wearing a hakama, swinging a wooden sword as usual to hone his physique in preparation for his coming neurocellular awakening, in other words man's ecdysis toward godliness.

"I'm at a stage where I'm shedding my human trappings and approaching the province of the immortals. I'm certain I'll awaken within the next three years," asserted Kadokawa when he appeared in our August 2007 issue. Nine months later, how far has his countdown to deification advanced? Furthermore, with his role as executive producer on his new love comedy "God's Puzzle" and his first-ever collaboration with genius director Miike Takashi, we watch with interest as he tackles the mystery that has troubled humankind for all eternity: "How did the universe come into being?"

What does "god" mean to Kadokawa, a publisher and haiku poet whose rollercoaster life has included two years and five months in jail for drug violations? As a film producer whose media mix strategies caused a sensation, how does he view the current state of our film industry where hits can't be created without television companies taking the lead? At his penthouse apartment overlooking the Ground Self Defense Force's Ichigaya garrison, we received a spiritual message from Kadokawa who has taken up the sword in an attempt to shake off the bonds of human flesh.

"No matter how much I swing my wooden sword, I never tire. Did I say in my last interview I was working toward 10,000 swings? Well, now I've done 25,000! This wooden sword is extremely heavy, and even national representatives in Kendo can't swing it 1,000 times. At first I took it up to strengthen my body in order to stimulate my entire brain cells, but physically I've already surpassed human limitations. I feel as if my brain cells will awaken within the year. However, I regret that this won't be in time for the release of "God's Puzzle" on June 7th. If my brain had 'opened' well before the opening date, I'd have come up with a release strategy the likes of which no-one has seen before (laughs)".

In Kadokawa's thinking, the human brain is blocked by filters and usually runs at only 3% of its capacity, so we should strengthen our physical selves and stimulate them to the fullest. "If we open up by 50%, we will already be in the company of the gods," he says. Does that mean this is the last film to be produced by the "mortal" Kadokawa Haruki?

"Hmmm, my last work as a human? (laughs) Well, there'll probably be something physically human left of me even after I achieve mental enlightenment. Even so, by then it won't be about things like film promotion and distribution, nothing on that level, I will have undergone a more fundamental change. According to a Buddhist nun named Shiraishi Jikei who channels Lord Kannon, it seems that when you exceed 15,000 swings with a wooden sword you are no longer human, you are in the domain of the superhuman. When I imagine myself facing up against figures from the past like Yagyu Sekishusai and Miyamoto Musashi, I'm sure I won't lose. In the mythical era, humans lived for two to three hundred years, so why have modern people become so short-lived? Some people call it the seal of 'Brahma', and the thinking goes that this Brahma created the universe and placed filters on the minds of human beings. In my case, those barriers are about to be broken. I think I'll live to be 200. You see, I haven't aged in the least. I can swing a wooden sword to my heart's content. Now my employees who take turns counting, they're the ones who have it rough." (laughs)

It would seem that many things that cannot be picked up by the naked eyes of we mediocre humans are visible to Mr. Kadokawa. Specifically, what kind of visuals?

"The moment I exceeded 15,000 swings, various deities materialised to offer their blessings, and that's when I realised 'Ah, so this is the realm of the gods'. By closing your eyes and swinging a wooden sword, unexpected sights appear one after another, like the festivals of the world. Actually, I wanted to reach enlightenment during June by training in the upper reaches of the Indus River with Yogi Naruse Masaharu, who's recognised as the "King of Yoga" in India as well, but I had the film's release to deal with so I postponed it until September. It's easier to open up in a truly natural surrounding. However, I still have the desire to enlighten myself during June, so I want to be able to clear 33,000 wooden sword swings by then. Even if I swung once every second, it would probably take twelve hours. That's including two meal breaks and time for rehydrating."

To be concluded in part two...


  1. Um, well, I think I've swung my 'flesh sword' more than 33,000 times so am I enlightened yet?

    But seriously Don, you made this up right? It's all a hilarious piss-take on Kadokawa right?


  2. You'd think he'd stay away from the word「覚醒」at all costs.

  3. mmm..something to ponder upon. Anyway, can't wait to see 'God's Puzzle'.

  4. Nicholas,

    You must have one hell of an RBI. 33,000 swings but only one clean hit so far, right?

    I hope he is dead serious about all this. The Japanese film world could use more interdimensional megalomaniacs.


    I thought the exact same thing when I read that. Maybe he'll start doing commercials for Coca Cola next.

  5. [...] Apparently, the critical and commercial failure of that Genghis Khan movie really got to Haruki Kadokawa’s head….now I’ll go swing my wooden sword a few thousand [...]

  6. If you want to talk about how dead serious KH is,You gatta read the loong interview by Yoshida Go in "Zoku Ningen Kokuhou続・人間コク宝”.
    Inside,there is a mind boggling interview by the writer and one of Haruki's daughter,Kei Tee, whom he never met for tweny years.