September 8, 2011

Yesterday was the wrap for shooting with the cast but today we’re still at work getting footage of landscape and location shots. That means that the true wrap date is today.

photo Murakami

Even this diary ended up being commandeered by Crew Chief Shiozaki.
Thanks, as always.

This one is Shio’s doing. “Sky! Everyone look at the sky!” he shouted, giving instructions for the shot. Nagano-san and Shimoda-san are the only ones seriously looking.

photo Yuji Saito

With the production crew. Chief Shiozaki and the Shiozaki Fishery.

photo Murakami

A few weeks ago, we were facing record heat and now there’s already signs of autumn.

photo Murakami

At this location, there were different varieties of mushrooms growing seemingly everywhere.

Our last landscape shot. A scene from the point of the main character.

photo Murakami

Nagano-san! He’s hanging half out the window for this shot.
And with that, we brought the production to a wrap.


Principal photography for all scenes is now over. Nishimura-san! Nay, the entire staff! Thank you for all the hard work!

I took this opportunity to rethink just what it is that I want to express with this film.

The answer…

Here in the year 2011, despite all the challenges that Japan faces, I want to make a film that will give the children of this nation the courage to face things head on and forge contacts with the world around them. I want to help them overcome the veil of lies that envelopes this nation and teach them there is meaning in being brave.

Before the earthquake and tsunami, Japan was gripped by a vague feeling of stagnation. Under the increasingly lenient education system, children were raised in a warped manner and those then children then grew up to have children of their own. In the wake of the March disasters it may be true that nothing has actually changed, but I believe that many have come to recognize the deception that governs the lives of those who live here and know that they must toughen themselves in order to fight through the lies.

The coverup of the nuclear accident at Fukushima by the current government is no different from the infamously rosey “state of the war” announcements that the military government made straight up to Japan’s defeat in World War II. Just as then, the government is unable to envision any change without outside pressure and it is only a matter of time before history repeats itself; in fact, I have the sense that it is already starting to repeat itself.

Though we know there is something inherently wrong with the entrenched strength of the nuclear industry, we can do nothing to stop it. Though we see the effects of lax education and are concerned, we have not acted to change the system’s over all direction

However, I believe that the children of this country, those who have not yet been brainwashed, are aware. They recognize the absurdity of their environment.

I too, when I was a child, took a long look at the anti-Vietnam war movement, the student uprisings seeking to end the ANPO treaty, the news about the return of Okinawa, and the state of environmental pollution, and realized that something was amiss. Looking back, I turned to fantasy worlds to teach me how to digest the deep suspicion I felt and how to fight against my time. Ultraman, Ashita no Joe, Godzilla, Galaxy Express 999.

This is why I have decided to make the same sort of fantasy story for the children of today.

I believe that what we need is a fantasy imbued with an artistic philosophy, hope, and craftmanship that is capable of reaching them in a pure manner and expressing something fundamental about right and wrong.

Set in modern Japan and with children as the heroes, the fantasy will encourage them to face the future and live with passion, the latter of which they will use to change this world for the better! If such a work cold then also serve as a sermon for adults, all the better! This is the ambition that has guided this production

I would like to extend my gratitude here our entire crew. Thank you very much. To the editing team and post production team, I say: our work begins now. Once again, I am relying on you and look forward to our working together.

And now I am left to wonder whether all these ideas will simply float in the ether or whether they will take root firmly in my audience. Only the Gods know the answer to that question. If luck blows the film’s way, then the gods will descend to help. If luck is not with us, then the film can only drift away.

It has now been 20 years since I began my career as an artist and all my works have begun from the philosophy described above. In other words: leave it to luck. And as a sign of the luck that sits with this project and a prayer for its continued presence, I would like to celebrate the successful wrap of shooting, which took place with little to no incident.

To the Gods: Thank you for allowing us to wrap.

I truly believe that the fact that we were able to finish on schedule, despite many complications with shooting conditions, weather, and other difficulties, is because of my Taiwanese fung-shui master, Yu-sensei and his commune with these spirits. He made rain clouds disappear, kept the sun out for hours on end, and I am grateful for his help in getting the shooting done.

I’m sure that all of you reading this think I’ve gone completely nuts, but as can be seen in this year’s disaster, nature exists on a plane beyond man’s reach.If we ourselves are part of nature, then I think there is a natural current in which we must live, just as plants, clouds and animals do. Though science is supposed to teach us how to find that current, in modern times it’s devotees have applied their thinking to all aspects of life and we have lost, as a result, the intuitive side of ourselves, the sixth sense, we had as animals. We have become unable to perceive nature. And I believe that this happened of our own choice.

That is why we need people at our side who still can perceive nature. Artists, holy men, philosophers. Though they may not seem to have any use in the real world, I believe their role is actually among the most essential of all in our modern society.

To put it more simply, we must learn again to live according to our intuition.

And that is why the fact that I have been an able to meet a master of an art that is both unknown in Japan and possessing of a Chinese reality, the fact that such a person helped me to complete the shooting of my film, leaves me extremely grateful.

Master Yu and Chiang Ming Yu – thank you for your help as we dealt with the weather and car accidents

And with that said, shooting is over, but production is nowhere near at an end.
And that means that this production will continue into the future.

I hope you look forward to it.

Takashi Murakami

September 7, 2011

Well, this is the day. We’re finally going to wrap shooting.
The atmosphere on set feels different somehow. There’s a bit of relief, a bit of fatigue, and a certain pride that we made it all the way to the end with no incidents (like director Murakami falling ill for one).

Everyone is focused on the goal of completing everything before the close of the day and energy levels are high.

Everyone is focused on the goal of completing everything before the close of the day and energy levels are high.

Now it really feels like a film.

After performing actions scenes in a full body suit, wrapping your head in a cold-water towel is the best possible reward!

Due to some incidents that occurred just before shooting, we had to change locations. It seems the gods were inviting us even further in to the world of Chisato Moritaka’s Watarasebashi.
The new location is actually one of the places mentioned in the lyrics – Yakumon Shrine. The whole town is really quite beautiful at sundown (Sniffle).

Today, many of the crew could be seen in their Jellyfish Eyes t-shirts. The shirts were given out to staff throughout the day.

This is also the last day for the making of documentary by “Demo” Tanaka-san (or is it…?) He managed to check inside my location shoot utility bag. My first day on set, I noticed that everyone had these bags and so I played copycat and bought one of my own. Which of course means it’s only been in use for one month.

Nishimura-san and Miyada-san. Together, they’re giving the final directions to our actors. Trusting in the ability of our cast, they shoot take after take.

The energy on set has finally gotten to me and I’ve begun asking for overdramatic gestures from the actors. “Huh? That seems a bit over the top. And contrived!” I was told as everyone laughed. For me, however, that sort of contrived atmosphere is at the core of the film’s premise. I wanted to break open the film’s shell and show that here.

Just as we did to mark the first day, we had special boxes lunches to celebrate the wrap. I like this sort of atmosphere. It shows great attention to detail.

Third Assistant Director Masayoshi Kishida has a story from his past that is so shocking and dramatic, we added it as a scene in another live action movie that’s in the planning stages now.

Yakumo Shrine is infested with mosquitoes. While on location for this film, I’ve been bit and stung by black flies, horse flies, and mosquitoes so often, my legs are unrecognizable.

The production staff continually prepared everything, including the barley tea seen here, through out the shoot. Many thanks.

Even the smallest scene requires the full-scale involvement of staff and large equipment. This is one of the fundamentals of film making that I learned.

Seishi Ochi from the vehicle staff. He was essential in making sure the location sets were fully stocked and organized. He also paid careful attention not to disrupt the imagery of the set.

We never let up on the photography, even in the final minutes!
I want the heroin to look beautiful! So beautiful it brings tears!
Hanging onto these sentiments while everyone is racing against time leads to much tension on set.

Stylist Manami Ohsumi. Here she imitates one of the believers.
Thanks for all the hard work!

And that’s a wrap.
Thank you again to everyone.

We formed a circle in the parking lot of Yakumo Shnre and…


Cameraman Nagano-san. Thanks to you for your ceaseless energy and effort!!
I suppose I should have mentioned the cast and their adventures as I’ve been writing these diaries, but the film is not due out until next year. You’ll have to wait until then for images of the valiant troupe of performers we’ve assembled.

September 6, 2011

Tomorrow, we finally reach the last day of shooting! But today, we’re in Ashikaga. The setting of Chisato Moritaka’s Watarasebashi. The old fashioned atmosphere is full of flavor and emotion. I love it!

We met in front of the public hot spring bath! This place is two hours from Tokyo.

Shooting a special effects shot in an old alleyway.

Archivist “Demo” Tanaka is also front and center taking in everything with his camera.

We also built these rather Hideaki Anno-esque utility poles.
Utility poles are one of the most prominent gadgets on the Jellyfish Eyes set.

You can find the remnants of the Japan of thirty years ago here.

Testing a bicycle action shot.

Because of all the alleyways and one-way streets, it’s really difficult to control traffic and prevent cars from entering shots around here.

We attached a camera to a car for this low angle shot.

“THE Shaved Head”

Changing scenes, we head into the mountains. It’s really difficult carrying all this machinery! We have to work together!

The corner where we lay down all the equipment. We just had an encounter with a wild boar here. A huge one, straight out of Princess Mononoke walked right across the road. In fact, this place is wild boar heaven.

photo Murakami

Whoa, this mushroom is huge! And poisonous?

Art collector Takayuki Komatsubara heard about the shoot from the chief priest of the local temple and so he decided to stop by. …. If I had known he as coming, I would have asked him to be in one of the mob scenes!

Takayuki Komatsubara is a doctor. He gave us some special medicine that’s particularly useful for dealing with black fly/horse fly stings… and many other useful items.

Is this a horse fly or a black fly? Whatever it is, it’s sting is painful!

Taiwanese collector Greg Liu also stopped by.
We have a lot of visitors today.

Greg also brought us some cream puffs.

… the end of shooting at an illegal dumping ground.
It’s been a long battle and the sun is on it’s way down. The main staff, however, still have work to do. Emergency location scouting for tomorrow’s shoot. It’s an emergency. The place we had scheduled has been blown away by the storm!

photo Murakami

From the newly scouted location. We can see dragon’s nest clouds.

photo Murakami

The garden at Yakumo Shrine.
We’ve found our spot for tomorrow’s shoot! Tomorrow, we wrap.