Before leaving Montreal, I had the pleasure of a quick chat with the director of Kudoko Meatball Machine, , through his translator.
366: Hello, I’m with these people, [Present business card with Japanese translation on it] I hope I wrote that correctly.
Translator: Yes, yes. [Hands card to Nishimura]
366: First of all, thank you for sitting with me. Last night was the first of your movies I’ve ever seen, but my boss is very familiar with your work and he wanted me to ask, regarding the state of independent/low budget film-making in Japan, would you say it’s in healthy shape? Has it been evolving in any way?
Yoshihiro Nishimura: It’s in a very bad shape.
366: Bad shape since the start—the get-go?
YN: Twenty years ago in Japan, Tsutomu Miyazaki killed four little girls, and when the police investigated his apartment, they found a lot of “splatter” movies, so the media accused those kinds of movies very openly, and since that time it has been very bad. At that time, splatter movies were having a boom, but since that time school boys have been told not to see splatter movies, so now in their 20s and 30s, they have a very bad opinion of those movies.
366: I was told some names:, , and . Would you say these film-makers are part of your film “movement” all together?
YN: [Laughs] You forgot ““. Actually, the people who categorize us together are the media, not us. So I cannot answer that.
366: Now, your working relationship with Sono, how did that develop?
YN: Sion Sono is a good friend, we met in film school, and we’ve made movies from then through now.
366: Are you surprised—and hopefully happy—at how much your work has infiltrated North America? Certainly there were a lot of people last night very happy to see Kodoku Meatball Machine. And are you at all concerned North Americans and foreigners might miss references that a native would pick up on?
YN: Rather surprised [at the popularity], yes. For example, in my last movie, in Japan it is an insult to say someone is “bold”, but here it is not an insult.
366: What started your interest in the human body and its malleability—morphing from the organic to the mechanic kind of thing?
YN:and Johannes Vermeer were two artists that inspired that interest.
366: Regarding this sub-genre of “body changing”, you’ve no doubt been asked a lot about Tetsuo: The Iron Man. Would that be the starting point of these films?
YN: Before I made Tokyo Gore Police, I made Anotomia Extinction, and Tetsuo was released before I was finished, so a lot of people said Anotomia Extinction was copying Tetsuo, but I feel it’s different, because I started it before Tetsuo came out.
366: Any quick word about upcoming projects?
YN: I’m going to be doing a story about embalming.
366: There’s a question from my brother-in-law, can you recommend any good restaurants in Tokyo —
Translator: The brother-in-law is…
366: …my sister’s husband.
Translator: Big sister or small sister?
YN: [Laughs] I can only tell you about ramen. “Kanda Kikanbo.” [writes name in my note-book] This is the best ramen. It’s very good.
366: I think that finishes the questions I was given. Thank you for your time!
YN: Thank you!