By Jonah Morgan
After being the first English Language media to report (see our October 25th entry) Souseki Natsume’s novel Ten Nights Of Dream (Yume Juya) (www.yume-juya.jp) would be adapted to film back in 2005, catching the world premiere screening while attending the 19th Tokyo International Film Festival in October, 2006 was very high on my list of priorities.This movie had simply not gotten 1/10th the attention I thought it deserved in the mainstream international entertainment press or even our own circle of anime and manga media. On the whole this has held true until this very writing 3 months later. In the interim, the theatrical opening in Japan has been planned for January, 27th, 2007. Its my hope that after it actually gets out into theaters where masses can see it, its notoriety will quickly grow. Ten Nights’ emergence should be highly significant to followers of Japanese Popular Culture, you need look no further than the panoply of eclectic crossmedia talent which has been assembled to be involved in the project.
Directors include: Jissoji Akio (Doomed Megalopolis, Ultraman), Ichikawa Kon (Harp Of Burma, The Maki Sisters, Dora-Heita), Shimizu Takashi (Juon, Grudge), Shimizu Atsushi (Snake Woman), Toyoshima Keisuke (Shin Mimi-Bukuro), Matsuo Suzuki (Otaku’s In Love), Amano Yoshitaka (Vampire Hunter D, Final Fantasy), Kawahara Shimmei (Andoromedia VFX Creator), Yamashita Nobuhiro (Linda, Linda, Linda, Ramblers), Nishikawa Miwa (Sway, Wild Berried), Yamaguchi Yudai (Battlefield Stadium). Actors and actresses include: Kyoko Koizumi (Choushojo Reiko, Onmyouji), Koji Yamamoto, UJIKI Tsuyoshi, ICHIKAWA Mikako, ABE Sadao, FUJIOKA Hiroshi, OGAWA Tamaki, Pierre TAKI, ISHIZAKA Koji, Kenichi Matsuyama (Death Note), Matsuo Suzuki (Night Head, Gensou Midnight, Koisuru Youchuu).
Producer Nikkatsu’s official writeup summary for the TIFF program book describes the film in the following way:“A hundred years ago Soseki Natsume challenged us all by saying “I am an ambitious man who wants the people of 100 years hence to solve my riddle” (Quoted from a letter to Sohei Morita on 22nd October 1906.) The resulting omnibus film “YUMEJUYA” brings forth an amazing labyrinth of entertainment brought to life by a selection of Japan’s greatest living directors of film. Their bold interpretations imaginative presentation and fantastic visuals actually solve Soseki’s century old riddle and present their audience with a beautiful world of immortal fantasy as so keenly depicted in Soseki’s masterpiece “Ten Nights of Dream.”
What really drew my attention going in was the fact that some of the 110 minute film’s 10 segments would use different techniques including silent film, black and white color and 2d+3DCG animation. Yoshitaka Amano and Simmei Kawahara jointly produced the most powerful of these in an utterly mind blowing example surrealistic animation. The version of Ten Nights screened at TIFF was qualified as the TIFF Special Version, this was because there were only 9 segments presented. The 3rd Night segment directed by Takashi Shimizu (Juon) was still in production at the time and would make it into the final cut. A number of the featurettes had been shot the year before in 2005.
The screening was held in the smaller Toho Roppongi Hills theater 7, to a capacity crowd. I actually noticed a few gaijin had strayed in to see this one. TIFF listed this movie as being in its Special Screenings section. Before the start though, an official stage greeting took place. 7 men and a woman filed onto the platform in front of the large movie screen. Sadly, Nobuhiro Yamashita, Akio Jissoji, Kon Ichikawa and Yoshitaka Amano were the only directors of the 11 who worked on the project not to appear here. 90 year old Ichikawa’s reason was because he was handling something at the festival related to his remade Murder Of The Inugami Clan (which also was showing there). Sadly, Jissoji’s reason was because of health and he ended up dying about a month later on November 26th, 2006 of stomach cancer.
The moderator welcomed everyone and even made a comment about the large number of tickets sold for the showing. He added the riddle posed by the original author 100 years ago would be answered tonight. Each director was asked to give comments on their respective segment and the original author’s fiction. Takashi Shimizu of Grudge fame said he had read the book along time ago and personally wanted to do an adaptation the 3rd night story. Simmei Kawahara who co-directed the 7th night story with Yoshitaka Amano said the original plot was able to transferred fairly easy to animation.
The movie itself is wonderful, and a truly powerful assembly of so many different types of Japanese storytelling. An underground sleeper… cult classic in the making…. although mostly live action, manga and anime fans around the world will really get into this one when given the chance. You can view the original trailer in Windows Media format here and the second more revealing trailer at Internet TVMovie Guide here.