News Sushi: Morsels of News from Japan and Beyond #27

Editor Note: It is Friday and that means it is time for the World Famous, soon to be Intergalactic Famous, News Sushi from our very own, Hamish Downie. He brings us a decidedly different slant on Pop Culture as viewed through the lens of a non-native living in Japan. Thank you Hamish for your insights.



Just thought I’d pop my head up to say hi…


At the time of doing the final pass on this issue (these columns are built, not written free form)… I’ve just arrived back from my time in Australia to visit family and honour my Uncle at his memorial at a Buddhist Temple in the Blue Mountains. We met a lot of wonderful people, and it was a beautiful memorial.

I’ve also been appearing on ABC Newcastle 1233 Drive program, for a program called “Used to live here, now lives there” (because I used to live in Newcastle, and now live in Japan) – listen here: – I appear around the 2 hour 40 min mark. I appear on Tuesdays for three weeks (although by the time this comes out, it’ll probably be finished!)

But, onto today’s column proper…

Today we have a great interview with a Japanese writer/animator/director about his debut feature film, and of course, lots of fun things I’ve stumbled across.


Let’s get to it! But, first, DJ please…

NEWS SUSHI… MEETS: Norihiro Niwatsukino!

"Suffering of Ninko" Switzerland premiere in Black Movie: International Independent Film Festival Geneva! 『仁光の受難』初回上映無事終了です。サブカル色の強いミニシアターで、Q&Aも盛況でした。楽しい。

A post shared by Norihiro Niwatsukino (@dir_niwatch) on

TGG: We have a couple of things in common. We both started filmmaking while at Design school. And we’ve both made animations.

NN: That’s good. Maybe we can be good friends.

TGG: I hope so too! So, what inspired you to become a filmmaker?

NN: When I was a kid, a lot of Hollywood films, such as; “Stand by me”, “Star Wars”, “Back to the future”, “Indiana Jones”, and more, attracted me so much.
But, I was just a big fan of those films, because I had no idea how make such that great movies then. (Still now, I think it is difficult to make Hollywood-style films in Japan.)

In the Kyushu Institute of Design, I got the skill of making video content at first, but I didn’t know what I wanted to shoot. (Films? Music videos? Commercials? Movies? Or other video contents?)
But then, I found Guy Ritchie’s films, “Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels” and “Snatch”. I really wanted make a film like that, so I started to make films.
Now, my absolute favorite filmmaker is David Fincher, though. His “Se7en” is my favorite film ever.

TGG: I agree, David Fincher is one of the best filmmakers working today. But, back to you… Which do you prefer, live action or animation?

NN: I love both, specifically, Hollywood live action films and Japanese animation TV series. Recently, I think Japanese live action films are not so popular. But, Japanese animation is very popular now in the world. I believe such new wave anime makes a new expression we have never seen before.

TGG: Could you tell us about your short films, “Strawberry Jam”, “ONIZUSHI”/”Peggy & Mr.Babcock”?

NN: “Strawberry Jam” is the short film that was my turning point before my debut feature, “Suffering of Ninko”.

Strawberry Jam from Norihiro NIWATSUKINO on Vimeo.

I had wanted to make Hollywood-style films for a long time. But, it’s like a child’s dream, it has not come true for now. I had needed to find my style as a Japanese director. It was my first step to show my style, my expression, “this is my film” to an audience.

“Peggy & Mr.Babcock” is just for practice, and my first animation work.
Until this work, I never thought I could make animation.

And “Onizushi”, my first commercial short film, told me that I can also be an animation director.

On “Strawberry Jam”, I found my way, my style. On “Onizushi”, I became a two-way (animation and live action) director. I think these steps were needed to shoot and finish “Suffering of Ninko”.

TGG: Congratulations on your debut feature film, the award-nominated “Suffering of Ninko” was just released on DVD and Blu Ray.

Thank you so much.

Here’s the link to the trailer [NSFW]:

SUFFERING OF NINKO – International Trailer from Norihiro NIWATSUKINO on Vimeo.

Here’s the links to buy it on Amazon:

And watch it on Amazon Prime:

TGG: Could you tell about your film and what inspired you to make it?

NN: I was inspired by Japanese folklore “Kaidan” a.k.a. “Hyaku-Monogatari” and my favorite novelist, Natsuhiko KYOGOKU. I wanted to make an original folklore film, like a traditional ghost story. I also wanted to make a film that nobody had ever seen before with a low budget, not only for Japanese audience, but all cinephiles of the world. So, I combined live action and animation. I think it has worked well.

TGG: Finally, where can we support you? (Where can we buy your films, where can we follow you on social media etc.)

NN: The DVD or Blu-ray for UK, France, North America is on sale now. The Japanese edition will be released September 5.

映画『仁光の受難』DVDリリース迫る! #仁光の受難 "SUFFERING OF NINKO" DVD on Japan coming soon! #sufferingofninko

A post shared by Norihiro Niwatsukino (@dir_niwatch) on


TGG: Thank you so much for agreeing to be interviewed today.

NN: My pleasure.

TGG: I’m sure we are all looking forward to what you do next.

NN: I hope so. Thank you.

"Silly old bear."

A post shared by Norihiro Niwatsukino (@dir_niwatch) on


The weirdest film review ever… I think even David Lynch would be proud

I wonder if this is how the review gang on this site feel sometimes… (I think I’m the only writer on this site who doesn’t review films…)


Kids doing Judo

行って参りました!#日本武道館 #judokids #japanesejudo #budokan #judo

A post shared by Towa (@towaokisuzuki) on

Adam West during the filming of Batman, 1956

Adam West during the filming of Batman, 1956 from r/Moviesinthemaking


Take on Godzilla yourself in virtual reality at new attraction in HEP FIVE, Osaka

A handsome man…


A post shared by Sunny Lee (@sunsunlee) on

“One Piece” has become the world’s most successful comic:

Do you want a fan bag?

Does running in 35 degree heat (95 degrees Fahrenheit) strike you as a good thing? Are you a mad dog or an Englishman?

Or perhaps you’d like your robot vacuum cleaner to be shaped like a cat?

NEWS SUSHI… Serenity Now!

Andy Van Scoyoc provides a short zen meditation for all of our busy lives…

View this post on Instagram

Daily Meditation: Relax. Breathe. Be calm. Embrace serenity. #meditation #zen #mindfulness #calmingvideos

A post shared by Andy Van Scoyoc (@thebohemiancelt) on

Now that we are feeling peaceful…. it’s time to say Good-Bye… for now!


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