Azumi's Kitamura to Write Shunji Iwai's Itasha Script

posted on by Egan Loo
Versus' Ryuhei Kitamura offers to script concept from Baton partner Iwai (Hana & Alice)

Not-So-Daily Link of the Day: Director Ryuhei Kitamura (Baton, Azumi, Versus) revealed in a post-screening panel in Los Angeles on Friday that he promised fellow writer/director Shunji Iwai (Hana and Alice, Baton, All About Lily Chou-Chou) to write a film script about Japan's itasha (character-decorated vehicle) culture. When an audience member asked about Kitamura's future plans, Kitamura talked about several plans, including the following:

There is this weird culture in Japan called itasha. Itasha is — how to translate it — itasha is "painful car." It is a big movement in Japan for cars. Animation [fans] paint those animation characters like pretty girls in high uniform, sexy women — they just paint them all over cars. You should Google when you go back [home], "itasha." And it's not even [just] cars. They do that on motorcycles, and even bicycles. It's crazy. I didn't believe it when I saw it. I said, wow, tons of people are doing it, with big conventions.

So, the other day, Shunji was watching, you know, Fast & Furious, and he just told me, "Can we come up something that's Fast & Furious meets itasha?" What? Fast & Furious meets itasha? I don't know how can I….

But I know he is busy writing lots of scripts already, so I told him — I promised him, "Ok, I'll come up with something," because I can't ask him to write scripts for me every time. I'm working on it. I don't know — we're always talking about a lot of things. We will work together again in the future.

Kitamura and Iwai first crossed paths when Iwai was slated to direct the live-action film adaptation of Yu Koyama's Azumi manga. After Iwai left the project, Kitamura assumed the helm to critical acclaim in 2003. After Azumi's success, Kitamura took time off to reunite his old rock band from the 1990s. Coincidentally, Iwai sent Kitamura his Bandage script about the Japanese independent rock scene in the 1990s. The two worked together on Bandage's pre-production until casting issues put the film on hold. (Another director, Takeshi Kobayashi, had since taken over the project with a new cast, and the Bandage film opened in Japan last month.)

Although Kitamura and Iwai were not able to work together on Bandage, the two kept in touch, especially after both moved to California within two years of each other. A night out in Los Angeles led to their collaboration on Baton, a hybrid American/Japanese, live-action/animated film for Yohohama City's 150th anniversary. (Iwai wrote the script, and Kitamura directed.)

In addition to the itasha film concept, Kitamura and Iwai discussed many ideas such as a ghost story "about this priest travelling with a child who is a ghost — kind of a road movie with a priest and a ghost." Kitamura also addressed his collaborations with other creators. Kitamura said that he is not involved in the proposed movie adaptation of Metal Gear Solid game franchise, but he did talk with franchise creator Hideo Kojima two weeks ago in Japan about other possible projects unrelated to Metal Gear Solid. (Kitamura had directed the motion-control footage for sequences in the 2004 video game Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes.)

Photograph by dormcat

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