To help fund full-length historical film, Japanese filmmakers turn to the crowd



This is part of our Crowdfunding in Japan series (RSS). Services like KickStarter have become a global phenomenon with the power to let creative individuals take their ideas to new heights. It’s happening here in Japan too, most notably on Campfire, the country’s answer to Kickstarter.

Japanese period dramas of the kind often found in theaters, films, or TV dramas are often set in the Edo Period or earlier, but almost always prior to the Meiji Restoration. Akira Kurasawa’s classic film Seven Samurai is a perfect example. Now there’s a Campfire project which aims to independently produce just such a historical drama. Its director is Ninkou no Junan, which roughly translates as ‘Ninkou’s ordeals.’ The director is Norihiro Niwatsukino, who had previously won awards at Japanese film festivals awards for his past films.

Instead of the typical “reward good and punish evil” sort of samurai or ninja, this story is comprised of other unique Japanese cultural elements such as Buddhism, ghosts, and ukiyo-e, marking a clear departure from existing works of the genre.

This particular drama draws from three primary concepts. The first is Ukiyo-e and One Hundred Ghost Tales, the culture closely-linked to Yokai. The second focuses on the worldview of Buddhism, and the third is centered on feminine beauty in East Asia. The latter’s story describes the women who seduce the protagonist Ninkou, presenting a unique world view by mixing live-action with animation.

The maximum donation level was 300,000 yen (about $3,200), and although no individual supporters committed to that level, two supporters did agree to contribute 100,000 yen. Supporters can earn benefits such as a Blu-ray disc, a book of illustrations from the film, as well as a specific mention in the final credits. The initial funding target was 1,000,000 yen (or about $10,600), and the project achieved by raising 1,079,100 yen from 83 patrons.

It’s going to be interesting to watch and see how this one turns out. For a preview, check out the promo clip below.