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Typhoon – Part 2: Family Entertainment

April 17, 2011

Sushi Typhoons films would be best categorized as family movies. No, not in that sense! In the old school, filmmaker sense.

Back in the days when Japanese action cinema rocked the world, filmmakers used to be studio loyal. It resulted in specific actors always showing up in similar movies. This, in turn, gave certain studios dominance in specific genres. Toei was prime example with their karate, yakuza and pinky violence movies. Toei always had Sonny Chiba beat the shit out Masashi Ishibashi. Hideo Murota was always to make an appearance in a yakuza movie. Akira Oizumi or Tooru Yuri would serve as the comic relief in pinky violence films. Even if you don’t recognize the names, you’ve surely seen their faces… many times. Those were the days.

The newly born Japanese splatter and cult cinema brings this tradition back. Studio loyalty is technically speaking gone, but the Japanese world of gore is small enough to bring the splatter masters together on a regular basis.

Yoshihiro Nishimura, one of Sushi Typhoon’s most valuable assets, personifies this. From Sushi Typhoon’s six movies he has directed and written one, co-directed another, and done special effects work for five. He’s unstoppable. He’s the Tom Savini of Japan, the best splatter artist in Japan. If someone in Japan gets killed excessively violently, Nishimura is your prime suspect.

Aside helping out his fellow criminals, Nishimura also receives help from his pals. The fake commercials in Tokyo Gore Police were actually helmed by Noboru Iguchi and Yudai Yamaguchi, current Sushi Typhoon employees both of them. Nishimura himself is the man who directed the Reject of Death spin off short movie for Yamaguchi’s 2005 film Meatball Machine. And who appears in Reject of Death? The Grudge director Takashi Shimizu and AV star gone cult actress Asami.

Asami was also in Noboru Iguchi’s movies The Machine Girl, Robo-Geisha, Mutant Girls Squad and Karate-Robo Zaborgar. Nishimura did special effect work for all of them. Shimizu on the other hand, he was the high school professor in Nishimura’s love comedy splatter Vampire Girl vs. Frankenstein Girl, the Chinese guy in Tokyo Gore Police, the random customer in The Ancient Dogoo Girl Movie (based on a series created by Noboru Iguchi), just to mention a few.

Tak Sakaguchi is another powerhouse. One leading role, one co-starring role, two co-directing credits, and choreography participation in five films. And this is not counting the 7th Sushi Typhoon film, Deadball, starring Sakaguchi and directed by Yudai Yamaguchi. The two also collaborated in the 6th film, Yakuza Weapon, with even more responsibilities handed to Sakaguchi.

Spotting these actors and filmmakers in Sushi Typhoon films is part of the fun – and perhaps something that may leave random viewers feeling a bit outsiders. You never know when the Machine Girl nailhead Demo Tanaka will make his next appearance, which role has been reserved for the ill-lucked TGP policeman Yukihide Benny, and how evil will the Vampire Girl janitor Jiji Bu be.

And then there are the ladies, the Mizuizumi: Maki Mizui and Cay Izumi. The lovely chan-duo Maki and Cay are some of the best “accidental idols” in the industry. Maki, whose age appears to be a national secret (think real hard about her past career achievements and you may come up with a theory for this) is Nishimura’s assistant, actress, part time AV star, and now a singer and dancer, too. She’s also the girl who ran from her agent to see Tetsuo 3 in cinema alone! See her blog for more stories, a kumakosu (sorry, custom created term) photo, and the source of my shamelessly stolen Maki / Taku pic.

Maki’s been around for some time. If you saw a cute meganekko girl in the behind the scenes photos from The Machine Girl, that was her. If you saw another one in Tokyo Gore Police promotion, well, that was Maki again. She even did narration for the making of documentary for Vampire Girl vs. Frankenstein Girl. She received more visibility in Nishimura’s segment for Mutant Girls Squad, in which she played the Astro Mutant, and in Helldriver, where she’s the spider girl. And now she has a starring role in the new non-Sushi film Never Ending Blue. And did I mention she sings and dances?

Maki’s live performance could be witnessed at this year’s Yubari Fantastic Film Fest as a part of the Mizuizumi show by Maki and Cay. The Hokkaido born Cay Izumi is a pole dancer by her first profession – with her own dance team Tokyo Dolores – but she, too, has teamed up with Nishimura and Iguchi numerous times. Due to her athletic ability she’s typically cast in roles such as the cyber punk wonder ‘dog girl’ in Tokyo Gore Police, or one of the Tengu Girls in Robo-Geisha (the other one was played by Asami, who appears in the photo on the left), or one of the ganguro girls in both Vampire Girl vs. Frankenstein Girl and Vampire Frankenstein Girl.

The latter, Vampire Frankenstein Girl, is a 15 minute spin-off movie. These short films, a tradition that started long before Sushi Typhoon, provide an additional channel for the under-rated fan favorites to make screen appearances. Vampire Frankenstein Girl for example, co-stars both Cay and Maki, and also features an acting appearance by graph designer / Cold Fish screenwriter Yoshiki Takahashi. Takahashi also directed one of the TGP spin off movies. The Machine Girl and Robo-Geisha received their spin offs as well. As far as Sushi Typhoon films go, Mutant Girls Squad has received a spin off film, and there will most certainly be more on the way as Nishimura and Iguchi get more titles into home distribution.

However, as the Mizuizumi show proved, Cay, Maki, and many other Sushi employees are not just a silver screen treat. These guys have been extremely active promoting their films at movie festivals around the word, as well as in domestic opening nights. They’re usually sparsely clothed – yes, Nishimura and Iguchi, too – and putting up a hellava show. Nishimura and Iguchi getting darts stick in their ass, the same duo running around naked in snow, Cay bringing her pole to a movie theater with her, or Sakaguchi beating his stuntmen live, are just a few examples.

With a bit of luck, a Sushi Typhoon premiere ticket will bring a lot more than one paid for. But of course, much of Sushi Typhoon is, as my friend put it, “acquired taste”. Neither the films nor the chefs are for everyone. Some people just don’t eat raw fish. That’s their choice. They can go for meatballs instead (that’s not Iguchi, btw). Sushi Typhoon’s menu is a bit more exotic.

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