Talking About Monsters, Children, and Movies with Takashi MurakamiRich Juzwiak · 07/15/15 03:24PM
Who do you look at when you’re conducting an interview with someone who speaks in a foreign language—the subject or the translator? That remained unclear throughout my 30-minute discussion with Japanese visual artist Takashi Murakami and his translator Yuko Sakata earlier this week at the Criterion offices in New York. Close Criterion associate Janus Film is distributing Murakami’s first movie, Jellyfish Eyes, which Murakami was in town to promote. My eyes mostly darted back and forth between Murakami and Sakata as I asked questions about his work and movie, an ‘80s-esque tale about a boy and his fantastical pet that he uses to battle his classmates’ similarly fantastical pets in Pokemon fashion. To do so, they use controllers (“Devices”) issued by a local research center that’s actually run by an ominous bunch (the Black-Cloaked Four) who are stealing the children’s negative energy. Jellyfish Eyes is at once conventional by owing much of its plot and spirit to countless films and shows that came before it, and utterly insane. It’s by no means perfect, and often rests on cute—a fact of which Murakami himself seems to be aware. “Although the theatrical version may appear somewhat rough on the edges, I believe, for a first film, I have managed to create something with a solid structure,” he says in an interview provided in the movie’s press notes.