Last year, I fulfilled a long-standing personal ambition: to play an extra in a Japanese monster movie. My wife and I volunteered for crowd scenes in Takashi Miike's latest film, Yokai Daisenso, a.k.a. The Great Yokai War (you can read the thrilling saga of our two days on set here and here, on Patrick Macias' blog.) Yokai, for those not in the know, are mythological Japanese creatures, something like a cross between a spirit and a monster. If you've ever seen the '60s Japanese horror classic Kwaidan, you're familiar with at least one: Yuki-onna, the maiden who beckons weary travellers to their deaths in snowstorms.
No word as to an American release date yet, but the film got a brief shout-out in a recent Washington Post article on anime conventions. Anyway, the Yokai Daisenso DVD finally came out in Japanese stores last week, so we had the chance to do some screen-grabs. Our combined screen time came to about two and a half seconds... not bad for twenty-four hours of grueling physical labor in the studio. Thank god we aren't trying to make a living at this.
The film was a mixture of (really) low-tech makeup and masks combined with CG; both days were spent on a partial set in front of enormous blue sheets. Displaying her great range as a monster-actor, Hiroko portrayed both a kimono-clad frog and a purple-faced zombie farmer. Meanwhile, pause those crowd scenes and hunt for the bloke in the bug-eyed, pucker-faced mask screaming behind her (upper left in the photo). That'd be me. I've prepared my Oscar acceptance speech and am awaiting my invitation to the ceremony.
My wife's big-screen debut is as a giant frog having a conversation with a woman cradling a dead baby. Long live Japanese cinema.
More shots from behind the scenes: