Shinya Tsukamoto

Shinya Tsukamoto

Shinya Tsukamoto at the Venice Film Festival 2009
Native name 塚本晋也
Born (1960-01-01) January 1, 1960
Tokyo, Japan
Occupation Director, producer, writer, and actor
Years active 1989–present
Website 塚本晋也 Official Website

Shinya Tsukamoto (塚本 晋也 Tsukamoto Shin'ya, born January 1, 1960) is a Japanese film director and actor with a considerable cult following both domestically and abroad.


Tsukamoto started making movies at the age of 14, when his father gave him a Super 8 camera. His cinematic influences included Akira Kurosawa.[1] He made a number of films, ranging from 10-minute shorts to 2-hour features, until his first year at college when he temporarily lost interest in making movies. Tsukamoto then started up a theatre group, which soon included Kei Fujiwara, Nobu Kanaoka, and Tomorowo Taguchi, all of whom would continue to work with Tsukamoto up through the filming of Tetsuo: The Iron Man.[2]

One of their theatre productions at this time was Denchu Kozo no boken. At the end of the production, Tsukamoto did not want to waste all the effort they had put into building the set, so he decided to shoot a film version.[3]

Tsukamoto's early films, Futsu saizu no kaijin (A Phantom of Regular Size) and Denchu Kozo no boken (The Adventures Of Electric Rod Boy) made in 1986/87, were short subject science fiction films shot on colour 8 mm film. His black & white 16 mm feature Tetsuo: The Iron Man, made in 1988. Tsukamoto has stated he has a love-hate relationship with Tokyo, and in the end the characters of this film set out to destroy it. Tetsuo is considered the definitive example of Japanese cyberpunk.[4]

Tsukamoto's next film, Hiruko the Goblin, was a more conventional horror film, about demons being unleashed from the gates of hell. He then created a follow-up to Tetsuo: The Iron Man, named Tetsuo II: Body Hammer, which revisited many of the same ideas as the first movie but with a bigger budget and shot in color on 35 mm film. As a result, the film is often interpreted more as a companion piece than as a straightforward sequel.[5] In Body Hammer, a salaryman's son is kidnapped by a group of thugs, who then force the man's nascent rage to make him mutate into a gigantic human weapon. Tokyo Fist (1995) again dealt with the idea of rage as a transformative force (similar to David Cronenberg's The Brood). Here, a meek insurance salesman discovers that an old friend of his, now a semi-professional boxer, may be having an affair with his fiancée. The salesman then enters into a rigorous and self-destructive boxing training program to get even.

In Bullet Ballet (1998), a man (played by Tsukamoto) discovers that his longtime girlfriend committed suicide with a gun, and becomes obsessed with getting a gun just like that one. His single minded behavior causes him to run afoul of a gang of thugs, especially when he shows interest in the young girl who is one of their compatriots. Gemini (1999) was an adaptation of an Edogawa Rampo story, in which a country doctor with pretensions of superiority has his life torn apart when another man who appears to be his exact duplicate enters his life. Things are complicated further by the twin taking control of his wife, an amnesiac with a criminal background. A Snake of June (2002) once again found Tsukamoto employing the formula of two men in competition for one woman, as a young lady is blackmailed into perverse sexual behavior against her husband's will—until her husband finds that he enjoys the blackmail more than the blackmailer does.

Vital (2004) again features a love triangle, this time consisting of two women and one man. The story concerns a young man whose girlfriend is killed in a car crash whilst being driven by him. He is a medical student and is given her body to dissect in class (whether by coincidence or intentionally is not clear). Tsukamoto also acted in and directed the short film Haze in 2005. In 2006, Tsukamoto directed the horror thriller Nightmare Detective (Akumu Tantei). The film centres around a vagrant with the supernatural ability to enter the dreams of others and a police officer who pleads with him to help her solve a series of bizarre murders committed by a serial killer with a similar ability, played by Tsukamoto himself.

Tsukamoto acts in nearly all of his films, with the exception of those that he worked on as a "director for hire" (namely Hiruko the Goblin and Gemini). Tsukamoto has appeared in many other directors' films as well, such as Takashi Miike's Dead or Alive 2: Birds (2000), and Ichi the Killer (2001), as well as Teruo Ishii's Blind Beast Vs the Dwarf (2002). He was the lead actor in Takashi Shimizu's Marebito (2004), and appeared more recently in Welcome to the Quiet Room (2007). He is also a successful voiceover artist for TV advertising in Japan. He also provided the Japanese voice of Vamp in the 2008 PlayStation 3 game Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots (a character previously voiced by Ryōtarō Okiayu in Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty).[6]


As per references:[2][7]

Filmography as director

Year English title Japanese title Romaji Notes
1974 Genshi-san 原始さん Genshi-san Early Super-8 short (10 min).
1975 Story of a Giant Cockroach 巨大ゴキブリ物語 Kyodai Gokiburi Monogatari Super-8 (50 min).
1975 Wings Tsubasa Super-8 (25 min).
1976 Cloudy 曇天 Donten B&W Super-8 (60 min).
1977 It flew in hell 地獄町小便小僧にて飛んだよ Jigoku Machi Shouben Kozou ni te Tobenda yo Super-8 (120 min).
1978 New Wings 新・翼 Shin: Tsubasa Super-8 (40 min).
1979 Flying Lotus Flower 蓮の花飛べ Hasu no Hana Tobe Super-8 (90 min).
1986 The Phantom of Regular Size 普通サイズの怪人 Futsu Saizu no Kaijin Super-8 (18 min).
1987 The Adventures Of Electric Rod Boy 電柱小僧の冒険 Denchu Kozou no Boken Super-8 (47 min).
1989 Tetsuo: The Iron Man 鉄男 TETSUO Tetsuo 16mm B&W [9] (67 min)
1991 Hiruko The Goblin ヒルコ 妖怪ハンター Hiruko Youkai Hanta 35mm [3] (89 min)
1992 Tetsuo II: Body Hammer 鉄男 II BODY HAMMER Tetsuo II: Body Hammer 35mm [3] (83 min)
1995 Tokyo Fist TOKYO FIST Tokyo Fist 16mm [10] (87 min)
1998 Bullet Ballet BULLET BALLET バレット・バレエ Bullet Ballet 16mm B&W [11] (87 min)
1999 Gemini 双生児-GEMINI- Sōseiji 35mm [12] (83 min)
2002 A Snake of June 六月の蛇 Rokugatsu no Hebi 16mm [13] (77 min)
2004 Vital ヴィタール Vital 35mm [14] (86 min)
2005 Haze HAZE Haze DV [15] (49 min)
2005 Female female フィーメイル Fīmeiru Segment: Tamamushi.
2006 Nightmare Detective 悪夢探偵 Akumu Tantei
2008 Nightmare Detective 2 悪夢探偵2 Akumu Tantei 2
2010 Tetsuo: The Bullet Man 鉄男 THE BULLET MAN Tetsuo: The Bullet Man
2011 Kotoko KOTOKO
2014 Fires on the Plain 野火

Filmography as actor (other directors)




  1. Brief Interview with Shinya Tsukamoto on Nightmare Detective Twitch Retrieved September 10, 2007
  2. 1 2 Mes, Tom (2005). Iron Man. The Cinema of Shinya Tsukamoto. FAB Press. ISBN 1-903254-36-1
  3. 1 2 3 Shinya Tsukamoto interview. Basic Tsukamoto. Pathfinder Pictures, 2003.
  5. Player, Mark. "Post-Human Nightmares: The World of Japanese Cyberpunk Cinema". Midnight Eye.
  6. Live Coverage of Metal Gear's Anniversary Party
  7. Awards for Shinya Tsukamoto at the Internet Movie Database
  8. "YUBARI INTERNATIONAL FANTASTIC ADVENTURE FILM FESTIVAL'92". Retrieved 2009-09-19. External link in |publisher= (help)
  9. Mes, Tom (2005). Iron Man. The Cinema of Shinya Tsukamoto. pg 50 FAB Press. ISBN 1-903254-36-1
  10. Mes, Tom (2005). Iron Man. The Cinema of Shinya Tsukamoto. pg 119 FAB Press. ISBN 1-903254-36-1
  14. Mes, Tom (2005). Iron Man. The Cinema of Shinya Tsukamoto. pg 188 FAB Press. ISBN 1-903254-36-1
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