What Else Did They Write? (Sadayuki Murai)

Not sure exactly how this series of posts will work, maybe it’ll evolve over time into a different structure or focus?

But for now, I’m planning to just highlight a few shows or episodes I’ve enjoyed + include extra titles that I didn’t realise the writer was involved with.

Further to the above, I’ll note right away that my research is rarely going to be exhaustive 😀


And further further related to the above, while any given writer might be credited with ‘series composition’, ‘screenplay’ or ‘script’, the terms aren’t always interchangeable. That also means that I can’t always directly credit the writer I’ve chosen with a tone, character, sequence or line of dialogue with 100% accuracy.

Nevertheless, here we go with Sadayuki Murai!

Perfect Blue comes to mind first.

I think the main idea for this series of posts came from noticing that Sadayuki Murai adapted Perfect Blue for the big screen and also worked on another Kon film, the amazing Millennium Actress.

When I later realised that he was also credited with one of the standout Cowboy Bebop episodes: ‘Pierrot le Fou’ I was surprised (in a good way). And if you’ve seen either the Bebop episode or Perfect Blue I think tonal similarities are clear.

There’s a relentless kind of menace to both and perhaps something similar can keen seen in Boogiepop Phantom, which credits Murai with series composition. (There’s also Bebop’s ‘Gateway Shuffle’ too, which always struck me as another comparatively dark episode).

You can also see Murai’s work in screenplays for Bubblegum Crisis: Tokyo 2040, Devil Lady and Knights of Sidonia along with all of Kino’s Journey and the script for Steamboy too – among plenty of others.

Ideally, I’d like to include a quote or two or mention a few moments in the various scripts to highlight things I’ve enjoyed.

I think I ought to do more than that actually, but while I’m still figuring out how I want these posts to work, I’ll just note three things today:

• Spike’s sleight of hand in ‘Gateway Shufflealways pleases me
In Millenium Actress while Chiyoko takes medicine she says “never listen to doctors, they always think that old people are sick”
I’ve said this before but the inter-generational conflict in Steamboy is one of the real highlights for me, I always thought it was written really well

And done!

For the next one of these posts I’m planning on writing about Chiaki J. Konaka.

Millennium Actress (Sennen Joyū)

Millennium Actress (Sennen Joyū) 2002

I still feel sad that fans will never see another Satoshi Kon film – but at least I can always re-watch the ones he made.

Millennium Actress is one that’s sometimes described as a mirror of Kon’s far darker Perfect Blue, but this film is not really a stroll in the park either, as it’s quite sombre, even at times heartbreaking.

Millennium Actress is a drama that doubles as a sort of love-note to cinema itself (and especially Japanese cinema).

It has love, jealousy, bitterness and desperation mixed together, presented via a blend of reality and a seamless integration of clips from films that feature actress (and main character) Chiyoko, whose search for a lost love spans decades across the course of the film.

The way her recollections and stories bleed into the present and then in turn incorporate the interviewers as well, is awesome.

If you enjoyed the uncertainty of ‘what is real’ from Kon’s later film Paprika then you’ll probably like Millennium Actress too, though it’s not science-fiction/thriller.

In fact, if you don’t like dramas/films that have a deep focus on character/are heavily intertextual*, then you might not like this at all, now that I’ve started on the comparisons 😀

This is also the first to feature Susumu Hirasawa on the OST of a Satoshi Kon film (a relationship that continued for several collaborations) and introduced me to his work. One of my favs from the film is below:

5 Stars

*Heaps of the references were well beyond me, but if you’re a student of the film history of Japan, you’ll probably recognise some parallels with the lives of actresses Setsuko Hara and Hideko Takamine.