Private Project

Musashi: The Dream of the Last Samurai

The creative team of Ghost in the Shell, Innocence, The Sky Crawlers and Kill Bill: Vol. 1 resurrects the legendary swordsman, Miyamoto Musashi on the big screen!

A unique and controversial portrayal of the unrivalled Japanese swordsman Miyamoto Musashi (c. 1584-1645), between spectacular duels and a tragic life in pursuit of greatness in the days when internal wars in Japan had virtually ceased. A national hero fabricated by the generations that followed, or a universal man misplaced in time?

  • Mizuho Nishikubo
    Giovanni's Island
  • Mamoru Oshii
  • Project Type:
  • Genres:
    historical, documentary
  • Runtime:
    1 hour 12 minutes
  • Completion Date:
    July 11, 2019
  • Country of Origin:
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  • First-time Filmmaker:
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Director Biography - Mizuho Nishikubo

Nishikubo was born on January 15, 1953. A longtime and most trusted collaborator of Mamoru Oshii, he has worked as animation director (but under his real name of Toshihiko Nishikubo) in all Oshii’s animated features since Patlabor 2: The Movie (1993), namely Ghost in the Shell, Cannes Palme d’Or nominee Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence and Golden Lion nominee The Sky Crawlers. It is said that Oshii’s movies would not look the same without his contribution. He uses his alias Mizuho Nishikubo when he directs. After graduating from Waseda University, Nishikubo began his career at Tatsunoko Production and later became a protégé of Osamu Dezaki, one of Japan’s most respected animation directors. His collaborations with Dezaki include TV series Lady Oscar (1979) and Tomorrow’s Jo 2 (1980). He also directed the music clip Tsepi i kol’tsa / Chains & Rings (2003) for popular Russian rock star Linda, and the internationally praised NEXT A-Class commercial film for Mercedes-Benz (600,000 views on YouTube in 3 days). His feature film, Musashi: The Dream of the Last Samurai (2009), screened at major festivals such as Locarno, Sitges, Warsaw, Stockholm and Vladivostok. In 2014, his feature film Giovanni’s Island, a heart-moving story of cross-cultural friendship among Japanese and Soviet children in the aftermath of WWII, garnered 15 international awards, and was officially invited to screen at the Moscow International Film Festival.

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Director Statement

The starting point was this idea of making an animated movie in documentary style, and we tried to answer to a very basic question: why did Miyamoto Musashi never mention the duel with Sasaki Kojiro, otherwise the most renowned episode of his life in popular imagery? Mamoru Oshii's script encompassed an amazingly wide range of topics, from Achaemenid Persia to Han China to the evolution of knights in Europe, and reached as far as the Russo-Japanese War and the appearance of tanks during WWI, of course not without his sarcastic commentary on how Japanese tend to identify modernization with the removal of their cultural heritage. So my challenge was about how to make this profoundly erudite excursus on Musashi entertaining. And I started to look at him as a man misplaced in time. He pursued perfection in the art of war in days when war had virtually ceased in Japan. I think he has something in common with our generation -mine and Oshii’s. We both saw the student protests during the late 60s, but we were too young to be involved. When we became old enough, the season of politics was just over. This movie could be described as a combination of Oshii's philosophical insight and social criticism, and cool samurai action, all arranged in documentary style. I'm sure this is something no-one has ever tried or seen before, so I hope you'll enjoy it.