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Seiji Tanaka


Born in 1987. Studied theater at Nihon University before leaving to enroll in a university film course in California. Later returned to Japan, subsequently directing stage productions and writing scripts while producing video works. Currently in charge of video production for an IT venture company. Formed film production unit One Goose with actors Youji Minagawa and Yoshitomo Isozaki. His feature directorial debut “Melancholic” was screened in the Japanese Cinema Splash category of the 2018 Tokyo International Film Festival, where it received a prize for Best Director, and also won a White Mulberry Award for First Film at the 2019 Udine Far East Film Festival.


Melancholic (2018)

Find them on social media

Twitter @seijitanaka4369
Instagram @seiji4369

10+5 Questions for Seiji Tanaka

1. What is the first film in your memory?
“The Circus” by Charlie Chaplin. Or it might be “Godzilla vs. Mothra.”

2. What are some of your favorite films?
Annie Hall
Good Will Hunting
City Lights
Fight Club
The Social Network
The Wolf of Wall Street

3. Which creators have you been inspired by or influenced by? It could be a director, author, artist, or whoever.
Woody Allen, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Aziz Ansari, Ian McEwan, Kuniko Mukoda, Akira Kurosawa

4. What are the films that shook your world or changed your life?
“Annie Hall” by Woody Allen

5. Are there any Japanese directors of your generation you are inspired by?
Shinzo Katayama (Although he’s 10 years senior to me so I’m not sure if I can say we’re the same generation.)

6. What does filmmaking mean to you?
- It allows me to create a meaningful story to someone, which wouldn’t have existed without me. It is my own way to make the world a better place by such experience.
- It helps me introduce my dear actor friends to the world.

7. What are you interested in outside of films and filmmaking?
- Reading
- Philosophy
- Drawing

8. Where’s your happy place?
- Huntington Beach. It’s a place I went often by myself to hang out and let the time go by when I was studying in California.
- Any place where I can drink coffee and read a book in peace

9. What are the customs or phenomena that are unique to Japan that you want other people to know?
- Keeping restrooms clean
- Wide selection of foods at convenience stores and their quality
- Simple grilled yamame trout, freshly caught in a mountain stream
- Rakugo (a form of verbal entertainment), Manzai (a style of comedy)
- Buddhism, Buddhist art (I know these are not unique to Japan.)

10. Where would you be in 10 years?
I wish I would be spending 6 months out of a year in LA, New York, and Europe.


1. What is your favorite moment in the film? (no spoilers)
The scene where Kazuhiko, the protagonist, runs into Yuri, his classmate in High School, at the sento (Japanese bathhouse).
I love how desperately he tries to hide his lack of experience with girls by acting cool and how obvious his intention is.

2. Why did you decide to write/make this film?
It all started out when Yoji (*the lead actor and producer Yoji Minagawa) come to me and said “Let’s make a movie together.” After we brought Yoshitomo (*the actor and fight coordinator Yoshitomo Isozaki) on board, the three of us would get together every week trying to decide what kind of movie we should make. And out of that came the basic premise of “a young man struggling with his part-time job, which is disposing of dead bodies.” With that as a foundation, I worked on the outline while incorporating my own frustration for not being successful as a film writer into it. Having Yoji and Yoshitomo co-star in the movie was a given from the get-go.

3. Were there any films that you watched as a reference or a source of inspiration?
“Breaking Bad”

4. Was there any music you were listening to or book you were reading while you were making this film?
I played the Terminator 2 theme song on repeat the whole time I was writing the screenplay. (There was no particular reason, but listening to a music with a repeated melody line in loop gets me into trance state, which helps with writing.)

5. Any fun behind-the-scenes anecdotes or episodes you’d like to share?
There were a couple of scenes we could not film due to schedule constraints, and I still wish we had film them to this day.
In the original screenplay, it was a construction site, not a bathhouse, that dead bodies were disposed. But we could not find a location for it and had to change it to something else. That’s how we came up with the idea of “bathhouse.”

Message to our audience about this film

I am more surprised than anyone that a small independent film that I created with two of my friends has spread like this, especially as it was out of a simple desire to make a film that we can screen in theaters.
Public baths exist across the world, but sento have a very unique atmosphere and stimulate our imagination. I cannot help but feel that the action of “cleansing and warming your body” is symbolic, and even a wall art and a row of washbowls you see at sento are intriguing. This film “Melancholic” was born when such unique place sento met our pure desire to make an engaging film.