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Yusuke Morii


Born in Japan in 1985, Yusuke MORII graduated from the Department of Film of the Japan Academy of Moving Images (now the Japan Institute of the Moving Image), and entered the industry as part of the production team of Shunichi Nagasaki’s “The Witch of the West is Dead” (2008). As a screenwriter and filmmaker, he has also worked as an assistant director to Tatsushi Omori on “Every Day a Good Day” (2018). Amiko (2022), based on the novel “Kochira Amiko” by Natsuko Imamura, is his directorial debut.


Amiko (2022)

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10+5 Questions for Yusuke Morii

1. What is the first film in your memory?
I watched “Jurassic Park” with my dad when I was in second grade. Back then, movie theaters didn’t have reserved seats. I walked into the theater right at the climax moment with the T-rex roaring. Afterward, I stayed and saw the whole movie from the beginning. 

2. What are some of your favorite films?
“Stalker” by Andrei Tarkovsky
“Our Music” by Jean-Luc Godard
“Pulse” by Kiyoshi Kurosawa
“Ritual” by Hideaki Anno
“The Texas Chain Saw Massacre” by Tobe Hooper
“Tokyo Twilight” by Yasujiro Ozu
“Gamera 3: Revenge of Iris” by Shusuke Kaneko
“Crayon Shin-chan: Great Adventure in Henderland” by Mitsuru Hongo
“Tie Xi Qu: West of the Tracks” by Wang Bing

3. Which creators have you been inspired by or influenced by?
Andrei Tarkovsky
Jean-Luc Godard
Robert Bresson
Natsuko Imamura
Nobuo Kojima
Kazushi Hosaka
Robert Walser

4. What are the films that shook your world or changed your life?
When I was in high school, I watched films like “Stalker” by Andrei Tarkovsky, “HANABI” by Takeshi Kitano, “The Texas Chain Saw Massacre” by Tobe Hooper, “Ritual” by Hideaki Anno, and “Pulse” by Kiyoshi Kurosawa. I felt like the world has opened up when I was a depressed high school student.

5. Are there any Japanese directors of your generation you are inspired by?
Kyoshi Sugita
Sho Miyake
Ryusuke Hamaguchi

6. What does filmmaking mean to you?
I’ve never truly contemplated its meaning, but it’s the only thing I can fully immerse myself in.

7. What are you interested in outside of films and filmmaking?
I really don’t have any. It bothers me that I have no hobbies.

8. Where’s your happy place?
I guess movie theaters. I can’t really think of anywhere else.
I also feel very calm when I stroll outside at dusk.

9. What are the customs or phenomena that are unique to Japan that you want other people to know?
Removing shoes when entering a house. I like the entryway of a house. When I see shoes neatly placed along the entryway and perfectly aligned, I find it adorable.

10. Where would you be in 10 years?
I hope I’ll keep engaging in filmmaking.


1. What is your favorite moment in the film? (no spoilers)
I like the scene where Amiko looks outside the window in the rain. The expression of Kana Osawa who plays Amiko is wonderful, and the expression of the rain was executed very well. Also, Ichiko Aoba’s music comes through and leaves a great impression even amidst all the sounds and surrounding noises. Many things came together brilliantly, and it became one of my favorite scenes.

2. Why did you decide to write/make this film?
I wanted to express the world as seen through Amino’s eyes. I wanted to express her world where things look crisp, distinct, and vibrant. At the same time, my goal was to show the loneliness that accompanies you when you grasp the world with your own unique senses. By capturing such isolation of her patiently through camera and microphone, I believed, we could keep her company and not leave her alone in her world.

3. Were there any films that you watched as a reference or a source of inspiration?
“Children in the Wind” by Hiroshi Shimizu
“Mouchette” by Robert Bresson
“Moving” by Shinji Somai
“Celine and Julie Go Boating” by Jacques Rivette
“The 400 Blows” by Francois Truffaut

4. Was there any music you were listening to or book you were reading while you were making this film?
I was listening to Ichiko Aoba’s music since I started researching for the script writing process. Even during challenging times, I would listen to her music to calm myself down.

5. Any fun behind-the-scenes anecdotes or episodes you’d like to share?
The lead actress Kana Osawa arrived on set every morning, screaming with full of energy. Then she would go around punching the crew in their stomach. “Because they looked sleepy,” she said. I think she was the true captain of this production.

Message to our audience about this film

I am very happy that “Amiko” will be reaching the audience in North America, and I’m very much looking forward to seeing how it will be perceived. I would love for you to share what you think.
This is the first film I’ve directed. This is also the first film the lead actress Kana Osawa has ever performed in. The world seen through the eyes of Amiko is truly rich and profound, yet often seen as strange by others. I wanted to cast a fundamental question of why such world has to be called strange, and that’s why I made this film. I’m sure you’ll enjoy the ride. My hope is that, after watching the film, the world appears a bit more vibrant to you. Please enjoy the film!