Sion Sono’s Latest Film Update: Tokyo Tribes Audition Videos

Back in March I posted about Sion Sono’s latest project which is an adaptation of Santa Inoue’s Tokyo Tribes manga, a seinen title that mixes US street culture with a future dystopian reading of Tokyo where different gangs control different territory. Sono created a YouTube channel for the film where both he and Santa Inoue recorded messages about the project and instructions on how one can audition. The rules were:

To audition you must introduce yourself, “describe and demonstrate a special skill, act out a scene that includes their favourite character from the series, and give a message to the director.” Successful auditions at this point will get to audition in person.

So, bypass casting directors and going straight to the people!

Well I gave it time and the auditions are coming thick and fast. I sat through the ones you’ll see here (and more) and there are no disasters – although there is a naked guy shadow-boxing – lol at the random person wandering in to shot and hurrying away. In fact there’s a nice mix of people although some don’t seem to adhere to the rules like acting out a scene with a favourite character! There are a lot of audition vids where the applicant simply talks direct to camera. Any trends? A lot of college/university students (there’s one studying in Berlin!) have sent videos in while guys with facial hair seem to go straight for humour.

The videos run from the earnest and dedicated:

To the amusing:

The surprising:

There are some really inventive with music soundtracks, voice overs, on-screen text and fancy editing techniques, ones where the actors capture the look of the characters… 

Some are just plain silly (although her acting at the end was kind of okay – love the glowering):

There are even Americans getting in on the action!

Black Samurai? He was pretty good and he’s going for a bit-part, too! Maybe we’ll see him in the final cut…

I’ve selected three that I think are really good. It’s partly the fact that they have created semi-professional videos (with the help of others) which shows how determined they are but it’s mostly the acting.

Kazuya Tanabe who is trying out as Mera, one of the main characters. This guy goes all out with the action. With that look of determination and the shouting you’d think he was some outlaw boss and then we get the end of the video where he seems a happy chap. I can see him fitting in with the movie because he has presence and he definitely has the martial arts moves.

Motoki Mabuta, he’s 24 years old, he can rap in English and he figures he can be Kai Deguchi, the main character. What I like about this is that the guy has some acting skills and he makes an effort to go to different locations including a public toilet for some odd reason… He comfortably wears the urban fashion of the manga and you can imagine him living the sort of lifestyle the character in the manga does – a popular guy but he can wield a baseball bat when necessary – and that little hair flick at the end was funny.

Kyo Suzuki 20 years old, lives in New York, and she’s studying English and, of course, she likes the Tokyo Tribe manga. She’s a pretty good actress. She can dance, do comedy and sexy and if the director could mix up the shots then she’d look even more elusive and smouldering and… Crumbs, I just remembered she she can read English. I better stop before I come off as too creepy! Too late…

The open and public nature of YouTube means that these audition videos are up there for all to see which must be pretty frightening if you submit one because the whole world can judge you (like I just did, apologies to anybody offended). To be quite frank I wouldn’t have the guts to submit a video (plus nobody would want to see me ;_;) These guys are brave.

All I have to say to anybody who has submitted a video is good luck.


Here’s some Japanese hip-hop for you:

2 thoughts on “Sion Sono’s Latest Film Update: Tokyo Tribes Audition Videos

  1. Luca

    I didn’t know about this project but it sure sounds interesting! I’m not sure I’d normally give a chance to a movie casted this way (if not out of curiosity) but hey, it’s Sion Sono we’re talking about, so I expect wonders.

    Speaking of which, do you happen to know of any books about Sono? I can’t seem to find any, except for a short chapter in the Midnight Eye Guide :/

    1. I think Sono’s casting for bit-parts instead of leads. I can’t imagine a production committee making an adaptation of a successful manga forming around a project with relative unknowns.

      Sorry I can’t help you with books about Sono. I can name ones about Kiyoshi Kurosawa, Takashi Miike and Satoshi Kon off the top of my head but I cannot think of one for Sono. I did a quick search and couldn’t find one either. With his rising profile I figure someone will take up a pen and right about him.

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