An Interview with Shinji Imaoka, Director of A Rainbow-colored Trip [Osaka Asian Film Festival 2021]

Despite knowing that low-budget films are often shot very quickly, when I saw that Shinji Imaoka was going to be at Osaka Asian Film Festival 2021, I was surprised at how quick his return was since he was at the 2020 edition with the drama Reiko and the Dolphin for which I had interviewed him. Of course, since he has a background in making pink films he knows how to do a quick turnaround on a production but an even bigger surprise lay in the subject of his film: a divorce as seen through the eyes of a child done by way of the musical genre. That and it was one of at least four(???) films he made in 2020!

Shinji Imaoka A Rainbow-Coloured Trip

The film is a star vehicle for starlet Yuune Sakurai who takes on the role of Haruka, an 11-year-old girl who is navigating experiencing the sensation of love for the first time while her parents Nobutaka (Ryujyu Kobayashi) and Kumiko (Yuri Ogino) are about to divorce. The sweetness and bitterness come together over one weekend spent with the fractured family at a campsite. The emotions come out when people burst into song and dance. A musical about divorce? I don’t think I’ve seen anything like it before but it works. However, it is a title that may prove divisive as Sakurai gives the sort of beyond-her-years performance that some people will be bowled over by while others may find too artificial to take seriously. Also, girls that age don’t act like that. It depends upon your perspective, ultimately. You can read my review here and also a playfulness as music video sequences and cute on-screen text and images are used. 

While working on the review and interview, three other films by director Imaoka were discovered and two were released: Yome wa, Toriatsukai chuui! Part 1 & 2 and Aoi-chan wa yarasete kurenai. It’s all very impressive and so I wanted to find out more about the background of A Rainbow-colored Trip and how director Imaoka worked with his talented cast, getting some great performances from newbie actress Yuune Sakurai and veteran Yuri Ogino (East of Jefferson and Human Comedy in Tokyo)  and also get some insight.

This interview was done with the help of Takako Pocklington, the talented interpreter who worked on the Reiko and the Dolphin interview and most of my other interviews.

The Japanese transcript is first and it is followed by English. Click on a link below to be taken to one or the other.

Japanese English

A Rainbow-colored Trip Yuune Sakurai


Japanese

この映画を作ってくださってありがとうございます。そしてインタビューを受けて下さりありがとうございます。

離婚について描いたミュージカル、というのを今回初めて観たような気がします。監督は、この映画をどういう風に説明されますか?また、映画のアイデアはどこから生まれたのでしょうか?

大人の都合で振り回される子供の無力さを描きたいと思ったのですが、ストレートにやると深刻になりすぎてしまうと思い、ミュージカルの要素を入れて、誰もが楽しめる映画にしたいと思いました。

脚本についてですが、小さいお嬢さんを持つお父さんとしての、ご自身の経験を元にされたりしたのでしょうか?

そうですね。子供は自分の考えていることや感じていることをうまく言葉にできなくて、もどかしい思いをしていると思います。私も子供の考えなど無視して、勝手にことを進めていることがよくあります。

この映画大阪アジアン映画祭で上映された1ヵ月後には、『農家の嫁は、取り扱い注意! Part1 天使降臨篇』と『農家の嫁は、取り扱い注意! Part 2 有機ある大作戦篇』が、そして2ヵ月後には『葵ちゃんはやらせてくれない』が封切りされましたこの映画の撮影期間はどれくらいだったのですか?どのようにこの本の映画の合間を縫って、撮影されたのでしょうか?

撮影は、2020年の4月1日から4日間ほど、静岡県の富士山麓のキャンプ場で合宿体制で行われました。日本がコロナで最初の緊急事態宣言が発令される直前の撮影でした。自主制作だったので、仕上げ作業に長い時間がかかりました。「農家の嫁」「葵ちゃん」は、この仕上げ作業の間に撮影されました。

劇中の音楽と歌詞をどのように思いついたのか、お話し頂けますか?

歌詞はシナリオライターの宍戸英紀さんに書いてもらいました。主人公の晴花の心情を歌詞にしてほしいと頼みました。音楽は出来上がった歌詞を基にして、音楽の宇波拓さんに作ってもらいました。ジャズの要素を盛り込んでほしいと頼みました。子供の中の大人の部分を表現したかったのです。

キャストについてですが、何故この俳優さんたちを選ばれたのでしょうか?また、ミュージカル部分とドラマ部分での、それぞれの役柄作りを、役者さん達にどのように行われたのでしょう?

まず最初に、晴花役の櫻井佑音さんが決まりました。個人出資の自主制作映画なので、出資された方が、櫻井さんのファンだったということもあり、まず櫻井さん主演の映画ということが決まりました。あとのキャストは、気心の知れた俳優さんに声をかけ出てもらったいう感じです。ミュージカル部分については、曲が出来上がった後、歌や振り付けのレッスンを行いました。ドラマ部分はみんなと話し合って、方向性を決めました。

櫻井佑音さんは、人を惹きつけるオーラのようなものをたくさん持ち合わせ、存在感があります。この個性によって、彼女は主役に抜擢されたと思うのですが、どうやって彼女を発掘されたのですか?

出資された方が櫻井さんのファンだったので、是非とも彼女を主演にしたいという申し出がありました。一度、櫻井さんのコンサートのリハーサルを見に行ったのですが、子供とは思えない、豊かな歌声に魅了されました。櫻井さんが劇中で歌うというのも、そこからの発想でした。

大人の俳優さんと仕事するのに対し、子役さんと仕事をするのはどんな感じでしたか?

なるべく子供扱いしないようにと思いました。大人の俳優さんと同じように演出したつもりです。ただ子供は集中力がないので、芝居に飽きないうちに、なるべく早く撮るように心がけました。

お母さんと娘が話をするシーンにジーンときました荻野友里さんと櫻井佑音さんによるあのシーンは、晴花が、大人の悲しさ(悲しい事情)を何となく理解するという、映画の中で重要な場面となっています。あのシーンの撮影について、また荻野友里と櫻井佑音さんのリアクションはどんな感じだったのか、聞かせて頂けますか?

テストを繰り返しているうちに、荻野さんは母親に、櫻井さんは娘になりきっていったと思います。何度テストを繰り返しても、お互い涙がボロボロ出てくるのには驚きました。撮影を通じて、櫻井さんも少し大人に近づいていたのかも知れません。

滝の伝説は本当ですか、それともただ単に晴花の気持ちを表すためのものだったのでしょうか?

フィクションです。滝の前に佇んで手を合わすというビジュアルが最初に浮かびました。

『にじいろトリップ』というタイトルの意味を説明して頂けますか?

少女が滝を探すという小さな冒険を通じて、少し大人になるという話です。滝の水しぶきの向こうに虹がかかっているというイメージで「にじいろトリップ」というタイトルにしました。虹は実際撮影では撮れませんでしたが。

観る人に、この映画をどのように感じとって欲しいと思われますか?

誰もが必ず子供だった時期があります。その頃の悔しかった気持ちや楽しかった気持ちを少し思い出してもらえたらと思います。歌あり、踊りあり、涙あり。櫻井さんの魅力がたくさん詰まったこの映画を楽しんでもらえたら嬉しいです。


English

Thank you for making the film and for taking part in the interview.

I think this is the first musical about divorce I have ever seen. How would you describe the film and where did they idea come from?

I wanted to portray the powerlessness of children who are wrapped around their parents’ fingers. However, I thought that it would have been too serious if I performed it directly. That is why I used a musical style and made it as entertainment that everyone would enjoy.

In terms of the script, did you use some of your own experience as the father of a young daughter?

Well…I think children sometimes feel frustrated with not being able to explain their feelings or thoughts well. I do often carry out things while ignoring my children’s thoughts.

This was screened at OAFF just a month before the release of Nouka no Yome wa, Toriatsukai chuui! Part 1 & 2 and Aoi-chan wa yarasete kurenai. How long was the shoot and how did you fit A Rainbow Coloured-trip in?

We lodged together for the shoot in a camping site at the foot of Mt. Fuji for four days from 1st April 2020. It was just before the declaration of the first Covid-19 state of emergency. It took quite a while to finish the work because it is an independent film. Nouka no Yome wa, Toriatsukai chuui! Part 2 and Aoi-chan wa yarasete kurenai were shot during this time.

Could you talk more about coming up with the music and lyrics?

The script-writer Hideki Shishido wrote the lyrics. I asked him to describe the main character Haruka’s feelings. The music was composed by Taku Unami to accompany the lyrics. I asked him to incorporate some essence of Jazz into it as I wanted to express emotional maturity in childhood.

In terms of the cast, why did you select them and how did you get them into their roles, both for the musical parts and dramatic parts?

Yuune Sakurai who played Haruka was cast first. As this film is funded by an individual party, who is a fan of her, it was decided to make a film starring her in a leading role. Then, I asked some actors who I feel familiar with to play other roles in the film. As for the musical parts, they had singing and choreography lessons after the music was composed. For the drama parts, I decided on the acting direction whilst discussing with the staff and actors.

Yuune Sakurai has a lot of charisma and a good presence. These qualities make her an engaging lead actress. How did you discover her?

There was a proposal from a person who funded the film and wanted to cast her as the main character since he is a fan of her. Then, I went to see her at her concert rehearsal. I was fascinated by her mature singing voice which I couldn’t believe because she is still a young child. That is why I had the idea of her singing in the film.

What was it like to work with children as opposed to the adults?

I tried not to treat them as children as much as I could. I think I directed them the same way as the adults, but I tried to shoot the scenes as quickly as possible, before they got bored, because children tend to lack concentration.

The scene where mother and daughter talk to each other was moving. It takes place between Yuri Ogino and Yuune Sakurai and is an important passage in the film where it felt like Haruka could glimpse the sadness of the adults. Could you describe shooting that scene and the reaction of Yuri Ogino and Yuune Sakurai?

While we were rehearsing the scene, Ogino-san gradually became a mother while Sakurai-san became a daughter as if they are an actual mother and daughter. I was amazed to see them both keep shedding tears even though we repeated camera tests. Sakurai-san might have moved a little bit into adolescence through the shoot.

Was the legend of the waterfall real or simply a way of displaying Haruka’s mindset

It was fictional. I initially got a picture in my head of her putting her hands together in front of the waterfall.

Could you explain the meaning of the title, A Rainbow-Coloured Trip?

It is a story that a young girl who grows up through her little adventure of finding the waterfall. I made this title from the image of a rainbow behind splashes of the waterfall. Unfortunately, we couldn’t capture any rainbow though.

How would you like audiences to engage with the film?

Everyone used to be a child once. I hope the film will remind you of the feelings of frustration or happiness when you were young. It contains songs, dances and tears. I would be happy if you can enjoy the film full of the charms of Sakurai-san.

6 thoughts on “An Interview with Shinji Imaoka, Director of A Rainbow-colored Trip [Osaka Asian Film Festival 2021]

  1. Thank you very much for this interview, Jason.

    Another musical from Imaoka? Great news! I loved ONNA NO KAPPA, a weird musical too!

    Thanks again Jason, you put a lot of time in your passion for movies, to share it with everyone, it’s deeply appreciated.

    1. Thanks for your comment and for always sharing your own passion for all sorts of movies and games. It’s great to share these things with others and discover new things.

      Actually, I was looking for the titles of the films in a trilogy that Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s DOOR III was a part of. I remember you wrote a review of one about a woman who sells flowers and gets stalked…

      1. Thanks Jason.
        I wrote a review of DOOR, and DOOR III (this one is from Kurosawa). Two very interesting movies – I never saw DOOR II…

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