‘Bright: Samurai Soul’ director Kyohei Ishiguro speaks about his Kurosawa-inspired work

Bright: Samurai Soul is an anime spin-off based on the world of the live-action film Bright. Film’s director Kyohei Ishiguro, known for Your Lie in April, Children of the Whales revealed the behind-the-scenes process in a newly released clip. He spoke about Akira Kurosawa-like-treatment of this amazing project.

The story opens with a journey where characters travel along the Tokaido road from Kyoto to Yokohama. The behind-the-scenes clip features the process of bringing to life the detailed streets of Kyoto at night, the townspeople, the battles and pavilions.

In a Netflix statement, speaking about Kyoto city, the story’s initial setting, director Ishiguro said, “We’ve completely recreated the streets of Kyoto. It’s a lot like Akira Kurosawa, and how he put medicine in drawers (that will never be shown on screen). The fact that we could shoot from any angle showed me just how dedicated ARECT (production company) are to their craft.” 

Modeling the fully recreated Kyoto streets was a surprising element for the director. 

“Because the animation was based on motion capture, we had to make the whole model as big as possible to allow the director more freedom in his shots. It was no easy task,” said ARECT CG supervisor Hideki Anbo. 

ARECT, the company that took care of the film’s animation production has successfully crafted CG work for anime including the final season of Attack On Titan and Zombieland Saga Revenge.

Talking about the significance of the setting and story of Bright: Samurai Soul Ishiguro said, “Since Netflix makes productions for the entire world, the fact that we were making this movie in Japan never left our minds, so it just made sense to set it in historic Japan.” 

The English dub cast features Simu Liu as Izou, a one-eyed wandering samurai and the protagonist of this movie. Fred Mancuso voices the orc Raiden, who in the story, attempts to redeem himself from a life of thievery. The young elf girl Sonya is voiced by Yuzu Harada. The Japanese cast includes Yuki Nomura, Diasuke Hirakawa, and Shion Wakayama.

“As humans and other beings coexist with one another, the movie makes you think about the place of the samurai in the Meiji Restoration,” said Nomura. 

“Kouketsu is a source of conflict. The way I see it, he’s lost himself in the pursuit of money and power. This movie is entertainment but it’s also a work of art. I hope everyone checks it out,” MIYAVI, who voices Kouketsu, commented. 

According to the official synopsis: In the time between the fall of the Shogunate and the rise of the Meiji era, a powerful bright light emitted from a wand brings an end to the long Shogunate period to avoid further bloodshed as Japan begins to shift toward a new era. Amid these circumstances, a one-eyed wandering ronin named Izou, who has lost his reason to live, and Raiden, an orc who detests murder and hopes to leave a life of thievery behind, separately meet a young elf girl named Sonya around the same time. Together, they go on a journey along the Tokaido road to bring her and the wand she holds safely to the land of the elves in the north. Standing in their path is the mysterious organization Inferni, which aims to obtain the wand and revive the Dark Lord, who intends to rule all of creation. Inferni also uses the new Meiji government in its attempt to steal the wand from Izou, Raiden and Sonya. Traveling along the Tokaido road from Kyoto to Yokohama, Izou and Raiden begin their journey to protect the wand. 

The story of Bright: Samurai Soul is a retelling of the original in a new setting, era, and with new characters. Director Ishiguro crafted this feature to blend the culture of Japan with the world of Bright. The new animation style fuses the characteristics of Japanese woodblock print art with 3DCG technology. The film has been streaming on Netflix since 12 October.