Shinya Tsukamoto

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Shinya Tsukamoto
Shinya Tsukamoto cropped 2009.jpg
Tsukamoto at the 2009 Venice Film Festival
Born (1960-01-01) January 1, 1960 (age 61)
OccupationActor, film director, screenwriter, cinematographer, editor, producer, production designer/art director
Years active1974–present
MovementJapanese Cyberpunk
Website塚本晋也 Official Website

Shinya Tsukamoto (塚本 晋也, Tsukamoto Shin'ya, born January 1, 1960) is a Japanese film producer, screenwriter, editor, director, cinematographer, art director, production designer and actor.

With a considerable cult following both domestically and abroad, Tsukamoto is best known for his body horror/cyberpunk film Tetsuo: The Iron Man (1989), which is considered the defining film of the Japanese Cyberpunk movement,[1] as well as for its companion pieces Tetsuo II: Body Hammer (1992) and Tetsuo: The Bullet Man (2009).

His other films include Tokyo Fist (1995), Bullet Ballet (1998), A Snake of June (2002), Vital (2004), Kotoko (2011) and Killing (2018).

In addition to starring in almost all his films, Tsukamoto has also appeared as an actor in films by other directors, including Martin Scorsese, Takashi Miike and Hideaki Anno. He has been cited as an influence on popular western filmmakers such as Quentin Tarantino, David Fincher, Darren Aronofsky and The Wachowskis.[2][3][4]


Tsukamoto began making films at age 14, when his father gave him a Super 8 camera. His cinematic influences include David Lynch,[5] David Cronenberg,[6] and Akira Kurosawa.[7] He made a number of films, ranging from 10-minute shorts to 2-hour features, until his first year at college when he temporarily lost interest in filmmaking. Tsukamoto then started up a theatre group, which soon included Kei Fujiwara, Nobu Kanaoka and Tomorowo Taguchi, all of whom would continue to work with Tsukamoto up through the filming of Tetsuo: The Iron Man.[8] One of their theatre productions at this time was The Adventures of Electric Rod Boy. At the end of production, Tsukamoto did not want to waste all the effort they had put into building the set, so he decided to shoot a film version.[9]

Tsukamoto's early films, The Phantom of Regular Size (1986) and The Adventures Of Electric Rod Boy (1987), were short subject science fiction films shot on color 8 mm film that led to his black & white 16 mm feature Tetsuo: The Iron Man. Tsukamoto has stated he has a love-hate relationship with Tokyo, and in the end the characters (Tsukamoto and Taguchi) set out to destroy it. Tetsuo is considered one of the prime examples of Japanese cyberpunk.[10]

Tsukamoto's next film, Hiruko the Goblin, was a more conventional horror film, about demons being unleashed from the gates of hell. He then created a follow-up to Tetsuo, Tetsuo II: Body Hammer (1992), which revisited many of the same themes as the first but with a bigger budget and shot in color on 35 mm film. As a result, the film is often interpreted more as a companion piece than a true sequel.[11] In Body Hammer, the son of a salaryman (Taguchi) is kidnapped by a group of thugs, who then force the man's nascent rage to make him mutate into a gigantic human weapon. Tokyo Fist (1995) again dealt with the idea of rage as a transformative force (similar to David Cronenberg's The Brood [1979]). Here, a meek insurance salesman (Tsukamoto) discovers that an old friend of his, now a semi-professional boxer, may be having an affair with his fiancée. The salesman then enters into a rigorous and self-destructive boxing training program to get even.

In Bullet Ballet (1998), a man (Tsukamoto) discovers that his longtime girlfriend committed suicide with a gun, and becomes obsessed with getting a gun just like that one. His single minded behavior causes him to run afoul of a gang of thugs, especially when he shows interest in the young girl who is one of their compatriots. Gemini (1999) was an adaptation of an Edogawa Rampo story, in which a country doctor with pretensions of superiority has his life torn apart when another man who appears to be his exact duplicate enters his life. Things are complicated further by the twin taking control of his wife, an amnesiac with a criminal background. A Snake of June (2002) once again found Tsukamoto employing the formula of two men in competition for one woman, as a young lady is blackmailed into perverse sexual behavior against her husband's will—until her husband finds that he enjoys the blackmail more than the blackmailer does.

Vital (2004) again features a love triangle, this time consisting of two women and one man. The story concerns a young man whose girlfriend is killed in a car crash whilst being driven by him. He is a medical student and is given her body to dissect in class (whether by coincidence or intentionally is not clear). Tsukamoto also acted in and directed the short film Haze in 2005. In 2006, Tsukamoto directed the horror thriller Nightmare Detective (2006). The film centers around a vagrant with the supernatural ability to enter the dreams of others and a police officer who pleads with him to help her solve a series of bizarre murders committed by a serial killer (Tsukamoto) with a similar ability.

Tsukamoto acts in nearly all of his films, with the exception of those that he worked on as a "director for hire" (namely Hiruko the Goblin and Gemini). Tsukamoto has appeared in many other directors' films as well, such as Takashi Miike's Dead or Alive 2: Birds (2000), and Ichi the Killer (2001), as well as Teruo Ishii's Blind Beast vs. Dwarf (2001). He was the lead actor in Takashi Shimizu's Marebito (2004), and appeared more recently in Welcome to the Quiet Room (2007), Hideaki Anno's Shin Godzilla (2016) and Martin Scorsese's Silence (2016).

He is also a successful voiceover artist for TV advertising in Japan. He also provided the Japanese voice of Vamp in the 2008 PlayStation 3 game Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots. Tsukamoto was originally set to play the character in Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty (after Hideo Kojima's first choice, Kaneto Shiozawa, died before casting began) but was unavailable due to scheduling conflicts, so Ryōtarō Okiayu was assigned the role instead.[12]

Tsukamoto was a member of the jury at the Venice International Film Festival in 1997 and 2019.


As per references:[8]

  • The Adventures of Electric Rod Boy – PIA Film Fest (Japan) – Grand Prize
  • Tetsuo: The Iron Man – Fantafestival (Italy) – Grand Prize
  • Tetsuo: The Iron Man – Sweden Fantastic Film Festival – Audience Award Best Feature
  • Hiruko the Goblin – Fantasporto – Best Film
  • Tetsuo II: Body Hammer – Brussels International Festival of Fantasy Film – Silver Raven
  • Tetsuo II: Body Hammer – Fantasporto – International Fantasy Film Special Jury Award
  • Tetsuo II: Body Hammer – 3rd Yubari International Fantastic Film Festival (1992)[13]
  • Tokyo Fist – Sundance (Tokyo) – Grand Prize
  • Bullet Ballet – Sweden Fantastic Film Festival – Jury Grand Prize
  • Gemini – Neuchatel International Fantasy Film Festival – Best International Film
  • A Snake of June – Venice Film Festival – Kinematrix Film Award Feature Films
  • A Snake of June – Venice Film Festival – San Marco Special Jury Award
  • Vital – Brussels International Festival of Fantasy Film – Silver Raven
  • Vital – Sitges – Catalan International Film Festival – New Visions Award
  • Vital – Fantasporto – Orient Express Section Special Jury Award
  • Kotoko – The Orizzonti prize at the 68th Venice International Film Festival (2011)



Year English title Japanese title Romaji Notes
1974 Genshi-san 原始さん Genshi-san Early Super-8 short (10 min).
1975 Story of a Giant Cockroach 巨大ゴキブリ物語 Kyodai Gokiburi Monogatari Super-8 (50 min).
1975 Wings Tsubasa Super-8 (25 min).
1976 Cloudy 曇天 Donten B&W Super-8 (60 min).
1977 It flew in hell 地獄町小便小僧にて飛んだよ Jigoku Machi Shouben Kozou ni te Tobenda yo Super-8 (120 min).
1978 New Wings 新・翼 Shin: Tsubasa Super-8 (40 min).
1979 Flying Lotus Flower 蓮の花飛べ Hasu no Hana Tobe Super-8 (90 min).
1986 The Phantom of Regular Size 普通サイズの怪人 Futsu Saizu no Kaijin Super-8 (18 min).
1987 The Adventures of Electric Rod Boy 電柱小僧の冒険 Denchu Kozou no Boken Super-8 (47 min).
1989 Tetsuo: The Iron Man 鉄男 TETSUO Tetsuo 16mm B&W[14] (67 min)
1991 Hiruko The Goblin ヒルコ 妖怪ハンター Hiruko Youkai Hanta 35mm[9] (89 min)
1992 Tetsuo II: Body Hammer 鉄男 II BODY HAMMER Tetsuo II: Body Hammer 35mm[9] (83 min)
1995 Tokyo Fist TOKYO FIST Tokyo Fist 16mm[15] (87 min)
1998 Bullet Ballet BULLET BALLET バレット・バレエ Bullet Ballet 16mm B&W[16] (87 min)
1999 Gemini 双生児-GEMINI- Sōseiji 35mm (83 min)
2002 A Snake of June 六月の蛇 Rokugatsu no Hebi 16mm (77 min)
2004 Vital ヴィタール Vital 35mm[17] (86 min)
2005 Haze HAZE Haze DV (49 min)
2005 Female female フィーメイル Fīmeiru Segment: Tamamushi.
2006 Nightmare Detective 悪夢探偵 Akumu Tantei
2008 Nightmare Detective 2 悪夢探偵2 Akumu Tantei 2
2010 Tetsuo: The Bullet Man 鉄男 THE BULLET MAN Tetsuo: The Bullet Man
2011 Kotoko KOTOKO Kotoko
2014 Fires on the Plain 野火 Nobi
2018 Killing 斬、 Zan


Year Title Role Director Notes Ref(s)
1997 Tōkyō Biyori Naoto Takenaka
1998 Wait and See Shinji Sōmai
2000 Dead or Alive 2: Birds Takashi Miike
2001 Ichi the Killer Jijii Takashi Miike
2002 Blind Beast vs. Dwarf Teruo Ishii
2004 Marebito Takashi Shimizu Lead role
Otakus in Love Suzuki Matsuo
2007 Welcome to the Quiet Room Suzuki Matsuo
2014 Fires on the Plain Tamura Shinya Tsukamoto Also produced / wrote.
2016 Shin Godzilla Kunio Hazama Hideaki Anno/Shinji Higuchi
Silence Mokichi Martin Scorsese American film
Scoop! Taga Hitoshi Ōne
2021 Kiba: The Fangs of Fiction Tamio Takano Daihachi Yoshida
DIVOC-12 Manager Shin'ichiro Ueda [18]


Year Title Role Network Notes Ref(s)
2007 Sexy Voice and Robo NTV
2009–2011 Saka no ue no kumo Akashi Motojiro NHK
2010 GeGeGe no Nyōbō NHK Asadora
2012 Carnation Takeshi Haraguchi NHK Asadora
2016 Tokyo Trial Michio Takeyama NHK, Netflix
2018 Hanbun, Aoi Prof. Usakawa NHK Asadora
2019 Idaten Michimasa Soejima NHK Taiga drama
2021 Okaeri Mone Tomohisa "Tom-san" Tanaka NHK Asadora [19]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Extreme Japanese Cyberpunk". September 1, 2008. Archived from the original on September 1, 2008. Retrieved November 27, 2020.
  2. ^ Mes, Tom (2005). Iron Man: The Cinema of Shinya Tsukamoto. FAB Press. ISBN 978-1-903254-35-6.
  3. ^ "The Japan Foundation, London - What's On -". Retrieved November 14, 2020.
  4. ^ "@sk Hollywood: Darren Aronofsky (Part 1)". February 21, 2014. Archived from the original on February 21, 2014. Retrieved November 14, 2020.
  5. ^ "Five reasons to watch cyberpunk body-horror Tetsuo: The Iron Man – 30th anniversary". British Film Institute. Retrieved November 14, 2020.
  6. ^ AnOther (May 6, 2020). "A Guide to Shinya Tsukamoto, Japan's Greatest Cult Filmmaker". AnOther. Retrieved November 14, 2020.
  7. ^ Blake (September 9, 2007). "Brief Interview with Shinya Tsukamoto on Nightmare Detective". TwitchFilm. Archived from the original on October 25, 2008. Retrieved September 10, 2007.
  8. ^ a b Mes, Tom (2005). Iron Man. The Cinema of Shinya Tsukamoto. FAB Press. ISBN 1-903254-36-1
  9. ^ a b c Shinya Tsukamoto interview. Basic Tsukamoto. Pathfinder Pictures, 2003.
  10. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on September 1, 2008. Retrieved September 1, 2008.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  11. ^ Player, Mark. "Post-Human Nightmares: The World of Japanese Cyberpunk Cinema". Midnight Eye.
  12. ^ Live Coverage of Metal Gear's Anniversary Party
  14. ^ Mes, Tom (2005). Iron Man. The Cinema of Shinya Tsukamoto. pg 50 FAB Press. ISBN 1-903254-36-1
  15. ^ Mes, Tom (2005). Iron Man. The Cinema of Shinya Tsukamoto. pg 119 FAB Press. ISBN 1-903254-36-1
  16. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on September 22, 2008. Retrieved September 6, 2008.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  17. ^ Mes, Tom (2005). Iron Man. The Cinema of Shinya Tsukamoto. pg 188 FAB Press. ISBN 1-903254-36-1
  18. ^ "渋川清彦&塚本晋也ら『DIVOC-12』に出演、本ポスターも解禁". Cinema Cafe. Retrieved August 25, 2021.
  19. ^ "清原果耶主演の朝ドラ「おかえりモネ」ポスター到着、塚本晋也と平山祐介も出演". Natalie. Retrieved March 15, 2021.

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