Cultpix Radio

Cultpix Radio Ep.66 - Zatoichi Week 1: the Story Behind the Blind Swordsman

April 10, 2023 The Smut Peddler and Johan Nordström Season 6 Episode 66
Cultpix Radio Ep.66 - Zatoichi Week 1: the Story Behind the Blind Swordsman
Cultpix Radio
More Info
Cultpix Radio
Cultpix Radio Ep.66 - Zatoichi Week 1: the Story Behind the Blind Swordsman
Apr 10, 2023 Season 6 Episode 66
The Smut Peddler and Johan Nordström

Zatoichi Week 1 - In which we invite our guest, Swedish film professor Johan Nordström, who's been living in Japan for the past 15 years, to discuss Daiei Studios, Japanese cinema in general and specifically the Zatoichi films, the one-of-a-kind star of the films, Shintaro Katsu – and Japanese society.

Cultpix owes a lot to Johan-san, as he has been the door-opener to both Kadokawa-Daiei and Nikkatsu in Japan, two major studios with very exciting films. Cultpix is doing three big themes with Daiei films in the Spring of 2023, the Daimajin trilogy, eight Gamera films (the giant flying turtle) and 21 Zatoichi films!

These are the initial Zatoichi films (Scandinavia only for now, unfortunately, but we hope to expand them to more countries in time). Zatoichi is the longest-running action series in the history of Japanese cinema. Zatoichi is an iconic figure, played by Shintaro Katsu. It inspired Rutger Hauer's "Blind Fury", 1971 Spaghetti Western "Blindman", a remake by Takeshi Kitano and Donnie Yen in both "Rogue One" (1916) and "John Wick: Chapter 4" (2023).

"The Tale of Zatoichi" (1962) - The film that kicked off the hugely popular series about Zatoichi, a humble masseur who livesd by a strict moral code. Two rival yakuza clans are at war. One hires an ailing ronin as their protector, while the other hires Ichi, Zatoichi! Lead actor Shintaro Katsu instantly made the lovable Zatoichi his own.

"The Tale of Zatoichi Continues"  (1962) - Zatoichi becomes the masseur to a powerful political figure who turns out to be mentally ill. This needs to be kept secret at all cost. Featuring bigger action scenes, a tighter plot, as well as the introduction of the mysterious one-armed swordsman (played by Katsu's brother Tomisaburo Wakayama).

"New Tale of Zatoichi" (1963) - The first Zatoichi film in color! Zatoichi wants to lead a quiet life, but is forced back into action when villagers are being squeezed dry by a corrupt clan leader. Zatoichi picks up his sword and upholds his moral code, as well as dispensing kick-ass justice. 

"Zatoichi the Fugitive" (1963) - The yakuza are unhappy because Zatoichi unexpectedly wins the sumo wrestling match in the village. They hire a ronin to kill him, but it turns out they both have a romantic link to the same woman.  

"Zatoichi on the Road" (1963) - Zatoichi is asked by a dying man to bring back a girl to Edo. He agrees, but unwittingly ends up in the cross-hairs of two rival yakuza gangs, who both want to kidnap the girl.

"Zatoichi and the Chest of Gold" (1964) - Zatoichi is falsely accused of having stolen the villagers' sizeable tax collection. In order to clear his name, Zatoichi is forced to fight corrupt officials, several hired assassins and a giant with a bull whip (played again by Katsu's brother Wakamaya). The stunning cinematography is by "Rashonom" cinematographer Kazuy Miyagawa. 

Look out for a further 14 (!) Zatoichi films later this spring and early summer. 

Show Notes

Zatoichi Week 1 - In which we invite our guest, Swedish film professor Johan Nordström, who's been living in Japan for the past 15 years, to discuss Daiei Studios, Japanese cinema in general and specifically the Zatoichi films, the one-of-a-kind star of the films, Shintaro Katsu – and Japanese society.

Cultpix owes a lot to Johan-san, as he has been the door-opener to both Kadokawa-Daiei and Nikkatsu in Japan, two major studios with very exciting films. Cultpix is doing three big themes with Daiei films in the Spring of 2023, the Daimajin trilogy, eight Gamera films (the giant flying turtle) and 21 Zatoichi films!

These are the initial Zatoichi films (Scandinavia only for now, unfortunately, but we hope to expand them to more countries in time). Zatoichi is the longest-running action series in the history of Japanese cinema. Zatoichi is an iconic figure, played by Shintaro Katsu. It inspired Rutger Hauer's "Blind Fury", 1971 Spaghetti Western "Blindman", a remake by Takeshi Kitano and Donnie Yen in both "Rogue One" (1916) and "John Wick: Chapter 4" (2023).

"The Tale of Zatoichi" (1962) - The film that kicked off the hugely popular series about Zatoichi, a humble masseur who livesd by a strict moral code. Two rival yakuza clans are at war. One hires an ailing ronin as their protector, while the other hires Ichi, Zatoichi! Lead actor Shintaro Katsu instantly made the lovable Zatoichi his own.

"The Tale of Zatoichi Continues"  (1962) - Zatoichi becomes the masseur to a powerful political figure who turns out to be mentally ill. This needs to be kept secret at all cost. Featuring bigger action scenes, a tighter plot, as well as the introduction of the mysterious one-armed swordsman (played by Katsu's brother Tomisaburo Wakayama).

"New Tale of Zatoichi" (1963) - The first Zatoichi film in color! Zatoichi wants to lead a quiet life, but is forced back into action when villagers are being squeezed dry by a corrupt clan leader. Zatoichi picks up his sword and upholds his moral code, as well as dispensing kick-ass justice. 

"Zatoichi the Fugitive" (1963) - The yakuza are unhappy because Zatoichi unexpectedly wins the sumo wrestling match in the village. They hire a ronin to kill him, but it turns out they both have a romantic link to the same woman.  

"Zatoichi on the Road" (1963) - Zatoichi is asked by a dying man to bring back a girl to Edo. He agrees, but unwittingly ends up in the cross-hairs of two rival yakuza gangs, who both want to kidnap the girl.

"Zatoichi and the Chest of Gold" (1964) - Zatoichi is falsely accused of having stolen the villagers' sizeable tax collection. In order to clear his name, Zatoichi is forced to fight corrupt officials, several hired assassins and a giant with a bull whip (played again by Katsu's brother Wakamaya). The stunning cinematography is by "Rashonom" cinematographer Kazuy Miyagawa. 

Look out for a further 14 (!) Zatoichi films later this spring and early summer.