Director: Shinya Tsukamoto
Writer: Hisakatsu Kuroki & Shinya Tsukamoto
Producer: Shinya Tsukamoto, Shin’ichi Kawahara, Yumiko Takebe & Takeshi Koide
Starring: Ryûhei Matsuda, Yui Miura, Hanae Kan, Miwako Ichikawa
Ryûhei Matsuda returns as the titular character, Kyoichi Kagenuma of Shinya Tsukamoto’s Nightmare Detective 2 (Akumu Tantei 2). It has been a few years since I saw the original while attending Toronto After Dark in 2007. Tsukamoto’s most accesible film to date at that time ended up on my top 10 of the year. The original involved an interesting hero battling an enigmatic creepy villan, played by Tsukamoto himself in people nightmares. The movie succeeded because of its creepiness, its strong story an interesting characters. Unlike a lot of directors Tsukamoto, who has never been known for doing things by the book takes the story inward and while the horror and mystery of an attack within dreams is told the film delves deeply into the psyche and origin of Kyoichi.
Kyoichi is awoken from a nightmare involving his mother being terrified of him as a child to find Yukie Mashiro (Yui Miura). She begs him for help as she is being haunted in her dreams by another school girl, Yuko (Hanae Kan). Yukie and her two friends bullied Yuko and locked her in a shed. Since that night Yuko has left school but invaded her dreams. Kyoichi wants nothing to do with Yukie as his powers take a great toll on his body and his mind. Slowly over the course of the film Kyoichi discovers through his own dreams and by Yuko’s attempts to gain his help that both Yuko and his mother seem to have suffered dreadful fears when it comes to their friends and families. The Nightmare Detective is drawn into an attempt to save Yukie, Yuko all the while trying to come to terms with his mother’s fear of her own son.
Tsukamoto does not give any easy answers in Nightmare Detective 2. The story of Kyoichi is very emotional and Tsukamoto does not hold back on having Kyochi’s memories warped and mutated by his own fears and regrets. This is a story about how the power the Nightmare Detective has alienates the weilder from everyone else. Kyoichi, Yukie and Yuko are all lonely tragic figures. I will admit that Yuko as the villain is not as disturbing as the killer “O” in the original she is a more compelling tragic figure.
As with the original Nightmare Detective 2 is more accesible than some of Tsukamoto’s other films but that does not mean it is a mainstream film. It will challenge you to put the pieces of Kyoichi’s past together as he discovers it himself. It is a creepy and disturbing film yet it has a real touch of heart and caring to it. I for one truly hope that Tsukamoto and Matsuda will return one final time and wrap the story up in a trilogy. I am sure we will be left with as many questions as answers when everything is done but with a character so compelling and Tsukamoto’s unique vision into dreams I for one welcome the challenge of revisiting the Nightmare Detective again.