Research – Maria Han

Documentary on Japanese culture

Japanese Customs / July 14, 2017

If you have even a passing interest in Japanese video games, comics, art, or design, you really should be watching Toco Toco TV. The ongoing web series profiles notable creatives from Japan, with documentary-style shorts that usually run between 10 and 20 minutes. But in that relatively short runtime they pack in a lot. The most recent episode features enigmatic game designer Yoko Taro, director of Nier: Automata, and it delves surprisingly deeply into his creative process, explaining why his games often feel so offbeat and human compared to typical blockbusters. (He also hides his face behind a giant mask for most of the episode.) “For my games, they don’t have to necessarily be interesting, ” Taro explains while playing pinball, “as long as it is meaningful to play them.”

Other episodes include Persona 5 director Katsura Hashino, which features a great look at the areas of Tokyo that influenced the game, as well as manga duo UME, who talk a great deal about pulling inspiration from the real world. The lineup of featured creators is eclectic to say the least; in addition to game developers and comic artists, there are also episodes on fashion designers, rock bands, and comedians. It’s a great lineup of very interesting people, but the show is also just wonderful to look at, with plenty of beautiful shots of areas around Japan.

Each episode is in Japanese, but you can switch on subtitles to watch them in either English or French as well. The series is a great way to learn the inspirations of your favorite creators — and like the best documentaries, many episodes will leave you feeling inspired yourself.