- Golden Globe Awards
The Real Exorcist (Japan)
Meet Sayuri (Yoshiko Sengen), a winsome and bright-eyed part-time waitress working at a small Tokyo coffee-shop, “Extra”. She has a secret. As a clairvoyant with supernatural powers, she can see the unseeable and help customers troubled by the unexplainable manifestations affecting them. Such as hauntings, body possession, or poltergeists. Gradually she becomes more involved in some of her clients’ cases to the point of finding herself fighting against a powerful force who wants her to stop saving souls of both the living and the dead. Can she become the eponymous “real exorcist” and defeat the devil?
The Real Exorcist is based on the actual experiences of its executive producer, Ryuho Okawa, who also wrote the original story, his daughter Sayaka signing the screenplay. As he recounts in his best-selling book, The Laws of the Sun, he, like his heroine Sayuri, is blessed with… “the miraculous ability to see the past, the present and the future.” Warning along the way that “spiritual possession is neither a unique occurrence nor superstition, but a real phenomenon based on sound spiritual principle.”
In Japan, Okawa is a highly controversial figure as the founder of Happy Science, generally considered a religious cult and syncretic sect which claims eleven million followers in the world. The 65-year-old also goes by the moniker El Cantare and pretends to be no less than the reincarnated consciousness of Buddha, having attained “Great Enlightenment” in 1981 (!), his mission has since been “to bring salvation and happiness to humanity by spreading the Truth.” Also, to help “acquire wisdom to conquer evil, tying the anomaly of spiritual disturbance with our state of mind, by teaching how we may disarm and overcome negative tendencies…” The message of Happy Science is relayed via numerous lectures and a vast library of more than 2,700 published books penned by Okawa himself who is also a prolific music and lyric composer. His foray into moviemaking seems a logical step to expand his beliefs and teaching through another medium targeting a young audience.
Making his feature-length debut with The Real Exorcist, the director Shokyo Oda has previously worked in television and produced several music videos for artists like the pop group Hikaru Genji, the folk-rock band The Alfee and Masahiko Kando, a former semi-pro car racing driver turned singer. The film was shown at the under the radar and confidential 17th Angel Film Awards-Monaco International Film festival in February 2020, where it took the top honor, and the lead actress Yoshiko Sengen (a singer and former model) won the Best Female Actor Award. She will be next seen in another Happy Science production in the same vein. Twiceborn described as “a dramatic inspiring account of how the spiritual visionary Okawa came to recognize his miraculous mission and the obligation he carries to share the truth with the World.” Surely equally enlightening!