Introduction to ‘Nightmare Detective’ from Shinya Tsukamoto


Introduction to “Nightmare Detective” from Shinya Tsukamoto:
* Note the original English language translation of this was done by Don over at one of my favorite film sites Ryuganji (

Dreams. Another world on the flipside of reality. A world said to be filled with various meanings, yet abandoned and regarded as unimportant.

There’s nothing more uninteresting than listening to another person talk about their dreams. But can we really dismiss them just because we see them as boring? Perhaps another universe that we are unaware of exists in the realm of the deep psyche at the base of our consciousness; an abyssal world far beyond our modern eyes within its vast darkness.

I wanted to create a story seen through the eyes of the film’s characters as they encounter this dark universe, one that awakens us to that other overlooked aspect of our existence and rediscovers the fundamental tumult of our souls that becomes forgotten in urban life.

The protagonist’s name is Kyoichi Kagenuma. I would say that he makes a living from entering people’s dreams and purging their nightmares, but in actual fact it isn’t work to him; on the contrary, in no way does he enter dreams of his own volition. That is because he has shut himself off from humanity because of a massive ordeal in his childhood. Kyoichi enters people’s dreams only when he has no other choice but to do so.

Although he disposes of the nightmares each time, Kyoichi and his clients are inevitably left internally scarred as a result. However, those very scars provide a modicum of respite from the terrible trauma he experienced as a boy, and gradually become small steps toward the restoration of his faith in people.

People call him the Nightmare Detective.

In this film, the Nightmare Detective finds himself on the trail of a preternatural murderer with the same ability as Kyoichi. He too enters the dreams of others, but instead kills them as they are dreaming. Once they are murdered within their dreams, the victims are discovered on their beds having suffered the same cruel fate in the waking world. There is no obvious link between the victims. If any, there is only the fact they were all suicidal. But why does the killer only target those who want to die?

The killer appears to be revealing the true terror of death to the willing.

Accordingly the heroine, ace female detective Keiko Kirishima, seeks the assistance of the Nightmare Detective in tracking down the dream murderer. As she herself gets caught up in the chase for the killer, she unwittingly discovers the hollow void that has grown within herself.

Therein lies the sublimity of life that is somehow forgotten in our city lives.

Shinya Tsukamoto

Image Source:
This image comes from an official digital still from the original release in Japan. Introduction comes from the official pressbook of the film. To my knowledge this is the first time it has appeared anywhere online in English.

Related Links:
::: IMDb Profile
::: Official Site
::: Iron Man – The Cinema of Shinya Tsukamoto by Tom Mes (Midnight Eye)
::: BIFFF – Brussels International Festival Of Fantastic Film
::: Nippon Connection
::: Midnight Eye
::: Ryuganji

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