Jusho Toda - Writer

Art Director. Nationality: Japanese. Born: Tokyo, 1928. Education: Studied painting and sculpture at Junior High School of Aoyama Gakuin University; studied industrial design in the army. Military Service: Served in the Japanese army during World War II. Career: 1945–46—engineer for Hokkaido University; then a painter and sculptor, and architect and industrial designer; 1953—assistant art director: worked with Hiroshi Mizutani and Kisaku Ito; 1962—first film as art director, The Entanglement ; 1966—first of several films for Nagisa Oshima. Died: 1 February 1987.

Films as Art Director:


Karami-ai ( The Entanglement ) (Kobayashi); Sanga ari ( There Are Mountains and Rivers ) (Matsuyami); Seppuku ( Harakiri ) (Kobayashi)


Kawaita hana ( Pale Flower ) (Shinoda)


Kaidan ( Kwaidan ) (Kobayashi)


Shokei no shima ( Punishment Island ) (Shinoda); Hakuchu no torima ( Violence at Noon ) (Oshima)


Akanegumo ( Clouds at Sunset ) (Shinoda); Nippon shunka-ko ( A Treatise on Japanese Rowdy Songs ) (Oshima); Murishinju: Nippon no natsu ( Japanese Summer: Double Suicide ) (Oshima)


Koshikei ( Death By Hanging ) (Oshima); Kaettekita yopparai ( Three Resurrected Drunkards ) (Oshima)


Shinjuku dorobo nikki ( Diary of a Shinjuku Thief ) (Oshima); Shonen ( Boy ) (Oshima)


Buraikan ( The Scandalous Adventures of Buraikan ) (Shinoda); Tokyo senso sengo hiwa ( The Man Who Left His Will on Film ) (Oshima)


Gishiki ( The Ceremony ) (Oshima)


Nasu no imoto ( Summer Sister ) (Oshima)


Ranru no hata ( Ragged Flag ) (Yoshimura)


Ai no corrida ( In the Realm of the Senses ) (Oshima)


Ai no borei ( Empire of Passion ) (Oshima)


Senjo no merii kurisumasu ( Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence ) (Oshima)


Shokutaku no nai ie ( The Family without a Dinner Table ) (Kobayashi)


On TODA: article—

Obituary in Revue du Cinéma (Paris), no. 427, May 1987.

* * *

Jusho Toda was one of the most imaginative production designers in Japan. He was first acclaimed for the ambitious set design of Masaki Kobayashi's Seppuku , for which he created appropriately striking black-and-white backgrounds to highlight the powerful story of a struggle between samurai. The Daliesque images he created for Kobayashi's Kwaidan , such as a pair of eyes in an orange-yellow sky and a palace floating over the smoke on colorful waters, were particularly noted for the audacious quality they gave to this anthology of ghost stories.

Nagisa Oshima invited the eccentric art director to join his filmmaking group, and their collaboration has continued for two decades, from Violence at Noon to Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence . Challenged by the budgetary limitations of Oshima's independent productions, Toda created ingenious settings for the spontaneous and radical ideas of this ideologically conscious director. Parts of the sets in Death By Hanging were made out of newspapers; similarly, many sets in other Oshima films use abstract plastic shapes to emphasize theatricality. The altars he often used in both interior and exterior scenes were similar to those of the Shinto religion, and gave a ritualistic quality. One of the most idiosyncratic of the images he created for Oshima is the Japanese national flag whose "Rising Sun" in the center is painted in black, a symbol of the dark side of authority.

The sets Toda designed for Oshima's In the Realm of the Senses , Empire of Passion , and Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence , are comparatively realistic but nonetheless help create the powerful atmosphere of passionate love, violence, and abstract eroticism.

Toda was also responsible for the simple yet striking black-and-white interior settings for the gambling scenes of Masahiro Shinoda's Pale Flower , as well as for the elaborate color schemes of the director's The Scandalous Adventures of Buraikan . Toda was also acclaimed for the solemn interiors he created for Kobayashi's serious family drama, The Family without a Dinner Table .

—Kyoko Hirano

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