HIDARI - The Stop-motion Samurai Film



Pilot Film

About This Film

Having lost his foster parent and right arm to the betrayal of his peers, legendary craftsman "Jingoro Hidari" is on a journey of revenge with a mechanical prosthetic arm and his sidekick, "Sleeping Cat." Finally, Jingoro faces one of his adversaries "Inumaru" in a fight to the death...

We wanted to depict the story of "Jingoro Hidari," a legendary Edo-era craftsman, by "breathing life into wood," just as he has done in the many anecdotes that he left behind. Based on this concept, we created the whole film by filming wooden puppets in stop-motion.

Our intention is to use this pilot film as a starting point to create a full length feature film. We are currently looking for partners to produce the full-length film together with us.

Anime Meets Stop-Motion

Japanese animation or Anime, are still highly recognized across the world. Its unique visual language, narrative, and dynamic expressions have evolved very differently compared to other types of animations, which gives it the distinct flare. We wanted to create an entertainment piece that no one has seen before, by merging this world of Japanimation and the technique of stop-motion animation. I hope you enjoy the unique visual expression that neither live action nor 2D animation can achieve.

The World Made Of Wood

Jingoro Hidari is known for his anecdotes, as a sculptor who can ”breathe life” into animals that he carved. So we wanted to create all the puppets out of wood, and “breathe life” into them just as Jingoro have done, but through the magic of stop-motion animation.

We also tried to invent new visual effects that make use of the wooden materials. The characters were designed to show the wooden texture and joints, which became a unique part of the overall aesthetic. We took hints from "Nou" masks, and carved the faces in a way so that the shadows will cast rich expressions. The most intriguing are the sawdust gushing out instead of blood, when the characters are being slashed apart. This allowed us to explore extreme action sequences, while being able to avoid the visual to become too gory.

Who is Jingoro Hidari?

Jingoro Hidari is a legendary sculptor who is said to have existed in the Edo period (17th century) of Japan. The animals that Jingoro carved were so lively and real, stories say these animals came to life at night. His name “Hidari” means “left” in Japanese, and there are various hypotheses about where it came from; some say it's because he was left handed, others say that he only had a left arm because his right arm was chopped off by his jealous rival. We used these episodes as a source of inspiration to craft an original story for this film.

Today, there are nearly 100 locations around Japan where you can find sculptures which are said to be Jingoro’s work, such as The Sleeping Cat in Nikko Toshogu Shrine. However, some say he wasn't just one person, but rather a pseudonym used by skilled craftsmen, because these sculptures' age ranges over 300 years from the Azuchi-Momoyama period (late 16th century) to the late Edo period (late 19th period,).

Plans for the feature film

Based on this pilot film, we are currently working on a feature-length version of the film. This version will not only feature the action scenes that were seen in the pilot film, but will introduce more unique characters, and dive deeper into their stories and emotions. To make full use of the mystical character of Jingoro Hidari, we plan to weave fiction and actual history into the story (imagine a violent Forrest Gump set in feudal Japan). Actual historical events such as the reconstruction of the Edo Castle, the Keian Uprising, and the Great Fire of Meireki will become backdrops of the events happening within the film. Actual historical figures such as the Shogun Ietsuna Tokugawa, and Yorinobu Tokugawa will play key roles in the story. Additionally, many "models" of Jingoro's actual sculptures will appear in the film as well, such as The Sleeping Cat and The Wild Tiger, allowing you to imagine the fictional origin of his work of art.


A skilled carpenter/sculptor Jingoro, gets set up by his disciples and loses his right arm and his father in an "accident" during the reconstruction of the Edo Castle. A few decades later… Jingoro is continuing his journey of revenge with his partner “Sleeping Cat” and his weaponized prosthetic arm. People have come to call him Jingoro "Hidari," which means "left" in Japanese.

Jingoro defeats all the foes that has betrayed him, but he learns that Tokugawa Shogunate was behind the murderous event. He searches for clues on who was behind the whole set up, and fights with an army of mechanical soldiers along the way. Finally he confronts the mastermind behind all the killings, but first, he must save the city of Edo by stopping the Edo Castle, now turned into a gigantic weapon of mass destruction!

The team

For this project, we were able to assemble a team of world class stop-motion creators.

TECARAT is in charge of creating all of our wooden puppets. They're a stop-motion animation studio that has won various awards for films such as “GON, THE LITTLE FOX” and “Norman the Snowman.”
The animation is filmed by dwarf studios, one of the largest stop-motion animation studio in Japan. They've created renown stop-motion films, such as "Komaneko” and “Rilakkuma and Kaoru.”
Whatever Co. is a creative studio that our director Masashi Kawamura has co-founded. The team is in charge of the film's script, directing, art direction, and promotions.

Behind the scene

Production Notes

Please have a look at our blog, where we kept record of the creative process and behind the scenes of the pilot film.



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