100 Yen is a crowd-source funded documentary about the history of Japanese Arcades. All said and done, from inception to completion the film took approx. 3 years to complete.

I lived in Japan for 3 years prior to moving back to Canada and starting my production company. We had some amazing opportunities to meet and film some very influential people including Hiro Kawaguchi, Daigo "The Beast" Umehara, Tez Okano, Justin Wong and Aaron "Aaron In Japan" Chmielowiec among others. We also were very fortunate to work closely with Taito, one of the biggest arcade brands in the world.

You can watch the 5 min. trailer here.

The film has been recently released via iTunes, Amazon Instant Video, Playstation Store, Xbox Marketplace and there is also a region free multi-lingual (English, Japanese, French and Spanish) DVD available via our website.

Here's my favorite review of the film: http://retrowaretv.com/film-review-100-yen-the-japanese-arcade-experience/

We recently inspired a writer at USA Today to go out to an Arcade which is definitely what the film aspires to do.

We also brought tears to the eyes of the writers over at Kotaku Japan

Feel free to ask me about the filming process, post production or any other aspects of the film. I not only wrote and directed but also edited the film.

Proof: https://twitter.com/100yenfilm/status/352819778542501889

Edit: 6:00pm (CST) stepping away for dinner, back to answer more later!

Comments: 78 • Responses: 30  • Date: 

xerdopwerko5 karma

Arcades were one of my favourite things about Japan, and I really wish I'd had more time to spend there.

I'm very interested in your project and will acquire it as soon as I can. I salivated for it since I heard about it. So congratulations - I envy you and also I admire you for making something about one of my favourite subjects in the world.

Now the questions:

1) How difficult was it to obtain authorisation to film and photograph inside arcades? How can a tourist get that authorisation to take pictures inside an arcade, like Hey?

2) What is your opinion about Shinya Arino and GameCenter CX? I love the show's "Tamage" segments, and that's what led me to know about your project.

3) What are your favourite arcade locations in Tokyo? How about other cities?

sentrosix10 karma

Great questions and thanks for the interest in the film. I'm glad it connects with people. It took way longer than originally planned... but in the end I wouldn't change a thing.

1) It was extremely difficult to obtain permission. The first time I went to film in Japan I had ZERO permission and filmed completely gorilla style.

Once we had a budget I was able to connect with Taito and Sega and get permission but they had to have representatives with me at all times. There were positives and negatives about that. The positives being they would allow us to film inside claw machine games for example or get access to places like HEY prior to it opening for the day. They also let us bring lighting equipment which made a huge difference.

The negatives being once customers were in the arcades they were much more specific about what was acceptable to film and how we could move around within the arcades.

Really, the only reason we were able to get permission at all is because I had created that first trailer and was able to show that the product I would create wouldn't have negative connotations. Even after getting permission it was a back and forth conversation in regards to how I was able to use the interview footage we acquired from both Taito and Sega.

2) I love GameCenter CX, my girlfriend and I watch it and enjoy it. It's fun seeing a middle-aged man battle through these ridiculous games, I kind of feel like it's Japans version of AVGN. Japans response to the film has been amazing, they are excited to see a foreigner investigate and explore a world that perhaps they take for granted or only a small piece of the population really 'gets'.

3) In Tokyo my favorite Taito arcade has to be HEY, it has a ton of different sections with lots of the classics. The lighting is super subdued and coloured... it's almost always busy..

I am also a fan of Safari in Ikebukuro, mostly because at the time I was there it was filled with high-level players including Umehara. It had a great late-night scene.

Oh man... I can't choose just one.. I love Akihabara leisure land, it's probably the busiest arcade i've seen... when there's a tournament on it's just JAMMED... so many people playing games, I love it and the Manager is awesome, one of the original organizers of Togeki.

For DDR, Aaron brought me to the leisure land in Odaiba which was awesome, such a big, bright and new arcade. It had more of a inclusive feel, very friendly staff and customers. In the same mall there is this amazing retro arcade that is filled with cocktail style Donkey Kong and Space Invader cabinets as well as old mechanical pachinko games, I highly recommend it.

I could keep going... and I haven't even mentioned Ebi-cen which is one of the most interesting arcades that appear in the film, small indie-operated where tons of top players go.

Outside of Tokyo, I really enjoy the Taito station in Fukuoka. It feels more regional with palm trees out front and just a different layout than most arcades.

Finally, I'll save the best for last. There is a chain of arcades called 'Warehouse' the only one i've had the chance of visiting personally is in Kawasaki, 20 - 30 min. outside of Tokyo. It is INCREDIBLE. It is more like a haunted house than an arcade. Amazing 'set design'. It literally feels like you've entered the game Silent Hill or something... If you get the chance go there. You will not regret it.

And just because this post isn't long enough... Nagoya has some amazing arcades and arcade tournament organizers as well as Kyoto. A-Cho in Kyoto is very cool, the staff (who will appear in the special edition) are the best.

xerdopwerko3 karma

Thanks, man. You are awesome. Looking forward to seeing 100 yen in my region.

sentrosix6 karma

We are working on ways to get the digital version out more widely. Check us out on facebook/twitter for the most recent developments!

Yokep1 karma

I have been living in Japan for about 1.5 years. I live a few stops from Kawasaki and the 'Warehouse' is my favorite arcade in Japan.

My favorite arcade for competition is this smoky place on basketball street in Shibuya, not too far from the crossing. It's really old school but the CvS2 competition can't be beat.

A-Cho in Kyoto is also really awesome. I've stayed at the 9 capsule hotel across the street a few times and man, just a cool place and experience.

sentrosix3 karma

I wish I could go to Warehouse right now... it's so awesome. I love that there are specialized arcades for each genre where competition is more fierce. It's so true and I love it. You always find out which arcade has the best ______ scene.

hongkonghonky5 karma

Having had 5 years in Japan let me please ask you , what Do you miss the most?

sentrosix10 karma

In order of what I miss most:

  • Ramen
  • Arcades
  • Kaiten Zushi (Cheap Sushi)
  • Coco's Ichiban Curry

Ok so most of that was food... but I also miss readily available access to Japanese Manga and Karaoke... not having arcades in Canada was really the biggest inspiration for this film. It was such a great feeling to be able to go downtown and spend some quality gaming time with friends, making new friends and experiencing some of the amazing games that exist only in Japanese arcades. (Card-based games like Lord of Vermillion)

BoB_nugget5 karma

Oh my god CoCo's!!


sentrosix2 karma

right? It was the only restaurant where you could customize your choices! Oh and it was so damned delicious!

BoB_nugget1 karma

ever go to 10?

sentrosix3 karma

my friend jokingly said 12 once... but you know Japan... they just kind of stared at him with a uncomprehending look.

LemurianLemurLad2 karma

That is pretty much exactly the same as my list upon moving back to the US. I miss quality ramen soooo much. I only know one place within about 100 miles of my house that sells the real thing... for $16 per bowl.

sentrosix2 karma

at least you have AN option... the only option I have is to import Nissin's "Lao" instant Ramen or buy $5 a pack frozen instant Ramen... I make do but it's not even in the same universe...

amuzulo3 karma

I'm a guide at a computer games museum and was delighted not to find a single factual error, which almost never happens when I watch video game history documentaries. Did you have a lot of people fact checking it before you published it?

sentrosix3 karma

There's at least one minor error that is mentioned in the narration but it's an obscure factoid about a Japanese arcade which I didn't pick up on until the master had been sent out unfortunately.

I did send the film to several of the people who appear in the film and they would comment on certain elements but i'm sure if I had really dived into the technical aspects of the games more deeply then I would have had to get a lot more involved in making sure I don't misrepresent things.

I'm glad that there aren't any glaring errors. It's intimidating to create something for an audience who is so intimately educated with their hobby of choice.

amuzulo2 karma

Ok, now I have to ask, what was this minor error? :)

sentrosix8 karma

heh, I figured you'd probably ask. The error is when we say that Ebi-cen's notebook that they keep scores in is 20 years old. It's not. Sadly it's only about 5 years old? (Can't recall the exact age) But that doesn't have quite the same zing... so i'm not sad that I got it wrong.

latex2e3 karma

No questions, just wanna say thanks as a Japanese gamer! (and yay, Kawasaki Warehouse)

sentrosix2 karma

Thanks! I love connecting with the Japanese gaming community! You guys are too awesome.

Pepetruen03 karma

You are not allowed to view this content.

Well, time to go to the pirate bay.

sentrosix3 karma

Where are you located? We are working on the digital release for international individuals. The DVD is region free and subbed in 4 languages.

Pepetruen01 karma

Hi, I'm from Venezuela and I've been looking forward to watching your documentary for about a year now. Any idea when the digital download will be available?

sentrosix2 karma

Waiting on a reply from our digital distributor. Should know next week. I'll post more info on facebook as I know more! Thanks for the interest!

Chewmandinga3 karma

How did you guys go about getting funding for you film?

sentrosix6 karma

We ran two successful IndieGoGo campaigns. The first was a learning experience. I am actually acquaintances with the creators of IndieGame: The Movie so having seen their success on Kickstarter I followed in their footsteps and raised enough money to head to Japan with a crew. I had already begun filming on my own the previous summer so I had a trailer which can be seen on that campaign website still: http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/100-yen-the-japanese-arcade-experience--122

From there we accomplished a lot with contacts online and once we captured all the footage we realized we had a million things left to do and people to hire and no money left.. so we ran a second campaign: http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/100-yen-the-japanese-arcade-experience--123

You can really see the huge jump in quality (in my opinion) alongside non-copyrighted music... etc. Basically it started to become a real movie! It was exciting!

shaggydog793 karma

Really looking forward to watching this film.

There's not one local Arcade in Nottingham, UK. There used to be several.

Is it a dying pastime? Is there anything which could revitalise it?

Thanks for doing the AMA.

sentrosix5 karma

Thanks for checking it out! Arcades have definitely dwindled in most places... that being said we do address this in the film with a section looking at North America and what it might take to revitalize them... the good news is that our generation now has some disposable income.

I think what it takes now to make a successful arcade is to brand it beyond a simple arcade as they seem to still have a bit of a negative image. Barcades are working alright but I don't know how much we can move beyond that... I think public gaming will continue, but I think it will look quite a bit different than our childhood did if it wants to be profitable and reach critical mass. Niche arcades will always be somewhere, but probably only in the most densely populated areas.

opelaceles2 karma

Just picked this up and excited to watch!

sentrosix1 karma

Thanks for checking it out!

AuhsojSivart2 karma

Hey, I am the former coordinator of the International Film Series at Purdue University Calumet in Hammond, IN, a tournament fighting game player, and an arcade/game center frequenter (Galloping Ghost Arcade in Brookfield, IL and Game Pazzo in Downer's Grove, IL). I also recently returned from a trip to China after which I did a short and simple write-up about arcades there. Although it's been a few years since I've been officially a part of the IFS team, I could not help but recommend your film to the series for the upcoming fall line-up as part of a series on documentaries about competitive subcultures. Every month during the school year, the IFS shows one film a week with a shared theme or language for free on campus combined with a presenter at the beginning and open discussion afterwards.

Is there any chance you or someone else associated with the film would be able to come and talk about the film at the school some time in the fall? Most recently, the IFS hosted Salvador Carrasco, who presented his film "The Other Conquest" in April. It was a great event, and I know personally that the IFS is looking to expand and become a larger force for increasing cultural awareness and film knowledge in the region surrounding the university.

Also, here's the text of my original post on the IFS Facebook group:

I'd like to suggest a theme for the Fall 2013 semester and would be willing to present any or all of the films during that month. Please let me know what you think.

"Documentaries about Competitive Subcultures"

I have always been fascinated by the dedication and talent of people who are a part of a competitive scene for games and sports that do not necessarily have the level of popularity as mainstream sports. As a competitor myself in fighting video games, I recently watched a documentary about Japanese arcade culture that sparked my interest in watching even more documentaries about specialized competitive subcultures. While few of the movies that focus on this kind of subject matter are critically acclaimed, award-winning films, I still find value in watching them since they open viewers' eyes to entire worlds that others live in that they might know nothing about.

Here's a tentative list of films I would use for the month:

100 Yen: The Japanese Arcade Experience [2012] (A film that traces the history of three major competitive video game genres that were born in the arcades of Japan and how they have influenced cultures and subcultures in both Japan and other areas of the world.) http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2438860/

Senna [2010] (A documentary about the life and career of Ayrton Senna, a champion of Formula 1 racing who died at an early age) http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1424432/

Word Wars [2004] (A look at the eccentric and obsessive people who play competitive Scrabble) http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0390632/

Planet B-Boy [2007] (A film that documents the history of B-Boy dancing as well as the lead-up to the "Battle of the Year", a huge tournament in which B-Boy crews compete against each other in dance battles) http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0770796/

sentrosix4 karma

I've always wanted to visit Galloping Ghost... it was on the list of places to film but I just couldn't make it happen. This sounds great though, we're very interested in connecting with similar groups among universities etc. We're a young independent group of filmmakers and we love connecting with other like-minded individuals.

I would love to make an appearance if the timing works out, please don't hesitate to contact me directly via [email protected]

I like the thematic and am honoured to even be considered next to films such as Senna. Thanks!

AuhsojSivart3 karma

Expect an email from me within the next week or so, after I get in contact with the IFS Program Director (who I believe is out of town right now). If it works out and you're able to come, I will make sure to take you guys to Galloping Ghost!

sentrosix3 karma

Excellent! Thanks for reaching out. :)

Tonyhawkproskater2 karma

What's filming like in Japan permit wise? Do most businesses care if you walk in and film?

What gear did you use to shoot?

sentrosix5 karma

As a Canadian if you're not being hired by a Japanese company you don't need a 'work visa' but in terms of Permits it's similar to other large cities. If you put a tripod on the ground you need a permit. If you're using a monopod or hand-holding you can get away with a lot. Most businesses will not give you permission to film in them... Japan is pretty strict in that sense so I often had to shoot guerrilla style, shoot from the hip etc. it works but I don't recommend it but that's what a good clearances person is for in post-production :) oh and E&O insurance of course!

We shot 99% of 100 Yen with DSLRs, specifically 60D's. We had intravelometers for timelapse work and a series of Nikon lenses that i've had for a number of years.

Our full arsenal consisted of:

  • Tokina 11 - 16 f2.8
  • Nikon 17 - 35 f2.8
  • Tamron 17 - 50 f2.8
  • Nikon 35 f1.4
  • Nikon 50 f1.4
  • Nikon 85 f1.4
  • Tokina 80 - 200 f2.8

I also had a Cinevate Table top slider that we used for beauty shots.

Lighting wise we used 2x Coolights 600w panels. We powered these via 2x 190w/h AB mount batteries so we could light interviews without relying on venue's power. We also used 2x 90w LED Bricks again powered by batteries.

I definitely recommend LED lighting for any kind of travel filming. They were a huge asset and allowed us to light up the arcades themselves or interview subjects.

LemurianLemurLad2 karma

How do you feel about those "linked" fighting game cabinets? (For those unfamiliar with the concept, multiplayer arcade games are sometimes hooked into eachother, facing in opposite directions so that you can't see the person you're playing against.)

I'm totally divided on the matter. It makes it a bit harder for you to guess what your opponent is trying for, but it also removes the social aspect of an arcade.

sentrosix4 karma

hmmm.. I wouldn't say that it 'removes' the social aspect completely it simply makes it a) more random and b) slows it down. The randomness can be fun and challenging since without it you would never challenge yourself against some of the opponents that otherwise connect to your cabinet.

It does slow down interaction and make the social aspect happen more slowly but seeing events such as the Nagoya Street Battle are clear indications that the community is still very strong and are fostered with a little bit of effort on the part of the arcade employees or tournament organizers.

That being said, I definitely enjoy being shoulder to shoulder with people and trying to psych them out mentally or even physically ;)

LemurianLemurLad2 karma

The physical aspect would have been a bit unfair in my case. I'm 6'4" and hovered around 200lbs when I lived in Japan. I felt a bit like a kaiju when I went to the arcade.

sentrosix2 karma

Hah.. ya that would probably leave a mark. It would be an interesting juxtaposition though.

CulturedNinja2 karma

are you going to EVO this year?

sentrosix2 karma

I wish... sadly no. But I do have an EVO viewing party at my place. Got a 50" screen and a separate gaming station so we can beast on each other while we watch. You're invited if you can make it to Winnipeg... :D

Cheeseball7012 karma

What are some of you're favorite 80's arcade games?

sentrosix3 karma

Growing up in Central Canada won't make this list overly innovative or anything...

  • Simpsons Arcade Game
  • Donkey Kong
  • Street Fighter 2
  • Mortal Kombat
  • Metal Slug
  • Raiden

That kind of stuff, Side-scrollers and fighting games were my favs but I was always drawn to the larger driving cabs as well. I distinctly remember playing After Burner and Outrun and being engrossed in the game. I loved being 'inside' the cabinet. That sounds kinda creepy...

phantompowered2 karma

Any comments on the disparities between the Japanese and N. American arcade scenes/cultures? I spent some time in Japan last year and had a blast playing some of my favourites (fighters mostly) in the arcades, but when I got home and went back to online it felt so lacking...

sentrosix1 karma

I feel like the North American scene is amazing but infrequently, like at EVO or other large-scale events. It's difficult to get to many of the events so the really exciting social opportunities are few and far between. Where-as in Japan it takes a lot longer to build up that camaraderie but once you're 'in' you can partake in events across the country with relative ease (it's easier/more affordable to travel) or there will be enough going on at your local downtown area that you won't need to travel.

Places like Insert Coins in Vegas and Barcades in Seattle are helping change that but its a slow process and still only in major metropolises. Not to say that rural Japan is a hotbed of arcade gaming... but there is at least an arcade presence in most cities.

phantompowered1 karma

Thanks for the reply! That's an interesting observation about building camaraderie - I guess I didn't get to see it as a foreigner staying in the country for a short time. Perhaps the North American equivalent in terms of democratizing and shrinking the distances between players can be seen in the streaming environment (Twitch TV, Team Spooky and so on?)

Also, kudos in general! I will certainly be giving the doc a look on iTunes when I can.

sentrosix2 karma

Absolutely. I am a huge proponent and supporter of Streaming. Being stuck in the middle of nowhere I rely on livestreams to connect me to the community (I'm a huge fighting game fan).

I see these types of interactions as the stop-gap between the major events that maybe you can make it out to once a year? It keeps you connected and interested in whats going on which all comes to a head at whatever major you can make it to. For me it's either EVO or more often Canada Cup, for others i'm sure it's NorCal regionals or CEO in Florida etc etc... I'd love to see the community continue to grow and expand and that was one of my major goals with this film, education and expansion of the ideals that public gaming (even beyond the arcades) embodies.

SuperAleste1 karma

Is the shmup genre still alive and well in Japan? If so who is the biggest player (company wise)? Cave? Movie looks interesting, I'll check it out, thanks!

sentrosix1 karma

Thanks for checking it out! Cave is definitely the most active and seeks out lots of player involvement and input. They also arguably make the most challenging games. In the film we talk to Clover-TAC a world-record holding gamer who plays at this great little indie arcade where they swap out PCBs so you can pick your poison.

Shmups are hugely popular and have a great following within the arcades of Japan. If you get to Tokyo, hit up the arcade HEY in Akihabara. It is filled with TONS of classics and newer iterations from the Shmup genre.

big_american_tts1 karma

As someone that lived in Japan in the 90's I spend alot of time/yen playing Street Fighter 2 when it was big along with others like Art of Fighting, Fatal Fury, etc. And in the US, Ninja Turtles, Simpsons, T2, Golden Axe, Altered Beast, etc. In Japan I would also try to sneak in some time playing Rock, Paper, Scissors (I was 11-12) Do you know what I mean by Rock, Paper, Scissors? Does your film touch on "adult" gaming?

From the looks of your preview I looks like the Japanese arcade has only taken off, while arcades in the US have died like the drive in theater. Does your film draw any comparisons?

I know, I should just check it out, but I will definitely watch when I'm not so broke.

sentrosix3 karma

We definitely compare/contrast the North American scene with the Japanese scene. Some reviews noted that this was detrimental to the film but as a North American I can't help but compare it to what I know best and in my mind thats where the story lies. Regardless, it's a broad topic that could use more than an hours worth of coverage but we do cover some key talking points for what happened and the reasons arcades in Japan are still viable. I intended it to begin a discourse so i'm glad that you're interested in the topic, hopefully the film gives you more food for thought.

moonzdragoon1 karma

I supported your project since the very beginning, and the waiting part was excruciating. But definitely worth the wait. Very beautiful images, colorful lights, lots of shmup sequences... Overall, it was very interesting but it also clearly shows how much you love arcades. No questions, just a big thank you.

sentrosix2 karma

Thank you so much for your support and patience! I am thrilled that you enjoyed the film. I learned a lot throughout this project, most of all about realistic timelines and about trying to do everything yourself... the joys of low-budget filmmaking. Thanks for sticking through and your comments mean a lot to me, I'm glad my passion shows and I hope it helps inspire others.

Omronql1 karma

Thanks for making such a movie for everybody. Sadly in Germany Arcades are forbidden:( I only was able to visit some in the Netherlands because I live close to the border and when I was on vacation in Las Vegas. I enjoyed them soooo much. I am glad to see that other countries were able to grasp the social aspect of gaming early and created such a great experience. GO JAPAN :D I hope I will be able to go there any time soon!

sentrosix1 karma

Wow. I didn't realize they were 'forbidden'. That seems a little heavy handed. In America they often fight annoying govt regulations that either make it really expensive to run arcades or difficult to get permission to build one in the best locations. I'm glad you can at least enjoy them somewhere. Definitely hit up Japan when you have a chance. You won't regret it.

justplayKOF131 karma

Why did arcades die in America but not in Japan?

sentrosix2 karma

There are various reasons, I'd say the most obvious or easy to explain is the central population density of downtown cores in Japan. Rather than invite friends over to your house to play games or hang out. (Remember houses are small and dont have large theatre-like areas in them) You all meet downtown in central areas and go for dinner or hit an arcade. Got 40 min to wait for the next train? There's an arcade right next to the station. On a date? Look an arcade with fun 2 player games.

The locations and accessibility of arcades in Japan makes them successful. The densely packed metropolis' drive foot traffic and create busy, popular places. From these roots large communities of players develop and support the arcades even more.

TaberMac1 karma


sentrosix1 karma

Hmm good game for a newbie... What genre of game are you drawn too most? Do you like the idea of challenging moves in fighting games, hitting combos and the sudden rush of adrenaline when you beat another human?

Or perhaps the frantic but somehow zen feeling of dodging a million bullets on screen while powering up your ship and going for a high score?

Or do you like trying to impress other arcade go-ers with physical feats in music based games. Drumming, riffing on guitar, competing with other players with your favorite song in jubeat?

The games that immediately grabbed me regardless of Japanese ability or gaming skill are probably the Mario kart racing games. Or the other large cabinet games like after burner. Super fun. I also like jubeat. It's easy to understand and can get you interested in the music genre. Lord of vermillion is something I would probably play more if I still lived in Japan. It's just such a cool concept. That or the large gundam cabinets. It might take a bit to get used to the controls but a lot of Japanese gamers will let you sit in with them and show you the ropes.

Try everything! I'd love to hear which games you discover.