Warai No Daigaku / University of Laughs (2004)
The main setting of this film is an interrogation room of the Law and Order Preservation Department
at Tokyo Metropolitan Police Agency in the Showa 15th, 1940, when the war situation in China is
Only two principle characters appear in this film; a pitiless censor, Mutsuo Sakisaka (Koji Yakusho)
and a scenario writer, Hajime Tsubaki (Goro Inagaki) belonging to a theater group, named "Warai
no Daigaku" /University of Laughs). For Sakisaka, the very scenario written by Tsubaki is totally
out of the question: the setting is a foreign country and the characters are all foreigners, and in any
case, Sakisaka finds no significance in comedies.
Sakisaka, therefore, assigns Tsubaki almost impossible orders to alter his scenario to prohibit the
performance. While trying to follow Sakisaka's orders so as to gain his permission of performing,
Tsubaki also tries to leave some elements of laughter in the scenario, looking for some means of
As a matter of fact,Tsubaki's attitude angers Sakisaka but some strange phenomenon occurs in this
room. Sakisaka's requests and utterances result in the scenario being given more sense of fun, which
Koji Yakusho: Mutsuo Sakisaka Goro Inagaki: Hajime Tsubaki
Scenario by Kohki Mitani
Director: Mamoru Hoshi
Running time:121 min.
This film is based on the the stage play, "Warai no Daigaku "
by Kohki Mitani, which was first performed in 1996.
Release date: October 30, 2004
The DVD special edition of "Warai no Daigaku" reached me on May 27. Both the standard and the
special editions have English subtitles, so from now on those living in Region 2 will be able to enjoy
"Warai no Daigaku".
In this film you will be able to see a very impressive aspect of Koji Yakusho; he is no longer Shohei
Sugiyama as in "Shall we Dansu?", nor Tetsuro Haga as in "Kizuna", nor Shoichiro Kuki as in
Koji now appears as Mutsuo Sakisaka, a stern censor at the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Agency in
the year of 1940. Sakisaka looks dignified and pitiless at the beginning of this film, when he says to
Hajime Tsubaki, a group theater scenario writer, that he has never laughed. Yet as the drama
develops, he gradually starts showing a more human side. Koji performs his role very seriously but
nearly everything that he says and does brings a peal of laughter from the audience.
Towards the last scene at the moment when Tsubaki leaves the interrogation room of the Law and
Order Preservation Department at the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Agency, Sakisaka's facial
expression is very touching, as are also his final remarks to Tsubaki.
Some notes to "Warai no Daigaku"
Updated on Feb.2, 2009
"University of Laughs" was shown at the 2005 New York Asian
1. The English subtitles of this film were written by Mr. Kennedy Taylor, a British man living in Los
Angeles; Mr.Taylor also translated "Shall we dansu?" (1996)
Two funny expressions in the film, i.e. "OKUNI NO TAME" and "ONIKU NO TAME" are
translated into English surprisingly well. "OKUNI NO TAME" is translated as "for the sake of the
nation" and "ONIKU NO TAME is translated as "for the steak of the nation". In other words, the
Japanese script contains a pun on the two words "OKUNI" and "ONIKU".
2. Performance History of "Warai no Daigaku"
Warai no Daigaku/University of Laughs written by Koki Mitani was first broadcast
by NHK radio on November 5, 1994, with Yuji Miyake cast as Sakisaka and Yasosuke Bando (now
Mitsugoro Bando) as Tsubaki.
The drama was first performed as a stage play at Aoyama Enkei Theater with Masahiko Nishimura as
Sakisaka and Yoshimasa Kondo as Tsubaki from October 25, 1996. Two years later the drama was
performed at Parco Theater in Tokyo, featuring the same actors. (The DVD of the stage version is
now on sale.)
This drama was also performed at the National Theater in Omsk in western Siberia in 1999, and since
then has been performed again from time to time there.
It is reported that there is now a plan that this drama will be performed at a theater in the West End,
London in England.
December 28, 2006
Here is the news about the English version performace of "University of Laughs" under the title of
"The Last Laugh", which is due to be shown in the West End, London in March, 2007. Prior to the
London performance, it will be performed at the Theatre Royal Windor from January 30, 2007.
"The Last Laugh"
In association with PARCO company limited Tokyo
The Last Laugh
Adapted by RICHARD HARRIS
From a play by KOKI MITANI
MARTIN FREEMAN (Writer)
& ROGER LLOYD PACK ( Cencer)
Directed by BOB TOMSON
"University of Laughs" is due to be performed in the West End of London
under the title of "The Last Laugh" from March, 2007.