Q&A with Yoichi Utebi, Producer of The Real Exorcist movie

1. What is The Real Exorcist about and why did you make it?

The film is an award winning, supernatural, fantasy thriller from Japan. Although fictionalized for entertainment value, the original story, which was written by Ryuho Okawa, founder of Happy Science, Japan’s most influential spiritual movement, is based on real world events. The Real Exorcist was released in Japan in May 2020, where it led the weekend box office for five consecutive weeks. To date, it has won 55 international film festival awards from nine countries.

The film is set in Tokyo, a technologically progressive, yet historically mystical city where spiritual phenomena can be found in the most unexpected places. A young girl, Sayuri, works as a part time waitress at a small coffee shop called Extra. Sayuri uses her supernatural powers to help her customers troubled by spiritual happenings. She touches the hearts of the people through her  ‘special consultations’ and helps them by revealing the truths of the invisible world. Exploring the classic theme of ‘good vs. evil’, the movie consists of a combination of short stories related to suicide, miscarriage, poltergeists, wandering spirits and more.

We made the movie because we wanted to show the truth about the spiritual influences we are subject to (both positive and negative), their effect on some of the problems and issues we face today, and to try and provide clues as to how to navigate those energies to lead a happier life.

2. Do you think suicide rates are increasing around the world? and what are some of the factors or reasons why people complete suicide?

Regretfully, I have to say yes. Suicide rates were already on the rise before the coronavirus pandemic. I believe they are increasing even more so because of the stress it is causing. The virus has instilled us all with fear, one of the most powerful negative energies, and one that can seriously affect and damage our sprit and soul. The slowdown in the economy and increase in unemployment rates worldwide can be tied to an increase in suicide rates. Likewise, the isolation caused by sheltering in place and social distancing has led to loneliness and depression, causing some people to lose hope. People commit suicide because they feel they are not accepted by society, their community, or even family, and that they have no one to turn to. The virus has amplified the feeling of loneliness and despair in many, many people.

3. What can we learn from this movie, the ways we can prevent the suicide rate from rising?

In the movie, a young high school girl commits suicide because she was bullied by her classmates for getting low grades. She becomes a wandering spirit with nowhere to go, so she decides to possess a girl who is having the same problems at school. When Sayuri is called on to help the possessed schoolgirl, she guides the lost spirit to the heavenly world and deters the schoolgirl from committing the same mistake by explaining to them both, “It’s so valuable to be born into this world. You were all born with a goal and mission. So, don’t give up. Don’t give in to death thinking it’ll be easier. Besides, when you were suffering you really weren’t alone. Remember your mom? In your next life, be sure to experience many things.” 

The main lesson we can learn from this story is that life does not end when you die. If you think you can escape your problems and suffering by ending your life, you are mistaken. Your problems will follow you even after your death. Secondly, we learn that even in the worst situations, there is always someone who cares about and loves you. If you choose to end your life, your regretful act will leave a deep scar on their heart that they will have to live with it for the rest of their lives. 

This story may just be an entertaining fantasy for some people, which is all well and good. However, we sincerely hope that by illustrating spiritual truths, the movie will enlighten the hearts of those who are suffering difficulties and hardships right now. 

4. What do you believe are the spiritual consequences of suicide?

As I explained briefly in the previous question, the most important thing we need to be aware of is that life does not end after we die. I am sure most of your readers have heard of out-of-body and near-death experiences, so the concept of life after death is probably not startling. When we die, our souls leave our bodies. We become a true, free spirit, and we go back to where we originally came from, the spiritual world. From the spiritual point of view, life on Earth is like a training for the soul. When we are born on Earth, we forget all about the spiritual world, where we came from, who we really are, and what are here for- the purpose and mission of our lives. Beginning anew, we are challenged in our “workbook of life” to develop our spirit and soul so that we can progress. The sufferings and hardships we encounter in our lifetime are the challenge points meant to spur our souls to grow higher and stronger if we meet them with faith and right mind. It is imperative to remember that, no matter how difficult our hardships may appear, God will not ever give us a challenge we cannot overcome. So, from this spiritual point of view, ending our life in the middle of soul training is not appropriate. 

What happens after you commit suicide? Unfortunately, many spirits are unaware of our spiritual truth, so they think they are still alive. If they jumped off a building to end their life, they continue to do the same action over and over again. Stuck between this world and the other and unable to get back to the spiritual world, they will eventually begin to seek someone with similar thinking. Just like people in this world who seek to communicate with like-minded friends, they will look for similarly desperate people and try and persuade them to also kill themselves.

5. What advice would you have for someone who is contemplating suicide?

I would ask them to consider that challenges and suffering are to be expected, because life is meant to be a training ground for our soul’s greater good. I would also like to impress on them the real spiritual truth of what will happen after committing suicide and for them to understand the dreadful impact of their suicide on the people they would leave behind. Think about the people who would shed tears for you, for losing you. Those are the ones you need to talk to now, because they are the ones who really care about you. When you are in despair, everything around you probably looks gloomy and dark, as if it were the end of the world. It may appear as though all of the people around you are evil and trying to do you harm. But that is all an illusion you are creating in your own mind. Please believe that there are people who really care about you and want to help you without expecting anything in return. Think about who that might be, and please talk to them.

6. How can we repel negative energy and live a positive and constructive happy life?

We have focused on the topic of suicide so far, but the movie “The Real Exorcist” is not just about suicide. It touches on various other topics which relate to everyday life and suggests several ways to create a better and brighter future for yourself and the world. The most important message we want to convey through this movie is to live with faith and gratitude. As Sayuri says, “First, you have to believe in God. Then, always be grateful for the life you’re given. Evil spirits never feel gratitude. All they have are grievances. To not give in to this negativity, you need faith and gratitude.” 

Faith and gratitude are key to repelling negative energy from your life. I believe we ought to check our arrogance, stop acting as if we are the creator of the universe, and be more humble and grateful for what we have been given. How many of us actually take time to contemplate gratitude? The word is so familiar, it is easy to check it off thinking, “Oh, I give thanks to everyone every day.” Few of us, however, really understand and realize the true spiritual power of gratitude- the power to change ourselves and all of our surroundings for the better. The essence of gratitude is love, and love is the strongest positive energy in this universe. Even though you cannot see it or catch it with your hand, like a soft breeze, it exists. When you are in gratitude, you are sending this positive energy out to the universe and to individuals in your sphere. Whether or not they feel this energy, they will receive it. The energy will start working on its own and eventually produce positive results. Love is the ultimate positive energy. I strongly believe that, with faith, gratitude and love, nothing can defeat us.

7. Where can we watch “The Real Exorcist”

It is now available on VOD on various platforms including Amazon (https://amzn.to/3ivdiBM) and  iTunes (https://itunes.apple.com/us/movie/the-real-exorcist/id1529682888)  

The DVD will be available for purchase at Amazon.comBestbuy.comWalmart.com, and Barnesandnoble.com by the end of September.