Tetris, a game with deep ties to Japan

By: Izumi Hasegawa   May 23, 2023

Tetris, a game that many, including the writer, have been addicted to. The originator of the “falling block puzzle”, this format has been used by many games, and has had great influence on the game industry. Before seeing this movie, I was not aware that Tetris had a deep connection to Japan.
The main character is Henk Rogers, who fell in love with Tetris while he was running a game company in Yokohama. Played by Taron Edgerton, who is also an executive producer on the film. Based on a real person, as he also has a Japanese wife, and while acting he speaks in Japanese as well.

Taron, who had his breakout role in the Kingsman series, increased his popularity with his outstanding performance of Elton John in the movie Rocketman. With a confident spirit and friendly nature, Taron, who doesn’t behave like a “star”, is the perfect actor to play the charismatic and lovable Henk. Taron’s personal charm makes it easy to watch as Henk visit the Cold War-era Soviet Union alone, overcoming various obstacles of entry to the Iron Curtain with his charming personality.

Nikita Yefremov, from a Russian family of actors, plays the role of “Tetris” developer Alexey Pajitnov, who hits it off with Henk. Contrary to what one might think of as a serious computer engineer who is a member of the Soviet Union government, Alexey is a family man with a sense of humor, and Nikita delivers his performance with subtle skill that brings out the down-to-earth nature of the character.


It is a socialist state where the “Tetris” copyright is of course also managed by the government. I felt that the portrayal of the Soviet government that always kept a watchful eye, and missteps could lead to bad consequences, helped me understand the actions of the Russian Federation in its never-ending invasion of Ukraine. This is because there are scenes that make you think that the current government continues to preserve the old state of affairs, even though it has undergone a transition from a communist state to a federal republic.

Now, what I would like you to pay attention to in this movie is Ayane Nagabuchi who plays Henk’s wife Akemi. Ayane is the daughter of popular singer-songwriter and actor Tsuyoshi Nagabuchi, and she resembles her mother, former actress Etsuko Shihomi. Having trained at an acting school in New York, she does not give a “performance acceptable only in Japan” like we have seen from other Japanese actresses so far in many Hollywood productions, but with a strong presence matching Hollywood star Taron, she shows her Western-style acting magnificently. I look forward to her future success.


Currently Nintendo has been getting attention with the movie version of “Super Mario Bros”, but, coincidentally, “Tetris”, which was released following the sale of the Game Boy title of the same name, recorded an explosive hit. In this title, the behind the scenes of the Game Boy development is also depicted, to the delight of game fans. In addition, Nintendo’s third president, Hiroshi Yamauchi, makes an appearance, and you can also catch a glimpse of Yamauchi’s approach toward business that grew Nintendo into a global company.

Henk Rogers, who runs a game company in Yokohama, instantly sees the potential of Tetris, which was developed by a Russian computer engineer, and rushes to acquire the copyright. How does Henk attain the copyright of “Tetris” while facing giants such as the Cold War-era Soviet Union, Nintendo, and British media moguls? A fictional story based on the true, behind-the-scenes of the internationally-famous hit game “Tetris”

English translated by Nora Rowan / Hollywood News Wire Inc.