Ashura, Bungo Sasayakana Yokubo, Mardock Scramble: The Third Exhaust Trailers and the Japanese Movie Box Office Chart

Shinya Tsukamoto Season Banner ImageShinya Tsukamoto Season is drawing to a close this week with reviews of A Snake of June, Vital and Kotoko which feel like totally different films compared to the ones I opened the season with. What has this season meant to me? Rediscovering a great filmmaker, great films, great film soundtracks and, most importantly, enjoying watching great films! Watching these films over a contained space of time revealed Tsukamoto’s progression as a filmmaker and it has been fascinating. I’ll probably put together a wrap-up post with plenty of images.

What is in the Japanese movie box-office this week?

  1. Resident Evil: Retribution
  2. Bayside Shakedown 4: The Final New Hope
  3. Tiger and Bunny The Movie: The Beginning
  4. Rurouni Kenshin
  5. Insight into the Universe
  6. Intouchables
  7. Key of Life
  8. Dear
  9. Mirror Mirror
  10. The Avengers

There is little change in the chart compared to last week apart from the entry of the Tiger and Bunny movie Resident Evil remains at number one and Bayside Shakedown at two. Rurouni Kenshin and Insight into the Universe round out the top five while Key of Life remains at seven. Intouchables actually improves its place this week by rising to six. The Wolf Children Rain and Snow hangs in at number 12.

What are the films released today in Japan?

Ashura (Asura)                                                   Asura Poster

Japanese Title: アシュラ

Romaji: Ashura

Release Date:  29th September 2012 (Japan)

Running Time: 75 mins.

Director: Keiichi Sato

Writer: George Akiyama (Original Manga), Ikuko Takahashi (Screenplay)

Starring: Masako Nozawa, Megumi Hayashibara, Yuu Mizushima, Kinya Kitaōji, Tessho Genda, Kaori Yamagata, Hiroaki Hirata, Bin Shimada, Kappei Yamaguchi,

Toei animation have been working at making the movie adaptation of George Akiyama’s manga Asura (1970 – 1971) since 2010. Highly controversial at the time of its publication, Asura is an amoral tale that focussed on the will to live but it drew criticism in Japan due to its depiction of violence which got it banned in some prefectures of Japan. The film is directed by Keiichi Sato (Tiger & Bunny) and the script is written by Ikuko Takahashi who wrote scripts for the TV anime Library War and Mononoke. The voice actors include veterans like Masako Nozawa who voices the titular Asura. She is a major name thanks to her voicing classic characters like Goku in Dragon Ball and Tetsuro in Adieu Galaxy Express 999. Megumi Hayashibara who voices Wakasa is a major seiyuu having voiced Rei Ayanami in Evangelion and winning the hearts of many a fan. Also in the cast are Hiroaki Hirata (Akihiko in Mōryō no Hako, Sanji in One Piece) and Kaori Yamagata (Chacha in Legend of Basara).


Mid-15th Century Japan, the country is suffering war and gripped by drought and famine. When a young child named Asura is born he is plunged into a harsh world of violence and desperation which turns him into a beast that roams the hills. After provoking the rage of a local lord, Asura finds himself being hunted but a young girl named Wakasa comes to his aid. Can Wakasa help rehabilitate him and bring him back to civilisation amidst the suffering and chaos that surrounds them?

Bungo Sasayakana Yokubou                                    Bungo Movie Poster

Japanese Title: Bungo ささやかな 欲望

Romaji: Bungo Sasayakana Yokubou

Release Date:  29th September 2012 (Japan)

Running Time: 107 mins.

Based on a TV series, this is an omnibus movie which adapts six short stories written by some of the most important authors of the Showa era including Kenji Miyazawa (Gauche the Cellist, Night on the Galactic Railroad, The Life of Guskou Budori) and Ango Sakaguchi (Un-Go!!!). The film has two strands: Mitsumerareru Shukujotachi (Eye-Catching Ladies) and Kokuhaku Suru Shinshitachi (Confessing Gentlemen).


The Restaurant of Many Orders (Chumon no Ooi Ryouriten)

Director: Tominaga Masanori

Writer: Kenji Miyazawa (Original Story), Kanno Tomoe (Script)

Starring: Satomi Ishihara, Hiroyuki Miyasako

There is a mysterious cafe deep inside a forest. There, a couple cheat on their spouses.


The Breast (Chibusa)

Director: Kenichiro Nishiumi

Writer: Tetsuo Miura (Original Story), Yukiko Sode (Script)

Starring: Ayame Misaki, Jukiya Kageyama, Sansei Shiomi

An adolescent boy develops complex feelings for an older woman who has lost her husband in war.


Married Woman (Hitozuma)

Director: Kazuyoshi Kumakiri

Writer: Kafu Nagai (Original Story), Takashi Ujita (Script)

Starring: Mitsuki Tanimura, Shima Ohnishi

A similar story to the above as a frustrated wife and a young man who is new in town develop a relationship but much more humorous.



Director: Kosai Sekine

Writer: Kanoko Okamoto (Original Story), Sumio Omori (Script)

Starring: Ai Hashimoto, Mikako Ichikawa, Lily Franky

A young woman hears an emotional tale about a middle-aged man’s mother.


The Grasped Hand (Nigitta Te)

Director: Nobuhiro Yamashita

Writer: Ango Sakaguchi (Original Story), Kosuke Mukai

Starring: Haru Kuroki, Riko Narumi, Takayuki Yamada

A love story involving a man and two women.


Beyond the Happiness (Koufuku no Kanata)

Director: Masaaki Taniguchi

Writer: Fumiko Hayashi (Original Story), Toshio Kamata (Script)

Starring: Haru, Takahiro Miura, Denden

A woman in an arranged marriage is force to question what happiness is when her war veteran husband reveals that he has a child with someone else.

The film stars a lot of talent from numerous films I have reviewed but I’ve babbled on long enough. Here’s the trailer.

Mardock Scramble: The Third Exhaust                  Mardock Scramble Third Exhaust Poster

Japanese Title: マルドゥック・スクランブル 第3部 排気

Marudoukku Sukuramburu 

Release Date: 29th September 2012 (Japan)

Running Time: 110 mins.

Director: Susumu Kudo

Writer: Tow Ubukata (Script/Original Writer),

Starring: Megumi Hayashibara (Rune Balot), Hiroki Touchi (Doctor Easter), Kazuya Nakai (Shell Septinos), Norito Yashima (CEufocque Penteano),TsutomuIsobe (Dimsdale Boiled), Takaya Hashi (Ashley Harest), Toshiko Fujita (Bell Wing)

The third and final instalment of the anime movie adaptation of Tow Ubukata’s cyber-punk light novels ‘Mardock Scramble’ is due for a theatrical release in Japan today. Here is the trailer!

A young prostitute named Balot walks the neon-noir streets of Mardock City until she is taken in by a vicious gambler named Shell. She would have died by his hand if she had not been rescued by Doctor Easter and his self-aware Universal Tool, Oefcoque who takes the form of a shape-shifting mouse. Now a cyborg, Balot has increased physical powers and the ability to affect any kind of electrical system and she’ll need these powers if she and Oefcoque are to survive the machinations of Shell and his assassin, Boiled.

The vocal cast is led by Megumi Hayashibara (Ai Haibara in Detective Conan and Rei Ayanami Neon Genesis Evangelion) who voices Balot while Kazuya Nakai (Roronoa Zoro in One Piece, and Karasu in Noein) voices Shell. The films have been scripted by Tow Ubukata who was also the man behind the masterful supernatural historicacl thriller Le Chevalier D’Eon. Taking the directing role is Susumu Kudo who worked on Kino’s Journey: Life Goes On. Art direction is overseen by Masanobu Nomura (Oblivion Island: Haruka and the Magic Mirror, Toriko), character design and animation direction will both be handled by Jun Nakai (Speed Grapher, Samurai 7) and Shingo Suzuki (Read or Die, Baccano!) while Music is being made by Conisch (Hitohira). The animation studio producing the film is GoHands (Princess Lover).

8 thoughts on “Ashura, Bungo Sasayakana Yokubo, Mardock Scramble: The Third Exhaust Trailers and the Japanese Movie Box Office Chart

  1. You manage to review impressively many films in a week… I’m jealous.

    I’m not too curious about either release this week – I’m not sure Asura would be my thing, though I might consider it depending on the reviews. Not such a fan of omnibus movies.

    1. The real question is, are the reviews any good? As I’ve said before, your reviews are pretty insightful, concise and intelligent whereas mine can be a bit sprawling.

      I’d watch Asura because the animation looks awesome. I’m sure the story will have me emotional by the end.

      Doctor Who just finished and thankfully it was a good episode.

      1. You are not giving yourself much credit here. Never occurred to me that your reviews are sprawling, I think you put a lot of thinking into them as well (i.e. Kotoko… I don’t think I commented on it, but I read that one beginning to end, feeling totally undecided at the end while previously I never even considered that film).

        I think I would give Asura a go as well, it’s just not on top of my list.

        You’re gonna hate me, but I pay no attention to Doctor Who. I only ever saw one episode (a strange one about pensioners that turn out to be zombies???)/

  2. Well I’m putting together a “reviews archive” (inspired by Goregirl!) so you can check what titles I have passed judgement on (and see all sorts of spelling mistakes and format changes). It’s taking me a lot longer than I would have thought…

    Doctor Who can be hit and miss. I really hated the episode set just after the American civil war because it was underdeveloped in terms of characters and themes. Today’s episode set in 1930’s New York was much better because it had great character moments and concentrated on time travel and using the ‘Weeping Angels’ in an innovative way.

    The episode you dropped in on would have been a bit weird without the context of the rest of the series.

  3. Captain Banana

    The main reason I will check out the omnibus movie if I get the chance will be because I’m a huge fan of Kazuyoshi Kumakiri and Nobuhiro Yamashita, I try to watch everything they do (managed to watch most of their output up until 2011)

    I’m jealous of both of your abilities of putting opinion into writing, I’ve tried in the past to write reviews and all I end up saying is if it’s good or bad……..I have zero ability explaining myself.

    1. Kazuyoshi Kumakiri only cropped up on my radar thanks to you mentioning him and a trailer for Blazing Famiglia which was released this month. I have not seen the television series so I cannot tell how I’d react to it but I think his segment and The Restaurant of Many Orders are more to my tastes because they are a comedy/strange story which works well for a short space of time. Actually, The Restaurant of Many Orders reminds me of a Murakami short story…

      Thanks for the comment! You’re very knowledgeable about Japanese cinema and television so I reckon you can do it. The hardest thing about writing reviews is making sure I cover everything relevant. I feel like I really need to work on becoming much more concise with what I have to say. I make lots of notes and want to write about so much. This is also a blog and not a magazine/newspaper so I could and should do different things.

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