Penguin Fufu, The Land of Hope, Fuse: A Gun Girl’s Detective Story, Space Sheriff Gavan The Movie Trailers and the Japanese Movie Box Office Charts

Last Exile Fam-the Silver Wing Fan-Fan Giselle Collette Vingt Grunge Range MurataThis week started with my revamp of my Top Ten Films page (now with pretty pictures and comments!), continued with a review for the surprisingly pleasing Korean rom-com Petty Romance, an announcement for the release of Return to Burma and a review of Sogo Ishii’s wonderfully absurdist chat-pocalypse Isn’t Anyone Alive? I have also been planning my next festival excursion but I face a dilemma… The London Korean Film Festival or Premiere Japan? While the dates and times for the former have been released I am still waiting for an announcement from the latter. You can count on me to bring you the news (not least because I tend to report about it for Anime UK News, which I have started writing for again). I know I am leaning towards Premiere Japan because they will pack more films in fewer days and I am hoping that Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s TV drama Penance gets screened since it was at Venice and Toronto.

What are the new entries in the Japanese movie box-office this week?

  1. Tsunagu
  2. Outrage Beyond
  3. Bayside Shakedown 4: The Final New Hope
  4. Resident Evil: Retribution
  5. Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax
  6. The Mystical Law
  7. The Raven
  8. Bakarea High School
  9. Intouchables
  10. The Bourne Legacy

Predictably, the two indie features released last week did not enter the top ten. In the case of The End of Puberty, that looked like a festival film but I would have thought A Road Stained Crimson might have stood a better chance not least because of the big stars. What changes there are come from big budget films like the American entry The Raven (despite liking the works of Edgar Allen Poe, I thought it looked boring) and Bakarea High School which is based on a TV show and full of young idols. Other changes come from Tsunagu knocking Outrage Beyond off the top spot… and Intouchables improving it place again and hanging on in the top ten.

What Japanese films are released in Japan today?

Penguin Fufu                                                       Penguin Fufu Poster

Japanese Title: 夫婦 の 作りかた

Romaji: Penguin Fufuu no Tsukurikata

Release Date:  20th October 2012 (Japan)

Running Time: 90 mins.

Director: Katsutoshi Hirabayashi

Writer: N/A

Starring: Eiko Koike, Kingone Wang, Motoki Fukami, Tomoji Yamashiro, Susumu Taira, Taeko Yoshida

This is the second feature film from Katsutoshi Hirabayashi who has a much longer filmography as an assistant director, most notably on The Foreign Duck, the Native Duck and God in a Coin Locker. The plot is quite an interesting one considering it comes at a time when relations between China and Japan are at a low. The film stars Eiko Koike (Penance, 2LDK, Kamikaze Girls), Motoki Fukami (The Land of Hope, Hi-Zai, Love Exposure).

Ayumi Matsuda (Koike) is a freelance writer who has spent five years being married to a Chinese cameraman named Xiaoxuan Fan (Wang). When his employers go bankrupt, Xiaoxuan and Ayumi move to Ishigaki island and Xiaoxuan applies for Japanese citizenship. To prove they are a genuine married couple they have to go through an interview but it proves far more difficult than expected.


The Land of Hope                               The Land of Hope Movie Poster

Japanese: 希望 の 国

Romaji: Kibou no Kuni

Release Date: 20th October, 2012 (Japan)

Running Time: 133 mins.

Director: Sion Sono

Writer: Sion Sono

Starring: Isao Natsuyagi, Naoko Otani, Jun Murakami, Megumi Kagurazaka, Yutaka Shimizu, Hikari Kajiwara, Denden, Mariko Tsutsui, Yusuke Iseya, Mitsuru Fukikoshi,

I am a major fan of Sion Sono as two seasons dedicated to his films show (tonight, I watch Strange Circus). Sion Sono’s latest film, The Land of Hope, got its premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival back in September where it received mixed but generally positive reviews – his films usually get that reaction since some critics have a hard time dealing with his sudden changes in tone. This is the first fiction film to address the Tōhoku Earthquake and Tusnami and features footage shot at Fukushima. The film is apparently inspired by a true story and deals with a family struggling to survive. While I really love Sono’s horror work like Suicide Club and Cold Fish, I have to acknowledge that his drama titles like Himizu and Noriko’s Dinner Table are very powerful. This looks like it will be a stunning film and I will definitely see this not least because Third Window Films are co-producers on this film so I expect it to get a release in the U.K. soon! Maybe Premiere Japan…?


An old couple named Yasuhiko and Chieko (Natsuyagi and Otani) live on a farm near a peaceful village in Nagashima prefecture with their son Yoichi (Murakami) and his wife Izumi (Kagurazaka). When an earthquake strikes the nearby nuclear power plant explodes and the village’s residents are forced to evacuate since the village is in the twenty-kilometre evacuation radius. The family are soon faced with a tough decision: evacuate with the rest of the village or stay on the land that generations of their family have lived on. Yoichi and his wife decide to head to a nearby urban community while Yasuhiko and Chieko remain on the farm. Both couples are beset by doubts and problems.

Fuse: A Gun Girl’s Detective Story       Fuse: A Gun Girl's Detective Story Movie Poster

Japanese Title: 伏 鉄砲娘の捕物帳

Romaji: Fuse Teppō Musume no Torimonochō

Release Date: 20th October 2012 (Japan)

Running Time: 110 mins.

Director: Masayuki Miyaji

Writer: Ichiro Okouchi (Script), Kazuki Sakuraba (Original Writer),

Starring: Minako Kotobuki (Hamaji), Mamoru Miyano (Shino), Hirofumi Nojima (Iesada Tokugawa), MHiroshi Kamiya (Makuwari), Kanako Miyamoto (Meido), Katsuyuki Konishi (ousetsu), Maaya Sakamoto (Funamushi)


The story follows a teenage girl named Hamaji who joins her brother in hunting dog-human hybrids known as Fuse as part of a karmic cycle of retribution. The movie is based on the novel Fuse Gansaku: Satomi Hakkenden which was written by Kazuki Sakuraba, author of the Gosick light novels. She was inspired by a 19th century epic novel series named Nansō Satomi Hakkenden written by late Edo Period popular author Kyokutei Bakin. His tales dealt with themes based on Buddhist philosophy, Confucianism, and Bushido as it followed eight samurai serving the Satomi clan during the Sengoku (Warring States) period. These samurai are the reincarnations of the spirits that Princess Fuse mothered with a dog named Yatsufusa and they each represent a Confucianist virtue.

Although this isn’t the first time Kyokutei’s story has been adapted into modern mediums like anime – it had a 1999 sci-fi TV anime series named Shin Hakkenden and the story wasadapted for the video game Okami – it is the first time it has been made into a movie. The film is directed by Masayuki Miyaji (Eureka Seven,Xam’d: Lost Memories). The script comes from Ichiro Okouchi who is the scriptwriter for episodes of Azumanga Daioh and the Berserk movie adaptations. Music comes from Michiru Oshima who has composed the music for Production I.G.s historial fantasy Le Chevalier D’Eon. Okama is in charge of design and he has worked on the recent Evangelion anime movies.

Hamaji is voiced by Minako Kotobuki (Yūko Nishi in A-Channel) and she is supported my Mamoru Miyano (Rintarō Okabe in Steins;Gate), Maaya Sakamoto (Hitomi in Escaflowne and Akashi in Tatami Galaxy), and Hiroshi Kamiya (Kou in Arakawa Under the Bridge).


Space Sheriff Gavan The Movie                        Space Sheriff Gavan

Japanese Title: 宇宙刑事ギャバン THE MOVIE

Romaji: Uchuu Keiji Gyaban Za Mubi

Release Date:  20th October 2012 (Japan)

Running Time: 83 mins.

Director: Osamu Kaneda

Writer: Yuji Kobayashi

Starring: Yuma Ishigaki (Geki Jumonji/Space Sheriff Gavan Type G), Kenji Ohba (Space Sheriff Gavan/Retsu Ichijoji), Yukari Taki (Itsuki Kawai)

I do not pay attention to tokusatsu movies so this one caught me off-guard after I posted this trailer selection so I have few details to give. Here’s a trailer instead.

13 thoughts on “Penguin Fufu, The Land of Hope, Fuse: A Gun Girl’s Detective Story, Space Sheriff Gavan The Movie Trailers and the Japanese Movie Box Office Charts

  1. Tired Paul

    I watched the first episode of Shokuzai a while back and must have had trouble with it as I didn’t continue watching……….Maybe it’ll fare better in a condensed movie form for me. Talking of big name directors going (back) to tv I watched the first episode of Going My Home directed by Hirokazu Koreeda, too early to tell but I think I’m gonna like it quite a bit!

    1. I love all of Kurosawa’s work so I figure that I’ll love Shokuzai… or at least be very forgiving if it doesn’t measure up to expectations. From reviews I have read I get the impression I’ll like it a lot. I have been so busy I have stopped watching any anime/Japanese TV so I’ll have to add Going My Home to a ‘to watch list’.

  2. HS

    I’m afraid I watched Shokuzai in a less than official way as I’m really not confident about an English subtitled release ever happening (it has now been released in Japan though on DVD only) but I thought it was excellent! Like a lot of his other work it’s extremely strange tonally with a strong Lynchian vibe which is going to make it something very niche within even the niche that we are currently talking about. I’d say I wouldn’t expect it to turn up on BBC4 but then they did show The Kingdom at one point didn’t they? Perhaps I’m misremembering that, but then the fact that The Kingdom (Riget) is now available in the UK again proves there is at least a market for for weird TV shows helmed by arthouse auteurs (hopefully – I’m assuming other people bought it too).

    I really liked A Road Stained Crimson at Raindance so I was hoping it do well on its Japanese release. Mind you the only review I found when I was searching for info after Raindance seemed to come from a Western journalist in Japan and was very negative. I’ve no idea how well the film was received there but I’d have expected there to be more interest because of the stars.

    Hope you enjoyed Strange Circus – it’s certainly the strangest of all the Sono’s that I’ve seen! I’m really excited about Land of Hope too, I hope we get to see it soon.

    1. Shokuzai getting screened in a UK cinema is a long shot but I still hold out hope. I cannot see it getting screened on television. I remember The Kingdom… That was Lars von Trier’s pet project and people (mainstream and cinephiles) in the UK know him better than Kiyoshi Kurosawa. I didn’t get too far past episode 2 with The Kingdom (same with Kingdom Hospital. I figure the BBC will attempt to screen quirky and niche US and European crime dramas before ever looking further afield.

      Strange Circus was magnificent. I loved the twisting story and it was visually beautiful. Forget all the praise I heaped on his dramas, I’m going back to the horror like Suicide Circle!

      1. Tired Paul

        if Shokuzai was to get a screening it would have been at this years Raindance, last year they screened Kaidan Horror Classics which was also a tv release in Japan, I doubt it will ever get a release / screening here.

      2. If Shokuzai won’t show up I want to watch… I’ll have to trawl my trailer posts to make a choice! It would be quite the coup if Insight into the Universe did get a screening.

      3. Tired Paul

        I sent a tweet to @japansocietylon asking for dates and a venue or if it’s even going ahead……no response yet.

      4. Nice work on narrowing down the target, Tired Paul! We’ll hunt out Premiere Japan eventually!

        Perhaps we should e-mail the Japanese embassy and tell them we’ll throw money at the festival so long as they tell us where and when it is. So far I know where the event isn’t – The Barbican.

  3. goregirl

    I was really bummed out that Land of Hope did not show up at our festival this year. it is high on my to see list.

    The Chinese/Japanese aspect is somewhat interesting, but Penguin Fufu? What is the significance of that title?…it makes me chuckle. I was picturing a film about people who attend orgies dressed as stuffed animals. I seen an episode of CSI once with this subject. It was such a demented concept It has always stuck with me.

    1. I have no idea what the title Penguin Fufu is meant to be about. Even after watching the trailer I was still clueless. That said… I did not picture an orgy. I pictured an anime aimed at school girls. Yes, that episode of CSI did have a demented subject. I have not seen it but my mind is now scarred 😛

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