This week I started with a trailer for World War Z which looks like it will be a botched adaptation of the wonderful source novel. I then posted a rather late report about my experiences at the 56th BFI London Film Festival and I posted a review of The Wolf Children on Thursday after watching The Bird with the Crystal Plumage. Here’s a short version of my review of The Wolf Children – one of the best animated films I have ever seen. The reviews for the other films I saw at the festival will appear over the next week before I start off a new season.
What do the Japanese movie charts look like this week?
- The Floating Castle
- Lesson of the Evil
- A Chorus of Angels
- Smile Precure!
- Cirque du Soleil: Worlds Away
- Fly with the Gold
- Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter
- Paranormal Activity 4
- The Expendables 2
The Floating Castle remains at number one for its second week and Takashi Miike menaces the charts with his latest him, The Lesson of Evil hitting number two after being released last week. Interestingly Tsunagu hangs on in the top ten after six weeks and rakes in the money. I did not think it would have the staying power…
What Japanese films are released today?
Japanese Title: エヴァンゲリヲン新 新劇場版:Q Quickening
Romaji: Evangelion Shin Gekijoban: Kyu
Release Date: 17th November 2012 (Japan)
Running Time: N/A
Director: Hideaki Anno, Masayuki, Kazuya Tsurumaki, Mahiro Maeda
Writer: Hideaki Anno
Starring: Megumi Hayashibara, Megumi Ogata, Akira Ishida, Yuko Miyamura, Kotono Mitsuishi, Takehito Koyasu, Fumihiko Tachiki, Yuriko Yamaguchi, Motomu Kiyokawa, Hiro Yuuki, Miki Nagasawa, Maaya Sakamoto
Neon Genesis Evangelion makes an impact on the Japanese charts today! This seminal 90’s anime re-wrote the rules for the mecha genre as it was a post-modern take that combined mecha tropes with crazed religion, science and the twisted imagination and state of near depression of anime veteran Hideaki Anno. With Evangelion he did what Lars von Trier did with Melancholia and gave us a devastating visual view of depression and other psychological maladies. Watching the teen pilots navigate the hell that is adolescence and deal with the psycho-sexual nightmarish monsters and emotionally complex adults was gripping, disturbing but ultimately uplifting (although very apocalyptic).
Hideaki Anno claimed he was not happy with the way the series developed and released a number of films which tried to retell the ending of the show, ending on an even darker note. Since then Evangelion has been a merchandise machine and has retained its popularity which is why Anno has been given a chance to remake the TV series into a number of film which offer what he considers to be his ultimate vision. The first two films in the four-part series have been released in the west to rapturous reviews, this is the third. To celebrate the release of the film, numerous videos have been released including a music video for Hikaru Utada.
While the six-minute preview is not flashy it looks promising. The cast has the familiar seiyuu from the television shows including major stars like the prolific and wonderful voice actress Megumi Hayashibara (Paprika in Paprika – she also turned up in The Wolf Children) who voices Rei Ayanami and Pen Pen, Megumi Ogata who plays Shinji Ikari, Akira Ishida (Keiju Tabuki in Mawaru Penguindrum), Yuko Miyamura (Casca in Berserk – the girl in the training video in Battle Royale), Hiro Yuuki (Takaomi in Mysterious Girlfriend X), Miki Nagasawa (Mutio in Blue Submarine No.6), Maaya Sakamoto (Hitomi in Escaflowne). All of these anime listed I love which is just more reason to love the film.
Japanese Title: その よる の 侍
Romaji: Sono Yoru no Samurai
Running Time: 119 mins.
Director: Masaaki Akahori
Writer: Masaaki Akahori
Starring: Masato Sakai, Takayuki Yamada, Hirofumi Arai, Gou Ayano, Maki Sakai, Tomorowo Taguchi, Haruka Kinami, Tsutomu Takahashi, Mitsuki Tanimura, Sakura Ando, Denden
Stage actor Masaaki Akahori makes his debut film by adapting one of his plays for the screen. It screened at this year’s BFI London Film Festival. The trailer looks good and it stars familiar names like Sakura Ando (Our Homeland, Love Exposure, For Love’s Sake), Denden (Cure, Cold Fish, Himizu), Hirofumi Arai (Blazing Famiglia, Helter Skelter), Takayuki Yamada (Thirteen Assassins, The Cat Returns, The Seaside Motel), Gou Ayano (Gantz, A Man with Style) and Masato Sakai who stars in Key of Life and I will have a review of that film ready for Monday!
Kenichi Nakamura (Masato Sakai) is the manager of a small ironworks who lost his wife (Maki Sakai) in a hit-and-run incident five years ago. Since then his life has become mundane. After the loutish driver Kijima (Yamada) who committed the crime is released from prison he receives threatening letters daily which state that both he and the anonymous writer will die on the anniversary of the incident. Kenichi’s friends and relatives try to stop him from embarking on his path of revenge but he is determined to avenge his wife.
Japanese Title: ふがいない 僕 は 空 を 見た
Romaji: Fugainai Boku wa Sora wo Mita
Release Date: 17th November 2012 (Japan)
Running Time: 142 mins.
Director: Yuki Tanada
Writer: Kosuke Mukai, Misumi Kubo (Novel)
Starring: Tomoko Tabata, Kento Nagayama, Masataka Kubota, Mieko Harada, Takahiro Miura, Miharu Tanaka Takashi Yamanaka
The Cowards Who Looked to the Sky is based on a novel written by Misumi Kubo. It played at this year’s Toronto Film Festival and from this trailer and a review on the Japan Times it looks quite dramatic. It stars the beautiful Tomoko Tabata (Blood and Bones,The Hidden Blade), the handsome Kento Nagayama (Crime or Punishment?!?), the young Masataka Kubota (13 Assassins), Takahiro Miura (Tokyo Playboy Club), and Mieko Harada (Helter Skelter). This looks like a good realist drama.
Anzu (Tabata) is a depressed housewife who lives with a nagging mother-in-law and indifferent husband. When she attends an anime convention in cosplay she meets a teenager named Takumi (Nagayama). The two start an affair at Anzu’s home. At this point, those already in Takumi’s life go through emotional upheaval of their own as a classmate (Tanaka) confesses her love for him and his friend Fukuda (Kubota) finds himself at the mercy of a loan shark who has come to collect his mother’s debts. This is just the start of the emotional turmoil for all characters involved.
Japanese Title:任侠 ヘルパー
Romaji: Ninkyo Herupa-
Release Date: 17th November 2012 (Japan)
Running Time: 134 mins.
Director: Hiroshi Nishitani
Starring: Tsuyoshi Kusanagi, Narumi Yasuda, Teruyuki Kagawa, Meisa Kuroki, Rei Akimoto, Ayane Omori, Kaho, Shunsuke Kazama, Ryudo Uzaki, Tetta Sugimoto, Masaaki Sakai
When I saw the title Beautiful World I immediately thought of Kino’s Journey and I smiled… Then I read the details and my heart broke a little bit. Alas, this has no connection to the wonderful anime. This is a drama set in the real world and it is directed by Hiroshi Nishitani who has had a varied career but his most interesting film, for me, is Suspect X based on the decent crime thriller The Devotion of Suspect X written by Keigo Higashino. For Beautiful World, he adapts a TV series which stars SMAP member Tsuyoshi Kusanagi who was last seen on the big screen in Dearest. Tsuyoshi is supported by Teruyuki Kagawa (Key of Life, Tokyo Sonata), Narumi Yasuda (Time Traveller: The Girl Who Leapt Through Time), Kaho (Funky Forest: The First Contact), Meisa Kuroki (Who’s Camus Anyway, Vexille), Shunsuke Kazama (From Up on Poppy Hill), and Tetta Sugimoto (Outrage, Departures). The trailer seems to be leaning towards the sentimental but Tsuyoshi looks like he might be capable of giving a great performance.
Former gangster Hikoichi (Kusanagi) is trying to live a straight life and takes up work at a convenience store. One day an old man named Yuzo (Sakai) robs the store but when the police arrest Yuzo they also arrest Hikoichi. Yuzo tells him that when he is in trouble he should see a man named Asahina (Uzaki). When Hikoichi is released from prison he travels to Taikai city to meet Asahina where a local government official named Teruo Yashiro (Kagawa) is running a welfare project that will cause problems for a community. The paths of these men will collide as Hikoichi comes to the aid of the community.