Tug of War!, Crow’s Thumb, The Ear Cleaner, Joshi Camera, Milocrorze – A Love Story and the Japanese Movie Box Office Chart

Persona Saturday FaceThis week I started writing my submission for an art prize and I started my Christmas shopping… Two gifts for other people and I just ordered an awesome movie collection as highlighted by Goregirl! I also know when the Christmas party for Japanese class is going to be and I know that the restaurant sells green tea ice cream (lovely!). As far as blogging goes I started this week with two trailers for two major anime titles in the form of Berserk Golden Age Arc III: Descent and One Piece Film Z. I then followed up with a review for Key of Life, an excellent comedy with great performances that I saw at the 56th BFI London Film Festival and news on the UK release of Mystical Laws, an anime movie I was not taking too seriously during its original Japanese release due to its backers but I am eager to hear whether it is any good.

What does the Japanese movie box office chart look like this week? 

  1. Evangelion: 3.0 You Can (Not) Redo
  2. Lesson of the Evil
  3. The Floating Castle
  4. Ninkyo Helper: Beautiful World.
  5. A Chorus of Angels
  6. Smile Precure!
  7. Cirque du Soleil: Worlds Away
  8. Fly with the Gold
  9. Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter
  10. Paranormal Activity 4

When writing the previews for the latest Eva movie I mentioned it being the type of anime that is a licence to print money. Here is the proof. Since its opening last week, the movie has accrued about $19,183,750. According to Anime News Network, the film’s opening box office weekend was $13,913,200, the highest earnings in Japan this year. Incredible. The other new entry from last week was Ninkyo Helper, a movie adaptation of a television series. Far more importantly is the return of Takashi Miike… actually he’s so prolific he never really goes away… with the brilliant looking Lesson of the Evil where a psychotic teacher takes out pupils, parents and teachers played by half the cast of Himizu.

Enough about last week! What is released in Japan today? And yesterday!?

Tug of War!                                      Tug of War Movie Poster

Japanese Title: 綱引いちゃった!

Romaji: Tsuna Hiichatta!

Release Date:  23rd November 2012 (Japan)

Running Time: N/A

Director: Nobuo Mizuta

Writer:  Daisuke Habara

Starring: Mao Inoue, Keiko Matsuzaka, Tetsuji Tamayama, Naomi Nishida, Sonim, Naomi Watanabe, Inuko Inuyama, Takashi Sasano, Morio Kazama

I have to admit that I did crack a smile with this. The antics of the cute Mao Inoue (My Tug of War Movie Poster 2Darling is a Foreigner, Kaidan)  caught me off-guard. She is joined by Keiko Matsuzaka (Instant Swamp), Tetsuji Tamayama (Norwegian Wood), Naomi Nishida (Train Man, Swing Girls, A Man with Style, The Happiness of the Katakuri’s) and Takashi Sasano (Thermae Romae, Insight into the Universe). The director is Nobuo Mizuta who is the chap who helmed Maiko haaaan!!!, a very influential comedy, the writer is Daisuke Habara who wrote Hula Girls and the Suicide Song, two films I hope to review sometime in the new year. Anyway… This looks like it could be fun.

Chiaki Nishikawa (Inoue) helps handle the public relations department for Oita city. Oita is a city that has won the tug-of-war world championship three times in the past and so in order to promote the city the mayor has a bright idea: an all-girl tug-of-war team. Luckily Nishikawa is an enthusiast for the game and she is the perfect person to rope a few people in and make them pick up the rope!!!



Crow’s Thumb                                      Crows Thumb

Japanese Title: カラス の 親指

Romaji: Karasu no Oyayubi

Release Date:  23rd November 2012 (Japan)

Running Time: 160 mins.

Director: Tadafumi Ito

Writer:  Tadafumi Ito (Script), Shusuke Michio (Original Novel)

Starring: Hiroshi Abe, Satomi Ishihara, Shoji Murakami, Rena Nounen, Yu Koyonagi, Shingo Tsurumi, Shigeyuki Totsui, Takeshi Nadagi, Bengal

Hiroshi Abe is insanely handsome, insanely successful and insanely talented as his

Crows Thumb Book

turns in Survive Style 5+, Summer of Ubume, and Still Walking showed me. He is also insanely popular as the 2012 mega-hit Thermae Romae revealed (as the trailer points out) so I am not alone in thinking he is great. Well now he is back and in a film called Crow’s Thumb which is based on Shusuke Michio’s 2008 novel of the same name.  His co-stars are Satomi Ishihara (Sadako 3D), Bengal (Boiling Point), Yu Koyonagi (Tokyo Sonata), Shoji Murakami (Kaidan), Rena Nounen (Confessions). The trailer looks okay. I was with it through the funky opening until the dramatic music and crying child but then I was won over by the J-pop and sequences showing the elaborate con including Hiroshi Abe sporting silver hair and a mean stare.


Take (Abe) and Tetsu (Murakami) are two veteran conmen who live in an old house with two beautiful sisters named Yahiro (Ishihara) and Mahiro (Nounen) and Yahiro’s boyfriend Kantaro (Koyanagi) and a baby cat. When a girl is placed in the care of Take and Tetsu they decide to change their lives and so all five will take part in an elaborate con.



The Ear Cleaner                                        The Ear Cleaner

Japanese Title: 耳 を かく 女

Romaji: Mimi wo Kaku Onna

Release Date:  23rd November 2012 (Japan)

Running Time: 107 mins.

Director: Hiroshi Horiuchi

Writer:  Hiroshi Horiuchi

Starring: Rina Sakuragi, Akira Nakata, Shinji Kasahara, Akatsuki Nakata, Sawa Masaki, Shohei Uno

People find ears sexy. I prefer… well, best not to go there. Anyway, this little film is a sexy celebration of the art involved in cleaning ears known as mimikaki.

I am a bit puzzled about the Japanese title.

耳 = mimi = Ear

女 = onna = woman

かく = to write…? Surely not in this context. What could the word be?

I know that I have heard about this type of thing before but I cannot remember if it was from a film, documentary or anime… Anyway this is the third film released by Horiuchi this year. It stars a group of new names with support from Shinji Kasahara (Watch with Me) and Sawa Masaki (Underwater Love – A Pink Musical) and Shohei Uno (Toilet and Women).

On March 11th 2011 the earthquakes and tsunami stuck Japan. Ena Koda (Sakuragi) is a shy and gentle woman and when she was sleeping in the same bed as her boyfriend the coward fled with the first rumble. Well this act of cowardice breaks up the relationship and Ena’s confidence which leads to her losing her hearing in stressful moments. This means that she has to wear a hearing aid and when she attends a stressful job interview at an IT company she catches the eye of a customer services rep named Kawamura (Nakata) who is fascinated by her ear which reminds him of his mother. Ena soon finds employment in an ear-cleaning establishment where she will work wearing a yukata and work on men with mother complexes.

Joshi Camera                        Joshi Camera

Japanese Title: 女子 カメラ

Romaji: Joshi Kamera

Release Date:  24th November 2012 (Japan)

Running Time: 78 mins.

Director: Satoshi Mukai

Writer:  Satoshi Mukai

Starring: Kaoru Mitsumune, Mika Kumagai, Miyako Takayama, Yukiyo Sono, Daisuke Ryu, Kotaro Takada, Shoken Kunimoto, Chinu Izumi, Eri Otomo,

Oh Lord… reading the synopsis for this made me think of the recent K-On! Movie. That’s unfair. This is actually based on a popular women’s magazine (which made searching for the poster a nightmare despite the lovely looking Japanese ladies). I am totally unfamiliar with the cast and the writer and director but I know it stars Kaoru Mitsumune who was in the recent Bakalaya movie. I think I would avoid this film since it looks to be a slight, heart-warming tale and I want something that explores the human condition… or features sexy women, great comedy, awesome fights and cool looking dudes which is where the next film steps in!


Miki (Mitsumune)and her friends Aya (Kumagai), Haruka (Sono) and Akada (Takayama) are part of the photography club for their university. They are about to graduate and so are planning a graduation trip but Miki is swamped with studying and Haruka has lot the trip money. This may be the last time they see each other, can they make the most of their final month together?


Milocrorze – A Love Story         Milocrorze Movie Poster

Japanese Title: ミロクローゼ

Romaji: Mirokuro-ze

Release Date:  24th November 2012 (Japan)

Running Time: 90 mins.

Director: Yoshimasa Ishibashi

Writer:  Yoshimasa Ishibashi

Starring: Takayuki Yamada, Maiko, Anna Ishibasi, Seijun Suzuki Mieko Harada, Eiji Okuda, Megumi Sato, Mayuko Iwasa, Keiji Mutoh, 

I always wondered what happened to this ever since I previewed it last year. It is finally released today! Just one look at this trailer made me grin with pleasure because it looks wonderfully imaginative and fun. This is the sort of thing I would love to watch in a cinema and for that reason it is my pick of the week! It follows different characters and tells their stories with different and distinctive visual styles much like Survive Style 5+. It is directed by Yoshimasa Ishibashi who has worked on Vermilion Pleasure Night and The Fuccons (see my おもしろいですねpage for a taste) and it stars Takayuki Yamada (13 Assassins), Maiko (Space Battleship Yamato), Eiji Okuda (Helter Skelter), Anna Ishibashi (My Back Page) and the legendary film director and actor Seijun Suzuki (getting slapped on the head!), director of the classic Branded to Kill. If this isn’t in the top ten next week, it can be counted as a crime against cinema!


Past and present combine in a tale that follows Tamon (Yamada) who is quite unlucky and finds his romance with a florist ruined when mask wearing thugs kidnap her. He will go on a journey involving a one-eyed ronin from a samurai drama, an unconventional relationship therapist and a man-child at the mercy of a mysterious woman’s whims. 

11 thoughts on “Tug of War!, Crow’s Thumb, The Ear Cleaner, Joshi Camera, Milocrorze – A Love Story and the Japanese Movie Box Office Chart

  1. HS

    We’ve never had a Christmas party at my Japanese class! We’ve been missing a trick, obviously :O

    Is that the Teshigahara box set? Face of Another is one of my favourite Japanese films of the Sixties (which is really saying something as that’s probably my favourite period). Pitfall is a really eery film and Woman of the Dunes is completely fascinating. They’re three really interesting films, I’ve just bought Teshigahara’s Antonio Gaudi documentary but haven’t had time to watch it yet.

    I love Hiroshi Abe, I couldn’t believe it when I opened the programme for Cymbeline at the Barbican and saw his name! I ordered the Japanese release of Thermae Romae even though it didn’t have subs, only to find out too late to cancel that the HK version will be English subtitled!

    this 欠くkaku also means to chip/nick/break or to lack, but I think かく in kana alone means scratch/shovel/paddle so maybe it comes from that?

    Milocrorze looks fantastic, Takayuki Yamada’s another one of my favourite actors. It’s gone a bit Sword of Doom there in the middle, hasn’t it? Can’t wait to see it!

    1. Yep, that’s the right box set. It’s the Christmas present I will give to myself (alongside The Eel). I’m looking forward to them although I’ll take an age to review them.

      Hiroshi Abe is really cool. I thought it was awesome that he was doing Cymbeline but tickets were sold out. I cannot see Thermae Romae getting a release in the UK. I’d love to see it.

      I don’t think I learned that kaku which is why I was a bit confused. I’m a bit rubbish when it comes to practice at the moment. I’m just working from text books and not increasing my vocab.Got any advice?

      Takayuki Yamada is another cool actor. The unconventional relationship therapist surrounded by gorgeous girls was more my thing 😉

      1. HS

        If you haven’t already ordered The Eel it might be worth thinking about getting the Australian release as AE’s is non-anamorphic and a shorter cut of the film (I know, they delayed it all that time and then when they finally release it they sent it out like that?).

        I’ve been trying to read more manga in Japanese, it’s not always easy and the language is definitely looser (which isn’t always helpful) but it helps to build up familiarity with more vocab. Other than that I just try to listen hard and learn all the vocab lists in my text book, Kanji practice has actually been the most useful for picking up new words surprisingly 🙂

      2. I did order the Artificial Eye version of The Eel and it was sent out to me this very morning…

        Thanks for the advice. I guess it’s a question of determination. I have manga in Japanese (like Captain Harlock) as well as the light novels for Another/i> but I have yet to read them seriously. I practice Kanji every day as well. That was one of my New Year’s Resolutions and I kept it 🙂

      1. HS

        Someone asked Third Window about this and they professed not to like it at all so I don’t think it’s very likely 😦 They did say they’d maybe have a think about it though as so many people asked.

      2. Tired Paul

        I mentioned it to TWF sometime back, the fact that it wasn’t even scheduled for release in Japan at the time posed issues too.

      3. Hm. I checked some Japanese websites and couldn’t find any releases for the film. If Third Window Film have little interest in it I guess importing it will be the only option.

      4. I searched Amazon.co.jp and another site by using the English and Japanese title and couldn’t find it!

        I like that website. I bet Seijun Suzuki gets a kick seeing himself on the screen.

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