Yoshii Cinema, Valentine Riot, Hunter x Hunter: Phantom Rouge, Konshin, Shin Shin Shin, Suzuki Sensei, Yuki Sasaki, Aragure, About the Pink Sky, Space Battleship Yamato 2199 Chapter IV Battle of the Frontier to the Galaxy, Geki x Cine Seven Skull Castle Trailers and the Japanese Film Box Office Chart

Biomega NiheiMajor movie news this week as The BAFTA’s and the Oscars announced their nominations. Despite watching the announcements and enjoying them (Seth MacFarlane looks like he’ll be a great host) I will not be commenting on them like I did last year as I want to focus on Asian movies and I will only repeat past lamentations about how Ghibli/anime were overlooked. You can go and visit Otherwhere for a good preview.

This week I watched a lot of anime and Japanese films and I have been eating Japanese food… Okay, it was mostly Chinese. As per my resolutions made at the end of last year, I am also speaking, reading and writing Japanese every day which is a big improvement on last year. Speaking of last year, this week has seen me try and catch up on last year’s Genki Christmas season by posting a review for I Saw the Devil. Then I posted a preview and review for the brilliant The Foreign Duck, The Native Duck & God in a Coin Locker which is one of the films that was mentioned in my preview of live-action Japanese film releases for this year.

What does the Japanese Movie Box Office (January 5-6) look like this week?

  1. One Piece Film Z
  2. Les Miserables
  3. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
  4. Skyfall
  5. Humanoid Monster Bem
  6. Love for Beginners
  7. Kamen Rider X Kamen Rider Wizard & Fourze: Movie War Ultimatum
  8. The Castle of Crossed Destinies
  9. Frankenweenie
  10. Evangelion: 3.0 You Can (Not) Redo

One Piece Film Z remains at the top smashing the latest Evangelion’s records in box-office gains. The British musical Les Miserables sticks in the top three and outperforms The Hobbit. Skyfall and Humanoid Monster Bem round out the top five.

You know last week when there were only three Japanese films released… This week there are a lot of films released this Friday/Saturday. Back to business as usual. This covers the Japanese releases for this week.

Yoshii Cinema                                        Yoshii Cinemas Film Poster

Japanese Title:Yoshii Cinema

Romaji: Yoshii Cinema

Release Date: January 11th 2013 (Japan)

Running Time: 64 mins.

Director: Toru Yamamoto

Writer: N/A

Starring: Kazuya Yoshii

Yoshii Cinema is a documentary that tracks the work of Kazuya Yoshii who was the vocalist for the rock band The Yellow Monkey which disbanded in 2004. Since then, Yoshii has toured with solo projects and engaged in working in other art forms. It is directed by Toru Yamamoto who released a punk-rock movie last month called Good Morning Everyone!


Valentine Riot                                               Valentine Riot Film Poster

Japanese Title: バレンタイン ー 機

Romaji: Barentain ki

Release Date: January 12th 2013 (Japan)

Running Time: 64 mins.

Director: Hitomi Yoshimura

Writer: N/A

Starring: N/A

Hitomi Yoshimura’s documentary looks at the issue of child labour in Ghana. More specifically, it follows the efforts of three young Japanese people who go to Ghana to see how the NGO ACE are working to eliminate child labour in the cocoa industry and to better understand the daily lives of children in Ghana and the impact that fair trade chocolate can have on special occasions in Japan like Valentine’s Day and White Day.

Also, I found this video for Hyadain’s Christmas single from 2011. Sexy Office Ladies.


Hunter x Hunter: Phantom Rouge   Hunter x Hunter Poster

Japanese Title: 劇場版 HUNTER X HUNTER 緋色 の 幻影 (ファントム フージュ)

Romaji: Gekijouban Hunter x Hunter: Hiiro no Genei (Fantomu Fu-jyu)

Release Date:  12th Jnuary 2013 (Japan)

Running Time: N/A

Director: Yuzo Sato (Original Creator)

Writer:  Yoshihiro Togashi

Starring: Yuki Kaida (Kurapika), Junko Takeuchi (Gon Freecss), Kanako Mitsuhashi (Killua Zoldyck), Hozumi Gouda (Leorio Paladiknight)

The film is directed by Yuzo Sato who has worked on a variety of anime from medieval demon hunting adventure Claymore to the more sci-fi leaning Biohunter. The Character designer is Takahiro Yoshimatsu who has also had a wide variety of experiences such as being an animation director on Black Cat, character designer on Supernatural the Animation and even the director of Nyanpire The Animation. Music comes from Yoshihisa Hirano who scored the Death Note anime. The seiyuu involved include Yuki Kaida (Kouga in Zetman) and Junko Takeuchi (Naruto Uzumaki in Naruto).


Hunting is respected profession. You can hunt money, criminals, animals, recipe ingredients… yes. You can hunt whatever you want so long as you have the talent to become a hunter. While the TV series focussed on a pre-teen boy named Gon, this one focusses on Kurapika who wishes to track down and take revenge on a group of criminals known as the Phantom Troupe. Why? They massacred his clan for having eyes that can turn scarlet during moments of emotional stress. These eyes are considered treasures and Kurapika’s eyes are in danger but with the help of Gon, Killua and Leorio, he is determined to have his revenge.


Konshin                              Kon-shin Film Poster

Japanese Title: 渾身

Romaji: Konshin

Release Date: January 12th 2013 (Japan)

Running Time: 134 mins.

Director: Yoshinari Nishikori

Writer: Yoshinari Nishikori (Screenplay), Kenichi Kawakami (Original Novel)

Starring: Sho Aoyagi, Ayumi Ito, Harumi Inoue, Masahiro Komoto, Yoshiko Miyazaki, Katsuo Nakamura, Takashi Sasano, Naomi Zaizen 

This film is based on Kenichi Kawakami’s original novel and aims to show a side of Japan foreigners may not be familiar with. We get a sport steeped in ancient traditions in a place that holds onto traditional culture amidst the beautiful setting of Oki Island. It stars Sho Aoyagi who was in last year’s teen romance feature Love for Beginners is supported by an able cast including Ayumi Ito (All About Lily Chou-Chou, Penance, A Story of Yonosuke), Masahiro Komoto (Space Travellers, The Magic Hour, Linda, Linda, Linda) and Takashi Sasano (Departures, Adrift in Tokyo, Thermae Romae).

We are on the Oki Islands in Shimane Prefecture, a place with a tradition of creating sumo wrestlers. Sakamoto (Aoyagi) is determined to master the sport as a tournament comes around


Shin Shin Shin                               Shin Shin Shin Film Poster

Japanese Title: しんしんしん

Romaji: Shin Shin Shin

Release Date: January 12th 2013 (Japan)

Running Time: 135 mins.

Director: Kouhei Sanada

Writer: Kouhei Sanada

Starring: Hoshi Ishida, Miwako Wagatsuma, Kazuhiro Sano, Yuya Okutsu. Megumi Kagurazaka

Shing, Shing, Shing. Interesting title. It comes from a song of the same name by the folk rock band Happy End. Is this it? Hey, it’s not bad! This is a road movie which has some interesting names in its staff and cast. Director Kouhei Sanada studied under Kiyoshi Kurosawa at the Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music. Actress Miwako Wagatsuma was in Sentimental Yasuko and End of Puberty while Sion Sono fans will be more than familiar with Megumi Kagurazaka who was in Cold Fish. While my synopsis does not make it sound interesting, the trailer has certainly left me very curious.

Tomoyuki (Ishida) is a high school student who gathers together with a group of strangers, his father Yoshio (Sano), and a girl that Tomoyuki likes named Yuki (Wagatsuma) and they travel from town to town by truck searching for stable relationships in a story of love and loss.



Suzuki Sensei                                         Suzuki Sensei Film Poster

Japanese Title: 鈴木 先生

Romaji: Suzuki Sensei

Release Date: January 12th 2013 (Japan)

Running Time: 124 mins.

Director: Hayato Kawai

Writer: Ryota Kosawa (Screenplay), Kenzi Taketomi (Original Manga)

Starring: Hiroki Hasegawa, Asami Usuda, Shunsuke Kazama, Kenta Hamano, Masataka Kubota, Tomoko Tabata, Denden

Kenzi Taketomi’s manga Suzuki Sensei gets a big-screen adaptation and it has some heavyweight talent behind it. The movie is written by TV/movie veteran Ryota Kosawa (Anti-Terrorism Investigators, Phone Call to the Bar, Always – Sunset on Third Street series) and it stars Hiroki Hasegawa (who will next be seen in Sion Sono’s Why Don’t You Play in Hell?) as the titular Suzuki Sensei. He is joined by a highly talented collection of actors (some of whom have worked with Sono) including Asami Usuda (Into a Dream, The Woodsman and the Rain), Masataka Kubota (Thirteen Assassins, The Cowards Who Looked to the Sky), Tomoko Tabata (Sabu, The Hidden Blade), and Denden (Himizu, Cold Fish, Cure, Spiral). Here is a cool music video.

Akira Suzuki (Hasegawa) is a teacher with his own special way of educating kids and creating the ideal class called the “Suzuki method”. Okay, that does not really explain things but apparently it works and his life is ticking along nicely as he has the respect of fellow teachers (Denden, Tabata) and a loving wife Asami (Usuda) about to give birth but then a man named Yuji (Kazama) takes a female student hostage in the school.

Yuki Sasaki                                                        Yuki Sasaki Film Poster

Japanese Title: あるいは佐々木ユキ

Romaji: Arui ha Sasaki Yuki

Release Date: January 12th 2013 (Japan)

Running Time: 79 mins.

Director: Kenji Fukuma

Writer: Keiko Fukuma (Screenplay),

Starring: Saori O’Hara, Akra Yoshino, Hideyo Sengoku, Makiko Kawano

I wish my Japanese was better because this looks like the most interesting release of the week apart from Shin Shin Shin and About the Pink Sky.

Watashi wa Sasaki Yuki. Hatachi desu.

20-year old Yuki Sasaki who lives alone on the outskirts of Tokyo reveals the influence of the creative type Yu Fumizuki. We see her reality and dreams in a series of interviews and performances like dancing and poetry that are captured on film.


Idol 7×7 Director                                                        Idol 7x 7 Film Poster

Japanese Title: アイドル 7x7 監督

Romaji: Aidoru 7×7 Kantoku

Release Date: January 12th 2013 (Japan)

Running Time: 95 mins.

Director: Hiroshi Ohta, Takayuki Kagawa,

Writer: Keiko Fukuma (Screenplay),

Starring: Yuna Hashimoto, Miyu Ishihara, Yurika Kurosawa, Tomomi Morie, Chiaki Ota,

One look at this reveals talent I have not heard or read of before and a film that will most likely never get a release in the west because of its format. What we have here is 7 directors, 7 idols and 7 different short films, each around 10 to 15 minutes each. The stories range from cult activities, to an absurd high school romance where a guy goes out with an irritating girl, the breakup of a couple, the sleepless night of a girl obsessed with death, the strange world of a high school girl who goes for a surreal stroll in a forest, the story of a woman who will not be scorned and a story on mortality. Each link goes to a page containing a short trailer.


Aragure                                              Aragure Film Poster

Japanese Title: アラグレ

Romaji: Aragure

Release Date: January 12th 2013 (Japan)

Running Time: 76 mins.

Director: Ken Nomoto

Writer: Ikeya Masao

Starring: Noboyuki Suzuki, Shintaro Akiyama, Yuya Endo, Yoshiyuki Yamaguchi

Aragure… say it fast… Allegory? I don’t think so judging by the synopsis as it’s an action movie full of Yankee boys as played by young J-pop stars like Noboyuki Suzuki (Exile) who plays a gang leader who finds himself beset by all sorts of problems when his former boss is released from prison and gets beaten up in the street.


Aokigahara                                         Aokigahara Film Poster

Japanese Title: 青木グケ原

Romaji: Aokigahara

Release Date: January 12th 2013 (Japan)

Running Time: 104 mins.

Director: Taku Shinjo

Writer: Shintaro Ishihara (Original Short Stories)

Starring: Hiroshi Katsuno, Ak Maeda, Shinichi Tanaka, Toshihiro Saeba

Shintaro Ishihara, the controversial and dare I say xenophobic former governor of Tokyo started out as a novelist before becoming the firebrand politician we are familiar with. Why bring him up? This is a film that he is produced and it is based on a short story collection written by him. The title Aokigahara refers to a dense forest that lies at the northwest base of Mount Fuji and is also known as the Sea of Trees. For people into morbid films/manga like The Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service (I finished volume 8 this week. I’m taking my time reading this series), we will know it is a place that is popular for suicides and a place haunted by yūrei of those who have died. Yūrei or not, police and local officials have to comb the forest for suicides which is where this movie starts.

Matsumura (Katsuno) is a councillor in the village of Oshino who is taking part in a corpse collection patrol. He discovers the body of a man named Takimoto (Saeba) which is taken for burial. Not that a respectful burial will stop the ghost from appearing and it seems to be connected with a young woman named Junko Kano (Maeda) in Tokyo. 


Space Battleship Yamato 2199   Chapter IV Battle of the Frontier to the Galaxy                                                                             Space Battleship Yamato 2199 Poster

Japanese Title: 宇宙 戦艦 ヤマト 2199

Romaji: Uchū Senkan Yamato 2199

Release Date: January 12th 2013 (Japan)

Running Time: 110 mins.

Director: Akihiro Enomoto, Yutaka Izubuchi

Writer: Ryusuke Hikawa

Starring: Daisuke Ono (Susumu Kodai), Houko Kuwashima (Yuki Mori), Kenichi Suzumura (Daisuke Shima), Takayuki Sugo (Captain Jūzō Okita), Aya Hisakawa (Lt. Kaoru Niimi), Rie Tanaka (Ensign Akira Yamamoto), Rina Satou (Makoto Harada)

In 1974 Leiji Matsumoto (Galaxy Express 999, Captain Harlock) and Yoshinubu Mishizaki created Space Battleship Yamato which became a massive hit. Thirty-eight years later we see the latest part of the anime movie adaptation released. This is actually the fourth part but the staff and voice actors remain the same. The role of director is taken up by two men: Yutaka Izubuchi is a veteran designer in the anime industry having worked on anime like RahXephon and the brilliant anime Patlabor. He joined by Akihiro Enomoto who has worked on Fafner, Mobile Suit Gundam 00. Nobuteru Yuki (Escaflowne) acting as character designer and animation director.

There are a lot of veteran seiyuu involved with Daisuke Ono (Shizuo Heiwajima in Durarara!!), Kenichi Suzumura (Uta no Prince Sama), Aya Hisakawa (Yoko Yuzuki in Mōryō no Hako), Rina Satou (Mikoto Misaka in A Certain Magical Index), and Rie Tanaka (Sammy in Time of Eve). The animation is produced by Xebec (Nyarko-san: Another Crawling Chaos) and AIC (Burn Up). 


In the year 2199, the human race has lost a war against alien invaders named Gamilos and have been driven underground due to the threat of radiation. Scientists give humanity a year before it is destroyed. When young officers Susumu Kodai and Daisuke Shima retrieve a capsule from a ship that crash landed on Mars they set off to Iscandar on the other side of the Magellan Galaxy which has the technology to smash the Gamilos and save Earth. The battleship Yamato is sent on a mission to get that technology.

About the Pink Sky                                   About the Pink Sky Film Poster

Japanese Title: ももいろ そら を

Romaji: Momoiro Sora Wo

Release Date: January 12th 2013 (Japan)

Running Time: 113 mins.

Director: Keiichi Kobayashi

Writer: Keiichi Kobayashi

Starring: Ai Ikeda, Ena Koshino, Reiko Fujiwara, Tsubasa Takayama, Hakusyu Togetsuan

Save the best until last? Definitely. Keiichi Kobayashi’s debut film premiered at the 2011 Tokyo International Film Festival where it won a major award. It also screened at last year’s Sundance Film Festival and Rotterdam Film Festival. Ever since reporting about it last year I have become ever more interested in it. The B&W imagery is rather attractive. GIF making time.

Izumi is a cheerfully cynical high-school girl who has a strange hobby: rating newspaper articles for positivity and negativity. One day she finds a wallet containing 300,000 yen and the owner’s ID: Sato, a wealthy schoolmate. Izumi decides to lend it to a friend in financial straits but her classmates Hasumi and Kaoru force to return the wallet to Sato, but, unable to return the money she agrees to help Sato console a sick friend by creating a good news newspaper.

Geki x Cine’s Seven Souls in Skull Castle              Geki x Cine Film Poster

Japanese Title: ゲキ X シネ髑髏城 城 の 七 にん

Romaji: Geki x Shine Dokuro Shiro no Shichi nin

Release Date: January 12th 2013 (Japan)

Running Time: 179 mins.

Director: Kazuki Nakajima, Hidenori Inoue

Writer: Kazuki Nakajima, Hidenori Inoue

Starring: Shun Oguri, Mirai Moriyama, Taichi Saotome, Eiko Koike, Ryo Katsuji, Riisa Naka

This is the big-screen showing of the Gekidan Shinkansen theatre troupes production and it stars big names like Shun Oguri, Riisa Naka and Mirai Moriyama. My Japanese is patchy for the synopsis once again but the trailer looks cool what with all of the strutting samurai and yelling women.

It is the Sengoku Period and Oda Nobunaga is old news as Toyotomi Hideyoshi tries to unify Japan. Hideyoshi (Moriyama) finds his path to glory taking a sticky turn when he runs into a group of samurai holed up in a fortress known as Skull Castle which stands near a village known as Salvation which has overthrown its feudal lord. Cue epic siege and a cast of characters including a wandering samurai (Oguri), a prostitute (Eiko) and a girl (Naka) who knows the secrets of the seven samurai. 

4 thoughts on “Yoshii Cinema, Valentine Riot, Hunter x Hunter: Phantom Rouge, Konshin, Shin Shin Shin, Suzuki Sensei, Yuki Sasaki, Aragure, About the Pink Sky, Space Battleship Yamato 2199 Chapter IV Battle of the Frontier to the Galaxy, Geki x Cine Seven Skull Castle Trailers and the Japanese Film Box Office Chart

  1. Tired Paul

    Lots and lots of titles!

    Shin Shin Shin could be interesting, sometimes it’s Weird to see child actors “all grown up” although not so much with Hoshi Ishida, he’s pretty much been consistently good since I first saw him in Canary, he doesn’t appear to have suffered the child actor curse……although that’s not as applicable in Japan………..excluding idols.

    About the Pink Sky was at Raindance…..I would have enjoyed it more if they cut it down a bit and got to the meat of the story sooner, I can see Ai Ikeda working with bigger directors in the future, she’s got good energy.

    Speaking of good energy, if they could get at least half of the energy from the Geki x Cine’s Seven Skull Castle trailer into a movie adaptation I would want to watch it! To see Mirai Moriyama really ham it up is always something I want to see!

    Happy New Year!

    1. Great to see you Paul!

      Indeed, lots and lots of films.

      Yuki Sasaki, Shin Shin Shin and About the Pink Sky are my definite highlights. As far Shin Shin Shin goes, I’m not sure whether to regard it as a bleakie. The trailer has that tone and the director studied under Kurosawa so I’m expecting an emotionally enervated landscape peopled with disturbed characters. Nice to see Megumi Kagurazaka in something other than a Sono film. We might be able to gauge her acting ability a bit more.

      Yuki Sasaki looks like a great little title. I’ll have to bother my Japanese teacher ad get her to translate some reviews.

      Happy New Year!

      1. Tired Paul

        I’m waiting for more info on Yuki Sasaki that’s too much of a teaser.

        Shin Shin Shin gave off that atmosphere I think more because of the music on that trailer.

      2. Well I’ll definitely try and acquire Shin Shin Shin and Yuki Sasaki and Milocrorze this year when I head to Japan. Hhmm… I’m planning on doing foreign travel and buying things I usually buy… Films!

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