Little Maestro, Documentary of AKB8: No Flower Without Rain, Berserk: Golden Age Arc III: Descent, Love Bombs, Ibitsu, Yellow Elephant, It’s Shaking, Workers, Women’s Fiction Prize R 18 vol.1: Self Bondage, Jiro Dreams of Sushi, Revenge of the Earth Sandayu, Banana, Glove and Whale Shark, Come Give, A Man Named Guo Maolin, Architect to Open Up the Sky, Long Day of Stars,Trailers and the Japanese Film Box Office Chart

Little Maestro MangaThis week has been spent preparing for the Japan Foundation’s Touring Film Programme in London… which is where I am right now! This is a scheduled post! Exclamation mark! Anyway this week I posted a trailer for the forthcoming film adaptation of Star Driver and reviews for Poetry, The Woodsman & the Rain, both of which scored a 5.

What does the Japanese film chart look like for this week (January 26/27)

  1. Ted
  2. Life of Pi
  3. Strawberry Night
  4. Les Miserables
  5. Tokyo Family
  6. One Piece Film Z
  7. Tokumei Sentai Go-Busters vs. Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger: The Movie
  8. Gekijouban Hunter x Hunter
  9. Looper
  10. Evangelion 3.0

Two of the Japanese films released last week break into the top 15. At 3 is Strawberry Night and Tsuya’s Night enters at 12.

What are some of the Japanese films released in Japan today? And yesterday… Brace yourself for a wide range of films in terms of quality…

Documentary of AKB8: No Flower Without RainDocumentary of AKB48 Film Poster

Japanese Title: Documentary of AKB8: No Flower Without Rain 少女たちは涙の後に何を見る?

Romaji: Documentary of AKB8: No Flower Without Rain Shojo tachi wa Namida no Ato ni Nani o Miru?

Release Date: February 01st, 2013 (Japan)

Running Time: 131 mins.

Director: Eiki Takahashi

Writer: N/A

Starring: AKB48

That sure is a dramatic poster! This is Eiki Takahashi’s third documentary film about the idol group AKB48. I actually like one or two of their songs (but they’ll never beat Morning Musume circa Renai Revolution!) and I actually had one particular song on repeat for a week. It focusses on the group after Atsuko Maeda announces her retirement from the group and we get an inside look at the restructuring of the groups and the competition for centre position as well as the edict that bans members from having love lives. We also get interviews and scenes from shows.

Little Maestro                                            Little Maestro Film Poster

Japanese Title: リトル マエストラ

Romaji: Ritoru Maesutora

Release Date: February 01st, 2013 (Japan)

Running Time: 108 mins.

Director: Toshiro Saiga

Writer: Hiroko Sakaguchi (Screenplay), Shohei Manabe (Manga)

Starring: Kasumi Arimura, Yumiko Shaku, Keizo Kanie, Matsu, Eisuke Sasai

Little Mestro is based on the manga of the same name written by … and stars Kasumi Arimura (SPEC: Heaven), Yumiko Shaku (The Princess Blade), and Keizo Kanie (Fine, Totally Fine).

A quiet seaside village with a predominantly elderly population has an orchestra which gives great pleasure to the residents. When the conductor dies the orchestra is faced with a crisis but when the conductor’s 17-year-old granddaughter, Misaki (Arimura) appears, a member of the orchestra, Midori (Shaku), tries to persuade her to stay and take over the orchestra. A seventeen-year-old girl conducting an orchestra? It’s not as crazy as it sounds because Misaki conducts an orchestra in America!


Berserk: Golden Age Arc III: Descent                       Berserk Movie III Descent Poster

Japanese Title: ベルセルク 黄金時代 篇 III: 降臨 

Romaji: Berserk Ōgon Jidai-Hen III: Kōrin

Release Date: February 01st, 2013 (Japan)

Running Time: 113 mins.

Director: Toshiyuki Kubooka

Writer: Ichiro Okouchi (Script),Kentarō Miura (original manga)

Starring: Hiroaki Iwanaga (Guts), Takahiro Sakurai (Griffith), Toa Yukinaru (Casca), Aki Toyosaki (Charlotte), Kenta Miyake (Nosferatu Zodd)

This is the third and final Berserk feature film in the trilogy that adapts the Golden Age Arc. It takes us to the eclipse ceremony which is where the story becomes a full-blown horror movie. I found it genuinely disturbing what with the horrific landscape and human suffering.  Honestly, after finding the first film thrilling and compelling, I am sort of dreading this because it is a tough, tough part of the story.


After Guts leaves the employ of the Band of the Hawk it all goes very wrong for Griffith and company. Casca does her best to hold the remnants of the mercenary army together but with Midland’s soldiers closing in on them their days seem numbered. Until Guts steps back into the picture. This, however, will lead him to the Eclipse Ceremony and the horror that will unleash Femto.


Love Bombs                         Love Bombs Film Poster

Japanese Title: さまよう 獣

Romaji: Samayou Kemono

Release Date: February 02nd, 2013 (Japan)

Running Time: 94 mins.

Director: Nobuteru Uchida

Writer: Nobuteru Uchida, Teruo Noguchi (Screenplay)

Starring: Mami Yamasaki, Kazuki Namioka, Kiyohiko Shibukawa, Mondo Yamagishi, Koko Mori, Kanji Tsuda, Yoji Tanaka

Nobuteru Uchida is on the festival circuit with Odayaka which was at this year’s Rotterdam International Film Festival. It was only released at the end of last year and he is back with this rural drama which is released today. It stars a diverse cast including Mami Yamasaki (The Seaside Motel), Kazuki Namioka (Thirteen Assassins), Kiyohiko Shibukawa (Isn’t Anyone Alive?), Kanji Tsuda (Tokyo Sonata, Vampire Girl vs. Frankenstein Girl) and Yoji Tanaka (Swing Girls, Ju-On: The Grudge).

Kiyomi (Yamasaki) has left city and ended up in a small town where she meets an elderly woman named Kinu (Mori) and a man named Masaru (Namioka) who Kinu views as a grandchild. Kiyomi finds herself lodging with them and this stirs up feelings amongst local farmers Shinji (Yamagishi) and Tatsuya (Shibukawa) as well as Masaru. Things might have gotten raunchy but Kinu collapses…


Yellow Elephant                             Yellow Elephant Film Poster

Japanese Title: きいろいゾウ

Romaji: Kiiroi Zou

Release Date: February 02nd, 2013 (Japan)

Running Time: 131 mins.

Director: Ryuichi Hiroki

Writer: Hisako Kurosawa, Sho Kataoka (Screenplay), Kanako Nishi (Original Novel)

Starring: Aoi Miyazaki, Osamu Mukai, Akira Emoto, Lily Franki, Tamaki Ogawa, Ren Osugi, Sakura Ando, Kengo Kora, Chieko Matsubara

Ryuichi Hiroki (River, April Bride, Vibrator) has assembled an awesome cast to adapt Kanako Nishi’s best-selling novel. I have not read the novel but I am very familiar with some of the actors. Aoi Miyazaki (Eureka, The Wolf Children), Kengo Kora (Norwegian Wood, The Woodsman & the Rain, The Drudgery Train), Sakura Ando (For Love’s Sake, Love Exposure) and Ren Osugi who stole EXTE and made a great yakuza in many Takeshi Kitano films.

Aiko (Miyazaki) and Ayumu (Mukai) are a happily married couple. Aiko is naïve while Ayumu is a struggling novelist. When a letter for Ayumu arrives it sparks an estrangement between the couple.

Women’s Fiction Prize R 18 vol.1: Self BondageR-18 Film Poster

Japanese Title: R-18 文学賞 vol. 1 自縄自縛のわたし

Romaji: R-18 Bungakushou Vol. 1: Jijoujibaku no Watashi

Release Date: February 02nd, 2013 (Japan)

Running Time: 131 mins.

Director: Naoto Takenaka

Writer: Miyuki Takahashi (Screenplay), Asako Hiruta (Original Novel)

Starring: Kaoru Hirata, Masanobu Ando, Yuji Ayabe, Kanji Tsuda, Atsuko Hirata, Satoshi Matsuo, Kosuke Yoneharam Erika Mabuchi

A film about bondage? Oh boy… The film is actually based on a novel by Asako Hiruta and it seems to be more of a kinky rom-com than full-blown perversion fuel and it does not sound very good. . It is directed by Naoto Takenaka (Ninja Kids!!, Azumi, The Sky Crawlers… really? He was in the Oshii film???) and it was made to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the talent agency Yoshimoto Kogyo which has a roster of actors and comics most of whom fill out the cast of the film It stars Masanobu Ando (Nightmare Detective) and Kanji Tsuda is in his second film and we have today but the interest lies in Erika Mabuchi (Welcome to the Quiet Room, The Milkwoman, Ping Pong) and the lead Kaoru Hirata (The Foreign Duck, the Native Duck and God in a Coin Locker) who are women. And sexy.

Yuria (Hirata) is a college student who stumbles upon a website dedicated to jibaku (self-bondage). This interests her enough that she begins copying what she sees which freaks her boyfriend (Ayabe) out so much he leaves her. Years later she is working at an ad agency where an eccentric boss (Ando) and two co-workers (Mabuchi and Yonehara) are causing her stress and so Yuria returns to self-bondage and starts a blog about it which attracts a sympathetic middle-aged guy with a penchant for cross-dressing.

Workers                                                     Workers Poster

Japanese Title: ワーカーズ 映画

Romaji: Wa-Ka-Zu

Release Date: February 02nd, 2013 (Japan)

Running Time: 94 mins.

Director: Yasuyuki Mori

Writer: N/A

Starring: N/A

This is a documentary about the workers cooperative which aims to eliminate the distinction between employers and workers and make everybody equal. We see the way the people involved bond and the way the cooperative provides services for the staff.

It’s Shaking

Japanese Title: ゆれもせで

Romaji: Yuremosede 

Release Date: February 02nd, 2013 (Japan)

Running Time: 20 mins.

Director: Yasuomi Kawahara

Writer: Oka Daichi

Starring: Sachi Jinno, Tsutomu Honda

I think I’ve read the characters for the names the wrong way but anyway… this is one of two short films that deal with the Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami from 2011.

Akemi (Jinno) is living in Tokyo following her escape from Osaka but an ex-boyfriend named Masao (Honda) tracks her down and asks her to get marry him regardless of radiation.


Jiro Dreams of Sushi                                 Jiro Dreams of Sushi Film Poster

Japanese Title: 二郎は鮨の夢を見る

Romaji: Jiro wa Sushi no Yume wo Miru

Release Date: February 02nd, 2013 (Japan)

Running Time: 82 mins.

Director: David Gelb

Writer: N/A

Starring: Jiro Ono, Sadakazu Ono, Takashi Ono

This is a US documentary focussing on a famous sushi maker in Tokyo. It featured in my Japanese film preview guide for 2013 and is being distributed in the UK by Soda pictures. So far all of the reviews I have seen have been positive.

85-year-old Jiro Ono is a sushi chef with a small store in Ginza. He has won three stars in the Michelin Guide for Tokyo for five consecutive years. The documentary follows his practices and his training of his two sons.

Ibitsu (Distorted/Twisted)             Ibitsu Film Poster

Japanese Title: いびつ

Romaji: Ibitsu

Release Date: February 02nd, 2013 (Japan)

Running Time: N/A

Director: Toshiyuki Morioka

Writer: Toshiyuki Morioka (Screenplay),

Starring: Hitomi Komatani, Masahiro Ishida, Azusa Sato, Shuichi Yamauchi, Ryota Nakanishi

Kazuto Okada’s rom-com manga Ibitsu sees it’s live-action film released and it stars Hitomi Komatani of SDN48, AKB48’s sister group. It is the type of thing I would never read. It has nothing to do with a horror manga I am currently reading which also has the same name but is written in katakana イビツ…

Keigo Kakiguchi (Ishida) is a virgin with no experience of girls and a doll maker. It’s just his luck that when he decides to grope a teenage girl he comes across Madoka (Komatani), a girl who has a sadistic side.


Secret Friends on a Stormy Night               Secret Friends Film Poster

Japanese Title: あらしのよるにひみつのともだち

Romaji: Arashi no Yoru ni Himitsu no Tomodachi

Release Date: February 02nd, 2013 (Japan)

Running Time: 64 mins.

Director: Tetsuro  Amino

Writer: Yuichi Kimura (Original Work),

Starring:Hiroyuki Yoshino (Gabu), Rie Kugimiya (Mei) Yui Horie (Mii) Koichi Yamadera (Giro)

This is the second movie version of Yuichi Kimura’s popular picture book which has already created a TV series. It is directed by Tetsuro Amino who has worked on old school anime like Dirty Pair and some of the Gundam franchise. His seiyuu are Hiroyuki Yoshino (Kai in Blood+) and Rie Kugimiya (Maya in Burn Up Scramble).

Mei (Kugimiya) is a goat and Gabu (Yoshino) is a wolf. The two become friends in secret but when they are seen together a rift forms between them and their own kinds.


40 Days in a Hospice Ward Life Shines Most Days40 Days in a Hospice Ward Life Shines Most Days Film Poster

Japanese Title: いのち が いちばん 輝く 日 ある ホシピス 病棟の40日

Romaji: Inochi ga Ichiban Kagayaku Hi Aru Hosupisu Byōtō no 40-nichi

Release Date: February 02nd, 2013 (Japan)

Running Time: 95 mins.

Director: Masayuki Mizobuchi

Writer: N/A

Starring: N/A

Documentary maker Masayuki Mizobuchi looks into a hospice which cares for cancer patients at the end of their lives. The place is the Memorial Hospital in Shiga Prefecture and over the course of 40 days he follows the daily lives of staff, patients and relatives.


Come Give

Japanese Title: き を つけて ね

Romaji: Ki wo Tsukete ne

Release Date: February 02nd, 2013 (Japan)

Running Time: 35 mins.

Director: Oka Daichi

Writer: Yasuomi Kawahara (Screenplay),

Starring: Masao Nakamura, Tadashi Kaizu,

This is the second short film dealing with the Great Eastern Earthquake of Japan. It follows a couple who have moved from Tokushima in Shikoku to Tokyo and the anxiety the move inspires in Izumi (Nakamura), the wife.


A Man Named Guo Maolin, Architect to Open Up the Sky Guo Maolin Film Poster

Japanese Title: 空を拓く 建築家・郭茂林という男

Romaji: Sora o Hiraku Kenchikka Kaku  Shigeru Hayashi to Iu Otoko

Release Date: February 02nd, 2013 (Japan)

Running Time: 86 mins.

Director: Mitsuko Sakai

Writer: N/A

Starring: Maolin Guo, Lee Teng-Hui, Terunobu Fujimori, Koichi Omuro

A documentary that follows Maolin Guo, an architect originally from Taiwan who settled in Japan and lead the team to build the Kasumigaseki Building, Japan’s first skyscraper, in Shinjuku as well as the man behind many important inventions and building laws. We witness him visit Taipei just before his death in 2012 at the age of 90 and we look back over his life.


Banana, Glove and Whale Shark                                       Banana, Glove an Whale Shark Film Poster

Japanese Title: ばなな と グローブ と ジンベエザメ

Romaji: Banana to Guro-bu to Jinbeezame

Release Date: February 02nd, 2013 (Japan)

Running Time: 105 mins.

Director: Junichi Yashiro

Writer: Eiji Oshiro

Starring: Takeo Nakahara, Shun Shioya, Kana Harada, Kuroda Fukumi, Makiko Watanabe, Eiji Oshiro, Misa Shimizu Toshie Negishi, Haruko Sonoyama, Takashi Nishina, Yuzo Imai

My translation is probably wrong buuut here goes… Junichi Yashiro teams up with a lot of actors from his last film The Cats Whiskers (2007) to give us a human drama that takes place in Tokyo and Okinawa. The story is about a father with a free-spirit (bad dad) named Atsushi Sonoda (Nakahara) who abandons his wife and son to live in Tokyo and lead a life of abandon. His son Koji (Shioya) has never understood this behaviour (quite understandably) and it has left him troubled. Since the split he has lived with his grandmother Toshie and his mother and now as adult, he is training to be a lawyer with a fiancé. When Toshie falls ill it raises the prospect of Atsushi’s return Koji examines his life. Indeed we see life from both of their perspectives.


Long Day of Stars                                             Long Day of Stars Film Poster

Japanese Title: 星 の 長い 一日

Romaji: Hoshi no Nagai Tsuitachi

Release Date: February 02nd, 2013 (Japan)

Running Time: 86 mins.

Director: Shinji Imaoka

Writer: Shinji Imaoka

Starring: Takashi Arai, Erina Fujisaki, Maki Mizui, Hiroshi Sato, Yoichiro Kawakami, Kaede Oshiro, Fumio Moriya

Another rough translation job here. I know pink film director Shinji Imaoka since he was the chap credited with making Underwater Love which was release by Third Window Films. His latest film involves a young man (Sato) who breaks into the room of a convenience store clerk named Yoshie (Fujisaki) with the intention of raping her but when he needs to find a condom he has to break into another apartment to get money but gets stabbed for his effort. On the verge of losing consciousness he sees brother and sister Star (Arai) and White (Mizui) appear and the two introduce him to a world of sex and violence. It looks so awful. So, so awful. But then I don’t relly watch pink films. Caution – trailer is NSFW.


Revenge of the Earth Sandayu                    Sandayuu Film Poster

Japanese Title: 百地三太夫の逆襲

Romaji: Momochi Sadayuu no Gyakushuu

Release Date: February 02nd, 2013 (Japan)

Running Time: 74 mins.

Director: Hiroyuki Kawasaki

Writer: Kosuke Komatsu (Screenplay)

Starring: Akiho Yoshizawa, Shoko Hamada, Konan, Kenji, Rumi Suyama

From the writer of Kekkou the Mask Reborn comes a cheap action flick starring gravure idol Shoko Hamada. Forgive me for skimping on details but I am out of energy after this epic post. Anyway, plot! The film takes place during the decades of Oda Nobunaga’s ruthless and ambitious attempts to unify Japan. The land of Sandayu is home to many Iga ninja  but after an attack only a few disciples from Ishikawa Goemon survive. It seems that Hideyoshi Toyotomi may have been behind the attack and so revenge is plotted. Alas, there is no trailer.

14 thoughts on “Little Maestro, Documentary of AKB8: No Flower Without Rain, Berserk: Golden Age Arc III: Descent, Love Bombs, Ibitsu, Yellow Elephant, It’s Shaking, Workers, Women’s Fiction Prize R 18 vol.1: Self Bondage, Jiro Dreams of Sushi, Revenge of the Earth Sandayu, Banana, Glove and Whale Shark, Come Give, A Man Named Guo Maolin, Architect to Open Up the Sky, Long Day of Stars,Trailers and the Japanese Film Box Office Chart

  1. akb48fan

    I wish I was in Tokyo right now to see the AKB48 documentary!! It’s funny that in the week the movie is released one of the girls is publicly humiliated by having her head shaved off for getting involved in a dating scandal. I’m sure some people will see it as a publicity stunt.

    1. I wish I was in Tokyo full stop! I have to admit that I found the news about the girl getting her head shave disturbing but I haven’t read into it beyond the headlines. Still, it’s rough being a member of any idol group when you consider all of the hard work involved.

      1. akb48fan

        Nobody’s quite sure if management forced her to shave her hair off or she did it herself as a sign of remorse for the shame she’s inflicted on her fellow colleagues, staff and fans. I was very surprised to see the news on the BBC website and even in the papers. Naturally people will get the wrong impression of Japan from the sensational headlines generated. Idols know full well that the contract they sign prevents them from dating……not that I agree with it at all but the group’s management know if the hardcore Japanese fans found out their idols weren’t pure they would stop supporting them. These fans need this fantasy that they’re going to be their idol’s knight in shining armour however far fetched it may be. If preventing these girls from dating generates pots of money then this rule will remain in place.

      2. The head shaving self-punishment is deeply disturbing. As are contract that require idols to be ‘pure’, ‘not date’, etc. and fans that demand this.

        It’s ridiculous and wrong, wrong, wrong. Any fan that wants to worship a ‘pure’ idol and drops a particular star if they do wrong on this account, is not a real fan. It’s a selfish demand, it’s an obsessive, creepy fantasy.

    2. Exactly. I firmly believe you have to be happy about other people’s happiness. Resenting it is selfish, and anyone who does, for sure will have karma get back at them 😉

  2. Tired Paul

    “It is directed by Naoto Takenaka (Ninja Kids!!, Azumi, The Sky Crawlers… really? He was in the Oshii film???) !

    I’ve watched most of the movies he’s directed, don’t go too much by the movies he’s in, he’s very much a working actor but (most) of the movies he’s directed are good, specifically Nowhere Man (was at the London Film Festival 1992) and Sayonara Color .

    For movies he didn’t direct and only acted in I suggest Takashi Ishii’s neo-noir A Night in Nude, it was shown at Sundance in 1995 so it has some pedigree and was still on the festival circuit until (at least) 2002, the 2010 follow up A Night in Nude: Salvation also did the festival circuit.

  3. so many new movies!!
    Coming to your blog is both fun and painful…fun because I get to know many new Nihon no eiga but painful because I can’t see most of them 😦

    I wish my favorite band makes a documentary like AKB48. Did you know that we have AKB48’s sister band here?

    1. Ah, is it JKT48? I have to admit that while I don’t really listen to AKB48 or their sister bands I am more than aware of them thanks to their multimedia approach and appearances in films.

    1. I can’t say it really appealed enough to me but I have seen some excellent reviews. I missed the chance to see it when I was in London but then I got to see four awesome films that surprised and delighted me. Two of them I really loved! Plus I met a director!

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