The Brain Man, The Sound of Light, Mameshiba Ichiro Futen no Shiba Jiro, Paris Tokyo Paysage, Genki-ya Nonsense, Under the Same Star, Each Night, Love Gear, Star Driver the Movie Trailers and the Japanese Film Box Office Chart

Star DriverLast weekend I spent relaxing in London watching films at the Japan Foundation’s Touring Film Programme and dining out at Japanese restaurants. Although I had no idea how I would like the films, particularly the drama Rebirth, I loved each and every one of them. Another thing I loved was meeting fellow cinephiles/bloggers who remind me that being passionate about films and anime is a beautiful thing. What I also loved was the fact that I got to see Japanese films on the big screen thanks to the Japan Foundation so a big thank you goes out to them and all. After my stay in London I got back home to a holiday having booked time off work for the rest of the week and while I did not watch any Japanese films since last weekend I did spend a lot of time practicing Japanese and went to a new Japanese restaurant near where I live. I have also watched a lot of anime like I poster trailers for the forthcoming A Certain Magical Index and Dragon Ball Z anime films and reviewed Carved – The Slit Mouthed-Woman and I looked at the Japanese films at the Berlin Film Festival 2013. Next week I will start reviewing the films I saw at the festival.

What does the Japanese film chart look like for this week (February 02/03)?

  1. Ted
  2. Strawberry Night
  3. Life of Pi
  4. Jack Reacher
  5. Les Miserables
  6. Tokyo Family
  7. One Piece Film Z
  8. Documentary of AKB48: No Flower Without Rain
  9. Tokumei Sentai Go-Busters vs. Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger: The Movie
  10. Gekijouban Hunter x Hunter
  11. Berserk Golden Age arc III Descent

The AKB48 documentary and the latest Berserk film which were released last week enter the top fifteen. It’s good to see the latter making an impact but the real question is does it have staying power. It sure isn’t doing the same numbers that Evangelion, One Piece and Hunter x Hunter did but then it does not have the same widespread appeal. Still, I loved the first film. Skyfall is still in the top fifteen after so long.

What Japanese films are released today?

The Brain Man                 Brain Man Film Poster

Japanese Title: 脳男

Romaji: Nou Otoko

Release Date: February 09th, 2013 (Japan)

Running Time: 125 mins.

Director: Tomoyuki Takimoto

Writer: Izuru Narushima (Screenplay), Urio Shudo (Original Novel),

Starring: Toma Ikuta, Yasuko Matsuyuki, Yosuke Eguchi, Fumi Nikaidou, Shota Sometani, Rina Ohta, Renji Ishibashi, Isao Natsuyagi, Yukiyoshi Ozawa, Masahiro Komoto, Ken Mitsuishi, Kensuke Owada,

This is based on Urio Shudo’s Edogawa Rampo Award winning novel Brain Man (Nou Otoko). The director is Tomoyuki Takimoto, the man who was behind Hayabusa: The Long Voyage Home and the live-action Ikigami: The Ultimate Limit. He is working from a script written by Izuru Narushima who directed the powerful drama Rebirth (review next week). The cast looks like a list of Sion Sono’s favourite actors and, if I am honest, a lot of them are favourites of mine! Ken Mitsuishi (Noriko’s Dinner Table) is joined by a menacing looking Fumi Nikaidou and Shota Sometani who both starred in Himizu and Isao Natsuyagi (Land of Hope). Toma Ikuta used his good looks in We Were There Part 1 & 2 and now takes the lead as the titular Brain Man. This looks pretty entertaining.

When random bombings hit a small town in Japan Ichiro Suzuki (Ikuta), the person known as “Brain Man”, is named prime suspect. Why is he called Brain Man? Well he has outstanding memory and high intelligence. He also happens to have a perfect body… Maybe this is the reason that neurosurgeon Mariko Washiya (Matsuyuki) has become interested in him. She believes that human nature s fundamentally good and tries to save criminals so she starts following Brain Man. Also on Brain Man’s trail is Detective Chaya (Eguchi).


The Sound of Light                    The Sound of Light Film Poster

Japanese Title: ひかりのおと

Romaji: Hikari no Oto

Release Date: February 09th, 2013 (Japan)

Running Time: 89 mins.

Director: Junichiro Yamasaki

Writer: Junichiro Yamasaki (Screenplay),

Starring: Yoshitomo Fujihisa, Toyoyuki Sato, Yoshio Nakamoto, Eri Mori, Takeshi Masago, Junko Sato, Soichiro Tshuji

Ah, when I read the synopsis of this I remembered reading a great review over at the Toronto J-Film Pow-Wow blog from last year’s Nippon Connection and it is finally coming out. It is a story about duty and love with a heavy dose of realism through immersion in day-to-day routines as we see the struggle of farming in the Chugoku mountains. Apparently Junichiro Yamasaki is also a farmer but a career in the director’s chair might be beckoning as J-Film Pow-Wow’s review describes it in intriguing terms, summing it up as “an even and honest portrayal of farming life, neither exaggerating the great endurance it requires nor holding it up as a utopian alternative to the light and bustle of Tokyo, which has never felt so distant in a Japanese film as it does here. But occasionally, Yamasaki allows for moments of hope and beauty”. I think this is my film of the week although the final shot of the cow is creepy!

Yusuke (Fujihisa) had hopes of becoming a musician in Tokyo but when his father (Toyoyuki Sato) injures himself on their family dairy farm he is forced to sacrifice his dream move back to help out. It is only him and his grandmother (Junko Sato) and father and the work is physically demanding so all hands are necessary to ensure that they can stave off debt and keep the place running. Yusuke’s life is made even more complicated by the presence of Yoko (Mori) and her son Ryota. Yusuke loves Yoko but marrying her means that she will have to give up Ryota. Can there ever be a way for Yusuke to find personal happiness in a tough environment and with stringent social responsibilities?

Mameshiba Ichiro Futen no Shiba Jiro                Mameshiba Film Poster

Japanese Title: マメシバ一郎 フーテンの芝二郎

Romaji: Mameshiba Ichiro Futen no Shiba Jiro

Release Date: February 09th, 2013 (Japan)

Running Time: 75 mins.

Director: Toru Kamei

Writer: Yuji Nagamori (Screenplay),

Starring: Jiro Sato, Nao Minamisawa, You Takahashi, Naozumi Takahashi, Midoriko Kimura, Dankan

A movie series I have not heard of. It’s a sequel to a title released last year which I did not write about. Hmm. It stars a middle-aged guy and a dog. Oh. I didn’t love Turner and Hooch so I would avoid this one.  It stars Jiro Sato who was in the Sion Sono film Be Sure to Share and he acts opposite Nao Minamisawa (Strangers in the City) You Takahashi who is in Cold Bloom which is in this year’s Berlin Film Festival and gets a theatrical release in Japan next week. It also stars DANKAN!… I haven’t seen him since Getting Any? and Boiling Point last year! He was also in Pulse and Noroi the Curse. I bet this proves to be popular like Masao-kun’s movie from last year was.

Jiro Shiba (Sato) is an unemployed man who has lived with his parents for 38 years. He is a NEET. But not for much longer! His mother forces him out and he has to find a job which ends up being in a pet shop. He finds dealing with animals and people and change in general difficult but imagine his horror when he manager orders him to instruct a pet class!


Paris Tokyo Paysage                                       Paris Tokyo Paysage Film Poster

Japanese Title: その後のふたり

Romaji: Sono Go Futari

Release Date: February 09th, 2013 (Japan)

Running Time: 91 mins.

Director: Jinsei Tsuji

Writer: Jinsei Tsuji (Screenplay),

Starring: Jinsei Tsuji, Maki Sakai, Kim Ito, Chantal Bouillaut Perrin. Cecile Lancia, Dominique Bouchet, Gerard Sterin

Jinsei Tsuji (Filament, Acacia) is a filmmaker who has lived in Paris for the last seven years. He actually started out as a rock musician named Zince before becoming a novelist (his novel Light Strait won the 1997 Akutagawa Prize). This film is something of a meditative look at romance by charting the passing of seasons in Paris and Tokyo and the way that men and women interact. The film was completed in 2011 and played at a French film festival last year which means plot details are easily available! I am left intrigued by the plot – don’t let my messy translation put you off – and the trailer (Paysage – Landscape)

Junya and Nanami are two documentary filmmakers who have lived together for 15 years but they decide to move away from each other to develop a final common artistic project: make a documentary from Tokyo to Paris to “follow in the footsteps of couples who separate.”

They will communicate their feelings and their moods through videos they send to each other, one in Paris, the other in Tokyo. Nanami finds herself overwhelmed by the emotions she feels and Junya finds himself suffering a malaise as a filmmaker but both continue their documentary charting their lives and friends until the very end.


Genki-ya Nonsense                       Genkiya Nonsense Film Poster

Japanese Title: 元気屋の戯言

Romaji: Genki-ya no Zaregoto

Release Date: February 09th, 2013 (Japan)

Running Time: 93 mins.

Director: Genta Uehara

Writer: Genta Uehara, Genki-ya Eiji (Screenplay),

Starring: Genki-ya Eiji, Arisa Kikuchi, Fumi Makoto Otokuro, Masaki Kato, Takahiro Komaki, Kotaro Tomomitsu, Fuminori Sugiura, Satoshi Namiki, Hideaki Shimizu, Ryo Ushimaru

Energetic Nonsense? This indie title appeared at last year’s Yabari International Fantastic Film Festival and it follows Genki-ya Eiji as he tries to energise people in Shibuya and encounters a wide variety of people like a Korean woman trying to start social reform through poetry who attracts the attention of police and scam artists. Yet another film I’m interested in based on the trailer.


Under the Same Star, Each Night                            Under the Same Star All Night Film Poster

Japanese Title: 同じ星の下、ぞれぞれのよる

Romaji: Onaji Hoshi no Shimo, Sorezone no Yoru

Release Date: February 09th, 2013 (Japan)

Running Time: 110 mins.

Director: Akira Takashi Tominaga, Tetsuya Mariko, Katsuya Tomita

Writer: Akira Takashi Tominaga, Tetsuya Mariko, Katsuya Tomita (Screenplay),

Starring: Shinji Katsuyama, Mari Abe, Takeshi Yamamoto, Jenny Sung, Azman Hassan, Dee Pauina Chai, Katsuya Tomita,  

This is a three-part omnibus film shot in the Philippines, Thailand, and Malaysia using a mix of Japanese and local actors. It is designed to bring attention to three young directors.

News Lounge 25A news anchor in Tokyo named Horiuchi visits a correspondent in Manila named Mitsuko who is a long distance love.

Funfair – A businessman is about to return home to Japan from Malaysia when he encounters a lost Chinese girl with a goat and her mother’s lost wedding ring at a funfair.

Daughter of Rai –  Chan Kin is 40 and a struggling actor. His photographer friend suggests leaving Bangkok and heading to a remote town in the north. There he meets two women.


Love Gear                                                    Love Gear Film Poster

Japanese Title: 恋する歯車

Romaji: Koisuru Haguruma

Release Date: February 09th, 2013 (Japan)

Running Time: 89 mins.

Director: Kenji Nakanishi

Writer: Junya Ikegami (Screenplay),

Starring: Ryota Ozawa, Tomoka Kurokawa, Kazuki Shimizu, Hirotaro Honda, Hiroshi Katsuno, Ken Mitsuishi

Popular Super Sentai actor Ryota Ozawa (Masked Rider) makes his debut as a romantic hero in a film directed by Kenji Nakanishi (The Blue Bird) and written by Junya Ikegami (Ninkyo Helper – Beautiful World).  Ozawa is joined by fellow Super Sentai actor Kazuki Shimizu, Tomoka Kurokawa (The Way – Man of White Porcelain), Ken Mitsuishi (Himizu) and Hirotaro Honda (Zero Focus, Who’s Camus Anyway?).

Yuichi (Ozawa) lost his parents in an accident so maybe he knows what ddesperation and sadness is and maybe this knowledge is what makes him attracted to Lisa (Kurokawa), a young woman who tried to commit suicide due to suffering similar circumstances. This attraction coincides with him embarking on an investigation into the suspicious circumstances surrounding the death of his parents!


Star Driver THE MOVIE                                      Star Driver the Movie Visual

Japanese Title: スタードライバーTHE MOVIE

Romaji: Suta-doraiba- THE MOVIE

Release Date: February 09th, 2013 (Japan)

Running Time: 150 mins.

Director: Takuya Igarashi

Writer: Yoji Enokido

Starring: Mamoru Miyano (Takuto), Saori Hayami (Wako Agemaki), Jun Fukuyama (Sugata), Ami Koshimizu (Keito)

The weekly anime movie! This is the big screen anime adaptation of the TV series Star Driver: Kagayaki no Takuto and is touted as a retelling of the TV series with new content added. I have not watched it because the only mecha anime I like is Patlabor and Gasaraki! Anyway… It is directed by Takuya Igarashi (Mushi-Shi, Soul Eater) and it is animated by studio Bones (Un-Go, Fullmetal Alchemist). The script comes from Yoji Enokido, a familiar figure from the industry who has written the scripts for the anime movie Redline and who was in charge of the composition of the TV series for titles like Nodame Cantabile, Revolutionary Girl Utena and , more importantly, Star Driver the TV series. So this movie is in good hands then! Seiyuu from the TV anime take their roles again with Mamoru Miyano (Taihi in Chihayafuru) taking the lead as Takuto, Saori Hayami (Miho n Bakuman) voicing Wako and Jun Fukuyama (Yukio in Blue Exorcist) voicing Sugata.

South of Japan is a tropical island resting under brilliant blue skies named Southern Cross Isle. This is the island that a boy name Takuto Tsunashi has washed up on after swimming from the mainland alone and without any possessions. After enrolling in the local senior high school he makes a positive impact due to his happy-go-lucky personality and scores some friends in Wako Agemaki and Sugata Shindou. What he does not know is that beneath the school sleep giants named “Cybodies” and Takuto will find himself caught up in this secret as an epic story unfolds as a secret organisation named The Glittering Crux plans on activating giant mobile suits which have been sealed away on the island. Known as cybodies, these suits can only be controlled by pilots identified as Star Drivers and to unleash their full power a seal put in place by the island’s four shrine maidens must be broken. It just so happens that Wako Agemaki is a shrine maiden and so Takuto resolves to protect her. It should help that he is the Galactic Pretty Boy, gifted star driver of Taubrun, the 22nd cybody.