Hanasaku Iroha: Home Sweet Home, Let’s Dig for Dinosaurs, Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Gods, Love and Eros Cinema Collection, Love Whirlpool, In the Seaside Town, The Sunshine Does Not Stop and Other Trailers and the Japanese Movie Box Office Chart

Spirited Away Bathhouse ChihiroWe are in the middle of Studio Ghibli Season here in the UK and I have managed to watch Spirited Away, Princess Mononoke and The Cat Returns and a little of Kiki’s Delivery Service. My Neighbour Totoro is just starting! I am still doing the Serial Experiments Lain simulwatch over at AUKN where many participants are scratching their heads in puzzlement over what is going on. I love the twisting and obfuscating narrative! This week began with a joint-review of Detroit Metal City with Novroz. The film is a simple and enjoyable comedy starring Kenichi Matsuyama with great music and even better comedy. I then followed it with news about Sion Sono’s latest film project which has a great open audition process on YouTube. A short working week thanks to Good Friday meant that I had a some time free at the end. Next week begins with Easter Monday so another short week. I’ll try and get some reviews completed in that time.

What does the Japanese movie box office look like this week (March 23rd – 24th)?

  1. Wreck-It Ralph
  2. Doraemon Nobita’s Dinosaur
  3. Platina Data
  4. Aibou Series X Day
  5. Precure All Stars New Stage 2
  6. Oz the Great and Powerful
  7. Jack the Giant Slayer
  8. Himawari and Her Puppies
  9. My Diary of Our Exchange
  10. Nobody’s Perfect

Colour me surprised. Doraemon has been deposed from the top and Disney is on top with Wreck-It Ralph. I always underestimate how popular Disney is with Japanese people and lazily assume that all they watch is anime, anime, anime. No they don’t. The other entries into the top ten from last week are Aibou Series X Day, a movie sequel to a popular TV franchise, Nobody’s Perfect and My Diary of Our Exchange which are both based on books.

What is released this week?

Hanasaku Iroha: Home Sweet Home      Hanasaku Irohana Film Poster      

Japanese Title: 花咲くいろは Home Sweet Home

Romaji: Hanasaku Iroha: Home Sweet Home

Release Date: March 30th, 2013 (Japan)

Running Time: 66 mins.

Director: Masahiro Ando

Writer: Mari Okada (Screenplay),

Voice Actors: Kanae Itō (Ohana), Aki Toyosaki (Nako), Ayumi Tsunematsu (Takako), Chiaki Omigawa (Minko), Cho (Denroku), Haruka Tomatsu (Yuina), Junichi Sawabe (Tarō), Junji Majima (Tōru)

Hanasaku Iroha – Blossoms is the sequel to the popular slice of life anime Haasaku Iroha Hanasaku Iroha Home Sweet Home Poster 2which follows a girl named Ohana who has to live with her grandmother in a hot springs after her single mother runs off with a boyfriend to skip out on a debt. Said grandmother is strict and requires Ohana to work hard and despite her initial dislike over her circumstances and all of the hard work Ohana begins to find life isn’t as bad as she thought. Ohana has grown accustomed to living in the hot springs inn her grandmother manages, Kissuisou. One day, the daughter of a manager for Kissuisou’s rival inn, Yuina, comes to Kissuisou for training to become a landlady herself. As Ohana is observing her training, she finds “a certain item” in the storeroom while cleaning.

The anime movie sees the return of staff and cast from the TV series with Kanae Itō taking the lead role of Ohana and Aki Toyosaki voicing Nako. It is directed by Masahiro Ando, a chap who has worked on Production I.G. titles Jin-Roh, Patlabor The Movie, and Ghost in the Shell in the key animation department. He also directed Sword of the Stranger and CANAAN. He is working from a screenplay from Mari Okada who is one of the hardest working writers/head writers in anime. She has written scripts for things like Toradora!, Lupin III: The Woman Called Fujiko Mine, Red Garden and Aria the Natural. More importantly the two worked on the TV series for Hanasaku Iroha. It’s a slow week for releases so I would settle for seeing this and two or three of the short films below.

 

Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Gods                                Dragon Ball Z Battle of the Gods

Japanese Title: ドラゴンボールZ 神と神

Romaji: Doragon Bo-ru Z Kami to Kami

Release Date: March 30th 2013 (Japan)

Running Time: 85 mins.

Director: Masahiro Hosoda

Writer: Akira Toriyama (Original Creator/Screenplay), Yusuke Watanabe (Screenplay)

Voice Actors: Masako Nozawa, Kōichi Yamadera, Masakazu Morita, Hiromi Tsuru, Mayumi Tanaka, Masaharu Satō

The massively popular Dragon Ball franchise gets a moie edition in Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Gods (Dragon Ball Z: Kami to Kami) which is theatrically released today and I would be interested in seeing if it dominates the chart like Doraemon and One Piece have. It is set between the 517th and 518th volumes of Akira Toriyama’s original long-running manga after the end of the epic battle with the pink terror Majin Buu. It introduces new characters named Birusu – the God of Destruction – and his attendant Wisu who just love fighting. They should fit in perfectly, then.

The film is directed by Masahiro Hosoda, who was assistant director on the blood-thirsty movie version Fist of the North Star and other anime titles like Hell Girl, Kobato, Naruto Shippūden and Street Fighter Alpha. Most importantly he was episode director on Dragon Ball Z during the Cell Games Saga which I have watched and can confirm were rather action-packed with Gohan beating the stuffing out of the green freak Cell. Anyway… The screenplay was written by Yusuke Watanabe with involvement from Akira Toriyama, creator of Dragon Ball Z. Watanabe has a lot of experience transferring manga and anime to the big screen considering he is the screen writer for the live action film versions of GANTZ, Twentieth Century Boys, as well as the TV drama Future Diary. Tadayoshi Yamamuro is the lead animator and he has worked on three Dragon Ball movies and One Piece film Strong World…. Just watched the trailer and I’m rocking out to the updated them tune Chala Head Chala! Nothing will quite beat the Lucky Star Version. Yes the trailer makes the film look awesome but I am not really a fan of DBZ.

Birusu, the god of destruction who has maintained the balance of the universe, has awakened from a 39-year slumber to destroy everything. Hearing rumours of a Saiyan named Goku who defeated the evil Freeza, Birusu seeks Goku out and challenges him to a fight. Goku is excited at getting the chance to fight a strong opponent and ignores King Kai’s advice to avoid the battle which leads to Goku being beaten. Birusu leaves after uttering an ominous message, “Is there anyone on Earth more worthy to destroy?” Can Goku and the others stop the God of Destruction before he destroys everything?

 

Living in a Foreign Country: Burmese in Japan                   Burmese Living in Japan Film Poster

Japanese Title: 異国 に 生きる 日本の中のビルマ人

Romaji: Ikoku ni Ikiru Nihon no Naka no Biruma Jin

Release Date: March 30th 2013 (Japan)

Running Time: 100 mins.

Director: Doi Toshikuni 

Documentarian Doi Toshikuni freedom of speech in Japanese schools to the Israeli/Palestinian situation and later this year he has one that tackles the Great East Japan Earthquake. Here He has made a documentary which recrods the lives of people who fled from the military junta in Burma/Myanmar and ended up as political refugees in Japan. Expect moving tales as ties severed and taken up again are examined. One man opened a restaurant who reunites with his wife in Thailand.

 

Let’s Dig for Dinosaurs                   Lets Dig for Dinosaurs Film Poster

Japanese Title: 恐竜を掘ろう

Romaji: Kyouryuu wo Horou

Release Date: March 30th 2013 (Japan)

Running Time: 117 mins.

Director: Shinya Owada

Writer: Shinya Owada, Kensuke Owada (Screenplay)

Starring: Hiroki Matsukata, Rina Uchiyama, Jingi Irie, Karin Ono, Sawa Suzuki, Hikaru Yamamoto, Ai Takahashi, Emi Hashino, Taro Yabe, Sumiko Yamada,

Actor Shinya Owada and his… son? Kensuke Owada (The Millenial Rapture, Brain Man, Tokyo Nameless Girl’s Story) unite behind the taking up the directing and writing credits camera to make a human drama. This is a film starring Hiroki Matsukata (Ninja Kids!!!, Thirteen Assassins, Tajomaru) and Sawa Suzuki (Space Travellers, Loft, Dreams for Sale). The trailer does not set my world alight as it seems to be a solid drama mixing a coming of age tale and one examining memories.

Sosuke (Matsukata) owns an art shop and is lonely but when he meets a girl looking for meaning in life he comes into contact with the girl’s mother and through his involvement with these people Sosuke finds himself facing his past.

Continue reading “Hanasaku Iroha: Home Sweet Home, Let’s Dig for Dinosaurs, Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Gods, Love and Eros Cinema Collection, Love Whirlpool, In the Seaside Town, The Sunshine Does Not Stop and Other Trailers and the Japanese Movie Box Office Chart”

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Sion Sono’s Latest Film: Tokyo Tribes

Sono SionSion Sono is a favoured director on this blog. Two seasons and a whole load of reviews testify to that. I’ll admit that it’s primarily his horror films like Suicide Circle and Strange Circus that I love but recently he has branched out into serious topical drama and critical respectability with Himizu and Land of Hope, two titles that tackle the Great East Japan Earthquake.

News of his latest project has been revealed thanks to Anime News Network and it is an adaptation of Santa Inoue’s Tokyo Tribes manga. The manga is a seinen title which ran from 1997 to 2005 in the urban fashion magazine boon. It mixes US street culture with a future dystopian reading of Tokyo where different gangs control different territory.

I’m not really a fan of the manga but Sono is on the director’s chair. Furthermore he has Tokyo Tribe Mangacreated a YouTube channel for the film where open auditions will be held for the film’s cast. Both he and Santa Inoue have recorded messages about the project and instructions on how one can audition

To audition you must introduce yourself, “describe and demonstrate a special skill, act out a scene that includes their favourite character from the series, and give a message to the director.” Successful auditions at this point will get to audition in person.

It will be worth keeping an eye on this channel just to see what comes up from time to time. Shooting for the film starts in the summer!

Detroit Metal City デトロイトメタルシテイ (2008)

Detroit Metal City Rock Genki Jason Review Banner

Detroit Metal City                                               Detroit Metal City Film Poster

Japanese Title: デトロイト メタル シテイ

Romaji: Detoroito Metaru Shiti

Release Date: August 23rd, 2008 (Japan)

Running Time: 104 mins.

Director: Toshio Lee

Writer: Mika Omori (Screenplay), Kiminori Wakasugi (Manga)

Starring: Kenichi Matsuyama, Rosa Kato, Yasuko Matsuyuki, Yoshihiko Hosoda, Ryuji Akiyama, Kazuma Suzuki, Ryo Kato, Yoshiko Miyazaki, Minami, Kaera Kimura, Rumi Hiragi, Yoshinori Okada, Gene Simmons

Detroit Metal City Kenichi Matsuyama as Soichiro NegishiMeet Soichiro Negishi. He hails from a farm in rural Inukai, Oita prefecture and he is leaving home for the first time to go to Tokyo University. His dream as he states it is to “live in a fashionable apartment in Tokyo, live a fashionable life. Above all I want to be a fashionable musician.”

He really loves fluffy J-Pop and he has songs like Raspberry Kiss (unfashionable and incredibly cheesy). While at university he meets and falls in love with the angelically beautiful and nice Yuri Aikawa, a girl who also loves his twee pop music and she forms a small circle of friends who encourage Negishi to display his musical talents.Detroit Metal City Yuri Aikawa (Rosa Kato)

“No music no dream!” is his rallying cry and with a CD of his work he walks into the office of Death Records…

Fast forward some time and Negishi is now known as Johannes Krauser II, lead singer of Detroit Metal City (DMC), a death metal band who look like KISS and perform songs about rape and murder at a seedy club called Hell’s Gate. His band-mates are Masayuki Wada aka Alexander Jagi (Hosoda) on bass, and Terumichi Nishida aka Camus (Akiyama) the drummer.

Continue reading “Detroit Metal City デトロイトメタルシテイ (2008)”

Child Police, Extend Hands From Darkness, Aibou Series X DAY, Nobody’s Perfect, My Diary of Our Exchange, Trailers and the Japanese Movie Box Office Chart

Whisper of the HeartAh, I started the week with a first-impression post on xxxHOLiC. I followed it up by watching the anime Level E and engaging on a new simulwatch over at Anime UK News with Serial Experiment’s Lain. I am hooked on these two anime already, the former because it is very funny and the latter because it’s a rigorous and intelligent and mysterious series which reminds me of the control and intelligence to be found in Kiyoshi Kurosawa films.

I am so psyched for next week because Film4 are going to start screening lots of Ghibli films which made up my second post. There will be 19 films shown in total and they run from The Little Norse Prince all the way through to Arrietty. I love Ghibli films and I’ll do my best to watch some of them with Spirited Away, Kiki’s Delivery Service, Ocean Waves and The Cat Returns being priority.

I am also psyched about next week because I get paid which means a shipment of films will be ordered! Tonight I watch Vulgaria.

What does the Japanese movie chart look like this week (March 16th-17th)?

  1.  Doraemon Nobita’s Dinosaur
  2.  Platina Data
  3.  Precure All Stars New Stage 2
  4.  Oz the Great and Powerful
  5.  Himawari and Her Puppies
  6.  Flight
  7.  Ted
  8.  A Good Day to Die Hard
  9.  Cloud Atlas
  10.  Les Miserables
  11.  Toaru Majutsu no Index
  12.  Django Unchained
  13.  The Brain Man
  14.  Reunion

Doraemon continues his reign over the chart for a third week but there are a few of last week’s releases piping in with detective thriller Platina Data hitting second, the Precure anime movie grabbing third and Himawari and Her Puppies taking fifth.

What Japanese films are released this week?

Child Police                                        Kodomo Keisatsu Film Poster

Japanese Title: コドモ警察

Romaji: Kodomo Keisatsu

Release Date: March 20th, 2013 (Japan)

Running Time: 100 mins.

Director: Yuichi Fukuda

Writer: Yuichi Fukuda (Screenplay),

Starring: Mikako Komatsu, Fuku Suzuki, Miyu Honda, Michiko Kichise, Keito Aoki, Kaichi Kaburagi, Yuga Aizawa

This film was released on Wednesday and is based on a ten episode TBS show directed by Yuichi Fukuda who has another film released this year called HK Hentai Kamen (adapted for the screen by Shun Oguri) which looks funny. Unlike this.

Hmm. Part of me dislikes it based on the poster and concept alone – elementary school kids as police… I’m not engaged with the concept and the kid holding the shotgun looks to be in bad taste to my western eyes (too many shootings in the US – I know it’s a weak excuse but my first reaction was to shudder). BUT! The trailer made me chuckle because of lead actor Fuku Suzuki’s outrage behind his desk. なに!!? and the 70’s vibe which reminded me of older Yakuza films I have seen.

Detective Dekachou (Suzuki) is the leader of the special investigation team in Kanagawa who are locked in an investigation of a criminal organisation called Red Venius. While pursuing the gang they are turned into children due to exposure to a special gas but they remain on the case because Red Venius threaten to assassinate the President of Tadhikistan in Japan.

Miffy the MovieMiffy the Movie Film Poster

Japanese Title: 劇場版ミッフィー どうぶつえん で たからさがし

Romaji: Gekijouban Miffi- Doubutsuende Sagashi

Release Date: March 23rd, 2013 (Japan)

Running Time: N/A

Director: Hans Perk

Voice Actors: Ikumi Nakagami, Noriko Hidaka, Hidemistu Shimizu, Masayo Hosono

Miffy… Hello Kitty… I thought they were connected but they are not. To be honest the only Hello Kitty thing I ever read was a parody called Hello Cthulhu. Miffy isn’t even Japanese. She’s Dutch! She’s the creation of a chap named Dick Bruna who has appeared in 30 books which have sold over 35 million copies around the world since her debut in 1955. So she’s not to be sniffed at. Furthermore she’s popular in Japan where she’s known as Usako-chan. Anyway in this children’s animation, Miffy and her friends go treasure hunting!

Yasuko Nagamine Barefoot Flamenco        Yasuko NAgamine Barefoot Flamenco Film Poster

Japanese Title: 長嶺ヤス子 裸足のフラメンコ

Romaji: Nagamine Yasuko Hidashi no Furamenko

Release Date: March 23rd, 2013 (Japan)

Running Time: 85 mins.

Director: Koichi Omiya

Starring: Yasuko Nagamine

Yasuko Nagamine is an internationally famous dancer who studied flamenco in Spain, pioneering the dance in Japan and combining it with other dance forms and music. This is a documentary from her birth in Fukushima in 1936 to her recent years beating cancer.  The director is Koichi Omiya, the documentarian behind Sketch of Mujo, the first film that captured the affected areas after the Great East Japan Earthquake and one of many I put in a list last week.

BOOWY 1224 The Movie           Boowy Film Poster

Japanese Title: BOOWY 1224 The Movie

Release Date: March 23rd, 2013 (Japan)

Running Time: N/A

Director: N/A

Starring: Kyosuke Himuro, Tomoyasu Hotei, Tsunematsu Matsui, Makoto Takahashi

This is a documentary about the rock band BOOWY which records performances at Shibuya Public Hall in Tokyo where they announced their break up.

 

Continue reading “Child Police, Extend Hands From Darkness, Aibou Series X DAY, Nobody’s Perfect, My Diary of Our Exchange, Trailers and the Japanese Movie Box Office Chart”

Film4 Gives the UK a Studio Ghibli Easter

Spirited Away Bathhouse ChihiroSometimes Film4 does magical things. It is a major part of UK film production and it helped bring about the magic of great films like Shame, Submarine, Berberian Sound Studio and Attack the Block… Well that last one has lost a lot of its appeal for me. Other times it screens great films at a time when I will actually watch them. It also has the rights to screen nearly every Studio Ghibli and pre-Studio Ghibli film ever made and screens those on special occasions. This Easter, starting with the channel premiere of Hayao Miyazaki’s Spirited Away, Film4 is going to screen 19 Ghibli films from the earliest titles like The Little Norse Prince all the way to Arrietty!

I may have only two Ghibli film reviews (Ponyo and Arrietty) but I have seen all of these with the exception of Ocean Waves. I cannot recommend these films highly enough. My personal favourites are Spirited Away, Princess Mononoke, Porco Rosso, Kiki’s Delivery Service, Whisper of the Heart and The Cat Returns. Each of them is brilliant and Spirited Away ranks as one of the most magical experiences I have ever had in a cinema. The only one I will refuse to watch is Grave of the Fireflies because I was left an emotional wreck the last time I viewed it and it’s on at 1 in the morning and I have work the next day 😛

Enough from me. GHIBLI dates and times and titles and images:

Princess Mononoke

Tuesday 26th March – Saturday 13th April 2013

Tuesday March 26, 6.3o p.m.: Spirited Away (2001), Director: Hayao MiyazakiSpirited Away Sail Away

Wednesday March 27, 6.05 p.m.: Princess Mononoke (1997), Director: Hayao Miyazaki

Thursday March 28, 11 a.m.: The Cat Returns (2002), Director: Hiroyuki Morita

Thursday March 28, 4.35 p.m.: Porco Rosso (1992), Director: Hayao Miyazaki

Friday March 29, 4.45 p.m.: Kiki’s Delivery Service (1989), Director: Hayao MiyazakiWhisper of the Heart

Saturday March 30, 4.55 p.m.: My Neighbor Totoro (1988), Director: Hayao Miyazaki

Sunday March 31, 5.15 p.m.: Arrietty (2010), Director: Hiromasa Yonebayashi

Monday April 1st, 4.35 p.m.: Howl’s Moving Castle (2004), Director: Hayao Miyazaki

Tuesday April 2nd, 3.15 p.m.: Castle of Cagliostro (1979), Director: Hayao Porco Rosso KissMiyazaki

Wednesday April 03rd, 2.50 p.m.: Ponyo (2008), Director: Hayao Miyazaki

Thursday April 4th, 11 a.m: Ocean Waves (1993), Director: Tomomi Mochizuki

Thursday April 4th, 2.35 p.m.: Pom Poko (1994), Director: Isao Takahata

Friday April 5th, 2.40 p.m: Whisper of the Heart (1995), Director: Yoshifumi Kondo

Friday April 5th, 12.15 a.m.Grave of the Fireflies (1988), Director: Isao Takahata

Saturday April 6th, 4.35 p.m: Spirited Away (2001),

Sunday April 7th, 3.00 p.m.: The Cat Returns (2002),Arrietty gazes at her reflection in a bauble/Mirror

Monday April 8th, 2.25 p.m: Tales from Earthsea (2006), Director: Goro Miyazaki

Tuesday April 9th 12.55 p.m.: Only Yesterday (1991) Director: Isao Takahata

Wednesday April 10th, 1.10 p.m.: Princess Mononoke (1997),

Thursday April 11th, 11 a.m.: The Little Norse Prince (1968), Director: Isao Kiki's Delivery ServiceTakahata

Thursday April 11th, 2.30 p.m.: Laputa: Castle in the Sky (1986), Director: Hayao Miyazaki

Friday April 12th, Time N/A: Howl’s Moving Castle (2004),

Saturday April 13th, Time N/A.: Nausicaä of the Valley of Wind (1984), Director: Hayao Miyazaki

Check the Film4 website for more info!

Princess Mononoke Gaze 2

xxxHOLiC First Impression

xxxHOLiC Dorama Image

xxxHOLiC

Japanese Title: ホリック xxxHOLiC

Romaji: Horikku xxxHOLiC

Duration: 8 Episodes

Director: Keisuke Toyoshima

Writer: Jun Tsugita (Screenplay), CLAMP (Original Manga)

Starring: Anne Watanabe, Shota Sometani, Karen Miyazaki, Masahiro Higashide, Naoto Takenaka, Yumi Adachi,

xxxHOLiC is the TV adaptation of a popular manga by CLAMP, a quartet of artists who have a huge back-catalogue of supernatural tales all with their distinctive designs which features impossibly long-limbed and waifish characters.

ホリック xxxHOLiC Anime

They are so influential they are called in by various production studios to provide character designs and stories – witness Blood-C, the latest entry in the Blood franchise.

Despite their fame and prowess the only CLAMP franchise I have watched is Cardcaptor Sakura back when I was back in high school. Even that I dropped after the first series because, let’s face it, it’s aimed at girls. xxxHOLiC is a title I know of but have missed. I have not read the manga or watched the anime so I am going into this eight part TV adaptation as a complete novice which is pretty exciting because it is virgin territory and I can form an unbiased opinion. After three episodes I can safely say that I like it. Part of the reason I like it is because it feels familiar thanks to the staff and the atmosphere and the other part I like it is the great acting.

ホリック xxxHOLiC WatanukiThe story begins with Kimihiro Watanuki (Sometani) who is a high school boy who can see Ayakashi (spirits). These spirits take on all manner of forms like shades and disembodied body parts and they pop up at the most unexpected points which, when you think about it, is pretty irritating since ghosts seem to haunt everywhere. Even school, is haunted by these supernatural presences. Furthermore, some seem to be aggressive.

XXXHOLiC Watanuki Sees Ghost Arms

His ability to see the supernatural also opens up possibilities. On his way to school he finds himself witnessing a woman pass by with a dark mist emanating from her ‘pinkie finger’. It turns out he will meet said woman later but let us continue with the setup for now… he continues walking down an alley into what looks like a gorgeous magical grove. Seriously, XXXHOLiC (8) Magic Grovethis is ‘take-a-picture and admire the light emanating from the sun’ gorgeous. Watanuki’s about to see more gorgeous things when he steps in a puddle. The scene cuts to a mysterious woman who seems to summon him by taking control of his body and dragging him to her house. Watanuki is stunned at the sudden change of location which is gorgeous but not as gorgeous as what comes next…

Watanuki is seized by a supernatural force and taken to a house where he is met by two cute girls named Maru and Moro who drag him into what can only be described as a mystical chamber where he finds himself in the presence of a (seriously) gorgeous woman named Yūko Ichihara (Watanabe).

ホリック xxxHOLiC Anne Watanabe

Who is she to have these mystical powers? What is her plan in hooking Watanuki? Will the camera lovingly hug her body at every moment?

Continue reading “xxxHOLiC First Impression”

Platina Data, Flower of Absolution, Bozo, Case of High Treason (Echo) is a 100 Year Echo, Precure All Stars New Stage 2: Kokoro no Tomodachi, I Can See From Heaven and Other Trailers and the Japanese Movie Box Office Chart

The week started off with March 11th, a date which will be forever associated with the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami which hit eastern Japan back in 2011. I posted about Third Window Films release of Vulgaria and then posted about Tohoku on Film, two films screening this weekend at the Japan Foundation. The films show Fukushima before and after the disaster. Roll on Wednesday and I started a list of films which deal directly with the aftermath of the disaster in a post called Great East Japan Earthquake Aftermath on Film and it contains details of some of the films that cover the aftermath of the disaster. I will update it as more films become available.

Film has been a key medium in keeping alive the memory of the disaster and those who suffered in it. Through film we can see the horror of the day, the effects on the people and the strength of the human spirit as survivors fight their way back from disaster. Whatever the genre, it will serve to remind the audience of that day.

Himizu is one such example. Sion Sono, former wild-man of the Japanese film industry channelled his creative talents to create a film so powerful thanks to its anger and life that it scorches itself on the memory. It was a powerful story about an individual but it also applied to Japan as a whole.

住田、がんばれ!

日本、がんばれ!

Himizu Sometani and Nikaidou

What does the Japanese film chart look like this week ( March 09th-10th).

  1.   Doraemon Nobita’s Dinosaur
  2.   Oz the Great and Powerful
  3.   Flight
  4.   A Good Day to Die Hard
  5.   Ted
  6.   Les Miserables
  7.   Toaru Majutsu no Index
  8.   Django Unchained
  9.   The Brain Man
  10.   Reunion
  11.   Argo
  12.   Strawberry Night

Did I predict Doraemon would dominate the charts last week or did I predict it would dominate the charts? It was never a question of how well it would do because Doraemon is one of the biggest characters in Japan, Asia… The world even. His fans will keep this at number one for a while now. The other new entry is Oz the Great and Powerful. March 11th drama Reunion sits at ten and Strawberry Night is at twelve.

What’s released in Japan this weekend?

Platina Data                                            Platina Data Film Poster

Japanese Title: プラチナデータ

Romaji:  Puratina De-ta

Release Date: March 16th, 2013 (Japan)

Running Time: 133 mins.

Director: Keishi Ohtomo

Writer: Keigo Higashino (Original Book), Hideya Hamada (Screenplay),Cool Platina Data Film Poster

Starring: Kazunari Ninomiya, Etsushi Toyokawa, Anne Watanabe, Kiko Mizuhara, Honami Suzuki, Katsuhisa Namase

Ha, when I was last in London I picked up the book as a present for my teacher. When I read that it was written by Keigo Higashino I figured it would be an excellent thriller because that’s how Higashino’s books roll! Turns out the movie is genuinely good according to the Japan Times Film Review and it’s the biggest movie released this week. It is directed by Keishi Ohtomo who had a hit last year with Rurouni Kenshin. The cast is full of big names like the Arashi singer Kazunari Ninomiya (Gantz, Letters from Iwo Jima, Tekkonkinkurito) and Anne Watanabe (Ninja Kids!!!, XXXHOLiC) as well as rising star Kiko Mizuhara (Norwegian Wood). My film of the week!

It is the year 2017 and the Japanese government attempts to secretly control the DNA of everybody in the country. When a scientist named Ryuhei Kagura (Ninomiya) who works at the National Police Agency is accused of murdering the DNA analysis system he helps run he goes on the run with veteran detective Reiji Asama on his trail! 

Flower of Absolution              Shamen Hana Film Poster

Japanese Title: 赦免花

Romaji:  Shamen Bana

Release Date: March 16th, 2013 (Japan)

Running Time: 107 mins.

Director: Shinichi Karube

Writer: Yu Orihara (Screenplay/Original Book)

Starring: Yaeko Mizutani (Narrator), Misaki Saijo, Hidekazu Ichinose, Naoto Takenaka, Taro Kawano, Natsuo Ishido, Monica Takano, Mariko Yasui,

Shinichi Karube, producer of Fly with the Gold, brings together quite the cast for a period drama set at the end of the Edo period in which a samurai named Kengo (Ichinose) is exiled to Sado island on the charge of disobeying the Shogunate. On the island he meets a former prostitute named Yuki (Misaki) and the two fall in love with each other. The two conceive a child but with Kengo being offered a pardon Yuki is faced with raising the child alone or attempting an abortion… Hidekazu Ichinose has a few films to his name (Snakes and Earrings) but Misaki Saijo appears to be an AV actress… a pretty hot one. If I were Kengo I’d tell the Shogun to stuff his pardon but then I’d make a rubbish samurai 😉

Bozo                                                      Bozo Film Poster

Japanese Title: ぼつちゃん

Romaji:  Botsu-Chan

Release Date: March 16th, 2013 (Japan)

Running Time: 130 mins.

Director: Tatsushi Ōmori

Writer: Hidemori Tsuchiya, Tatsushi Ōmori (Screenplay)

Starring: Shingo Mizusawa, Shohei Uno, Ai Tamura, Shinsuke Suzuki, Fuchigami Yasushi, Mayumi Takahashi, Asako Ogawa, Yasushi Fuchikami, Masashi Endo, Emiko Imaizumi

Tatsushi Omori is an actor/director/screenwriter who has worked on Our Homeland (actor), Tada’s Do-It-All House (director/screenwriter) and this is his latest film. It looks miserable and funny, the main character physically divorced from reality and mentally drifting off the map to boot. It also looks like a pretty strong psychological drama full of everyday horror that pushes people to the edge. It draws inspiration from a real life criminal case where Tomohiro Kato indiscriminately killed people in Akihabara in 2008. Shingo Mizusawa (Roadside Fugitive) takes the lead role alongside Shohei Uno (The Drudgery Train, Toilet and Women) and Ai Tamura (Asakusa Daydreams) and Masashi Endo (Sawako Decides). I would want to see this one as well.

Tomoyuki Kaji (Mizusawa) is a temporary worker at a factory in Nagano Prefecture and spends his free time writing about his loneliness on an internet forum. He meets Tanaka (Uno), another lonely guy and they both become friends but Tomoyuki suffers a series of misfortunes like being fired, betrayed by his friend and having unfulfilled love. At the edge of an abyss, he goes to Akihabara…

Case of High Treason (Echo) is a 100 Year Echo                    High Treason 100 Years On Film Poster

Japanese Title: 100年の谺(こだま) 大逆事件は生きている

Romaji: 100-Nen no kodama (Kodama) dai gyaku jiken wa ikite iru

Release Date: March 16th, 2013 (Japan)

Running Time: 90 mins.

Director: Kei Tanaka

Writer: Tomoko Fujiwara

A documentary that raises the historical case 12 people who were hanged and another 12 who were given a sentence of life imprisonment in 1911 for what the government deemed “high treason”. It brings together studies and research that aims to prove that the people condemned were done under false accusations and the sentences were passed to silence socialists and anarchists in Japan. It looks fascinating.

Precure All Stars New Stage 2: Kokoro no TomodachiPrecure All Stars New Stage 2 Kokoro no Tomodachi Film Poster

Japanese Title: プリキュアオールスターズ New Stage こころのともだち

Romaji:  Puri Kyua O-ru Suta-zu New Stage 2 Kokoro no Tomodachi

Release Date: March 16th, 2013 (Japan)

Running Time: 90 mins.

Director: Kōji Ogawa

Writer: Yoshimi Narita (Screenplay)

Starring: Ai Nagano, Aya Hisakawa, Eri Kitamura, Hisako Kanemoto, Fumie Mizusawa, Akiko Nakagawa, Asami Tano, Rie Tanaka, Kanako Miyamoto,

Another year another Pretty Cure film. The director is Kōji Ogawa and it is his first big directorial job although he has worked on a number of awesome titles like Moldiver, Noein and Azumanga Daioh. The screenplay is from a Pretty Cure veteran, Yoshimi Narita, who has written for a number of the other films and television series. Feel the magic!

In this adventure the PreCure girls get a party invitation from the school fairy at a time when items are being stolen and suspicious shadows are emerging. Can the PreCure girls stop the shadows, solve the mysterious thefts and get to the party?

Continue reading “Platina Data, Flower of Absolution, Bozo, Case of High Treason (Echo) is a 100 Year Echo, Precure All Stars New Stage 2: Kokoro no Tomodachi, I Can See From Heaven and Other Trailers and the Japanese Movie Box Office Chart”

Great East Japan Earthquake Aftermath on Film

311 Film ImageI remember the morning of the Great East Japan Earthquake quite vividly. I finished work early and watched the unfolding disaster online. It was terrifying and it was bewildering and it seemed so overwhelming. I also remember the (ani)blogging community coming together quick sharp to relay news and to set up charity appeals. The charity appeals are still needed as rebuilding is moving slowly and people are still displaced which is why I posted about a Japan Foundation film event on the anniversary earlier this week. It is strange to think that the disaster was two years ago because it seems closer and I suspect that the reason it still seems so close is because of the many films that have use it as subject matter.

One of the things I do on my blog is write up trailer posts for most of the Japanese films released in cinemas and for the films touring the festival circuit. Through doing this I have seen that Japanese filmmakers are intensely interested. Not a month goes by without two or three titles and with the recent anniversary the number of films has intensified. The range of filmmakers covers documentarians, directors who are better known for horror films and bleak dramas (bleakies as fellow film-blogger Alua calls them), veterans and directors making their debuts. It stands in complete contrast to other disasters and countries. How many films are there directly or indirectly about Hurricane Katrina (a handy wikipedia list)? There are probably more because The Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans isn’t present in that list but still it just does not compare to the efforts that the Japanese filmmaking community has made to highlight document disaster and the continuing problems. Whatever the case, I present this list to you. I can’t claim that it’s exhaustive but it’s somewhere to start. It is shows how unique cinema can be and it is something we can use to remember the event and the impact it had on people’s lives and hopefully chart the recovery of the region.

Here are some of the films:

 

A Gentle Rain Falls for FukushimaA Gentle Rain Falls for Fukushima

Director: Atsushi Kokatsu, Writer: Atsushi Kokatsu, Uichiro Kitazato

Starring: Kosuke Toyohara, Chieko Matsubara, Jurina, Shono Hayama, Gitan Otsuru, Hitomi Sato

This was the directorial debut of Kokatsu. When preproduction of the film was finished in early 2011 and funding was secured from the Fukushima government the Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami struck. After initially suspending the film the filmmakers continued with production and donated some of the profits to charity. The film is a mix of heartfelt drama and light comedy that comes with the role-swapping like finding out a girl younger than you used to be your mother in a past life. It centres around a diverse group of people who are all lonely and struggling in life. They meet in Fukushima where they discover that they were a family in a previous life. At first uneasy with each other, the more they talk the better they feel about their problems and their bond grows but their time together remains short as they must soon leave.

 

Himizu PosterHimizu

Director: Sion Sono, Writer: Sion Sono (script adaptation), Minoru Furuya (manga)

Starring: Shota Sometani, Fumi Nikaidō, Tetsu Watanabe, Denden, Jun Murakami, Makiko Watanabe, Ken Mitsuishi, Mitsuru Fukikoshi, Megumi Kagurazaka, Asuka Kurosawa, Taro Suwa,

Himizu is Sion Sono’s adaptation of Minoru Furuya’s manga of the same name and the only film on this list I have seen. I was in tears at the end. Sono takes a manga already full of anger and tough subject matter like child abuse and murder, and weaves in the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami to create a film which is ultimately a moving exploration of life, identity, redemption and the will to live. I’m quoting my review now. Here are more quotes “Sono hammers the references home with scenes of actors wandering around the disaster hit areas complete with the skeletal remains of buildings and mounds of rubble surrounding them. The sight of the destruction is a terrifying testament to the power of the disaster. The scenes are accompanied by the sound of Geiger counters and a menacing rumbling reminding us the events even more. It feels like a natural part of the film and added to the theme of enduring whatever life throws at you.” I would consider Himizu to be one of the best films I saw last year.

Junior high school kid Yuichi Sumida (Sometani) wants a quiet life but his mother (Watanabe) comes home with different men every night, and his drunken, hate-filled father (Mitsuishi) only pays him visits when he needs money. Yuichi carries on running the family boat rental business and lives surrounded by homeless people who are victims of the tsunami. Meanwhile at school he is ignoring class-mate Keiko Chazawa (Nikaidō) who has a massive crush on him. Things get tough when his mother abandons him and Kaneko (Denden), a Yakuza loan-shark, shows up looking for Yuichi’s father and ¥6 million. Pushed to breaking point by his situation Yuichi finds himself unable to control his anger and a series of events leads him to the brink of madness.

Women on the Edge Movie PosterWomen on the Edge                                         

Director: Masahiro Kobayashi, Writer: Masahiro Kobayashi

Starring: Miho Fujima, Yuko Nakamura, Makiko Watanabe

Masahiro Kobayashi, writer and director of grim films like Bashing is back with Women on the Edge which stars Miho Fujima (Ju-On: The GrudgeTajomaru), Yuko Nakamura (Blood and Bones), and Makiko Watanabe (Himizu, Love Exposure).

The three Onodera sisters return to the home of their deceased parents’ in Kesennuma, Miyagi, a place affected by the Tohoku Earthquake. The house has survived the earthquake and tsunami and the three are looking to claim an inheritance. Nobuko (Nakamura) moved to Tokyo and is a divorcee, Takako (Watanabe) moved to New York and works as a butoh dancer. Third sister Satomi (Fujima) stayed behind. There are deep resentments and over the course of the film they will come out.

 

Odayaka Film PosterOdayaka                                                                      

Director: Nobuteru Uchida, Writer: Nobuteru Uchida (Script),

Starring: Kiki Sugino, Yukiko Shinohara, Takeshi Yamamoto, Ami Watanabe, Ami Watanabe, Yu Koyanagi, Makiko Watanabe, Maho Yamada, Susumu Terajima, Maki Nishiyama, Kotaro Shiga, Kanji Furutachi, Yuko Kibiki, Yuya Matsumura,

This is a film which covers the March 11th earthquakes. This is another fiction film addressing the March 11th Earthquake and Tsunami following Women on the EdgeThe Ear Cleaner and The Land of Hope. It is written and directed by Nobuteru Uchida (Love Addiction).

Saeko (Sugino) and Yukako (Shinohara) are neighbours in a Tokyo apartment complex. Following the March 11th Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami both find their lives affected by newfound fears. Saeko is undergoing a divorce and fears her daughter may get radiation exposure. Yukako also fears the radiation and asks her husband to move. When Saeko saves Yukako from suicide, the two become close.

The Intermission Film PosterThe Intermission                 

Director: Naofumi Higuchi, Writer: Naofumi Higuchi, Minato Takehiko (Screenplay),

Starring: Kumiko Akiyoshi, Shota Sometani, Kyoko Kagawa, Akiko Koyama, Kumi Mizuno, Naoto Takenaka, Shiro Sano,

An indie film which deals indirectly with the effects of March 11th as we get the real life story of an old movie theatre in Ginza, Tokyo was closed in March. It stars Shota Sometani (Himizu), Kumiko Akiyoshi (Deep River), Kyoko Kagawa (Shall We Dance?) and Kumi Mizuno (Godzilla Final Wars).

Kumiko (Akiyoshi) is the manager of the Ginza Shinepatosu and she has a younger husband named Shota (Sometani). The movie theatre faces closure following the Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami of 2011 due to safety fears. As the final day approaches, Kumiko’s anxieties over earthquakes and radiation grow.

Continue reading “Great East Japan Earthquake Aftermath on Film”

Tohoku On Film: Japan Foundation Screenings

The Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami which occurred on March 11th, 2011 had a devastating impact on the people and places of Eastern Japan. It is two years since that day and while recovery is slow and memories are still fresh. The film world has been quick to use the disaster as subject matter for documentaries, short films and features. The Japan Foundation has organised two screenings of films to mark the second anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake.

FUKUSHIMA HULA GIRLS (GANBAPPE HULA GIRLS)
Friday 15 March 2013, from 6.30pm

Dir. Masaki Kobayashi, 2011, 102min, English SubtitlesFukushima Hula Girls Film Poster

Following on from the successful screening of the hit movie ‘Hula Girls’ as part of this year’s Touring Film Programme ‘Once Upon a Time in Japan’, the Japan Foundation is delighted to present ‘Fukushima Hula Girls’, an uplifting documentary following the real-life hula girls from the Spa Resort Hawaiians in the Fukushima Prefecture.

Having suffered damage from the Tohoku earthquake of March 2011 including their performance stage, the film shows the Hula Girls’ efforts to revive their business through the resort’s national hula dance tour.

Narrated by ‘Hula Girls’ star Yu Aoi, this documentary shows the girls’ determination and resilience in building a brighter future for Fukushima.

 

ECLAIR (ECLAIR: OKASHI HOUROUKI)
Saturday 16 March 2013, from 3.00pm and 6.00pm

Dir. Akio Kondo, 2011, 105min, English SubtitlesEclair Film Poster

Based on the autobiographical novel by Shigeru Nishimura and set around the turbulent period of the Second World War, ‘Éclair’ tells Akio (Hajime Yoshii), a young orphaned boy with an obsession for all things sweet. After being caught for stealing a bag of sweets out of hunger, Akio is sent to a reformatory and experiences a tough time, but finds solace through the song ‘Okashi to Musume’ (sweets and a girl) sung by one of the teachers, Yoko (Saori).

‘Éclair’ was shot in the autumn of 2010 in Ishinomaki-city and other places in the Miyagi prefecture. Many of the beautiful locations and historic buildings were swept away by the tsunami. The film offers a fascinating and wonderful insight into the area in which the film is set before the Great East Japan Earthquake. The film also perfectly complements this year’s Touring Film Programme theme of looking back into the past.

The events take place on March 15th and 16th at the Japan Foundation, 10-12 Russell Square, London, WC1B 5EH

While looking for a trailer for the film Eclair I found a YouTube channel which charts the recovery efforts.

Third Window Films Release Vulgaria

Third Window Films have provided Asian film fans in the UK with an excellent line-up of films within the first month of the year with The Woodsman & the Rain and The Foreign Duck, The Native Duck & God in a Coin Locker. Both films attained high marks from me and made my Top Ten Films of the year list and they both hail from Japan. The next release from Third Window Films is Vulgaria which hails from Hong Kong. What is it about?

Vulgaria DVD Case

Vulgaria

A film by Pang Ho-Cheung (Dream Home, Love in a Puff)


Starring: Chapman To (Infernal Affairs Trilogy, A Simple Life)

Lam Suet (Vengeance, Exiled, PTU)

Hong Kong / 2012 / 92 Mins / In Cantonese with English subtitles / Colour

 

DVD and Blu-ray Special Features
Anamorphic Widescreen transfer with 5.1 Surround Sound
Making Of, Theatrical Trailer

Out on DVD & Blu-ray April 15th, 2013

To (Chapman To Man-chak), a long-time film producer, has yet to produce anything resembling a hit. Beset by financial troubles, he has become desperate for money – so much so that he is unable to pay the alimony to his ex-wife (Kristal Tin). Despite his former spouse’s bitterness, their daughter still clings onto her faith in him – and wishes to see him on TV once his new movie premieres. To is soon introduced to a potential Mainland Chinese investor, Tyrannosaurus (Ronald Cheng), by his buddy Lui Wing-shing (Simon Loui Yu-yeung), but Tyrannosaurus is not only the head of a Guangxi triad gang, he turns out to have very particular tastes in food and sex. Regardless, To is determined to woo this investor, even if it means giving into his every demands. Tyrannosaurus eventually tells them to cast his childhood idol Yum Yum Shaw (Susan Shaw) in a remake of a classic pornographic film. He even gives the film the title Confessions of Two Concubines…