Liebester Blog Award Number Three

Lynn from Lynn’s Book Blog has passed on the Liebster Blog Award to me. Not one for ignoring praise (please give me praise, I have writer’s syndrome) and never one for ignoring Lynn (a blogger with great taste in films as well as books) or any of my fellow commenters/bloggers, I have put up my responses here. Here are the rules:

Liebster Award1. Tell us 11 things about yourself

2. Answer 11 questions the blogger who awarded you asked

3. Pass the award to 11 people

4. Give them 11 questions.
5. Tell them about the award
6. Don’t award people who are recipients already

I have done this before so I’ll skip the formalities and the whole nominating people bit because I doubt anybody I would nominate has the time to reply to be quite frank.

11 Things About Me Updated for 2013

  1. I have met Doctor Who.
  2. I have met the film director Isshin Inudo.
  3. I have Japanese relatives, I own Japanese things, I obsess over Japanese films, I speak Japanese but I have yet to go to the country.
  4. I have a sister who is much younger than me and more beautiful, cooler and smarter than me. She has developed a cool taste in films.
  5. I watch at least two films a week, usually both Japanese.
  6. I spent most of my childhood watching subtitled films from France and Hong Kong.
  7. I like rainy weather.
  8. I work in an art museum with a famous collection.
  9. I sometimes like to watch trashy anime like Haiyore! Nyaruko-san and Haganai.
  10. I am trying to write a novel.
  11. This is Year II of My Time of Getting Things Done.Kino (キノ) and Hermes and their Options

Continue reading “Liebester Blog Award Number Three”

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Why Don’t You Play in Hell? Teaser Trailer Sion Sono’s Next Film Release

Why Don’t You Play in Hell?           Why DOn't you Play in Hell Film Image

Japanese Title: 地獄 で なぜ 悪い Why Don’t You Play in Hell?

Romaji: Jigoku de Naze Warui Why Don’t You Play in Hell?

Release Date: September 28th, 2013 (Japan)

Running Time: N/A

Director: Sion Sono

Writer: Sion Sono (Screenplay),

Starring: Jun Kunimura, Shinichi Tsutsumi, Fumi Nikaido, Tomochika, Hiroki Hasegawa, Kotou Lorena, Gen Hoshino

Sion Sono has three projects on the go. I have posted about the live-action dorama All Esper Dayo! which is screening on Japanese television. I have also posted about the casting call for Tokyo Tribes in pre-production. His third feature is Why Don’t You Play in Hell? and a teaser trailer was recently released for it. Thanks to fellow hardcore Sion Sono fan Tired Paul I found out about the trailer and I have to say that watching the trailer made me really happy.

Muto (Kunimura) and Ikegami (Tsutsumi) are rival gangsters who despise each other but there’s a catch for Ikegami… he loves Muto’s actress daughter Michiko (Nikaido). Part of the reason she’s an actress is because it is the dream of her mother Shizue (Tomochika) and so Muto is out to make that dream happen. Enter Koji (Hoshino), a passer-by who is mistaken for being a film director. When dealing with gangsters you don’t mess about so Koji gets indie film director Hirata (Hasegawa) to cast Michiko as the lead actress in his film but it soon goes all wrong.

I’m sure you’re happy after watching the trailer. The violence! The blood! Twisted kissing! Swords and knives! The screaming! The rainbow colours! The opera! A waterslide flowing with blood in a house! OH GOD, A REBELLIOUS CRAZY SONO FILM! LIFE IS WORTH LIVING.

The cast is pretty damn awesome with the ever-watchable Jun Kunimura (Vital, Outrage) playing a Yakuza. His rival is Shinichi Tsutsumi, the male lead in One Missed Call and a pretty good actor. Fumi Nikaido (Himizu), one of Japan’s rising actresses looks like a sadistic and cool character who might run with Aiko in with Cold Fish.

It looks like Sono is veering back to the crazy, careening, balls out and intense films from early in his career that his fans love him for. The script for this was originally written as an action film 15 years ago which would make it before Suicide Club and Strange Circus so that sounds just about right for the tone. The carnage and the locations shown remind me of the climax of Noriko’s Dinner Table. I’m babbling now. I think I’ll watch the teaser for the 30th time!

Shield of Straw, A Woman and War, Jellyfish Eyes, Library Wars, Monster and Other Japanese Film Trailers

Attack on Titan Mikasa PunchThis week started with a look at the Japanese films playing at the Cannes Film Festival 2013. There are two films from two great directors – Miike and Koreeda – and the trailer for Miike’s film gets me hyped up! I followed this with First Impressions of the Attack on Titan and My Youth Romantic Comedy is Wrong as I Expected, two of the new titles from the Spring 2013 Season Anime. After three episodes from each I find these two of the best TV anime titles I have seen since Mawaru Penguindrum back in 2011. A bit quiet on the film front. A Japanese essay (finished at the last minute just before the lesson started!) took up most of my time but I did get Bakumatsu Taiyou-den in the post, a film that was shown at last year’s Berlin International Film Festival. I’m going to watch it tonight! Sooo excited!

What do the Japanese film charts look like this week (April 20th-21st)?

  1. Detective Conan Private Eye in the Distant Sea
  2. Crayon Shin Chan! Gourmet Food Survival
  3. Lincoln
  4. Dragon Ball Z Battle of the Gods
  5. Wreck-It Ralph
  6. Steins;Gate Fuka Ryoiki no Deja Vu
  7. The Great Passage
  8. Platina Data
  9. Chinese Zodiac
  10. Doraemon Nobita’s Dinosaur

Well the children’s anime Detective Conan and Crayon Shin-chan zoom out of their release slots last week to take the top two spots on the film chart. Another anime released last week, Steins;Gate, does good business on its opening weekend with $931,275 earned from just eighteen screens. The Great Passage remains in the top ten at seven and Platina Data takes eighth position. Definitely an interesting top ten!

What is released this weekend?

Shield of Straw                                         Shield of Straw Film Poster

Japanese Title: 藁 の 楯

Romaji: Wara no Tate

Release Date: April 26th, 2013 (Japan)

Running Time: 124 mins.

Director: Takashi Miike

Writer: Kazuhiro Kiuchi (Original Novel), Tamio Hayashi (Screenplay),

Starring: Takao Osawa, Tatsuya Fujiwara, Nanako Matsushima, Kimiko Yo, Kento Nagayama, Goro Kishitani, Tsutomu Yamazaki, Hirotaro Honda, Masata Ibu

Takashi Miike is great. Fact. He is going to be at the Cannes Film Festival with his latest film Shield of Straw, an action title/crime-thriller based on a novel by Kazuhiro Kiuchi. The review at the Japan Times scores it as a 3 out of 5 which doesn’t sound spectacular but reviewer Mark Schilling describes it as

“A high-concept entertainment of a type beloved by the local industry, with a hyped-to-the-max plot that features death-defying heroics, the film pushes beyond its own cliches to an existential knife’s edge where the cop hero (Takao Osawa) is tested to the moral core of his being.”

Do we get a sense of that from the trailers?

Can we say f*ck yeah!?!?! TRAILER OF THE WEEK. This is what I want to see!

Kunihide Kiyomaru (Fujiwara) is a murderer. His victim is the granddaughter of a power-player in the political and financial world named Takaoki Ninagawa (Yamazaki).Three months elapse and Kiyomaru thinks he is in the clear until he sees that Ninagawa has placed full page ads in three of the biggest newspapers in Japan offering a 1 billion yen reward to the person who can kill Kiyomaru. Fearing for his life, he turns himself in to Fukuoka Prefectural Police.

This case is highly explosive so five elite detectives from the security section (SP) of the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department travel to Fukuoka to escort Kiyomaru back. The distance between Fukuoka and Tokyo is 1,200 km and there are a lot of people who want to collect that reward including rogue police officers. The pressure is on and one of the SP officers, Mekari Kazuki (Takao) begins to show doubts about whether they should protect Kiyomaru but fellow officer Atsuko Shiraiwa (Matsushima) is determined to get the job done.

When I first started reviewing Japanese films properly Miike’s Audition was one of the first titles I looked to because it demonstrated that beyond the attention-grabbing shocks of extreme cinema there was a lot of technical skill on the screen. Little did I realise that I would be seeing most of his latest films in a cinema and heaping further high praise! The reviews range from his remake of the classic 13 Assassins, the amusing kids film Ninja Kids!!! and the cracked musical For Love’s Sake. I hope that Shield of Straw also gets a screening. It stars Takao Osawa (Aragami, Ichi), Nanako Matsushima (Reiko Asakawa in Ringu), Tatsuya Fujiwara (Battle Royale, Death Note), Tsutomu Yamazaki (The Woodsman & the Rain, Tampopo), Kento Nagayama (Crime or Punishment?!?), Kimiko Yo (Departures, For Love’s Sake) and Hirotaro Honda (Zero Focus).

 

Jellyfish Eyes                                         Jellyfish Eyes Film Poster

Japanese Title: めめめのくらげ

Romaji: Mememe no Kurage

Release Date: April 26th, 2013 (Japan)

Running Time: N/A

Director: Takashi Murakami

Writer: Takashi Murakami (Screenplay),

Starring: Takuto Sueoka, Himeka Asami, Masataka Kubota. Shota Sometani, Takumi Saito, Asuka Kurosawa, Kanji Tsuda, Mayu Tsuruta

Takashi Murakami is one of the biggest contemporary artists in the world with his “superflat” style which merges Japanese pop-culture (anime, J-pop) into a colourful representation of what Otaku adore about Japan. When he has exhibited his work in the UK he tends to get column inches in newspapers and some TV air time. He is bringing his unique vision to cinema screens in a film which mixes live-action and animation with magical creatures that look like Pokemon and some family drama. The film’s theme tune sounds awful but the trailer looks kind of good with a mix of comedy and angst and cute and a narrative that manages to weave in the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami (another film for the list). According to a feature on the Japan Times website it is also a bit of an existential tale and pretty damn awesome.

9-year-old Masashi (Sueoka) lost his father on March 11th and moves to a new town with his mother. He starts at a new school and is the target of bullies. He also gains a friend in his class, Saki (Asami). When unpacking things at home, Masashi finds a strange creature like a jellyfish appears from one of the boxes. He names the creature Kurage Bo and takes him to school where he discovers that everyone in his class have similar “friends” which only children can see and control by remote control. These creatures seem cute and adorable but there is a dark corporate entity controlling them so they can harvest negative energy.

The film stars Takuto Sueoka (Welcome Home, Hayabusa) in the lead role and Himeka Asami (Yellow Elephant) as his friend Saki. Masataka Kubota (13 Assassins, The Cowards Who Looked to the Sky), Shota Sometani (Himizu), Takumi Saito (For Love’s Sake, Vampire Girl vs. Frankenstein Girl) and the spectacular Asuka Kurosawa (A Snake of June, Dead Waves, Cold Fish).

Continue reading “Shield of Straw, A Woman and War, Jellyfish Eyes, Library Wars, Monster and Other Japanese Film Trailers”

My Youth Romantic Comedy is Wrong as I Expected First Impressions

My Youth Romantic Comedy is Wrong as I Expected

Director: Ai Yoshimura, Series Composition: Shotaro Suga, Character Designer: My Youth Romantic Comedy PosterYuu Shindou, Original Creator: Wataru Watari

Voice Actors: Takuya Eguchi, Saori Hayami, Ami Koshimizu, Aoi Yūki, Mai Nakahara, Marina Inoue, Takashi Kondo

Studio: Brain Base

Ha, the second anime I viewed from my Spring Preview Picks turned out to be this one with an elaborate title My Youth Romantic Comedy is Wrong as I Expected (Yahari Ore no Seishun Love Comedy wa Machigatteiru). It catches the attention of everyone I mention it too. I loved it so here is a long post full of images like Attack on Titan. I’m keeping it relatively simple with plenty of images to avoid boring you guys to death.

I totally underestimated how smart the show would be. Anybody who loves school-based anime and those cynical about such things (and life in general) will find something here.

Japanese writers and directors manage to capture how I feel as a person far better than anyone from a culture closer to my own. The comedy Fine, Totally Fine brought home to me everything I feel and some of the ways I act in my post-adolescent drift towards adulthood while the central character in the anime My Youth Romantic Comedy is Wrong as I Expected was pretty much cynical me during high school… well a more extreme outsider version of me…

My Youth Rom Com SNAFU Hachibana Resentment

The anime follows Hikigaya Hachiman who is a pretty antisocial high school student with no friends or girlfriend and a very, very cynical view on life.  His thoughts on those fellow students taking part in clubs and activities and falling in love are not kind: The people who enjoy their youth will eventually fall apart.

Continue reading “My Youth Romantic Comedy is Wrong as I Expected First Impressions”

Attack on Titan First Impression

Attack on TitanAttack on Titan Poster

Director: Tetsuro Araki, Series Composition: Yasuko Kobayashi, Original Manga: Hajime Isayama

Voice Actors: Yuuki Kaji, Yui Ishikawa, Marina Inoue, Hiro Shimono, Yu Kobayashi

Studio: Wit Studio, Production I.G.

Attack on Titan was the first anime I decided to watch from the latest season. The hype surrounding it was huge and I helped perpetuate it over at AUKN and here by repeatedly singing the praises of the staff and manga in previews. It is genuinely justified because the manga is a dark, shocking and moving and even inspiring. A really Attack on Titan Fight to Wingreat read.

I must admit I am not far into the manga but I feel the translation to the screen via anime has been perfect and captures the action brilliantly. Which is why this post is long, full of spoilers and littered with images 😉

The world of Attack on Titan sees the human race on the brink of extinction brought on by a sudden attack from wave upon wave of man-eating giants known as Titans. Mankind only survived because it sealed itself in a medieval style city with a series of three progressively higher walls around fifty metres tall which were taller than the biggest of giants. 100 years later and people live in peace in this city.

attack on titan city

The city is richly painted with a range of colours and intricately detailed in a European style. There are canals, fields and farms, windmills, mock-Tudor (not medieval, I know) houses, stone battlements and town squares and huge gates.

attack on titan city view

attack on titan erens house

The art direction is fantastic with so much detail. Just look at the flowers.

attack on titan flowers

So beautiful. Isn’t it soothing?

Continue reading “Attack on Titan First Impression”

Japanese Films at the Cannes Film Festival 2013

Genki Cannes Film Festival 2013 Banner

The 66th Cannes Film Festival is taking place from May 15th to the 26th and its line-up of Cannes Film Festival 2013 Posterfilms was announced earlier this week and the line-up looks very promising.

The festival opens with Baz Luhrmann’s lavish looking adaptation of F Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby and, following their major success with Drive, Ryan Gosling and Nicolas Winding Refn pair up again to take the festival by storm with Only God Forgives (which also has fierce looking Kristin Scott Thomas (Leaving), a gangster thriller set in Bangkok which is In Competition and has a chance of winning the Palme d’Or. There are also two Japanese films In Competition and boy do they look so damn awesome!

Last year brought us a few treats in terms of Japanese films but this year Japan has made a major impact with two films in competition from two very special directors, Koreeda and Miike. People who watch contemporary Japanese films will know that they are two of the most talented filmmakers in Japan… heck, anywhere and if I were at Cannes I think I’d make these two films my priority.

Shield of Straw                           Shield of Straw Film Poster

Japanese Title: 藁 の 楯

Romaji: Wara no Tate

Release Date: April 26th, 2013 (Japan)

Running Time: 124 mins.

Director: Takashi Miike

Writer: Kazuhiro Kiuchi (Original Novel), Tamio Hayashi (Screenplay),

Starring: Takao Osawa, Tatsuya Fujiwara, Nanako Matsushima, Kimiko Yo, KentoShield of Straw Film Poster 2 Nagayama, Goro Kishitani, Tsutomu Yamazaki, Hirotaro Honda, Masata Ibu

Oh wow, Cannes decided to get some balls and screen this action-packed film from Takashi Miike!

I find it brilliant that a chap who got his start making OTT V-cinema titles is on top of the world but it’s an indication of just how talented Takashi Miike is. He has been in fine form recently with a string of hits ranging from his exciting remake of the classic 13 Assassins, the amusing kids film Ninja Kids!!!, the cracked musical For Love’s Sake and an adaptation of a video game with Ace Attorney. His last film, Lesson of the Evil proved to be a return to violent and twisted territory similar to something like Cold Fish. Miike continues expanding into different genres and the mainstream with an all-out action title, a crime-thriller which is based on a novel by Kazuhiro Kiuchi.

Take a gander at the poster and then watch trailer and tell me you did not grin with excitement over the action!

As a fan of Miike who grew up watching his slightly older work like Audition and Visitor Q all I can say is that I love it and I hope (I really do hope) this tours the festival circuit and lands in London!

Kunihide Kiyomaru (Fujiwara) is a murderer. His victim is the granddaughter of a power-player in the political and financial world named Takaoki Ninagawa (Yamazaki).Three months elapse and Kiyomaru thinks he is in the clear until he sees that Ninagawa has placed full page ads in three of the biggest newspapers in Japan offering a 1 billion yen reward to the person who kill Kiyomaru. Fearing for his life, he turns himself in to Fukuoka Prefectural Police.

This case is potentially explosive so five elite detectives from the security section (SP) of the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department travel to Fukuoka to escort Kiyomaru back. The distance between Fukuoka and Tokyo is 1,200 km and there are a lot of people who want to collect that reward including rogue police officers. The pressure is on and one of the SP officers, Mekari Kazuki (Takao) begins to show doubts about whether they should protect Kiyomaru but fellow officer Atsuko Shiraiwa (Matsushima) is determined to get the job done.

I had shivers running up and down my spine just writing that! Anyway it sound a bit like the Bruce Willis film 16 Blocks only on a larger stage and I loved 16 Blocks.

It stars Takao Osawa (Aragami, Ichi), Nanako Matsushima (Reiko Asakawa in Ringu), Tatsuya Fujiwara (Battle Royale, Death Note), Tsutomu Yamazaki (The Woodsman & the Rain, Tampopo), Kento Nagayama (Crime or Punishment?!?), Kimiko Yo (Departures, For Love’s Sake) and Hirotaro Honda (Zero Focus).

The film is released in Japan next week!

Like Father, Like Son                         Koreeda Drama Poster

Japanese Title: そして 父 に なる

Romaji: Soshite Chichi ni Naru

Release Date: October 05th, 2013 (Japan)

Running Time: N/A

Director: Hirokazu Koreeda

Writer: N/A

Starring: Masaharu Fukuyama, Machiko Ono, Yoko Maki, Jun Fubuki, Keita Ninomiya, Like Father Like Son Cannes PosterLily Franky, Jun Kunimura, Kiki Kirin, Isao Natsuyagi

Hirokazu Koreeda is another favourite director of mine ever since I watched his film After Life back in high school. Since then he has made tremendously moving family dramas like Nobody Knows and Still Walking. I am not the only fan since Koreeda has had two films screened at Cannes with Distance (2001) and Nobody Knows (2004). There are no trailers or teasers as of yet since the film is not released until October but the story sounds like potential tear fuel.

Succesful business-man Ryota (Fukuyama) and his wife Midori (Ono) have a happy family life with their six-year-old son Keita (Nonomiya) but a phone call from the hospital informing them of the fact that their child was mixed up with another at birth shatters their happiness. Ryota and Midori must decide whether to hand over the son they have carefully raised for the last six years and take back their biological son or not.

The film stars Masaharu Fukuyama (Suspect X), Machiko Ono (Eureka, The Floating Castle), Yoko Maki (Infection, The Grudge), Lily Franky (Afro Tanaka), Jun Fubuki (SéanceRebirth) Kirin Kiki (Kiseki) and Jun Kunimura (Outrage, Vital) Isao Natsuyagi (Warm Water Under a Red Bridge).

Like last year I will try and track what the critical reception of these films was. For a full list of all of the films In Competition, check out Bonjour Tristesse who always does a great job covering all of the films at the festivals! I cannot wait to see how the Japanese films perform!

Genki Jason 2013 Festivals Banner

Steins;Gate The Movie, Petal Dance, Crayon Shin Chan! Gourmet Food Survival, Detective Conan Private Eye in the Distant Sea, Secret Love, Hear Mother’s Song Trailers and the Japanese Movie Box Office Chart

Abara Tsutomu Nihei White GaunaThis week I posted a tribute to Abara, a manga full of awesome images which reminded me of why I love reading Tsutomu Nihei’s works, and clips  of Sion Sono’s currently airing dorama All Esper Dayo!

As far as viewing stuff goes it was one totally dominated by anime as I watched the opening two or three episodes from the five shows I picked from the Spring Season and I stack up reviews for the next two or three weeks. The spring season has got off to a cracking start for me with Attack on Titan and the My Youth Romantic Comedy Failed as Expected providing me a lot of entertainment as my over-enthusiastic reviews will reveal. I have a ton of film reviews still to go through but my time has to be re-allocated to studying Japanese because I have an essay to hand in next week and a test in a months time. Keigo (honourifics) is scaring me at the minute and I haven’t touched it since my last lesson more than a month ago so I have to get going with it. Without further ado, let’s get straight to the charts and trailers!

What do the Japanese film charts look like this week (April 13th-14th)?

  1. Dragon Ball Z Battle of the Gods
  2. Wreck-It Ralph
  3. The Great Passage
  4. Platina Data
  5. Chinese Zodiac
  6. Doraemon Nobita’s Dinosaur
  7. Aibou Series X Day
  8. Oz the Great and Powerful
  9. Precure All Stars New Stage 2
  10. Jack the Giant Slayer

Wow, The Great Passage has entered at number three after its release last weekend! Has Yuya Ishii’s time arrived? Is he about to transition into the big league directors with a film that appeals to critics. We’ll see how long the film stays in the charts. Platina Data remains at number four in its fifth week and it has earned over $24 million. My teacher has read the book and she said it’s great. I hope I can see the film soon and confirm how good it is. Anyway…

What’s released this weekend?

Steins;Gate The Movie    Steins;Gate Movie Poster 2                                                                     

Japanese Title: 劇場版 シュタインズ・ゲート 負荷領域のデジャヴ

Romaji: Shutainzu Ge-to: Fuka Ryouiki no Deja Bu

Release Date:  April 20th, 2013 (Japan)

Running Time: N/A

Director: Kanji Wakabayashi (Director), Hiroshi Hamasaki, Takuya Satō (Chief Directors),Steins;Gate Movie Poster

Writer: Jukki Hanada

Starring: Mamoru Miyano (Rintarou Okabe), Asami Imai (Kurisu Makise) Kana Hanazawa (Mayuri Shiina), Halko Momoi (Faris Nyannyan), Tomokazu Seki (Itaru Hashida), Yu Kobayashi (Ruka Urushibara), Yukari Tamura (Suzuha Amane), Saori Goto (Moeka Kiryuu)

 

I can definitely say that this would be my film of the week without having to look at trailers. Steins;Gate was my second favourite anime of 2011 and I think I am about ready to revisit Okabe and Makise… Alright, I just want to see Mayuri-chan. The film has the vocal talents of Mamoru Miyano (Fuse: A Gun Girl’s Detective Story) and Kana Hanazawa who has the sweetest voice that makes me just want to hug her… Okay, that was creepy. They are supported by Halko Momoi who composed and performed the awesome song Mail Me which was used in Suicide Club. If you have not watched the anime then the trailer might be a little underwhelming.

 

 

 

Petal Dance            Petal Dance Film Poster

Japanese Title: ペタル ダンス

Romaji: Petaru Dansu

Release Date: April 20th, 2013 (Japan)

Running Time: 90 mins.

Director: Hiroshi Ishikawa

Writer: Hiroshi Ishikawa

Starring: Kazue Fukiishi, Sakura Ando, Aoi Miyazaki, Shiori Kutsuna, Shunsuke Petal Dance Film Poster 2Kazama, Mariko Goto, Hanae Kan, Masanobu Ando, Tsutomu Takahashi

Hiroshi Ishikawa, writer and director of films Tokyo Sora and Su-ki-da, actually has a day job as a CM director but as the aforementioned films show he is able to do high-quality drama. I haven’t seen any of them but I have seen a lot of the actors and actresses at work.

The four friends are played by four major actresses:

Aoi Miyazaki who starred in Su-ki-da and has been heard and seen in major titles like Wolf Children, Eureka and The Great Passage, is the big star here but there are more interesting actresses. First and foremost is Sakura Ando, a woman with a distinctive look who has been in films like the fun and exciting Love Exposure, Crime or Punishment and For Love’s Sake to the dark and psychological Penance and Our Homeland. Kazue Fukiishi I have burned into my memory from a brilliant performance in Noriko’s Dinner Table and had a minor roles in Thirteen Assassin and One Missed Call, how she does with drama is a mystery to me but Petal Dance has gotten a good review at the Japan Times with particular attention being paid to Kazue Fukiishi. Shiori Kutsuna is the fourth actress and her biggest films to date have been My Back Page and Tsuya’s Night.

As for the men, Shunsuke Kazama was in From up on Poppy Hill and Masanobu Ando was in Takeshi Kitano’s Kids Return, Shinya Tsukamoto’s Nightmare Detective and he was Kiriyama in Battle Royale. He was also in Space Travelers but it has been years since I saw that… What a lovely and intriguing trailer. After watching the very emotional and powerful drama Rebirth I am more willing to give titles like this a chance. This would be my live-action film pick of the week.

Four women who have suffered sorrow in life are on a road trip lasting one night and two days and full of memories and hope of a new start. Jinko (Miyazaki) and Motoko (Ando) have been friends since they attended the same university and it is they who start this road road trip when they hear that a former classmate named Miki (Fukiishi) ran into the sea. The rumour ends with Miki getting out safely but is that all there is to it? Haraki (Kutsuna) met Jinko at the library she works at and joins the trip as a driver.

Continue reading “Steins;Gate The Movie, Petal Dance, Crayon Shin Chan! Gourmet Food Survival, Detective Conan Private Eye in the Distant Sea, Secret Love, Hear Mother’s Song Trailers and the Japanese Movie Box Office Chart”

Clips for Sion Sono’s TV Dorama All Esper Dayo!

All Esper Dayo!                     All Esper Dayo! Image

Japanese Title: みんな! エスパーだよ!

Romaji: Minna! Esupa-Dayo!

Release Date: April 12th, 2013 (TV Tokyo Japan)

Running Time: N/A

Director: Sion Sono

Writer: Kiminori Wakasugi (Screenplay),

Starring: Shota Sometani, Kaho, Erina Mano, Ken Yasuda, Megumi Kagurazaka, Motoki Fukami, Mariko Tsutsui, Yoshiki Saito, Ayaka Morita, Mikita Sports

This is the year of the dorama for this blog considering the amount I am committing myself to watching. Here’s another one that caught my eye! All Esper Dayo! is based on a manga created by Kiminori Wakasugi who is becoming one of those creators who has all of his works adapted into films and anime. His manga Detroit Metal City was turned into an anime and live-action film starring mega-star Kenichi Matsuyama and now All Esper Dayo! has gotten a live-action TV comedy adaptation courtesy of TV Tokyo.

Yoshirō “Yocchan” Kamogawa (Sometani) is an ordinary (virgin) high school boy who finds his life literally changes overnight when he wakes up with the ability to read other people’s minds. Sounds awesome! But he uses it for trivial things. He’s not alone in gaining powers as a café worker named Teru-oichan (Sports) gains telekinetic powers. Sounds really awesome! But he uses for sex toys. Yōsuke Enomoto (Fukami), a fellow school-pupil of Kamogawa and a basketball player, also gains a power, the ability to teleport. Sounds super-awesome! But it only works while he is naked. Get ready to see how they use their powers!

Continue reading “Clips for Sion Sono’s TV Dorama All Esper Dayo!”

Abara: Decay and Rebirth

Abara means rib in Japanese. It is drawn from the fact that the characters with special powers, Gaunas, can shape bone like armour and weaponry through altering their physical structure at will, creating layers and shapes to a partially chitinous exoskeleton like so.

Abara Tsutomu Nihei

It is never explained how but that’s just how Tsutomu Nihei rolls. Like the first volume of Biomega, he doesn’t go to great lengths to tell you what happens, who everybody is and what they do. All we know is that war has ravaged earth and left one population centre which is about to come under an apocalyptic assault from biomorphous creatures known as White Gaunas and the government of the city is at odds with a techno-religious group known as Kegen hall who use Black Gaunas to battle these creatures. That’s it.

Abara Tsutomu Nihei (24)

Any message, much like in Ridley Scott’s work, is in the visual aesthetic.

Abara Tsutomu Nihei (2)

The world is rotten. People do not so much as live in urban sprawl, rather they rot in urban choke. The city of the story is a post-modern gothic dystopian nightmare of cramped spaces and cyclopean structures veined with sinuous wire and punctured by vents bleeding waste.

Abara Tsutomu Nihei Cyclopean Structures

Abara Tsutomu Nihei (35)

People work in hellish factories and live in hovels just off streets that are crumbling, surrounded by alleys that stretch into darkness and walkways spiral off into what? Nothing.

Abara Tsutomu Nihei (42)

Outside the land is vast and barren and man is truly insignificant. The world is an empty landscape of odd shapes that resemble something biomechanical.

Abara Tsutomu Nihei Insignificance

Abara Tsutomu Nihei Public Transport

At least public transport still works.

Such art is compelling because it is detailed and the details relate a world that is slightly alien but still familiar. It revolts and attracts us. We know that filth and can see present-day humanity drifting towards it. Alien and Blade Runner’s aesthetics chime a similar note. Such details give something that is missing from so many other comics, character. Tsutomu Nihei lets his art do the talking and drive the story.

His characters and creatures are equally resplendent in their otherness and weirdness and sheer horror.

Abara Tsutomu Nihei Gauna Rumble

Our hero, Kudou Denji much like Zoichi in Biomega is pretty much an unstoppable superman with the fate of the human race resting on his shoulders. He is a Black Gauna who can leap over tall buildings, run at super speeds and punch through brick walls like they were cardboard. He is awesome.

Abara Tsutomu Nihei Kudou Denji

Tsutomu Nihei’s art captures his strength and speed with clever placement of frames and his heavy details.

Just look at the way speed is indicated by the smoke and twisting bodies.

Abara Tsutomu Nihei Speed Gaunas

The towering monster is truly terrifying when one considers its size next to that bridge. Let us not forget the fact that Kudou is skidding on the side of a wall!

Abara Tsutomu Nihei Gauna Speed Run

It’s detailed and weird. The characters are brutal, violent, inhuman but also beautiful.

Abara Tsutomu Nihei White Gauna

If nothing else, Gaunas look so damn awesome!

Abara Tsutomu Nihei Gauna Awesomeness

But Kudou is burned out and angry. Just because he’s the hero is no guarantee he will be effective in the role. Nothing says he’ll be able to outrun the coming apocalypse. What of those who surround him? The chief of police? An ex-lover? An old woman settling down to eat soup? Heroes, villains and civilians alike are at the mercy of wider events and safety is not guaranteed as they all get sucked in.

Abara Tsutomu Nihei Blorp

Blorp.

Fans of Tsutomu Nihei will know that onomatopoeia. It signals a sticky and gooey and very ugly human transformation and body horror into the monstrous. That usually forms a part of Nihei’s apocalyptic tales. The third volume of Biomega is one huge apocalypse with a messy end. But humanity has always had moments of monstrousness as this story’s art shows. Characters warp their physical bodies willingly much like the metal fetishist in Tetsuo, their environments have affected them, the evil of humanity lead to this horrendous ending but, much like Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s film Pulse, as long as there is life at the end there is hope. Just don’t expect life to resemble anything you’re familiar with.

Abara Tsutomu Nihei Transformation

 God, if you can’t make me pretty, please make me superhuman like a Gauna.

Abara Gauna Aftermath Tsutomu Nihei

I Just Want to Start Over.

Cold Bloom, The Great Passage, HK Hentai Kamen, Travellers: Dimensional Police, Samurai Dash and Other Movie Trailers and the Japanese Movie Box Office Chart

Kiki's Delivery ServiceAnother week stuffed full of anime as I try and finish off the winter season and get into my first impressions of the spring selections I made. That written I did write about films! I made a longer than expected review Mushishi which is based on a manga and anime. I loved the film and found it a beautiful and relaxing watch which I can keep indulging in. I also posted about the trailer for Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s film Real. I went way overboard compared to my usual trailer posts and indulged my love of Kiyoshi Kurosawa films!

The majority of my film-watching time was spent with Film4 and its Studio Ghibli season which draws to a close later today with the screening of Nausicaä of the Valley of Wind. It capped a wonderful fortnight where I managed to watch nearly all of the titles. I re-watched The Cat Returns, Only Yesterday, Howl’s Moving Castle and Laputa: Castle in the Sky while doing Japanese homework and made a point of watching The Little Norse Prince and I enjoyed them all.

In terms of other anime I finished Nura: Rise of the Yokai Clan in preparation for a review while the Anime UK News Serial Experiments Lain simul-watch has ground to a halt because it seems the participants are either too busy or too confused (the former for me). Level E surprised me with its 4th episode which the comedy is toned down to miniscule proportions and the drama turned up and it works really effectively because I was engaged with the story right until (SPOILER) its ironic ending where I burst out into a fit of laughter. It showed the creativity of the creators. I finally finished Maoyu (review coming soon!). 

What do the Japanese film charts look like this week (April 06th-07th)?

  1. Dragon Ball Z Battle of the Gods
  2. Wreck-It Ralph
  3. Doraemon Nobita’s Dinosaur
  4. Platina Data
  5. Aibou Series X Day
  6. Precure All Stars New Stage 2
  7. Oz the Great and Powerful
  8. Jack the Giant Slayer
  9. Himawari and Her Puppies
  10. My Diary of Our Exchange

No real change in the top ten although Orpheus’ Lyre, one of last week’s big dramas starring Ryoko Hiosue, opens at 15 with a modest $178,145 earned from 109 screens.

What’s released this weekend?

Cold Bloom                                                            Cold Bloom Film Poster

Japanese Title: 桜並木の満開の下に

Romaji: Sakura Namiki no Mankai no Shita ni

Release Date: April 13th, 2013 (Japan)

Running Time: 120 mins.

Director: Atsushi Funahari

Writer: Atsushi Funahari, Murakoshi Shigery

Starring: Asami Usuda, Takahiro Miura, Yurei Yanagi, Taro Suwa, You Takahashi

Atsushi Funahari premiered this at the Berlin Film Festival earlier this year. It is a film with the 2011 Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami as its subject matter much like his previous film, the documentary Nuclear Nation which looked at nuclear power after the disaster in 2011. This drama looks at the economic and emotional impact as felt by a group of workers at a factory. It stars a collection of new and old actors like Asami Usuda (The Woodsman & the Rain), Takahiro Miura (Ninja Kids!!!), Yurei Yanagi (Boiling PointRing) and Taro Suwa (Cold FishHimizu). A review on the Japan Times Website makes this sound good, a tough watch with some limited but focussed performances that make it emotionally rewarding. The first film of the week I want to watch.

Ever since the tsunami struck the workers of a metal factory in the industrial town of Hitachi have been in something of a malaise, the only thing keeping them afloat being a skilled worker named Kenji (Takahashi) who has secured them a contract. Then he dies on the first day at the client’s site. His colleague Takumi (Miura) is responsible and the factory worker turn on him, taking sides with Kenji’s widow Shiori (Usuda) but her hatred turns to love. 

 

The Great Passage                We Knit Ship Film Poster

Japanese Title: 舟を編む

Romaji: Fune wo Amu

Release Date: April 13th, 2013 (Japan)

Running Time: 133 mins.

Director: Yuya Ishii

Writer: Shion Miura (Original Novel), Kensaku Watanabe (Screenplay),

Starring: Ryuhei Matsuda, Aoi Miyazaki, Joe Odagiri, Haru Kuroki, Misako Watanabe, Kumiko Aso, Shingo Tsurumi, Chizuru Ikewaki, Hiroko Isayama, Kaouru Kobayashi, Go Kato, Kaoru Yachigusa, Ryu Morioka, Shohei Uno, Kazuki Namioka

After watching Sawako Decides I was ready to join the Yuya Ishii fan-club. Then I watched Mitsuko Delivers, a stolid film hampered with a frustratingly docile story and wooden comedy. I was genuinely bewildered that he could have come out with something like that. Then I saw the trailer for The Great Passage when it was featured over at Otherwhere in one of Alua’s trailer weeklies. I was moderately interested in it as it seemed a return to form for Yuya Ishii. A lack of a genki girls and wooden comedy and a return to the low-key observational and character-based humour that marked Sawako Decides. Anyway…

The literal title is Fune wo Amu – Fune = Ship and Amu = knit so the Japanese title is We Knit Ship but the English title is The Great Passage. The film looks like a really smart intellectual rom-com  where a talented man of letters cannot find the words to say “I love you” to the girl of his dreams.

Mitsuya Majime (Matsuda) is has the talent to comprehend different languages and is the most important member of the editorial team of a dictionary but he struggles to tell Kaguya Hayashi (Miyazaki), a cook and the granddaughter o the owner of Majime’s boarding home, how he feels about her.

It is based on Shion Miura’s novel. She’s a pretty big deal considering she’s had mega successes with her scripts for Tada’s Do-It-All House and its dorama spin-off Mahoro Eki Mae Bangaichi. It has a cast list which is full of stars: Ryuhei Matsuda (Nightmare Detective), Aoi Miyazaki (Eureka), Joe Odagiri (Mushishi, Adrift in Tokyo), Haru Kuroki (The Wolf Children), Kumiko Aso (Pulse), Kazuki Namioka (Thirteen Assassins), Chizuru Ikewaki (Josee, the Tiger and the Fish, The Cat Returns) and Shohei Uno (The Drudgery Train).

I like the concept, I like the talent, I like the trailer – I want to watch this film!

HK Hentai Kamen                                         Hentai Kamen Film Poster

Japanese Title: HK 変態仮面

Romaji: HK Hentai Kamen

Release Date: April 13th, 2013 (Japan)

Running Time: N/A

Director: Yuichi Fukuda

Writer: Yuichi Fukuda, Shun Oguri (Screenplay), Keishu Ando (Original Manga)

Starring: Ryohei Suzuki, Fumika Shimizu, Ken Yasuda, Tsuyoshi Muro, Jiro Sato Narushi Ikeda, Takashi Tsukamoto, Yoshinori Okada

Yuichi Fukuda had his Child Police film released a few weeks back and he continues with Hentai Kamen Mangahis comic film form with this film he co-wrote with Shun Oguri (The Woodsman & the Rain). The two have adapted Keishu Ando’s manga “Kyukyuko!! Hentai Kamen” which I have not read but seems like a male version of Go Nagai’s Mask the Kekkou Reborn which had a live-action film adaptation which was released last year and starred AV star Aino Kishi. I must admit that when I first saw the trailer I almost spat my coffee out from laughing so hard. I think I would see this at a cinema regardless of whether I had friends with me or not. Chalk this up as another film I would watch because it looks fun!

Anyway Ryohei Suzuki is ballsy enough to display his well-sculpted body on screen. Some may have seen him in Train Brain Express. Fumoika Shimizu, stars of many Kamen Rider films, is the love interest. Ken Yasuda (The Cat Returns, Rakugo the Movie), Tsuyoshi Muro (After School, A Story of Yonosuke) Takashi Tsukamoto (Battle Royale) and Yoshinori Okada (Fine, Totally Fine) also co-star. Check the trailer and admit that you laughed as well!

Kyosuke Shikijo (Suzuki) is a high school student and the most talented member of his school’s martial arts club. His late father was a detective and has passé on his sense of justice. On top of being a detective Kyosuke’s father was a masochist while his mother was a sadist which partly explains why Kyosuke love of wearing women’s underwear! When he does wear panties and what not he transforms into his alter ego “Pervert Mask” and gains superhuman powers. Said superpowers come in handy when he has to protect Aiko Himeno (Shimizu) from their dirty and evil teacher (Yasuda). Fortunately Aiko’s underwear gives Kyosuke super pervert techniques.

I’m not making this up! Someone else beat me to it! Here’s HK Hentai Kamen’s take on cinema etiquette:

  Continue reading “Cold Bloom, The Great Passage, HK Hentai Kamen, Travellers: Dimensional Police, Samurai Dash and Other Movie Trailers and the Japanese Movie Box Office Chart”