Midsummer Formula, Princess Sakura: Forbidden Pleasures, Uzumasa Jacopetti, God’s Tongue Kiss Championship THE MOVIE, Ami? Amie? Tsukiatteneeyo, New Theatre Version of Hanako of the Toilet, Trail, Moon Dream and Other Japanese Film Trailers

Sannin JitenshaThe week started with a post about a talk about film festivals hosted by the Japan Foundation. I then followed it up with a rather late review for Zero Focus, a film I saw back in February. This was my first film review since April which was quite a surprise but then I have been focussing on anime as of late. As far as my film viewing goes I watched World War z during the week and I enjoyed it a lot. Monday sees July start which means that it’s the beginning of the summer anime season and I will get more film reviews in and I’ll probably get a wrap-up post for the spring anime done at some point. Enough from me, here are the trailers.

Midsummer Formula                    Midsummer Formula Film Poster

Japanese Title: 真夏の方程式

Romaji: Manatsu no Houteishiki

Release Date: June 29th, 2013

Running Time: 129 mins.

Director: Hiroshi Nishitani

Writer: Masato Ozawa (Screenplay), Keigo Higashino (Original Novel)

Starring: Masaharu Fukuyama, Yuriko Yoshitaka, Anne Watanabe, Kazuki Ktamura, Gin Maeda, Jun Fubuki, Hikaru Yamazak

Oh great, another Keigo Higashino adaptation! He writes great modern detective thrillers and this one looks pretty good. The trailer opens with a very cool looking Masaharu Fukuyama calmly dealing with a very vocal Anne Watanabe before being drawn into a murder mystery by the sea. It looks like a lot of fun what with all the sun, sea and murder and the staff/cast list assures me that this will be solid at the very least. Both the director Nishitani, lead actor Fukuyama  and supporting actor Kazuki Kitamura were involved in the adaptation of Higashino’s novel Suspect X. The police detective in the trailer is Yuriko Yoshitaka who was really impressive in Noriko’s Dinner Table, Adrift in Tokyo and A Story of Yonosuke, three great films from totally different directors/genres. I can’t leave without mentioning Jun Fubuki who is fantastic in Séance and Rebirth.

Manabu Yukawa (Fukuyama) is in the port city of Harigaura to take part in a discussion on submarine mineral resource development. He’s staying at an inn run by his aunt’s family and things seem to be going smoothly until one of the guests is found dead. He teams up with detective Kishitani (Yoshitaka) and a schoolboy on summer break named Kyohei (Yamazaki) to solve the case!


Princess Sakura: Forbidden Pleasures    Princess Sakura Forbidden Pleasures Film Poster

Japanese Title: 桜姫

Romaji: Sakura Hime

Release Date: June 29th, 2013

Running Time: 95 mins.

Director: Hajime Hashimoto

Writer: Hajime Hashimoto, Masahiro Yoshimoto (Screenplay)

Starring: Kyoko Hinami, Munetaka Aoki, DenDen, Yuma asami

Whoa, what a poster! I was almost sold but I’m not a complete sucker and I won’t fall so easily for a pretty face (and sexy body). What’s the trailer like? Whoa, what a trailer! It is pretty fun and colourful and sexy. This is going to be racy stuff with little left to the imagination but there does appear to be an equal amount of “antics”. The plot sounds silly but it is based on a kabuki place called Sakura Hime Azuma Bunsho which was written by Nanboku Tsuruya back in 1817. The gorgeous girl is Kyoko Hinami who is a new actress but she is very beautiful and will probably feature in more films. Munetaka Aoki (Fly with the Gold), Denden (Cold Fish) and the AV actress Yuma Asami (Siren X).

When Princess Sakura (Hinami) is attacked by a mysterious assailant she falls in love with him. The only way she can identify him is a tattoo on his body. In order to find the chap she gets the same tattoo and gives up her former life as a princess to work as a prostitute… Yeah. Anyway, the man who caused the princess to lose her mind is called Gonsuke (Aoki) and he is the target of assassins because he stole a scroll.


Uzumasa Jacopetti                      Uzumasa Jacopetti Film Poster

Japanese Title: 太秦ヤコペッティ

Romaji: Uzumasa Jacopetti

Release Date: June 22nd, 2013

Running Time: 83 mins.

Director: Moriro Miyamoto

Writer: Moriro Miyamoto, Toshihiko Matsunaga (Screenplay)

Starring: Shinji Wada, Kiki Hanaka, Masaki Kitahara, Shishimaru Ozawa, Seizo Fukumoto, Donpei Tsuchihira

The plot sounds crazy, the trailer features actors who look crazy, this could be the greatest film of 2013. It premiered at this year’s Nippon Connection so I went searching for some reviews and Midnight Eye came to the rescue and there was this ntriguing description:

Despite what its title suggests, Uzumasa Jacopetti plays less like Kansai mondo than a downtown version of Jeunet and Caro’s surreal slaughterhouse comedy Delicatessen.

The trailer looks so funny but there is gore so you have been warned.

The story is set in Uzumasa, Kyoto and it follows Shoji Hyakkan (Wada),a man who gives up his job to make a house held together by magnets for himself, his wife and son. When he’s caught stealing and killing a cow for its hide by a police officer (Kobayakawa) he isn’t locked up. No, in fact he’s given an interesting offer involving his dismemberment skills and local hoodlums. It’s an indie production from first-time director Moriro Miyamoto.  Please someone, release this in the west!


God’s Tongue Kiss Championship THE MOVIE  God Tongue Film Poster

Japanese Title: ゴッドタン キス我慢選手権 THE MOVIE

Romaji: Goddotan kisugaman senshuken THE MOVIE

Release Date: June 28th, 2013

Running Time: 112 mins.

Director: Nobuyuki Sakuma

Writer: Nobuyuki Sakuma, Okura (Screenplay)

Starring: Shogo Kawashima/Hitori Gekidan, Hiroaki Ogi, Ken Yahagi, Osamu Shitara, Yuki Himura

God Tongue, the TV Tokyo late-night variety show chaos is on the big screen with plenty of erotic action in this spy thriller starring Shogo Kawashima who has lost his memory and is paired up with a sexy woman to take down an evil organisation who use erotic tricks to beat their enemies. Sounds awful. I mean awfully fun. It stars Hitori Gekidan (Rebirth, Dororo).


Ami? Amie? Tsukiatteneeyo                                Ami Amie Film Poster  

Japanese Title: ami? amie? つきあってねーよ!

Romaji: ami? amie? Tsukaitteneeyo!

Release Date: June 29th, 2013

Running Time: 52 mins.

Director: Tomohiko Iwasaki

Writer: Tomohiko Iwasaki (Screenplay)

Starring: Koichiro Takami, Yuka Yoshino, Riko Matsui, Tomoko Hayakawa, Ikeshima Yutaka

This short drama comes from Tomohiko Iwasaki and was screened at the Yubari International Fantastic Film Festival. The tagline on the poster reads, ‘Boy meets girl, girl meets girl…’ and the trailer looks like fun. In this story, Gumi (Yoshino) and Tetsu (Takami) might be lovers. Or not because when a woman named Keiko (Matsui) shows up, Gumi gets second thoughts.  Midnight Eye describes it as being… “clunky but also possessed a certain charm, largely thanks to an engaging young cast.” Watch the trailer and judge for yourself.

Moon Dream         Moon Dream Film Poster

Japanese Title: ムーン ドリーム

Romaji: Mu-n Dori-mu

Release Date: June 29th, 2013

Running Time: 105 mins.

Director: Bobby Ologun, Keiji Miyano

Writer: Masato Ozawa (Screenplay)

Starring: Bobby Ologun, Nao Minamisawa, Naomasa Musaka, Thane Camus, Yayoo, Dante Carver, Toshikazu Fukawa, Akira Nakao, Guts Ishimatsu

This is the directorial debut of Bobby Ologun who is one of those talent dudes who turns up on panel shows. I won’t say anything snide because he’s also a mixed martial artist and famous in Japan. I am neither of those things and so I have to fear and respect his achievements in that order. This is his autobiographical film in which he plays himself and it is based on his experiences in Japan as he aims to become famous, the realities of prejudice shown to foreigners that some show and the kindness of others – especially Sayuri (Minamisawa), a foxy lady who helped him out. The film has a lot of foreign actors like Dante Carver and Thane Camus. The film trailer looks pretty good and seeing a non-Western perspective on Japan is quite a rare thing.

Trail                  Trail Film Image

Japanese Title: トレイル

Romaji: Toreiru

Release Date: June 29th, 2013

Running Time: 100 mins.

Director: Shuhei Hatano

Writer: Shuhei Hatano (Screenplay)

Starring: Yosuke Yamaguchi, Eiji Mitomi, Toru Fujimoto, Risa Tokmasa

This is the feature-length debut film of Shuhei Hatano. It’s about a group of creative types – a painter, a musician, a poet and… a girl, not sure what her skill is – who travel around forests and villages and encounter a writer of folklore from Argentina. The trailer doesn’t inspire any reaction from me. Characters lead us somewhere, their backs to us. Hardly engaging until the very end when the girl stares defiantly back into the camera.

I mean… What’s the deal? Why are you looking at me?? STOP IT!!! I’m the viewer!!!!


New Theatre Version of Hanako of the Toilet Hanako of the Toilet Film Poster

Japanese Title: トイレの花子さん 新劇場版

Romaji: Toire no Hanako-san Shin Gekijouban

Release Date: June 29th, 2013

Running Time: 88 mins.

Director: Masashi Yamada

Writer: Kokoya Anzu (Screenplay)

Starring: Yuka Ueno, Misaki Ayame, Ai Kiyoshi, Hitomi Tanaka, Rina Yamakawa

I had to do a double-take on the title because it reads strangely. Hanako-san of the toilet. A quick search revealed that it’s an urban legend and I do know of it. Here’s Wikipedia’s take:

According to the legend, a person who goes to the third stall in the girls’ bathroom on the third floor and knocks three times before asking “Are you there, Hanako-san”, will hear a voice answer “I’m here”. If the person enters the stall there will be a small girl in a red skirt.

Hanako-san is a popular and widespread urban legend, often played by school children as a rite of courage, or a method of hazing for new students, similar to the Bloody Mary urban legend in Western schools.

This is the third feature film to be based on the legend and the first film to be made in 15 years. It stars Yuka Ueno and is directed by Masashi Yamada, ace expert at making horror films set in schools as X-Game 2 and Scary Hide and Seek Alone attest. Here’s a creepy anime where Hanako is a character overseeing the grisly fate of a poor victim.

Sayo Nagasawa (Ueno) has moved to a rural town in the country to stay with her grandmother. She finds herself in the nightmare position of being the new transfer student in her high school but makes a friend in Maho. When Maho turns up dead in a toilet stall, Sayo finds herself in the middle of a series of grisly deaths. Love the J-pop happy opening before the blunt introduction of misery and horror in the trailer. The film looks better than a lot of low-budget J-horror I have reviewed.


Movie ‘Candidacy’                                   

Japanese Title: 映画 「立候補」 Candidacy Film Poster

Romaji: Eiga “Rikkouho”

Release Date: June 29th, 2013

Running Time: 100 mins.

Director: Fujioka Toshimitsu

Writer: N/A

Starring: Shinzo Abe, Toru Hashimoto, Mak Akasaka, Koichi Toyama, Hideyoshi Hasiba Seizo

This documentary looks at different politicians like Mac Akasaka, a fringe politician from the Japan Smile Party who has contested various elections and lost them all (and his 3 million yen deposit). What makes him special is his flamboyant speeches and costumes. I guess the other candidates in this film are strange and/or controversial like Toru Hashimoto who the American woman seems shocked by.


Classic Cinema Kabuki

Japanese Title: シネマ 歌舞伎 クラシック

Romaji: Shinema Kabuki Kurashikku

Release Date: June 29th, 2013

Running Time: Various

Director: Masato Ozawa

Writer: Kokoya Anzu (Screenplay)

Starring: Utaemon Nakamura,  Kanzaburo Nakamura, Shikan Nakamura

The Kabuki-za is a famous theatre in Tokyo which has played host to Kabuki shows since 1889. In 2010 the structure was demolished amid concerns about its ability to survive earthquakes (something the film Intermission picked up on) but in March, 2013, the theatre was recently reopened. To celebrate the reopening, four classic Kabuki plays with titles like Sumida River which is about a mother who is searching for her lost son I have little knowledge of Kabuki but the film company and owners of Kabuki-za, Shochiku, have put together this handy website. Each screening lasts somewhere between 20 and 60 minutes.

Zero Focus ゼロの焦店 (2009)

Genki Zero Focus Review Banner

Zero Focus                                            

Japanese Title: ゼロの焦店

Romaji: Zero no Shoten       Zero Focus Film Poster

Release Date: November 14th, 2009

Running Time: 131 mins.

Director: Isshin Inudo

Writer: Seicho Matsumoto (Novel), Isshin Inudo, Kenji Nakazono (Screenplay)

Starring: Ryoko Hirosue, Miki Nakatani, Tae Kimura, Hidetoshi Nishijima, Takeshi Kaga, Tetta Sugimoto, Hiromi Sakimoto, Toru Nomaguchi, Fukumi Kuroda, Hirotaro Honda, Hana Matsumoto, Yoshie Ichige, Shunta Watanabe, Kansai Eto

The final film I saw at the Japan Foundation’s Touring Film Programme was the sold out screening of Zero Focus where the film’s director Isshin Inudo was present and gave an enlightening Q&A at the end (and I had my picture taken with him!). Part of the reason for my selection is because I like a good mystery but I had no idea how popular the source novel was in Japan. Lengthy review with some slight spoilers.

Sadako (Hirosue) has just married Kenichi Ubara (Nishijma) after meeting him through a matchmaker. The two know little about each other apart from surface details like the fact that she can read and write English and adores the classic English novel Jane Eyre and he enjoys swimming, he was wounded in war and now works for Toyo Advertising and is stationed in Kanazawa in the snowy north of the country. His marriage means that he asks for a transfer back to Tokyo. Despite not knowing each other they feel comfortable together and look forward to starting a new life.

1 week later, December 01st, 1957

Zero Focus Bye Kenichi (Nishijima) Hellooo Sadako (Ryoko Hirosue)

Sadako is at Ueno Station with Kenichi. He must depart for Kanazawa to wrap up his business dealings and pass on contracts to his replacement. “It’s only a week,” he assures her but he never returns. He just vanishes.

Against the advice of her brother-in-law Sotaro (Sugimoto), Sadako heads to Kanazawa where Kenichi’s replacement Yoshio Honda (Nomaguchi) guides her around a town which undergoing tumultuous political changes thanks to a woman named Sachiko Murota (Nakatani) the wife of a powerful industrialist named Gisaku (Kaga). Zero Focus Sachiko Murota (Mikitani) and Her HusbandSachiko is helping a woman become the first female mayor of the city. With her organisational skills, money and her influence it could happen. Sadako approaches Sachiko for help when she learns that her husband once worked with Kenichi. Sachiko and her husband Gisaku comply but they seem to be hiding something.

Whilst at Murota’s company, Sadako encounters a receptionist named Hisako Tanuma (Kimura) who seems to act oddly around her and has poor secretarial skills. As Sadako meets these people she learns that they are connected to Kenichi in more ways than she could ever have imagined and she knew so little about him.

Continue reading “Zero Focus ゼロの焦店 (2009)”

The Japan Foundation’s Film Talk: Cultural Presentation in International Film Festivals

I love film festivals. They are an important way of watching films you would never ordinarily see on the big screen, meeting industry types and getting in contact with other cinephiles who remind you that it’s okay to obsess over the performance of a favourite actor/actress or a scene from some obscure film. Since starting this blog I have been to about five which isn’t that many but I have been covering Japanese films at international festivals for a lot longer so people can experience the latest in Japanese cinema. Here’s information on an event organised by the Japan Foundation which sounds perfect for anybody interested in film festivals and Japanese films.

Japan Foundation Cultural Presentation Header

International film festivals have long provided a platform for films from all over the world to be showcased, and it is currently estimated that today over 100 film festivals are held in the United Kingdom. With such a flourish of film festivals of different size, type and focus taking place, what is it that makes a festival ‘international’, how do they present diverse cultures and indeed, what is their purpose?

Reflecting on this wealth of international film festivals in the UK, this special event at the Japan Foundation intends to explore the issues surrounding festivals presenting cultural identities by bringing together a selection of those who programme and curate respected festivals from in the UK. Joining the panel will be Chris Fell (Director of Leeds International Film Festival), Andrew Simpson (Programmer at East End Film Festival and Pan-Asia Film Festival), Hussain Currimbhoy (Programmer at Sheffield Doc/Fest), David Gillam (Director of Wales One World Film Festival) and chair Nick Walker (film programmer and writer), who together will discuss the role and aim of international film festivals and to what degree presenting films from all over the world is regarded to be a significant part of their programme.

With Japanese cinema as a focal point they will also talk about the position of Japanese cinema in their ‘international’ context and how they present and how they wish to present it for future festivals to come. Following on from last year’s ‘Stepping into the Unknown – Curating and Appreciating Lesser-known films’ this event will provide a fascinating insight into the workings behind film festivals around the UK from those who directly realise them.

Date: 12 July 2013 from 6.30pm

Venue: The Japan Foundation, London

This event is free but booking is essential. To reserve a place, please contact event@jpf.org.uk with your name, details and those of any guests.

Tune in Wednesday as I post an exceedingly long review for a film I saw at the Japan Foundation’s Touring Film Festival.

Genki Jason 2013 Festivals Banner

The Ravine of Goodbye, To Cry a 100 Times, Shady, Remiges, Ghost in the Shell: Arise border 1 Ghost Pain, Movie Version BUCK-TICK Firecrackers Phenomenon II, It’s a Glass Mask But… Love of a Woman Spy!, and Other Japanese Film Trailers

HitagiWell my holiday came to an end and it was back to work and I haven’t been as busy as this week had me. I got a bit of a surprise this week as well when I collected my post and excitedly got my Bakemonogatari DVD (just released in the UK) then checked my emails and saw a press release from the UK distributor asking AUKN to report that the Bakemonogatari set has the wrong discs in thanks to a mix up with the manufacturer. I now have Shakugan no Shana II instead of Bakemonogatari. It’s pretty bland. I want my Bakemonogatari. I want Hitagi Senjougahara.

The week opened with my Summer Anime Season Picks on this blog and on Anime UK News. I feel sad about the spring season passing but the summer shows I picked look pretty good. I followed up with a post showing the auditions for Sion Sono’s latest film Tokyo Tribes and a lot of the trailers were fun rather than cringe-worthy.

What films are released today?

The Ravine of Goodbye               The Ravine of Goodbye Film Poster

Japanese Title: さよなら渓谷

Romaji: Sayonara Keikoku

Release Date: June 22nd, 2013

Running Time: 116 mins.

Director: Tatsushi Omori

Writer: Shuichi Yoshida (Novel), Tatsushi Omori (Screenplay)

Starring: Yoko Maki, Shima Onishi, Nao Omori, Arata, Hirofumi Arai, Anne Suzuki, Jyo Hyuga

Tatsushi Omori is an interesting director. He’s worked on The Whispering of the Gods and Tada’s Do-It-All House, two interesting films, the first a drama and the second a comedy. His latest flick is Bozo which stood out as being a grim take on the real life incident of a loser who goes on a murder-spree. Omori’s name should be better known amongst cinephiles. This is his latest film and he’s adapted a novel by Shuichi Yoshida, the man who wrote Villain, Parade and The Story of Yonosuke, all three of which were turned into films. As the trailer shows this is going to be an emotionally intense film full of tears and shouting. The plot sounds really melodramatic and it makes me want to see this on the big screen! I’m also interested because the acting talent is immense with the director’s brother, Nao Omori who is a bloody good actor considering his roles – Ichi the Killer, Vibrator, Mushishi,  Rampo Noir – Yoko Maki (Infection, The Grudge) Anne Suzuki (she had a bit-part as a waitress in Himizu but was so beautiful I remember her clearly!) and Arata (After Life).

In a valley dense with trees a baby is killed and it’s mother, Satomi Tachibana (Suzuki) is the primes suspect. As the police are investigating the murder they are informed that Satomi is romantically involved with her next door neighbour Shunsuke Ozaki (Onishi), a man who seems to be happily married to his wife Kanako (Maki). Magazine reporter Watanabe (Omori) digs into the case to find out the real story and discovers that a strange connection exists between Kanako and Shunsuke which changes his perception of the truth.

To Cry a 100 Times                               To Cry a 100 Times Film Poster

Japanese Title: 100 回 泣くこと

Romaji: 100 Kai Naku Koto

Release Date: June 22nd, 2013

Running Time: 116 mins.

Director: Ryuichi Hirok

Writer: Shuichi Yoshida (Novel), Ko Nakamura, Izumi Takahashi (Screenplay)

Starring: Tadayoshi Okra, Mirei Kiritani, Rie Tomosaka, Shugo Oshinari, Haru, Ren Osugi, Yoshiko Miyazaki, Jun Murakami

And now for something completely different. This looks incredibland to me, a person who has grown up on horror and action. I guess regular dorama viewers will fit in perfectly but the trailer and plot put me off. The central couple looks so cute. The settings are picture perfect. The music is a cheesy ballad. The strange thing is that fact that it’s directed by Ryuichi Hiroki (River, April Bride) who usually makes more interesting dangerous films so forgive me if I say that this looks like a project designed to buy him a new boat. But maybe I’m wrong. There are great actors here like Jun Murakami (Land of Hope), and Ren Osugi (Exte) and recent discoveries like Haru (See You Tomorrow, Everyone) and Yoshiko Miyaaki (Detroit Metal City)… This could be secretly great and another look at the trailer will convince me… Or maybe they all want boats as well. Perhaps they all have memberships at the same yacht club. I’m not convinced. The next trailer better be an awesome action movie.

Shichichi (Okura) had a motorcycle accident 4 years ago and slost a year from his memory. While at a friend’s wedding, Shuichi meets Yoshimi (Kiritani) and the two fall for each other. Shuichi even considers trying to wife Yoshimi until she becomes sick and reveals a sad truth lost in Shuichi’s memory…

No action movies. I just checked the rest of the releases and it’s all dramas and documentaries. They look good.


Shady                                                                            Shady Film Poster

Japanese Title: かしこい狗は、吠えずに笑う

Romaji: Kashikoi Inu wa, Hoezu ni Warau

Release Date: June 22nd, 2013

Running Time: 94 mins.

Director: Ryohei Watanabe

Writer: Ryohei Watanabe (Screenplay)

Starring: mimpi * β, Izumi Okamura, Isao Nakazawa, Gota Ishida, Ayumi Seko

The first post Alua made for 2013 contained the trailer for this film and I commented on it stating that:

“I liked the trailer for Shady. It reminds me of the K-horror Memento Mori. I’ll make Gifs out of that…” Genki Jason 

Ah, the things I promise to do. Well I have made a Gif which is at the bottom of this post. What? You want to know about the film that reminded me of Memento Mori?

Okay, this is an award winning youth drama about Misa Kumada (mimpi * β), an outcast at her school who hates the place but would like to get closer to Izumi Kiyose (Okamura). The two develop bonds of friendship but the seemingly angelic Kiyose has quite a dark side. Do I still want to see it? Yes. Thankfully Third Window Films have acquired it for UK distribution!


Remiges                                                  Remiges Film Poster

Japanese Title: 風切羽 かざきりば

Romaji: Kazekiribane ka Zakiriba

Release Date: June 22nd, 2013

Running Time: 88 mins.

Director: Masato Ozawa

Writer: Masato Ozawa (Screenplay)

Starring: Mika Akzuki, Junki Tozuka, Maiko Kawakami, Osamu Shigematu, Yuki Terada, Futoshi Sato, Nobuyuk Ishida, Michiko Godai

Remiges? A flight of feathers of a bird’s wing. A bleakie road movie… I have to invoke the name of Alua again because this is her type of film. Abuse, bullying, horrible parents and the trauma that has created in lead character Sayako which leads to an interesting character study. It looks to get even more interesting when Sayako hooks up with another outcast named Kenta. The film actually gets a bit of a playful tone when he enters but such things don’t last in the real world. With its outsider pair it reminds me of Aku no Hana only Kenta isn’t a spineless nothing like Kasuga. Damn, I want to Gif this as well. Lead actress Mika Akizuki starred in Another while lead actor Junki Tozuka appeared in Helter Skelter. Those two look really good (especially when compared to that film about crying 100’s of times or whatever…)

Sayako (Akizuk) was abused by her mother as a young child and has lived in a foster care facility with the emotional scars since then. She’s now a senior in high school and wants to attend a ballet school but she needs her parents to pay the tuition fees and so she turns to her father but he betrays her and pushes Sayako over the edge. She skips out on the foster care facility to search for her mother and sister but runs into another lost soul named Kenta (Tozuka) who cycles through town asking random people if they know him.

Continue reading “The Ravine of Goodbye, To Cry a 100 Times, Shady, Remiges, Ghost in the Shell: Arise border 1 Ghost Pain, Movie Version BUCK-TICK Firecrackers Phenomenon II, It’s a Glass Mask But… Love of a Woman Spy!, and Other Japanese Film Trailers”

Sion Sono’s Latest Film Update: Tokyo Tribes Audition Videos

Back in March I posted about Sion Sono’s latest project which is an adaptation of Santa Inoue’s Tokyo Tribes manga, a seinen title that mixes US street culture with a future dystopian reading of Tokyo where different gangs control different territory. Sono created a YouTube channel for the film where both he and Santa Inoue recorded messages about the project and instructions on how one can audition. The rules were:

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.

So, bypass casting directors and going straight to the people!

Well I gave it time and the auditions are coming thick and fast. I sat through the ones you’ll see here (and more) and there are no disasters – although there is a naked guy shadow-boxing – lol at the random person wandering in to shot and hurrying away. In fact there’s a nice mix of people although some don’t seem to adhere to the rules like acting out a scene with a favourite character! There are a lot of audition vids where the applicant simply talks direct to camera. Any trends? A lot of college/university students (there’s one studying in Berlin!) have sent videos in while guys with facial hair seem to go straight for humour.

The videos run from the earnest and dedicated:

Continue reading “Sion Sono’s Latest Film Update: Tokyo Tribes Audition Videos”

Genkina Hito Summer 2013 Anime Preview Picks

Genkina Hito's Summer 2013 Anime Picks Banner

Summer. Time to go out and enjoy the sun and drool over the beautiful university girls whoSummer 2013 Anime Chart v2.1 float by my place of work in summer clothes. Actually, I think I’ll watch anime instead because I’m not lecherous even though I make plenty of jokes and comments that suggest I am.

I finished putting together the Anime UK News Summer 2013 Anime Preview yesterday after what felt like an eternity of writing (it was most of a rainy weekend). It’ll probably go live later today or tomorrow or whenever the editor of the week validates it. Again I used one of those guides that came out a few months ago charting the different shows and then I raided Anime News Network and My Anime List for info. I also had lots of music playing – a great Touhou track is a life-saver when you spend hours writing.

To be quite frank I’m going to feel a little sad to see the end of the Spring Season titles Hataraku Maou-Sama, My Youth Rom-Com, Aku no Hana and Red Data Girl. Each of these titles provided me with a lot to write about and, most importantly, great entertainment. If they were to get UK DVD releases I would definitely purchase them! Attack on Titan is the one show continuing and I am tempted to start Gargantia on the Verduous Planet because it looks gorgeous and has some sort of epic twist at episode 9.

What of the summer season? We see a lot of sequels to past shows, reboots of treasured franchises and a huge influx of shounen ai titles with a lot of bishounen running around and acting all kawaii as hell and causing fujoshi to create slash fiction on tumblr. The genre where anime have huge unwieldly titles about being unpopular and have sad hyper-self protagonists continues and there are more titles about high school clubs which don’t do anything in particular and the cute girls who are members. In my opinion there is nothing too spectacular but here’s what I fished out of all the writing I did.

If you want an entire season overview then head on over to Anime UK News! This post is all about me and my strange tastes…

Continue reading “Genkina Hito Summer 2013 Anime Preview Picks”

Screaming Class, Figua na Anata, I’ve Done My Best, The Serialist, Far Away So Close, The Sango Ranger, School Girl – 1936, Naoko’s Room, BANK, Non-metallic Night, Japanese Film Trailers

Royal Academy Summer Exhibition PhotoThis week has been spent writing, writing, writing. I got back from London at the beginning of the week and since then I have been writing up review notes from the Terracotta Far East Film Festival 2013 and, if I’m honest, from two films from the Japan Foundation’s Touring Film Programme which I really need to get done. Writing up the Anime UK News Summer Anime Preview for 2013 and writing up this trailer post which took longer than expected. I caught up on the anime I missed and watched one film set in Japan – Dream Cruise.

Posts this week include a look at the East End Film Festival, a post about Terracotta and a production video from the set of the live-action Kiki’s Delivery Service.  Expect anime and movies next week.

Here are the trailers for the films released this weekend.

Screaming Class                  Screaming Class Film Poster

Japanese Title: 絶叫学級

Romaji: Zekkyou Gakkyuu

Release Date: June 14th, 2013

Running Time: 77 mins.

Director: Tetsuya Sato

Writer: Emi Ishikawa (Original Manga),Uiko Miura (Screenplay),

Starring: Haruna Kawaguchi, Alice Hirose, Mayu Matsuoka, Louis Kurihara

Do you know what has been missing these last few weeks? A horror film. Here’s one. This mid-budget effort is based on a 2008 manga series of the same name by Emi Ishikawa which I looked up and it’s kind of alright… Really, no one does horror like Junji Ito but anyway… It stars a bunch of up and coming actresses like Alice Hirose (Soup), Mayu Matsuoka (Kioshita Keisuke Story, The Kirishima Thing, Love Exposure, Lesson of the Evil, Potechi), and Haruna Kawaguchi who has been in a haunted high school movie in P.O.V. – A Cursed Film. Ghosts in a girls school? It sounds a lot like the Whispering Corridors films (Memento Mori is the best in that sequence) but it looks like a lot of fun!

When high school student Kana (Kawaguchi) has her photograph selected for a magazine she becomes the victim of a bully named Rio (Hirose) who is a popular student. Kana hears rumours of a ghost of a former student who died in an accident which resides old school building. This ghost can grant wishes but at the cost of something important. Kana is desperate and decides to see if it exists. The next day she is part of Rio’s gang but Kana’s friend Erika (Matsuoka) ends up getting bullied. Things get even hairier than this.

Figua na Anata                                Figyua Anata Film Poster

Japanese Title: フィギュア あなた

Romaji: Figyua Anata

Release Date: June 08th, 2013

Running Time: 112 mins.

Director: Takashi Ishii

Writer: Takashi Ishii (Screenplay/Original Manga),

Starring: Emoto Tasuku, Sasaki Kokone, Naoto Takenaka, Rina Sakuragi, Yuki Mamiya, Rumi Kazama

Ah, Takashi Ishii, a manga artist, writer and movie dude who has written and directed quite a few films I know like Black Angel and Gonin. He is here this week with an adaptation of a manga of his which can be described as an erotic love fantasy. With nudity and otaku and a doll that comes to life it could also be described as male wish-fulfilment. It stars Tasuko Emoto, son of Akira Emoto (Starfish Hotel) and husband of Sakura Ando (Ai to Makoto), who has been in lots of quality films like Yellow Elephant but it is his work in Air Doll makes him particularly suited for the role of the lonely otaku at the heart of the story. His doll is the gravure idol Sasaki Kokone. The trailer makes this look better than the synopsis and details involved. Action, sexy girls, excellent visuals and some decent looking drama prove this isn’t T&A drivel. No, it’s sleazy but aims for something higher.

Kentaro Uchiyama (Emoto) is a lonely otaku who is fired from his job. Feeling sorry for himself he heads to a bar and drowns his sorrows but things turn bad when he is chased by group of thugs into an empty building. Things then turn strange when he s rescued by a girl wearing a sailor suit. He takes her home with him but in the morning she turns into a figure. The mysterious transforming girl and the Otaku live together but how will their relationship work?

I’ve Done My Best                                           I've Done My Best Film Poster

Japanese Title: 俺はまだ本気出してばいだけ

Romaji: Ore wa Mada Honki Dashite nai Dake

Release Date: June 15th, 2013

Running Time: 105 mins.

Director: Yuichi Fukuda

Writer: Yuichi Fukuda (Screenplay), Shunju Aono (Original Manga)

Starring: Shinichi Tsutsumi, Ai Hashimoto, Katsuhisa Namase, Takayuki Yamada, Gaku Hamada, Renji Ishibashi

Bakuman for adults? Shunju Aono’s manga about a normal guy striving to be a manga artist gets the movie adaptation treatment and the trailer for this comedy shows that it looks to be very funny. The bathetic image of the central loser who initially lacks the drive and ideas to actually do anything about his ambitions and would rather play videogames. It reminds me of Fine, Totally Fine with its cast of dreamers. It is directed by Yuichi Fukuda (HK: Hentai Kamen) and it stars a whole host of great actors like Shinichi Tsutsumi (One Missed Call, Monday, Space Brothers), Ai Hashimoto (Another, The Kirishima Thing), Takayuki Yamada (Thirteen Assassins), Gaku Hamada (Foreign Duck, See You Tomorrow, Everyone) and Renji Ishibashi (Ninja Kids!!!).

Middle-aged Daikoku (Tsutsumi) is a bit of a sad-sack father whose high school daughter Suzuku (Hashimoto) has given up on him. Living with his father Shiro (Ishibashi) he decides to follow the slogan “Find your true self!” and quits his job at a company to become a manga artist. Soon, all those around him become a part of his quest.

The Serialist                                                         The Serialist Film Poster

Japanese Title: 二流 小説家 シリアリスト

Romaji: Niryuu Shousetsuka Shiriarisuto

Release Date: June 15th, 2013

Running Time: 115 mins.

Director: Nobuaki Izaki

Writer: Nobuaki Izaki, Kenichi Onishi, Yoko Ito, Yukiko Mishima (Screenplay), David Gordon (Original Novel)

Starring: Takayama Kamikawa, Shinji Takeda, Nana Katase, Aya Hirayama, Rina Koike, Tomoka Kurotani, Denden, Keiko Toda, Hirotaro Honda

From David Gordon’s post-modern murder mystery novel of the same name comes a Japanese film running under the title Second-rate Author The Serialist (Niryuu Shousetsuka Shiriarisuto). The plot sounds interesting enough and the trailer looks almost exciting. The poster has a Saul Bass look to it as well. Actually its displays of research into the death of women and running around forests reminds me of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Director Nobuaki Izaki has worked on television crime dramas like Aibou. There are some familiar faces in the cast like Hirotaro Honda (Zero Focus) and Shinji Takeda (Pulse).

Ippei Akabane (Kamikawa) is an unpopular second-rate novelist who gets an interesting offer from death row inmate Daigo Kurei (Takeda): let us have an interview and you can write my memoirs. Daigo is on death row for killing four women by decapitating them and sending pictures of the bodies with flower decorations to the police. Scenting a chance to break into the best-seller list Ippei takes Daigo up on his offer but when women start getting decapitated again he finds himself the main suspect and must work to clear his name!

Continue reading “Screaming Class, Figua na Anata, I’ve Done My Best, The Serialist, Far Away So Close, The Sango Ranger, School Girl – 1936, Naoko’s Room, BANK, Non-metallic Night, Japanese Film Trailers”

Live Action Kiki’s Delivery Service Production Video

Kiki’s Delivery Service                         Kiki's Delivery Service Live Action

Japanese Title: 魔女 の 宅急便

Romaji: Majo no Takkyubin

Release Date: Spring, 2014

Running Time: N/A

Director: Takashi Shimizu

Writer: Eiko Kadono (Original Novel), Satoko Okudera (Screenplay)

Starring: Fuka  Koshiba

I know Takashi Shimizu as one of the big names of J-hora guy with titles like the Ju-On Takashi Shimizu, director of Ju-Onseries, Marebito and Reincarnation so when Alua ran a story about Shimizu directing the upcoming live-action adaptation of Eiko Kadono’s novel Kiki’s Delivery Service I was surprised and unsure how to interpret it because his filmography is filled almost exclusively with yurei tormenting cute Japanese women and not heart-warming coming-of-age tales. Perhaps he’s expanding his range into the more family friendly area. Whatever the case a production video has been released showing the cast filming scenes on Shōdo Island and giving interviews.

Kiki (Koshiba) has turned 13 and must leave home to start her apprenticeship in witchcraft and become independent. She hops on her broom with her cat Jiji and bids farewell to home, friends and family and settles in a coastal city where she must decide what sort of area in the witching profession she should specialise in. The trouble is her only skill is flying her broom…

Continue reading “Live Action Kiki’s Delivery Service Production Video”

Terracotta Far East Film Festival Recovery

Terracotta Far East Film Festival Genkina hito Image

I got back from London and the Terracotta Far East Film Festival where I watched four films and met up with fellow bloggers/cinephiles. The films were:

A Story of Yonosuke,

See You Tomorrow, Everyone,

The Berlin File,

The Land of Hope,

Expect reviews for three of the films starting next week. Why three films? Well when it comes to the top three films in the list I’m clear in what I think about them but I’m holding my fire on The Land of Hope so I can analyse it when I’m in a better frame of mind (read: not tired after having lots of fun with fellow cinephiles!).

I’d also like to mention the David Bowie Exhibition at the V&A which I visited twice!!!). Very excellent!

As someone who works for a gallery I was impressed and inspired by the high quality of the exhibition, the use of mixed media and the attention to detail. There was everything Bowie from costumes (his suit from the video Life on Mars? for instance) and sheet music and lyric books to music videos, clips from movies  he has starred in. The interactive headphones worked a treat relaying excellent music and quotes and changing depending upon the area I was in! Bowie was influenced by Japan and there are a great many things that reflect that like the costumes designed by Kansai Yamamoto.

I’d like to thank Alua and Tired Paul for being great hosts and having awesome conversations with and introducing me to bubble tea, and I’d like to thank Terracotta/Third Window Films for continuing to screen interesting Asian films.

Hmm, how to end this post… With an awesome music video (not Bowie but it’s God-tier)!

I love Polysics and great Japanese films.

Zombideo Gore

Japanese Film and Dorama at the East End Film Festival June 25 – July 10

I was overjoyed when I saw Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s dorama Penance getting screened at the Toronto International Film Festival and Venice. It’s because it seemed that there would be a chance it would get screened in the UK. So I spend most of the second half of 2012 wishing that the film would show up at a UK festival and lo and behold it does, just not the one I’m attending, no. Penance is getting screened at the East End Film Festival at the end of June!!!

The East End Film Festival has an eclectic line-up of films but the only interesting ones (as far as I’m concerned) are an indie film named Kuro and Kurosawa’s dorama Penance. Here are the details! 

Click on the title o the film for more information and the location for tickets.

Penance                   Shokuzai Drama Poster

Japanese Title: 

Romaji: Shokuzai

Location: Barbican Cinema, Screening Dates: July 07th, 5:00 PM

Running Time: 270 mins.

Director: Kiyoshi Kurosawa

Writer: Kiyoshi Kurosawa (Script), Kanae Minato (Original Novel)

Starring: Kyoko Koizumi, Eiko Koike, Sakura Ando, Chizuru Ikewaki, Yu Aoi, Mirai Moriyama

Kiyoshi Kurosawa followed the magnificent Tokyo Sonata with this five-episode TV drama based on Kanae Minato’s novel of the same name (Minato also wrote the novel which the film Confessions is based on). It stars a collection of some of the best actresses in Japan including Kyoko Koizumi (Tokyo SonataAdrift in Tokyo), Sakura Ando (Love ExposureCrime or Punishment?!?), Yu Aoi (Memories of MatsukoAll About Lily Chou-Chou), Eiko Koike (Kamikaze Girls2LDK) and Chizuru Ikewaki (Haru in The Cat Returns).

When a girl named Emiri moves from Tokyo to Ueda she makes friends with four girls named Sae, Maki, Akiko and Yuka. One day when the five girls are playing volleyball at school they are approached by a man dressed in work clothes who asks for their help in repairing the ventilation system. He picks Emiri. The two head towards the gym. When there is no sign of Emiri returning her friends head in the same direction and discover her dead. When questioned by the police they cannot describe the man which means leads to the investigation grinding to a halt. Several months later, Emiri’s mother Asako (Koizumi) invites the four girls to her house on Emiri’s birthday. It is there that she tells them that they will have to atone for their inability to describe the man and help in his capture. Fifteen years later, Sae (Aoi), Maki (Koike), Akiko (Ando) and Yuka (Ikewaki) are leading troubled lives and live in fear of the penance expected of them.


Kuro                                                  Kuro Film Image

Japanese Title: はなればなれに

Romaji: Hanare Banareni

Location: Rich Mix, Screening Dates: June 29th, 8:30 PM

Running Time: 100 mins.                                              Kuro Beach Image

Director: Daisuke Shimote

Writer: Daisuke Shimote (Screenplay),

Starring: Airi Kido, Yu Saitoh, Hideo Nakaizumi, Wakana Matsumoto

This one screened at last years Tokyo International Film festival where it accrued a series of mixed reviews like this from Megan Lehmann of the Hollywood Reporter,

A trio of Tokyoites jitterbugs through a series of absurdist set pieces on their way to self-discovery in Kuro, the self-consciously quirky debut feature by Japanese director Daisuke Shimote. Insubstantial but occasionally diverting, it’s a comic drama whose purely physical comedy comes in fits and starts, seemingly independent of the narrative.

After watching the trailer, that excerpt from review seems to be a good summary.

Three people recently traumatised meet up: Kuro once had dreams of being a baker until she was fired, Eito has recently broken up with his fiancé and Gou’s career as a theatre director is in imminent danger of dying when the lead actress of his own play goes missing. The three retreat from the world to a remote seaside hotel where a schoolgirl named Momo falls in with them and they all indulge in silly games.