RETURN Hard Version, Joukyou Monogatari, Gatchaman, Hakuoki First Chapter Kyoto Wild Dance, Space Battleship Yamato 2199 Chapter VI I: And Now the Warship Comes and Other Japanese Film Trailers

End of the Beginning Beginning of the EndThis week I thought I’d be a hero and try and get lots of reviews done as well as the Anime UK News Autumn Anime Preview Guide. I actually did achieve quite a bit of it by finishing the guide and most of the reviews. I finally finished up my Terracotta Far East Film Festival reviews with The Land of Hope and See You Tomorrow, Everyone. The Story of Yonosuke gets released tomorrow. I also posted about all of the Japanese films taking part in the Venice Film Festival this year. I’ll post about the autumn anime I’ll be watching next week and take the rest of the week off to get some more reviews finished before starting a mini Kiyoshi Kurosawa season and following that up with a Takashi Ishii season.

What’s released in Japan today? A lot of HK films including Vulgaria.

RETURN Hard Version          Hard Return Film Poster                                     

Japanese Title:  RETURN (リタン ハードバージョン)


Release Date: August 10th, 2013

Running Time: 105 mins.

Director: Masato Harada

Writer: Masato Harada (Screenplay)

Starring: Kippei Shiina, Asami Mizukawa, Anna Tsuchiya, Yusuke Yamamoto, Midoriko Kimura, Kazuhiro Yamaji, Keisuke Horibe, Kenichi Yajima, Mariko Akama, Denden

Masato Harada… That name rings a bell… Bounce KO Gals and Kamikaze Taxi, two films from the 90’s I vaguely remember watching parts of. Action-packed dirty films in complete contrast to the high class drama Chronicle of My Mother which was Harada’s last film just released last year. He’s back with a film about a businessman named Kitahara (Kippei) who fled to Argentina after killing some crime bosses and returns ten years later facing all sorts of crazy people out for revenge including the Midonogawa sisters who want revenge for their brothers he originally killed. It looks like a nice bit of gangster action harking back to some of the 90’s stuff I’ve been watching recently plus it stars a bunch of great actors who are clearly having fun.

Joukyou Monogatari                Joukyou Monogatari Film Poster       

Japanese Title:  上京ものがたり

Romaji: Joukyou Monogatari

Release Date: August 24th, 2013

Running Time: 109 mins.

Director: Toshiyuki Morioka

Writer: Toshiyuki Morioka (Screenplay), Rieko Saibara (Original Manga)

Starring: Kie Kitano, Sosuke Ikematsu, Asuka Kurosawa, Kanon Tani, Satoru Matsuo, Fumino Kimura, Rieko Saibara, Ittoku Kishibe, Asaka Seto

In Japan (and around the world) a generation of young people have to deal with a recession that has reduced their opportunities for lifelong careers and, more specifically, men have to deal with a generation of successful slightly more aggressive women who won’t settle just for being at home. There are some men who are passive enough to just accept being outsiders, on the bottom of the ladder and allowing women to take charge. This movie is a reflection of that. The trailer is shows Kie Kitano (Gegege no Kitaro and the Millenieum Curse) working hard to be a manga-ka while her husband played by Ikematsu loafs around dreaming like a character from Fine, Totally Fine, and it causes friction between the two but there’s also some comedy. It is based on a story by manga-ka Rieko Saibara who is also an actress and perhaps she has experience of this. Other actors include Satoru Matsuo (The Land of Hope), the incredible and incredibly sexy Asuka Kurosawa (A Snake of June, Cold Fish) and the prolific Ittoku Kishibe (Adrift in Tokyo)

Natsumi (Kitano) moves to Tokyo to study at a fine arts university where she meets the kind-hearted Ryosuke (Ikematsu) and falls in love with him. Unfortunately he doesn’t have a job and spends his days lying around while Natsumi has to work at a bar. Soon the two grow apart from each other and decide to break up just as her manga is published.

Gatchaman                                  Gatchaman Film Poster

Japanese Title:  ガッチャマン

Romaji: Gatchman

Release Date: August 24th, 2013

Running Time: 113 mins.

Director: Toya Sato

Writer: Yusuke Watanabe (Screenplay)

Starring: Gou Ayano, Tori Matsuzaka, Ayame Gouriki, Ryohei Suzuki, Tatsuomi Hamada, Eriko Hatsune, Ken Mitsuishi, Goro Kishitani, Shido Nakamura

Ah, we come to the controversial release of the weekend. Not because it does anything horrific but because it looks like a cheap adaptation of a much-loved franchise dating back to the 70’s. I think it sort of looks alright with decent costumes and CGI…. Which probably isn’t good enough for hardcore fans of the classic anime Gatchaman.

When a terrorist organisation known as Galactor declare war on the world, governments fall due to their superior technology. Dr. Kozaburo Nambu of the International Science Organisation gathers together five superhero ninja agents, known collectively as Gatchaman, to stop Galactor.

I grew up watching the cartoon and have fond memories of it and I’m watching the re-imagining of it, Gatchaman Crowds. The film is written and directed by two guys who have adapted manga/anime (Dragon Ball Z, Kaiji, GANTZ) and it has acting muscle since it stars Gou Ayano who was pretty good in The Story of Yonosuke, Ryohei Suzuki (Tokyo Tribes), the rather lovely Eriko Hatsune who was the lead in the J-horror Spiral and largely wasted in Norwegian Wood, and the fantastic Ken Mitsuishi (Noriko’s Dinner Table).


Hakuoki First chapter Kyoto Wild Dance  Hakuoki Kyoto Wild Dance Film Poster

Japanese Title:  薄桜鬼 第一章 京都乱舞

Romaji: Hakuoki Dai-issho Kyoto Ranbu

Release Date: August 24th, 2013

Running Time: N/A

Director: Osamu Yamasaki

Writer: Osamu Yamasaki, Tsunekiyo Fujsawa (Screenplay)

Starring: Hiroyuki Yoshino (Heisuke Todo), Koji Yusa (Sanosuke Harada), Noriko Kuwashima (Chizuru Yukimura), Kousuke Toriumi (Hajime Saito), Kenjiro Tsuda (Chikage Kazama), Shinichiro Miki (Toshizo Hijikata)

The Hakuoki video game/anime franchise gets a two-part film adaptation which tells a new story. It is directed by Osamu Yamasaki who has handled other franchise entries as well as old anime like Tokyo Revelation and two episodes of Mushi-shi. Rather interestingly, Kenji Kawai is providing the music and hes the guy who did the fantastic OSTs for Ringu, Ghost in the Shell, and Patlabor 2 and The Sky Crawlers. That soundtrack is kind of awesome but the animation is so-so.

It is the Edo period and a young woman named Chizuru Yukimura (Kuwashima) is drawn into the upheaval of the time when she encounters the Shinsengumi trying to keep order.

Space Battleship Yamato 2199   Chapter VI I: And Now the Warship Comes       Space Battleship Yamato Chapter 7 Here Comes the Battleship Film Image

Japanese Title: 宇宙戦艦ヤマト2199 第七章「そして艦は行く」

Romaji: Uchū Senkan Yamato 2199 Dai-nana-shou: Soshite Kan wa Iku

Release Date: August 24th 2013 (Japan)

Running Time: 100 mins.

Director:  Yutaka Izubuchi

Writer: Hiroshi Onoki, Sadayuki Murai, Shigeru Morita

Starring: Daisuke Ono (Susumu Kodai), Houko Kuwashima (Yuki Mori), Kenichi Suzumura (Daisuke Shima), Takayuki Sugo (Captain Jūzō Okita), Aya Hisakawa (Lt. Kaoru Niimi), Rie Tanaka (Ensign Akira Yamamoto), Rina Satou (Makoto Harada) 

The sixth instalment of Space Battleship Yamato was released back in June and this is the seventh and final instalment which joins together episode 23 to the final episode 26 where Yamato warps to the Sareza star system and battle Gamilos on Iscandar and totally wipe the swine out thus ending the greatest existential threat to humanity. It will get a release on the international stage under the Star Blazers 2199 title. Here’s the first ten minutes of the film, story and background to the anime:

In the year 2199, the human race has lost a war against alien invaders named Gamilos and have been driven underground due to the threat of radiation. Scientists give humanity a year before it is destroyed. When young officers Susumu Kodai and Daisuke Shima retrieve a capsule from a ship that crash landed on Mars they set off to Iscandar on the other side of the Magellan Galaxy which has the technology to smash the Gamilos and save Earth. The battleship Yamato is sent on a mission to get that technology. In this instalment, the Yamato has come out of warp space and aims to avoid a large Gamilos fleet.

In 1974 Leiji Matsumoto (Galaxy Express 999Captain Harlock) and Yoshinubu Mishizaki created Space Battleship Yamato which became a massive hit. Thirty-nine years later we see the latest part of the anime movie adaptation released. This is actually the sixth part but the staff and voice actors remain the same. The role of director is taken up by Yutaka Izubuchi is a veteran designer in the anime industry having worked on anime like RahXephon and the brilliant anime Patlabor. Nobuteru Yuki (Escaflowne) acting as character designer and animation director.

There are a lot of veteran seiyuu involved with Daisuke Ono (Shizuo Heiwajima in Durarara!!), Kenichi Suzumura (Uta no Prince Sama), Aya Hisakawa (Yoko Yuzuki in Mōryō no Hako), Rina Satou (Mikoto Misaka in A Certain Magical Index), and Rie Tanaka (Sammy in Time of Eve). The animation is produced by Xebec (Nyarko-san: Another Crawling Chaos) and AIC (Burn Up). 


Children’s Theatre Volume 3                 Childrens Theatre Volume 3 Film Poster

Japanese Title:  こび と 劇場 3

Romaji: Kobi to Gekijou 3

Release Date: August 24th, 2013

Running Time: N/A

Director: Nabata Toshitaka

Writer: N/A

Starring: N/A

Nabata Toshitaka is a popular author of children’s books and her Kobito Dukan (Dwarf Encyclopaedia) works are a big hit even if those things look as creepy as hell. Just look at the trailer. If I saw these things in a field I’d head in the other direction! And yet kids love these things! I mean, seriously, that one that leapt on the grasshopper is a threat, dudes! RUN!

Wu-san’s Knives                               Mr Wu's Knives Film Image

Japanese Title:  呉さん の 包丁

Romaji: Wu san no Houchou

Release Date: August 24th, 2013

Running Time: 120 mins.

Director: Masayuki Hayashi

Writer: Masayuki Hayashi (Screenplay)

Starring: Wu

My translation is probably way off but this one is about a man named Wu who lives on Kinmen/Quemoy Island which is part of Taiwan’s territory but which was the site of major artillery barrages conducted by the Chinese during the various Taiwan Strait crises. When I write barrage I mean 450,000 shells fired during the second conflict alone. These shells have now been recycled to create famous meat cleavers and Mr Wu is one of the craftsmen who uses these “gifts from the sky”. This documentary reveals his lifestyle and the creation process.

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