Japanese Films at the Fantasia International Film Festival (July 12th – August 02nd)

The Fantasia International Film Festival starts in Montreal next week on July 12th and runs until August 02nd. The selection of Japanese films is simply stunning with titles from Miki Satoshi, Takashi Miike,  Nobuhiko Obayashi, Sion Sono and more. However, there are a selection of indie film titles that look absolutely killer as well.

Fantasia Header Image

This is the 22nd edition of the festival and it has become a focal point for filmmakers, festival programmers, journalists, and audiences eager to see a diverse slate of films before they hit the DVD or internet and take part in film culture. There are lots of guests and great experiences to be had and a chance to get involved with dictating which films get the hype behind them, so please choose Japanese, and try some of the titles listed here.

So what’s lined up?

There’s a rich mixture of indie and commercial features that have been programmed and the ones I’m listing first are the newest and ones I’ve written about the least.

Click on the titles to be taken through to the festival page for each film.

Amiko    Amiko Film Poster

あみこ Amiko

Running Time: 66 mins.

Release Date: N/A

Director: Yoko Yamanaka

Writer: Yoko Yamanaka (Screenplay),

Starring: Ai Sunohara, Hiroshi Oshita, Mineo Maiko,

This special gem won the Audience Award and Hikari TV Award at the Pia Film Festival and was featured at the Berlin International Film Festival and it will be at Japan Cuts this month as well. It’s an excellent debut film from Yoko Yamanaka and shows a filmmaker who is unafraid to use the camera and her actors in distinctive and, crucially, fun ways to deliver a quirky comedy about a sucky first love. My review for this film was finished last week, less than a day after watching it because the film left me feeling so hype!

Yoko Yamanaka will be hosting the screening so make her feel welcome!


Synopsis: 16-year-old Amiko is convinced that “the Japanese are unable to dance spontaneously.” She’s just tried it out herself, with some strangers in a Tokyo underground passage. Believing that she’s had more than her fair share of days where she’d do absolutely anything, she’s left behind the provincial city of Nagano to head to the capital and take her heartthrob Aomi to task. A year before, she took a long winter’s walk with him and thought she’d met her soulmate, someone else like her who wonders in which phase of life there’s actually room for being happy. But then he disappeared, headed for Tokyo, together with Amiko’s nemesis Miyako of all people, the very “epitome of mass culture”, quite unlike her anti-bourgeois and wildly romantic self.

Violence Voyager

バイオレンス・ボイジャー 「Baiorensu Boijya-」               

Release Date: 2019 (Japan)

Running Time: 84 mins.

Director: Ujicha

Writer: Ujicha (Screenplay)

Starring: Aoi Yuki, Naoki Tanaka, Shigeo Takahashi, Tomorowo Taguchi, Daisuke Ono, Saki Fujita,

Kyoto Saga Art University graduate Uji Cha is a talented animator. His last work was The Burning Buddha Man (2012) which I wrote about back in 2013. It went on a festival tour because of its impressive creation. Ujicha used hand-made and painted paper cutouts, animated by hand, to tell a horror story. He has dubbed it “Geki-mation” and directs, writes, draws, edits, his own work and it is clear to see his skill is undeniable. It’s good to have him back with Violence Voyager.

Synopsis: An American boy named Bobby and his friend Akkun head to the mountains to build a secret base but when they encounter a group of scared kids stuck in a mysterious amusement park called Violence Voyager, they soon find themselves under attack by robot-like humanoids!

Louder!: Can’t Hear What You’re Singin’, Wimp!   Louder! Can_t Hear What You_re Singin_, Wimp! Film Poster

音量を上げろタコ!なに歌ってんのか全然わかんねぇんだよ!! Onryo wo Agero Tako! Nani Utatten noka Zenzen Wakannendayo!!

Running Time: 106 mins.

Release Date: October 12th, 2018

Director: Satoshi Miki

Writer:  Satoshi Miki (Screenplay),

Starring: Sadao Abe, Riho Yoshioka, Yudai Chiba, Kumiko Aso, Eri Fuse, Ryo Iwamatsu, Suzuki Matsuo, Shoko Ikezu,

Website    IMDB

Miki Satoshi (Adrift in Tokyo) is back (!!!!!!!) and this film looks like a whole lotta fun!!! This is the World Premiere so be amongst the first to see it! And, you can see it with the director Satoshi Miki who will be there at the premiere!

Synopsis: Sin (Sadao Abe) is a rock star who has the most awesome vocal chords on the planet. He has a loud voice and can scale up and down four octaves. How is he able to do this? Vocal cord doping. This is not without its problems and his voice is wearing out but not before he meets a street musician named Fuka (Riho Yoshioka) who has the tiniest voice Sin has ever heard. However, her presence makes him look back upon his life and he decides to help her find her voice…

Being Natural 

天然☆生活 Tennen Seikatsu

Running Time: 96 mins.

Release Date: 2018

Director: Tadashi Nagayama

Writer:  Tadashi Nagayama, Yuriko Suzuki (Screenplay),

Starring: Yota Kawase, Kanji Tsuda, Natsuki Mieda, Tadahiro Tsuru, Shoichiro Tanigawa,


This was at the Yubari Fantastic Film Festival and it’s a new indie film from a director with a lot of hype building up behind him. The screening will be hosted by director Tadashi Nagayama, producer Keiichiro Yatomi and the actors Yota Kawase and Natsuki Mieda.


Synopsis: Taka is a simple chap and lives a quiet life in his rural town in his uncle’s house as he takes care of the old man with dementia. He spends his days playing games when not looking after others but his peaceful life changes when a couple from Tokyo arrive in the area with plans to open a coffee shop.

Room Laundering   Room Laundering Film Poster

ルームロンダリング Ru-mu Rondaringu

Running Time: 109 mins.

Release Date: July 07th, 2018

Director: Kenji Katagiri

Writer:  Kenji Katagiri, Tatsuya Umemoto (Screenplay),

Starring: Elaiza Ikeda, Joe Odagiri, Kiyohiko Shibukawa, Miho Tsumiki, Eri Watanabe, Tomorowo Taguchi, Kaoru Mitsumune,

Website    IMDB

Tsutaya, the film rental company are involved with backing this title from a newbie director. It looks quirky as heck and features a fantastic cast.

Synopsis: Miko Yagumo (Elaiza Ikeda) has a strange job: she stays in the apartments of people who have just died in them. Murder, suicide, she’ll stay there. Why? Landlords must tell potential tenants if someone has died in the property they are planning to rent but the law is a bit fuzzy as to how many people down the line landlords need to inform. So in steps Miko, at the behest of her uncle Goro (Joe Odagiri) who got her into the gig, and she spends time at these places. Lately, she has begun to see ghosts. It kinda makes sense because Miko’s recently-disappeared mother had the same ability. Miko begins to act as an exorcist and a councillor for a variety of people who aren’t quite ready to give up the ghost on their apartments…

The Travelling Cat Chronicles    The Travelling Cat Chronicles Film Poster

旅猫リポート Tabineko Ripoto

Running Time: 118 mins.

Release Date: October 26th, 2018

Director: Koichiro Miki

Writer:  Hiro Arikawa (Novel and Screenplay), Emiko Hiramatsu (Screenplay)

Starring: Sota Fukushi, Mitsuki Takahata, Yuko Takeuchi, Alice Hirose

Website    IMDB

I had this book with me as I travelled around Japan so I’m excited to see that it is being turned into a film.

Synopsis: Satoru (Sota Fukushi) is a kind-hearted man who has adopted a stray cat named Nana (voiced by Mitsuki Takahata) but since he cannot keep it he has a mission: to find a new owner for Nana. The two travel around and meet various people such as his childhood friend and his first love and Nana begins to understand his owner more.

Tornado Girl   Tornado Girl Film Poster

奥田民生になりたいボーイと出会う男すべて狂わせるガール Okuda Tamio ni Naritai Boy to Deau Otoko Subete Kuruwaseru Garu

Running Time: 100 mins.

Release Date: September 16th, 2017

Director: Hitoshi One

Writer: Hitoshi One (Screenplay), Chokkaku Shibuya (Original Manga)

Starring: Satoshi Tsumabuki, Kiko Mizuhara, Lily Franky, Sakura Ando, Hirofumi Arai, Yuki Amami, Suzuki Matsuo, Noriko Eguchi,

Website    IMDB

Synopsis: Koroki (Satoshi Tsumabuki) works for the lifestyle magazine Malet but he has no style of his own so he decides to look for inspiration from someone he considers cool: Tamio Okuda. Koroki begins to act and dress like the pop star and this nets him the admiration of colleagues and the attention of Akari (Kiko Mizuhara), a publicist for a fashion magazine with a reputation for being too hot for the men to handle. But is this all an act on her part and what happens when the two become honest?

Kasane    Kasane Film Poster

累 ―かさね― Kasane

Running Time: 112 mins.

Release Date: September 07th, 2018

Director: Yuichi Sato

Writer:  Tsutomu Kuroiwa (Screenplay), Daruma Matsuura (Manga)

Starring: Tao Tsuchiya, Kyoko Yoshine, Yu Yokoyama, Rei Dan, Tadanobu Asano, Mariko Tsutsui, Tomoko Ikuta, Kunio Murai,

Website    IMDB

Synopsis: Kasane (Kyoko Yoshine) is the daughter of a famous actress and while she has impressive acting talent she has none of her mother’s good looks because her face is deformed by a giant scar. This led to the girl becoming extremely shy and hiding away. The situation changes when her mother dies and she leaves behind enchanted lipstick that allows the wearer the power to switch faces with whomever they kiss. Around this time, an old colleague of her mother, Habuta (Tadanobu Asano), connects Kasane with an extremely beautiful but extremely arrogant and talentless actress named Nina (Tao Tsuchiya) who seems to be the perfect person to use but the man has other plans...

Rokuroku: The Promise of the Witch   Rokuroku The Promise of the Witch Film Poster

ロクロク Rokuroku 

Running Time: 91 mins.

Release Date: January 27th, 2018

Director: Yudai Yamaguchi

Writer: Keita Amemiya, Yuki Kumagai(Screenplay),

Starring: Miho Nakanishi, Shiho, Karia Nomoto, Erika Asakura, Mickey Curtis, Mayuko Iwasa, Motoki Ochiai, Kokone Sasaki,

Website IMDB

Yudai Yamaguchi, the man behind low-budget trashy horror films like Meatball Machine (2005), Tamami: The Baby’s Curse (2008), and Deadball (2011), works with Keita Amemiya, creator of the GARO franchise, to bring this collection of horror tales to the big screen.

Synopsis: I remember I agreed to something stupid…

A promise, lost in a comer of the girls’ minds.

Izumi is a normal woman who lives with her parents and a dementia-afflicted grandfather but her life takes a strange turn when he receives a social media friend request from her middle-school classmate Mika, someone she has bad memories of. The two meet and go to the restaurant at a hotel but they are trapped there and, despite looking for a way to escape, go into going to a room numbered 666. It is there that they encounter Rokuroku, a woman with a long-neck woman who wears a red kimono. Rokuroku says to Izumi and Mika,“You promised.” Audiences will soon find out just what was promised and what has happened to others who have encountered Rokuroku over the course of nine tales…

Wilderness Part One    Wilderness Part Two Film Poster

あゝ、荒野 Aa, Koya

Wilderness Part Two

あゝ、荒野 後篇 Aa, Koya Kohen

Running Time: 304 mins.

Release Date: October 07th, 2017

Director: Yoshiyuki Kishi    Wilderness Part One Film Poster

Writer:  Yoshiyuki Kishi, Takehiko Mintao (Screenplay), Shuji Terayama (Novel),

Starring: Masaki Suda, Yang Ik-June, Akari Kinoshita, Tae Kimura, DenDen, Yusuke Santamaria, Anna Konno, Aoba Kawai,

Website    IMDB (Wilderness Part One) IMDB (Wilderness Part Two)

Two films combined and playing at five hours. I avoided writing about this one at previous festivals due to a severe lack of time but having finally confronted it, I can see these films is definitely one worth tracking down and watching in one go. It comes from Yoshiyuki Kishi (Double Life) and stars Masaki Suda (The Light Shines Only There).

Synopsis: Japan is facing a social crisis in the year 2021. Despite the bright hope of the Tokyo Olympics, what has transpired for the country has been a deterioration of the quality of people’s lives as the welfare system collapses and unemployment and suicide becoming a problem for the youth who protest government policies that have led to this state of affairs. Against this backdrop of declining tranquillity, a violent young man (Masaki Suda) has left juvenile detention and joined a boxing club where he meets Kenji (Yang Ik-June), a man living with an abusive father. The two train to escape their demons and they connect with each other but events in the boxing-ring will separate them once they step in together.

Penguin Highway      Penguin Highway Film Poster

ペンギン・ハイウェイ 「Pengin Haiuei

Release Date: August 18th, 2017

Running Time: 119 mins.

Director: Hiroyasu Ishida

Writer: Makoto Ueda (Screenplay), Tomihiko Morimi (Original Script)

Starring: Kana Kita (Aoyama), Yuu Aoi (Mysterious Lady), Hidetoshi Nishijima (Aoyama’s Father), Megumi Han (Hamamoto), Naoto Takenaka (Hamamoto’s Father),

Animation Production: Studio Colorido

Website   ANN MAL

Synopsis: Aoyama is an elementary school student who makes notes in his diary every day. His town is quiet but his heart races every so often because he has a crush on a mysterious older woman who works as a dental assistant. One day, a group of penguins appears in his quiet suburban neighbourhood and Aoyama and the older lady want to discover the reason for their appearance.

Aragne: Sign of Vermillion      Aragne Sign of Vermillion Film Poster

アラーニェの虫籠Aragne no Mushikago

Release Date: August 18th, 2018

Running Time: 75 mins.

Director: Saku Sakamoto

Writer: Saku Sakamoto (Screenplay),

Starring: Kana Hanazawa (Rin), Ayana Shiramoto (Nasuha), Yosuke Ito (Tokiyo), Fukujuurou Katayama (Saion), Shuogo Batari (Mikaya)

Animation Production: zelicofilm

Website   ANN Kickstarter

Saku Sakamoto has taken on direction, writing, composing the music, CG and more roles to get this film made. It’s an epic undertaking that looks different from the usual anime so make Saku Sakamoto feel welcome and ask questions when you see this because he is hosting the screenings!

Synopsis: Rin (Kana Hanazawa) is an 18-year-old university student who is shy and anxious and a new arrival at her apartment complex. It’s a rundown and unfriendly place where crimes are occurring. There’s something darker stirring in the place, something supernatural and sinister and Rin begins to investigate instead of moving the heck out.

Punk Samurai Slash Down   Punk Samurai Slash Down Film Poster

パンク侍、斬られて候 Panku Samurai Kirarete Soro

Running Time: 131 mins.

Release Date: June 30th, 2018

Director:  Gakuryu Ishii

Writer:  Kankuro Kudo (Screenplay), Ko Machida (Original Novel)

Starring: Gou Ayano, Keiko Kitagawa, Shota Sometani, Masahiro Higashide, Tadanobu Asano, Masatoshi Nagase, Jun Murakami, Kiyohiko Shibukawa, Jun Kunimura, Etsushi Toyokawa,

Website    IMDB

Punk-rocker Ko Machida’s novel is given the big screen treatment by Gakuyu Ishii of ELECTRIC DRAGON 80000V, Angel Dust and Bitter Honey fame and the cast is full of super-talented actors!

Synopsis: Junoshin Kake (Gou Ayano) is a ronin eager to get nto the service of the Kurokaze plan s he concocts a lie about a doomsday cult called the Bellyshakers agitating for violence. He finds himself caught up in his own lies, the schemes of two clan retainers, the cult, and a whole host of other plans and plots from a bunch of weirdos such as a telekinetic imbecile and a talking monkey warlord.

There are many films that have been on the festival circuit for a while and here they are:


Hanagatami    Hanagatami Film Poster

花筐 「Hanagatami

Running Time: 169 mins.

Release Date: December 16th, 2017

Director:  Nobuhiko Obayashi

Writer: Nobuhiko Obayashi, Chiho Katsura(Screenplay),

Starring: Shunsuke Kubozuka, Shinnosuke Mitsushima, Keishi Nagatsuka, Tokio Emoto, Mugi Kadowaki, Yuriko Oo, Tetsuya Takeda, Takako Tokiwa, Hirona Yamazaki,

IMDB Website

Hanagatami is the latest film from veteran director Nobuhiko Obayashi, probably best known in the West for his 70s horror-musical House. This was at the Tokyo International Film Festival where it got a myriad of reviews praising Obayashi’s vision in bringing a unique (Japan Times, for example) film an anti-war message as well as its exuberant colourful celebration of youth to the screen. Obayashi has started making another film in Onomichi so check this one out as you wait for his next title.

Synopsis: It is the spring of 1941 and the setting is Karatsu City, Saga Prefecture. 17-year-old Toshihiko Sakakiyama (Shunsuke Kubozuka), who has just returned from Amsterdam where his parents are living, to live with his wealthy aunt Keiko (Takako Tokiwa) and attend the local boys’ high school. He lives life to the full with dinner parties and picnics, frolicking in the country and partying in the city. He does this with a close group of friends including a cousin named Mina who suffers from lung disease but the war is drawing closer and their lives will be changed forever… 

Destiny: The Tale of Kamakura   DESTINY Kamakura Monogatari Film Poster

DESTINY 鎌倉ものがたり DESTINY Kamakura Monogatari

Running Time: 129 mins.

Release Date: December 09th, 2017

Director:  Takashi Yamazaki

Writer:  Takashi Yamazaki (Screenplay), Ryohei Saigan (Original Manga)

Starring: Masato Sakai, Mitsuki Takahata, Shinichi Tsutsumi, Sakura Ando, Min Tanaka, Tamao Nakamura, Mikako Ichikawa, Jun Kunimura, Tomokazu Miura,

Website IMDB

Masato Sakai (Key of Lifeand Mitsuki Takahata (Japanese Girls Never Die) take the lead in this charming-looking magical mystery film. She’s got a lot of great support from Min Tanaka (Haruneko, Maison de Himiko), Mikako Ichikawa (Rent-a-Cat), Sakura Ando (100 Yen Love) and Jun Kunimura and Shinichi Tsutsumi (both in Why Don’t You Play in Hell?)

Synopsis: Kamakura is the ancient capital of Japan and the place where ghosts, demons, and youkai appear on a daily basis. Akiko (Takahata) is the freshly-minted wife of the mystery writer Masakazu Ichimoku (Sakai) and she gets a surprise every day with her supernatural neighbours. She also sees her husband help the police investigate difficult cases involving monsters and ghosts and she soon gets caught up in a case of her own…

I Am a Hero    

I am a Hero FIlm Poster
I am a Hero FIlm Poster

アイアムアヒーロー「Ai amu a hi-ro-

Release Date: April 23rd, 2016

Running Time: 127 mins.

Director: Shinsuke Sato

Writer: Akiko Nogi (Screenplay), Kengo Hanazawa (Original Manga)

Starring: Yo Oizumi, Masami Nagasawa, Kasumi Arimura, Miho Suzuki, Yu Tokui, Yoshinari Okada, Nana Katase,

Website    IMDB

I Am a Hero was first published in 2009 and in the years since it was launched it has over 4 million copies in print. My review of the manga shows how much I like it and I have been half-anticipating half-dreading seeing what the film will turn into. The trailer has left me relieved. I like what I see and I will write a review for the film soon.

Synopsis: Hideo Suzuki (Yo Oizumi) is a manga artist assistant who is struggling to get his own manga made. As he struggles with life a mysterious virus spreads throughout Japan and the rest of the world. People with the virus are known as ZQN and they turn into zombies with super speed and strength and attack other people. One of the victims of the virus is Hideo’s girlfriend Tetsuko (Nana Katase) who comes down with the virus and attacks him. Hideo flees Tokyo and heads out into the country.

During his escape he meets a high school girl named Hiromi Hayakari (Kasumi Arimura) but she has been bitten by a ZQN, a baby without teeth, so her infection isn’t as bad. During their escape they head to a mall where a group of survivors lead by NEETs are hiding on the roof. There they meet Nurse Yabu (Masami Nagasawa) who hopes she can draw an antibody from Hiromi.

Ajin: Demi-Human    Ajin Demi-human Film Poster

亜人 Ajin

Running Time: 109 mins.

Release Date: September 30th, 2017

Director: Katsuyuki Motohiro

Writer:  Koji Seko, Masahiro Yamaura (Screenplay), Gamon Sakurai (Original Manga)

Starring: Takeru Satoh, Gou Ayano, Yudai Chiba, Tetsuji Tamayama, Minami Hamabe, Yuu Shirota, Yuki Yamada, Rina Kawaei.

Website    IMDB

This one is based on an action manga and manages to transfer a lot of the action to the screen in some exhilarating sequences but the sheer amount is exhausting after a while. The open ending promises a sequel.

Synopsis: Kei Nagai (Takeru Satoh) is an Ajin, a type of immortal human whose body can fix itself even after the most terrible accidents. This ability is why he is captured by the government and experimented on. His only hope seems to be a fellow Ajin named Sato (Gou Ayano) who plans acts of mass-murder against normal humans but Kei cannot bring himself to do this…

Tokyo Vampire Hotel

東京ヴァンパイアホテル 「Toukyou banpai hoteru

Running Time: 142 mins.

Release Date: October 28th, 2017

Director:  Sion Sono (biography   season)

Writer: Sion Sono, Jun Tsugita, Manabu Ikarimoto (Screenplay),

Starring: Yumi Adachi, Kaho, Ami Tomite, Megumi Kagurazaka, Akihiro Kitamura, Shinnosuke Mitsushima,


Sion Sono (Suicide Club, Love Exposure) is back. Adapted from the Amazon series, Tokyo Vampire Hotel sees two vampire tribes go to war as the world faces an apocalypse. The series is based on an original screenplay and stars actress Kaho (Puzzle), Ami Tomite (Antiporno), Yumi Adachi; and Megumi Kagurazaka, the director’s wife who practically stars in most of his films post Cold Fish. It was filmed in Japan, and also in Transylvania and Romania, including Dracula’s Castle. Here’s an article over at The Japan Times. It has been programmed at the Five Flavours Film Festival and Tokyo FILMeX.

SynopsisManami’s (Ami Tomite) night starts off great as she is celebrating her 22nd birthday in a pub in Shinjuku but it all ends in a bloodbath when she is caught up in a massacre. She’s the only survivor and now that she’s 22, she has access to special vampire powers. This isn’t random. It turns out she is connected to the Dracula clan, something she finds out when she is followed by a mysterious woman who calls herself K (Kaho) and a mysterious man named Yamada who represents the Corvin clan. Both are vampires from rival clans and both want Manami but Yamada has her trapped in a hotel where humans will have to donate blood for all eternity as the collapse of civilisation seems to be happening outside… 


Laplace’s Witch       Laplace_s Witch Film Poster

ラプラスの魔女 Rapurasu no Majo

Running Time: 116 mins.

Release Date: May 04th, 2018

Director:  Takashi Miike

Writer: Hiroyuki Yatsu (Screenplay), Keigo Higashino (Original Novel)

Starring: Sho Sakurai, Suzu Hirose, Sota Fukushi, Mirai Shida, Hiroshi Tamaki, Eriko Sato, Rei Dan, Lily Franky, Tao, Etsushi Toyokawa,

Website IMDB

Synopsis: When two people die after being poisoned by hydrogen sulfide at two different hot springs in two different areas, an environmental analyst named Professor Shusuke Aoe (Sho Sakurai) is drafted in by the police to work his magic on the geochemistry of the area and determine whether the deaths are freak accidents or murder. His investigation becomes distinctly strange when he encounters Madoka Uhara (Suzu Hirose), a youg girl who can correctly guess when a natural phenomenon will occur. Her powers make her a suspect when a third person is killed…

Laughing Under the Clouds  Laughing Under the Clouds Film Poster

曇天に笑う Donten ni Warau

Running Time: 94 mins.

Release Date: March 21st, 2018

Director: Katsuyuki Motohiro

Writer: Yuya Takahashi (Screenplay), Karakara Kemuri (Autobiographical Essay)

Starring: Sota Fukushi, Yuma Nakayama, Kirato Wakayama, Shunsuke Daito, Yuki Furukawa, Junya Ikeda, Ren Kiriyama, Yuta Koseki

Website IMDB

Synopsis: The film takes place after the Meiji Restoration in Otsu, Shiga Prefecture. It follows the three sons of the Kumo family, Tenka (Sota Fukushi), Soramaru (Yuma Nakayama) and Chutaro (Kirato Wakayama). They are working with government special forces known as Yamainu to try and seal the power of Orochi, a giant snake that comes to life every 200 years and bbrings disaster to people. Trying to aid the giant snake are ninjas from the Fuma clan who want to use the snake to overthrow the government…

Maquia: When the Promised Flower Blooms

さよならの朝に約束の花をかざろう Sayonara no Asa ni Yakusoku no Hana wo KazarouLet's Decorate the Promised Flowers in the Farewell Morning Film Poster

Running Time: 115 mins.

Director:  Mari Okada

Writer: Mari Okada (Screenplay),

Starring: Manaka Iwami (Maquia), Miyu Irino (Ariel), Misaki Kuno (Medmel), Tomokazu Sugita (Izol), Hiroaki Hirata (Barlow), Yoko Hikasa (Dita), Rina Satou (Mido),

Animation Production: P.A. Works

Website ANN MAL

The film is the directorial debut of anime screenwriter Mari Okada (Anthem of the Heart, The Dark Maidens) and it was animated at P.A. Works.

Synopsis: Maquia, comes from the elfin lolf race. They stop ageing in their mid teens. She isn’t as brave as Leilia, the most beautiful girl in her clan and the person she idolises. Although her days are peaceful she feels lonely, maybe because she has no parents and Leila has attracted the attention of Clear, the boy Maquia has secret feelings for. When an army of dragon-riding bandits invades seeking the legendary women who stop ageing, Maquia is able to escape, but she loses her friends and her home. Wandering alone in the forests of the outside world, a place she was warned to avoid, she finds Erial, a baby boy who has lost his parents. Unable to leave him behind, she adopts him, initially untroubled by the fact he will age like a human while she won’t…

Fireworks    Fireworks Film Poster

打ち上げ花火、下から見るか?横から見るか?Uchiage Hanabi, Shita kara Miru ka? Yoko kara Miru ka?

Release Date: August 18th, 2017

Running Time: 90 mins.

Chief Director: Akiyuki Shinbo, Director: Nobuyuki Takeuchi

Writer: Hitoshi One (Screenplay), Shunji Iwai (Original Script)

Starring: Suzu Hirose (Nazuna Oikawa), Masaki Suda (Norimichi Shimada), Mamoru Miyano (Yuusuke Azumi), Kana Hanazawa (Miura-sensei), Takako Matsu (Nazuna’s mother),

Animation Production: Shaft

Website   ANN MAL

Synopsis: Norimichi Shimada and his friends are going to enjoy the summer fireworks but they have one question they want answered: do they look round or flat from the side? One person has more important matters on her mind, his classmate, Nazuna Oikawa, who plans to run away from home before her parent’s divorce. She wants Norimichi to join her but things get weird when a strange orb in Nazuna’s possession begins influencing their situation.

Inuyashiki   Inuyashiki Film Poster

いぬやしき Inuyashiki

Running Time: 127 mins.

Release Date: April 20th, 2018

Director: Shinsuke Sato

Writer: Hiroshi Hashimoto (Screenplay), Hiroya Oku (Original Manga)

Starring: Noritake Kinashi, Takeru Satoh, Kanata Hongo, Fumi Nikaido, Yuki Saito, Yusuke Iseya, Mari Hamada, Ayaka Miyoshi, Nayuta Fukuzaki,

Website IMDB

This is based on a manga series by Hiroya Oku, the guy who created the super-disturbing horror sci-fi Gantz. Inuyashiki was turned into an anime that turned out to be pretty good. The live-action version looks like it should be fun. Takeru Satoh (Rurouni Kenshin and Rurouni Kenshin: Kyoto Inferno) stars as the bad guy. Director Shinsuke Sato will be hosting this screening so get hyped!

Synopsis: Ichiro Inuyashiki (Noritake Kinashi) is a salary-man on his way out. Unappreciated at work and at home and freshly diagnosed with cancer, his life looks miserable but things take a drastic turn when he is involved in an explosion. When he regains consciousness, he discovers that he has been transformed into a cyborg. Far from freaking out, he has a new lease of life and decides to use his powers to help those in need. Meanwhile, Hiro Shishigami (Takeru Satoh), a high school student, was also involved in the very same explosion and has gained the very same the powers. He just wants to see the world burn. Two super-powered people do battle in Japan!

One Cut of the Dead One Cut of the Dead Film Poster

カメラを止めるな! 「Kamera wo tomeru na!

Running Time: 96 mins.

Release Date: November 04th, 2017

Director:  Shinichiro Ueda

Writer: Shinichiro Ueda (Screenplay),

Starring: Kazuki Nagaya, Manabu Hosoi, Tomokazu Yamaguchi,


This film has been earning a lot of hype on the festival circuit where it won the audience award at Udine and it is getting played at the New York Asian Film Festival, you can catch it in Montreal.

Synopsis: A film crew are dragged to an abandoned warehouse in the mountains by a super-dedicated director to film a zombie movie. Rumour has it that the place was used for military experiments so that adds to the atmosphere of the film but the cast and crew find that their work turns real when honest to goodness zombies start showing up and chowing down on people. Does the director stop? Hell no! He keeps on shooting and the results are captured in one 37 minute take.

Bleach    Bleach Film Poster

Running Time: 108 mins.

Release Date: July 20th, 2018

Director:  Shinsuke Sato

Writer:  (Screenplay), Tite Kubo (Original Story),

Starring: Masami Nagasawa, Miyavi, Hana Sugisaki, Erina Mano, Sota Fukushi, Ryo Yoshizawa, Yosuke Eguchi,

IMDB Website

Director Shinsuke Sato will be in attendance.

Synopsis: Ichigo Kurosaki (Sota Fukushi) has the ability to see spirits. Thanks to this, he meets a “Soul Reaper” (shinigami) by the name of Rukia Kuchiki (Hana Sugisaki), who transfers her powers to him after being injured by an evil spirit known as a “Hollow.” Under Rukia’s guidance, Ichigo trains to harness his newfound Soul Reaper abilities in the battle against Hollows while Rukia does her best to fit in as a human high school girl.

Tremble All You Want  

勝手にふるえてろ 「Katte ni Furue teroTremble All You Want Film Poster

Running Time: 117 mins.

Release Date: December 23rd, 2017

Director:  Akiko Ooku

Writer: Akiko Ooku (Screenplay), Risa Wataya (Original Novel)

Starring: Mayu Matsuoka, Daichi Watanabe, Takumi Kitamura, Anna Ishibashi, Kanji Furutachi, Hairi Katagiri,

IMDB Website

A person obsessed with ammonites? How quaint. However, I can’t ready the synopsis for this and not think about the Junji Ito manga Uzumaki.  This one was at the Tokyo International Film Festival where it won the Audience Award.

Synopsis: Yoshika (Mayu Matsuoka) is 24-years-old with a fairly unique hobby: she likes researching ammonite fossils and collects them. Perhaps this explains why she doesn’t have a boyfriend in her life. Or maybe the lack of a man is down to the fact that she pines for her first love, a guy from school named Ichi. One day, Ni, a guy who works at the same company, confesses his feelings for her.

River’s Edge   River's Edge Film Poster

リバーズ・エッジ Riba-zu Ejji

Running Time: 118 mins.

Release Date: February 16th , 2018

Director:  Isao Yukisada

Writer: Isao Yukisada (Screenplay),

Starring: Fumi Nikaidou, Ryo Yoshizawa, Aoi Morikawa, Shuhei Uesugi, Sumire, Shiori Doi,

Website   IMDB

Isao Yukisada is a familiar face to appear at Berinale since this is his fourth film to appear in the Panorama section. His feature film debut was Sunflower which won the Fipresci Prize at the 2000 Busan International Film Festival. Go is his 2001 teen action film which was nominated for over 50 international awards but his biggest film in Japan is Crying Out Love in the Center of the World ) reached an audience of 6.2 million, making it Japan’s most commercially successful film of 2004. I’ve reviewed two of his works, Parade (2010) and Aroused by Gymnopedies (2016).

Synopsis: This is a film told from a variety of perspectives, all linked up to show a generation and their experiences with extreme emotions. Stories consist of a bulimic model who gorges herself on food every night, a gay highschooler who is bullied by classmates who discovers something gruesome in a polluted river, a girl who pushes the boundaries of rough sex to frightening levels, and an introvert who reads her pregnant sister’s diaries.

If you made it to the end, thanks for reading. I hope you enjoyed it and discover some great films!

2 thoughts on “Japanese Films at the Fantasia International Film Festival (July 12th – August 02nd)

  1. I’m currently watching Tokyo Vampire Hotel on Amazon Prime and it;s bonkers! I’m 6 episodes in and still confused! 😮

    Good to see Miki Satoshi back! 🙂

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