A Preview of Nippon Connection 2020 – Highlights

Despite the situation with Covid-19, one of the world’s biggest events dedicated to Japanese films is going to launch next week Tuesday. We Are talking about…

Nippon Connection Logo

Nippon Connection will take place from June 09th to the 14th and the organisers will take the event online for a Virtual Anniversary Edition to celebrate 20 years of screening films. Over the course of six days, Nippon Connection Online will play a total of 70 feature-length and short films from a variety of genres to give a good overview of the trends in Japanese cinema. One of the main thrusts of the festival is presenting a glimpse of new perspectives on women in Japan – Female Futures? – New Visions of Women in Japan – which consists of a slate of dramas and documentaries made by women or featuring women in lead roles. The subjects range in age and political motivations and all look absolutely fascinating.

On to the nitty-gritty!

The films will each be available to view via the video on demand platform Vimeo in exchange for a small fee. The period of availability lasts for a full 24 hours from the moment they are purchased. The films will all be available to purchase during the duration of the festival, although some titles will be region-locked, something I will highlight with the films below. I have had a look since everything is already set up and waiting for the screening date and it looks easy to navigate.

As well as watching films, there will also be the chance to get in contact with the filmmakers behind the titles since they will be in contact with the audience via video messages, discussions and live broadcasts. There will also be a variety of online events, including workshops, lectures, performances, and concerts and a virtual marketplace which will present a wide range of offers related to Japan.

All of the films are special in some way but there is so much to cover. Here are some highlights. I will provide follow-up articles to cover other titles in depth. Click on the titles to be taken to the corresponding Nippon Connection page which has details on dates and times.

Nippon Cinema

This section is dedicated to the big films that have recently been released and may have done the festival circuit. It gives a good idea of what Japanese cinema consists of, with youth movies and first love mixing with family dramas and the occasional art house title and the rare political movie.

This section has some great titles like Under Your Bed (Dir: Mari Asato), Makuko (Dir: Keiko Tsuruoka), A Life Turned Upside Down: My Dad’s An Alcoholic (Dir: Kenji Katagiri) and Little Miss Period (Dir: Shunsuke Shinada).

After the Sunset    Yuho no ato Film Poster

夕陽のあと  Yuuho no ato

Release Date: November 08th, 2019

Duration: 133 mins.

Director: Michio Koshikawa

Writer: Ureha Shimada (Screenplay), Ryuho Ookawa (Novel)

Starring: Shihori Kanjiya, Maho Yamada, Masaru Nagai, Satoru Kawaguchi, Midori Kiuchi, Towa Matsubara, Shohei Uno, Saori Watanabe,

Website IMDB

There are some fine actors who are usually seen in supporting roles taking the lead in this family drama which looks like it will have the heartbreak of Rebirth (2011).

This one is available to view online in Germany only.

Synopsis: Satsuki lives on an island in Kagoshima. She is a local through-and-through having grown up and started a family there. She has taken the step of fostering a seven-year-old boy and wants to adopt him legally. It all appears to be going smoothly but the arrival of a woman named Akane from Tokyo begins a stormy series of events…

Dancing Mary    Dancing Mary Film Poster

ダンシング・マリー Danshingu Mari-

Release Date: N/A

Duration: 105 mins.

Director: SABU

Writer: SABU (Script) 

Starring: EXILE NAOTO, Aina Yamada, Ryo Ishibashi


Following on from  jam (2018), SABU continues his collaboration with LDH production, the parent company of which manages the Gekidan EXILE group, whereby members from that group take roles in the films made. This one features EXILE Naoto, model-turned-actress Aina Yamada and musician-turned-actor Ryo Ishibashi (he who picked the wrong girl in Audition) in a love fantasy film with some yakuza action. It is based on an original script and was filmed in Kitakyushu, Tokyo and Taiwan.

This one is available to view online in Germany only.

Synopsis: Kenji (EXILE Naoto) is a civil servant taking part in the creation of a gigantic shopping centre. When Kenji is assigned the task of overseeing the demolition of an old dance hall he discovers his job becomes impossible because some mysterious force stops every attempt. Turns out that the place is cursed so Kenji turns to a young woman who is a medium who can grant him access to the spirit world of spirits. But ghosts may be the least of his problems because the local yakuza clan gets involved…

Labyrinth of Cinema      Labyrinth of Cinema Film Poster

Labyrinth of Cinema=海辺の映画館 キネマの玉手箱Labyrinth of Cinema = umibe no eigakan kinema no tamatebako

Release Date: N/A

Duration: 179 mins.

Director: Nobuhiko Obayashi

Writer: Nobuhiko Obayashi (Screenplay),

Starring: Takuro Atsuki, Takahito Hosoyamada, Yoshihiko Hosoda,

Website IMDB

Nobuhiko Obayashi recently passed away but two films involving him are on the festival circuit. Both were at the Tokyo International Film Festival, the documentary hasn’t reached Europe yet, as far as I know, whereas this one has played at Rotterdam. Labyrinth of Cinema is an anti-war film that mixes in a love of cinema, a subject mix which Obayashi relished with so many of his project. 

This one is available to view online in Germany only.

Also screening at Nippon Connection is Nobuhiko Obayashi’s cult-classic House (review) which is available to viewers in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland.

Synopsis: Three young people at a soon-to-be-shuttered cinema are enjoying the final screening: a marathon of old war films. The three become so immersed in the action that they find themselves time-slipping through the screen to various historical events connected to cinema and war such as witnessing death during the Sengoku period and on a battlefront in China, being in Hiroshima just before the Aug. 6, 1945, atomic bombing of the city. This was shot in Obayashi’s hometown in Onomichi and has an anti-war message.

Family Romance, LLC Family Romance LLC Film Poster

Release Date: May 18th, 2019 (Cannes)

Duration: 100 mins.

Director: Werner Herzog

Writer: Werner Herzog (Screenplay)

Starring: Yuichi Ishii, Mahiro Tanimoto,

Website IMDB

Werner Herzog (Cave of Forgotten Dreams, Nosferatu, Bad Lieutenant Port of Call: New Orleans) read a newspaper article about people who rent themselves out as actors to play roles for other people such as work colleagues, friends etc. It’s something seen in Sion Sono’s film Noriko’s Dinner Table (2006). Inspired, he travelled to Japan to shoot the film. With just a small budget, he hired amateur actors and actresses for a docu-fiction where the moral quandries of this service and living in an atomised are explored. Anyway, this service and the man in the film was featured on a funny bit for Conan O’Brien.

This one is available to view online in Germany only.

Synopsis: Yuichi Ishii is the focus of the film. He the manager and an actor for an agency called Family Romance LLC. We see him on various jobs but the one role that is shown throughout the film is pretending to be the missing father for a teenage girl named Mahiro Tanimoto. Their interactions in this semi-fantasy provide ground for the moral quandries he feels which he voices between jobs.

Red    Red Film Poster

Release Date: February 21st, 2020

Duration: 123 mins.

Director: Yukiko Mishima

Writer: Yukiko Mishima, Chihiro Ikeda (Script), Rio Shimamoto (Original Novel)

Starring: Kaho, Satoshi Tsumabuki, Tasuku Emoto, Shotaro Mamiya, Reiko Kataoka, Kimiko Yo,

Website IMDB

Yukiko Mishima (Dear Etranger) directs Kaho (Pink and Grey), who has had a super couple of years with lots of dramas being released, in this steamy number where she plays a married woman who gets into an affair with Satoshi Tsumabuki (RageThe World of Kanako) – totally understandable – and Tasuko Emoto (Dynamite Graffiti).

This one is available to view online in Germany only.

Synopsis: Toko Suguri (Kaho) has a house, is married to a handsome and successful guy and has a charming daughter. Despite these signs of stability, she is unhappy. When Toko meets her ex-boyfriend Akihiko Kurata (Satoshi Tsumabuki) at a friend’s wedding, the two rekindle their love and launch into a passionate affair. Akihiko looks after Toko in ways her husband doesn’t but as she gets sucked into the passion, she loses her sense of responsibility and her life begins to fall apart whilst also discovering a desire for self-determination.

My Sweet Grappa Remedies    My Sweet Grappa Remedies Film Poster

甘いお酒でうがいAmai osake de ugai

Release Date: 2020

Duration: 107 mins.

Director: Akiko Ooku

Writer: Jiro (Script), Yoshiko Kawashima (Original Novel)

Starring: Yasuko Matsuyuki, Hana Kuroki, Hiroya Shimizu, Kanji Furutachi, Kozo Sato, Tomoya Maeno,

Website IMDB

Jiro is a member of the manzai group Sissonne and he has written a novel in the voice of a woman named “Yoshiko Kawashima”. The novel is a diary that notes her thoughts and it has been adapted for the big screen. This is Jiro’s second collaboration with Akiko (Tremble All You Want) Ohku after they worked on Marriage Hunting Beauty.

This one is available to watch worldwide except Japan, Mainland China, Taiwan, USA and Italy.

Synopsis: Yoshiko (Yasuko Matsuyuki) is a single woman in her 40s who works in a publishing company and enjoys drinking grappa and writing in her diary. She enjoys her simple life but when she is introduced to a younger guy in his 20s, she falls in love and a new, welcome complexity changes her easy days…

The JournalistThe Journalist Film Poster

新聞記者 Shimbun Kisha

Release Date: June 28th, 2019

Duration: 113 mins.

Director: Michihito Fujii

Writer: Akihiko Takaishi (Screenplay), Kosuke Kawamura, Isoko Mochizuki (Original Non-fiction Book)

Starring:Shim Eun-Kyung, Tori Matsuzaka, Tsubasa Honda, Amane Okayama, Tomohiro Kaku, Seiya Osada, Hina Miyano,

Website IMDB

This seems to be based on a real-life scandal involving Japan’s current Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, and his right-wing government. Suicide involving public officials and government-funded schools. Do the characters have what it takes to risk their careers for the truth?

This one based on journalist Isoko Mochizuki’s book has been paired up with i -DOCUMENTARY OF THE JOURNALIST- which follows Isoko Mochizuki and plays in Nippon Connection’s documentary section.

It is only available to view in Germany.

Synopsis: News is what somebody does not want you to print. All the rest is advertising. This is the code that Yoshioka (Eun-kyung Shim) lives by. She is a Tokyo reporter who investigates things for the public good, a way of life haunted by her father’s destroyed journalism career and subsequent suicide. When she gets a mysterious fax relating to a government scandal, she is put on a collision course with a young career bureaucrat Sugihara (Tori Matsuzaka), one of the “elite” who has a crisis of conscience when he comes upon a shady government-funded school that could point to a historic cover-up. Together, they must decide what to do when doing the right thing feels like self-sabotage.

Nippon Visions

This section is a space for new talents and experiments with indie films and genre cinema getting represented through shorts and some hefty features (one clocking in at 154 minutes). The subjects vary but they all intrigue. There are so many highlights, so please check the Nippon Connection website and check back in with this blog on Friday to see more.

Infinite Foundation    Mugen Foundation Film Poster

無限ファンデーション Mugen Fande-shon

Release Date: August 24th, 2019

Duration: 102 mins.

Director: Akira Osaki

Writer: N/A (Script),

Starring: Sara Minami, Nanoka Hara, Rin Onoka, Kosame Nishiyama, Nanami Hidaka,

Website   IMDB

A youth movie in which Akira Osaki, director of Obon Brothers, spins out a tale based on teenage girls heading to the future. It’s an improvisational work based on the song “To the Future” by Cosame Nishiyama and it was produced as part of the 2018 run of MOOSIC LAB.

This one is available to watch worldwide

Synopsis: One day, a shy high school girl named Mirai who is not good at socialising, is led by a clear singing voice she hears to a recycling facility where she meets a mysterious girl with pigtails who plays the ukulele (Cosame Nishiyama). The two quickly become friends and Mirai joins the theatre club where they work on creating a performance.

Extro    Extro Film Poster

Ekisutoro  エキストロ

Release Date: March 13th, 2020

Duration: 89 mins.

Directors: Naoki Murahashi

Writers: Hirohito Goto (Script), Mariko Kikuchi (Original Book)

Starring: Kozo Haginoya, Koji Yamamoto, Yuki Saito, Tatsumi Fujinami, Ryo Kato, Riho Kotani, Nobuhiko Obayashi,


Naoki Murahashi makes his debut with this feature and it looks absolutely charming. It features Nobuhiko Obayashi who passed away earlier this year but who is represented at Nippon Connection with two of his features.

This one is available for global audiences to watch except in Japan and the UK

And here’s a music video:

Synopsis: This is a mockumentary that follows real-life bit-part player Kozo Haginoya (Kozo Haginoya), a man who works as an extra for drama series and movies. He is 64-years-old and while he works as a dental technician and part-time farmer in Ibaraki Prefecture,, his true passion is for acting. The camera follows him around the set of a period drama shot in a film studio and things go slightly awry when two cops on the hunt for a drug dealer go undercover in the same production.

Forgiven Children    Forgiven Children Film Poster

許された子どもたちYurusa reta kodomotachi

Release Date: June 01st, 2020

Duration: 131 mins.

Director: Eisuke Naito

Writer: Eisuke Naito, Tetsuo Yamagata (Script), 

Starring: Yu Uemura, Yoshi Kuroiwa, Takuya Abe, Akana Ikeda, Yukino Nagura,


Eisuke Naito has come a long way from Puzzle (which also stars Kaho) with a filmography full of titles looking at delinquent kids like Liverleaf and this one looks pretty bleak as he looks at the death of a child from the perspective of children, their parents and the mediastorm around them.

This one is only available for audiences in Germany

Synopsis: Kira Ichikawa is the leader of a group of high school delinquents who take their bullying of their classmate Isuki Kuramochi too far when they accidentally kill the boy with a crossbow. The case is a nationwide scandal but due to a lack of evidence, Kira gets off with the crime. A backlash ensues that swallows up both the children and the adults…

Flowers and RainHiganbana in the Rain Film Poster

花と雨  Hana to Ame

Release Date: January 17th, 2020

Duration: 114 mins.

Director: Takafumi Tsuchiya

Writer: Takafumi Tsuchiya, Takahiro Horieta (Screenplay), Takafumi Tsuchiya, SEEDA (Original Album/Work)

Starring: Sho Kasamatsu, Ayaka Onishi, Chihiro Okamoto, Ozuno Nakamura, Kyohei Mitsune


The rapper SEEDA’s life and his 2006 album Flowers and Rain forms the basis of this work which uses his music as the score. You can hear SEEDA’s work on this webpage dedicated to Japanese hip-hop. Rising stars Sho Kasamatsu and Ayaka Onishi (Randen) take the lead roles.

This one is available for people to watch around the world

Synopsis: When Yoshida and his family return to Japan after living in London, he finds it hard to fit in. However, hip-hop offers a refuge and soon a way of life as he becomes an emcee. Going under the name of SEEDA, he starts to rap and deals drugs to make music and survive in Tokyo…

Minori, on the BrinkOjo-chan Film Poster

お嬢ちゃん  Ojou-chan

Release Date: September 28th, 2019

Duration: 130 mins.

Director: Ryutaro Ninomiya

Writer: Ryutaro Ninomiya (Screenplay),

Starring: Minori Hagiwara, Rieko Dote, Misaki Mireho, Sanae Yuuki, Yuki Hirose,


Ryutaro Ninomiya is back with another original film following Sweating the Small Stuff (2017). It’s a female-led drama made with Enbu Cinema and set in the seaside town of Kamakura. Why are seaside towns so depressing?

This is available to view worldwide except Japan and Italy

Synopsis: Minori lives in Kamakura and has a part-time job. She also has a lot of stress due to the nature of her relationships with people who refuse to express their feelings but have no problems taking advantage of each other. Minori decides to fight back against ignorance whenever she encounters it, whatever the consequences might be.

Yan    Tsubame Yan Film Poster

Yan Tsubame Yan

Release Date: June 05th, 2020

Duration: 86 mins.

Director: Keisuke Imamura

Writer: Noriko Washizu (Script),

Starring: Long Mizuma, Takashi Yamanaka, Yo Hitoto, Ryushin Tei, Mitsuru Hirata, Yoji Tanaka, Satomi Nagano,

OAFF Website

Keisuke Imamura is a cinematographer but he made his feature-length directorial debut with Yan which I saw at the Osaka Asian Film Festival 2020 where I reviewed it and interviewed him. It’s a beautiful film about rediscovering family history and intercultural relations.

This one is available for people across Europe to watch

Synopsis: 28-year-old Tsubame Hayakawa (Long Mizuma) has seemingly achieved everything. He has his dream job at an architectural firm, a girlfriend and lives comfortably in Tokyo. Yet on the inside, he has a history of self-doubt, which is revealed when he is asked by his father to hand-deliver a document to his older brother Ryushin (Takashi Yamanaka) in Taiwan. Tsubame is reluctant. It has been 23 years since they last saw each other after their mother, Toshie (Hitoto Yo) disappeared with Ryushin one night and left Tsubame behind. He has never forgiven them for leaving him but his father’s request is a final and so Tsubame reluctantly accepts this task and heads to Taiwan to search for Ryushin.


Shell and Joint    Shell and Joint Film Poster

Release Date: 2019

Duration: 154 mins.

Director: Isamu Hirabayashi

Writer: Isamu Hirabayashi (Script) 

Starring: Mariko Tsutsui, Keisuke Horibe, Kanako Higashi, Aiko Sato, Hiromi Kitagawa, Kaori Takeshita,

Website IMDB

This one is available for audiences around the world to watch

Synopsis: Nitobe and Sakamoto have been friends from childhood and they now work together at the front desk of a capsule hotel. Nitobe has a particular fondness for philosophy and crustaceans. Sakamoto, meanwhile, is fixated on suicide. The capsule hotel draws a variety of guests, including a Finnish mother who has lost her child, a fugitive woman, and a researcher studying Daphnia. None of their lives ever intersect. Nor do any of the lives out of it for that matter. They exist, but never cross, like cells in a capsule hotel. With crustaceans as leitmotif, the themes of life and death are explored through a fragmentary view of the characters’ lives.

Nippon Docs

This section brings together a really diverse range of subjects and themes like art and culture, feminism, workplace rights, mental health, refugees fighting for recognition and a man in a campervan trying to forget a failed love. There are three shorts and 11 features. Here are some highlights (a longer post will come tomorrow – Thursday):

Prison Circle    Prison Circle Film Poster

プリズン・サークル  Pursizun Sa-kuru

Release Date: January 25th, 2020

Duration: 136 mins.

Director: Kaori Sakagami

Writer: N/A

Starring: N/A

Website IMDB

This one is available only in Germany

Synopsis: A documentary that took six years to authorise and two years to film due to it being set in a prison in Japan. It is set in Shimane Asahi Rehabilitation Promotion Center, a new public-private prison and the only prison in Japan that has introduced a program called “TC (Therapeutic Community)” that seeks out the causes and cures of crime through engaging prisoners in dialogue in a system that encourages rehabilitation. This is one of a number of educational programmes at the prison and one where prisoners must face their past. Audiences of this documentary will see the causes of crime the, bitter memories of childhood, such as poverty, bullying, abuse, and discrimination, as well as the crimes they committed, such as theft, fraud, robbery, injury and death. The camera follows the four prisoners in prison and shows them gaining new values ​​and ways of living through TC. Directed by Kaoru Sakagami, who has worked with American prisoners.

i -Documentary of the Journalist-i -Documentary of the Journalist- Film Poster

i -新聞記者ドキュメント-I – shinbun kisha dokyumento –

Release Date: November 15th, 2019

Duration: 120 mins.

Director: Tatsuya Mori

Writer: N/A

Starring: Isoko Mochizuki

Tatsuya Mori is a documentarian famous for the films A (1998), 311 (2011) and Fake (2016). He also acted as producer on The Journalist (2019) which is based on a book by the real-life female journalist, Isoko Mochizuki. She forms the centre of this film as she pursues the truth.

This one is available only in Germany

Synopsis: Traditional news media is in a spin as social media, financial forces and political tribalism batter them around. Maybe film documentary might be the best place for news if not for some of brave journalists still working for newspapers who are unafraid to look for the truth. Isoko Mochizuki of The Tokyo Shimbun is one of them as she asks all the awkward questions that keep those in power on their toes and ferrets out the truth. This in a country which is still patriarchal, in an industry which is male-dominated, in a media environment that prefers not to challenge those in power lest they lose access to government press conferences. Here’s an article about her in The New York Times (written by Motoko Rich) which gives an excellent overview of the environment she works in.

book-paper-scissorsBook Paper Scissors Film Poster

つつんで、ひらいて Tsutsunde, Hiraite

Release Date: 2019

Duration: 94 mins.

Director: Nanako Hirose

Writer: N/A

Starring: Nobuyoshi Kikuchi, Isao Mitobe,

Website     IMDB

Bunbuku, the production house set up by Hirokazu Kore-eda, is producing films by younger directors and one of them is Nanako Hirose who follows her critically-acclaimed feature His Lost Name with a documentary on books! It was at the Busan International Film Festival.

Here’s my review

This one is available to watch across Europe

Synopsis: Nanako Hirose spent three years (2015-18) following a world leading book designer named Nobuyoshi Kikuchi. He has been active for more than 40 years and has worked on more than 15,000 books. By following Kikuchi and the way he designs books by touching and understanding physical materials, the film looks at the manufacture and status of paper books in the digital age.

Cenote    Cenote Film Poster


Release Date: September, 2020

Duration: 75 mins.

Director: Kaori Oda

Writer: Kaori Oda (Script) 

Starring: voices of: Araceli del Rosario Chulim Tun, Juan de la Rosa Mibmay


Documentarian Kaori Oda studied under Béla Tarr in Sarajevo and while in Bosnia she filmed the lives of coal miners (Aragane) and also her own journey as a filmmaker and human in (Towards a Common Tenderness).

This one is available to view worldwide except for Japan

Synopsis: Kaori Oda travels to the Northern Yucatan in Mexico where she ventures around natural sinkholes called ‘cenotes’ and explores the past, where Mayans used them for water sources as well as sacrifices and saw the cenotes as a connection to the afterlife, and she sees how these memories inform the present of those living around the cenotes. She pushes her style further here in what look like beautiful sequences.

An Ant Strikes Back  An Ant Strikes Back Film Poster

アリ地獄天国 Ari Jigoku Tengoku

Release Date: June 06th, 2019 (USA)

Duration: 98 mins.

Director: Tokachi Tsuchiya

Writer: N/A

Starring: N/A

Website IMDB

This one played at the Yamagata International Documentary Festival where you can read an interview with the director BUT it contains some spoilers…

Here’s my review

This one is available to watch worldwide

Synopsis: Yu Nishimura (real name: Yasuhiro Nomura) worked as an employee for a moving company called Arisan Mark no Hikkoshisha. He joined in 2011 and was a full-timer and was one of the best in the sales department, unfortunately, he had an accident caused by fatigue from overwork and he faced a number of years of workplace harassment from his bosses including having his salary reduced, unfair dismissal, persecution and being forced to working at the shredder when he was rehired. He joined a union who helped him with a legal challenge to get redress for everything he suffered. This documentary documents his battle for justice and the director has his own personal connection to the case, the final result of which was reported on the Mainichi website. Full details on this website.

Sleeping Village  Nemuru Mura Film Poster

眠る村 Nemuru Mura

Release Date: February 02nd, 2019

Running Time: 96 mins.

Director:  Junichi Saito, Reika Kamata,

Writer: N/A

Starring: Tatsuya Nakadai (Narration)


This one is available worldwide except Japan

Synopsis: The mystery of the “Nabari poison grape case” involves a man named Masaru Okunishi who was convicted of killing five women and making twelve others ill with wine poisoned with pesticide. It happened in the rural town of Nabari, Mie Prefecture, in 1961. Okunishi was considered the perpetrator because he was seen delivering the wine and his wife and his lover were two of the women killed. He was sentenced to death. There has been a lot of dispute over whether he was the real perpetrator because his confession was taken after he was tortured and evidence was shaky. His sister fought for his release but despite beating being on death row, he died in jail. It has been 57 years since the incident and director Junichi Saito has investigated the case before in drama form with Tatsuya Nakadai portraying Okunishi in prison in the film The Lifetime of Poison Wine in Nabari Incident. This is his latest investigation

Nippon Animation

Japan is a titan of the animation world as reflected in the way it has so many films at Annecy every year and there are mainstream anime movies and indie shorts scattered around Nippon Connection (check back on this blog for a longer post on Saturday). Anyway, this section has two big movies and a really exciting collection of shorts from four female animators, some of which I have seen and highly recommend:

Hello World    Hello World Film Poster

ハローワールド Haro- Wa-rudo

Release Date: September 20th, 2019

Duration: 98 mins.

Director: Tomohiko Ito

Writer: Mado Nozaki (Screenplay),

Starring: Minami Hamabe (Ruri Ichigyo), Takumi Kitamura (Naomi Katagaki age 16). Tori Matsuzaka (Naomi Katagaki age 26), Haruka Fukuhara (Mirei Kadenokoji), Rie Kugimiya (Karasu), Minako Kotobuki (Ii Shizuka),

Animation Production: Graphinica

Website ANN MAL

This one is available to view in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland

Synopsis: In Kyoto in the year 2027, male high school student Naomi Katagaki, encounters a person who claiming to be him from 10 years in the future. The older Naomi warns his younger self that the love of their lives, Ruri, will die in an accident in three months time and that he is on a mission to save her. The two Naomi’s work together but the younger one doesn’t know the whole truth about the situation.


Her Blue Sky  Her Blue Sky Film Poster

空の青さを知る人よ Sora no Aosa o Shiru Hito yo

Release Date: October 11th, 2019

Duration: 100 mins.

Director: Tatsuyuki Nagai

Writer: Mari Okada (Script), 

Starring: Shion Wakayama (Aoi Aioi), Riho Yoshioka (Akane Aioi), Ryo Yoshizawa (Shinnosuke, Kanomura/Shinno), Ken Matsudaira (Dankichi Nitobe), Atsumi Tanezaki (Chika Otaki),

Animation Production: CloverWorks

Website ANN MAL

This one is available to view in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland

Synopsis: Ever since the death of her parents, Aoi has lived with her older sister Akane in the small town they call home. What eases her loss is music but Aoi feels guilty that she is the reason that Akane gave up her ambition of going to Tokyo with her boyfriend, a guitarist named Shinnosuke. One day, Shinnosuke returns to town for a concert along with his 18-year-old double for a series of events that spark love and changes for the sisters.

Constant Metamorphosis – Independent Animated Shorts By Women

This selection of animated shorts was curated by Dr. Catherine Munroe Hotes (Nishitakaeiga) to celebrate the work of four independent women animators. Makiko Sukikara, Yoko Yuki, Lisa Fukaya, and Sarina Nihei. This is a prime opportunity to see something beyond the normal anime aesthetic. Makiko Sukikara’s Deep Sea Rainbow, is especially beautiful. Here are two works.

The films are available for audiences around the world to watch.

Rabbit’s Blood (UK/Japan 2017 Dir: Sarina Nihei 5 mins)  Website.

Two rival groups battle for survival underground – sinister cloaked men and neutralist rabbits.

A Snowflake into the Night (Japan, 2018, Dir: Yoko Yuki, 6 mins)

Synopsis: The snow eventually melts and transforms into an earthworm which wants to see the outside world so it transforms into a tree and so on as it desires to be something more powerful until it remembers what it used to be.

There will also be a Best of Nippon Connection with older films that have played at the festival like 100 Yen Love and The Night is Short, Walk on Girl.

This is just a taste of the films on offer so please check the Nippon Connection website for more.

Apart from the film program, there will also be an online lecture on the role of women in Japanese film by Chantal Bertalanffy (University of Edinburgh) and a live streamed panel discussion with Japanese women directors, moderated by journalist Maggie Lee (Variety).

In addition to the variety of films, the wide-ranging supporting program under the title Nippon Connected will be offering a selection of virtual workshops, lectures, concerts, and performances including Rakugo with narrator and comedian Katsura Sunshine, a tea workshop with Yumiko Wiesheu Ono, live commentary with film expert Jörg Buttgereit on a Japanese surprise film for the audience at Nippon “Heimkino” at Home, and online karaoke.

Nippon Kids features a digital workshop with manga artist Katharina Sato who will teach children how to draw cute animals in manga style and also a showcase of Japanese paper theatre kamishibai and anime films presented with a German dub.

More information and our complete program will be available on the festival homepage as of the beginning of June 2020NipponConnection.com

Previous coverage of Nippon Connection:

Nippon Connection 2015

Nippon Connection 2016

Nippon Connection 2017   Anime    Shorts   Features    Documentaries    Preview     Roman Porno

Nippon Connection 2018

Nippon Connection 2019

2 thoughts on “A Preview of Nippon Connection 2020 – Highlights

  1. It is a funny bit from Conan about hiring a family to laugh at his jokes.
    I might make a film where I hire a kid to be “young Denny” and get him to do all of the things I never got to do, or found out about too late.

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