A Glimpse at the Films at the Tokyo Student Film Festival 2020

31st TougakusaiLogo

Tthe 31st Tokyo Student Film Festival runs from October 15th to October 17th in Shibuya Eurospace and 19 have been selected for audiences to enjoy. The line-up consists of films produced by students from across Japan and they are submitted to the festival which is run by a small team of students who have created a space where the free-flowing and unique ideas people have in their student days can thrive. Some of these films go on to the international festival circuit so this is a good way to check out future talent.

This event is the largest student film festival in Japan with the longest history and people who have cooperated in the past include Nobuhiko Obayashi, Mamoru Oshii, Yuya Ishii, Satoko Yokohama, Yoshihiro Nakamura Kiyoshi Kurosawa, Shinji Aoyama, Kazuo Hara and more. This being a student festival, funds are tight so organisers have arranged a crowdfunding campaign to help with the venue cost and the printing cost of flyers and pamphlets.

Here are the films with information pulled from the festival site and the YouTube pages for the trailers as well as other resources I discovered (badly translated):

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Battle Royale バトル・ロワイアル Dir: Kinji Fukasaku (2000)

Battle Royale    Battle Royale Film Poster

バトル・ロワイアルBatoru Rowairu

Release Date: December 16th, 2000

Duration: 109 mins.

Director: Kinji Fukasaku

Writer: Kenta Fukasaku (Script), Koushun Takami (Original Novel)

Starring: Tatsuya Fujiwara, Aki Maeda, Takeshi Kitano, Chiaki Kuriyama, Kou Shibasaki, Taro Yamamoto, Masanobu Ando,


Some time in the near future, Japan has suffered a major economic collapse that has resulted in an explosion in unemployment and the attendant fraying of society as increasing numbers of kids cease to respect adults, classrooms are abandoned and teachers face escalating violence. The Japanese government decide that the only way to control this new generation of disruptive teenagers is to punish them and so they issue the Battle Royale act, an ultra-violent attempt to stop juvenile delinquency whereby, every year, a random class of 15 year olds is kidnapped and dumped in a remote area with nothing but a stockpile of weapons and they are forced to fight until only one survivor is left.

The film follows the 42 students and two transfers of class 3-B of Shiroiwa Junior High as they go through the Battle Royale challenge on an abandoned island just off Shikoku.

Battle Royale Class

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Beasts Clawing at Straws 지푸라기라도 잡고 싶은 짐승들 Dir: Kim Yong-hoon (2020)

Beasts Clawing at Straws    Beasts Clawing at Straws Film poster

지푸라기라도 잡고 싶은 짐승들「Jipuragirado Jabgo Sipeun Jibseungdeul

Running Time: 108 mins.

Release Date: February 19th, 2020

Director: Kim Yong-hoon

Writer: Kim Yong-hoon (Screenplay), Keisuke Sone (Original Novel – 藁にもすがる獣たち)

Starring: Jeon Do-yeon (Yeon-hee), Jung Woo-sing (Tae-young), Bae Sung-woo (Jung-man), Jung Ga-ram (Jin-Tae), Kyung Jin (Young-Seon),


Crime thriller Beasts Clawing at Straws is the debut feature of director Kim Yong-hoon and while he may be new name on the scene what is on the screen has all of the narrative slickness and stylistic panache associated with Korean cinema to ensure it stands with the best of his nation’s crime films.

Based on a Japanese novel by Keisuke Sone, it’s hard to imagine a director from Japan, outside of Takeshi Kitano or Tetsuya Nakashima, being able to do this hard-boiled story with the grit, the grue, the darkness, the bouncy pacing and the wry sense of humour that seems more natural for modern Korean film-makers and Kim applies these elements to a collection of morally compromised characters colliding with each other as they all chase a Louis Vuitton Boston bag stuffed to the brim with cash.

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A Beloved Wife, Reiwa Uprising, Humanoid Monster Bela, The Magnificent Kotobuki Complete Edition, Umibe no Étranger, Lost Baby Lost, Tokyo Butterfly and Other Japanese Film Trailers

Happy weekend, everyone!

A Beloved Wife 喜劇 愛妻物語  Film Image 5

I hope you are all genki.

September is going to be very busy in terms of this blog as I aim to cover a grip of festivals and also release reviews. I’ve got one post planned for tomorrow. So far this week, I’ve posted a review for Beneath the Shadow and Miyamoto and, over at Anime UK News, an article about the Inter-College Animation Festival 2020, a showcase of the talent in the Japanese university system, and how it is possible to watch it via the internet.

What is released this weekend?

Continue reading “A Beloved Wife, Reiwa Uprising, Humanoid Monster Bela, The Magnificent Kotobuki Complete Edition, Umibe no Étranger, Lost Baby Lost, Tokyo Butterfly and Other Japanese Film Trailers”

Beneath the Shadow (Eiri) 影裏 Dir: Keishi Otomo (2020)

Beneath the Shadow   Eiri Film Poster

影裏  Eiri

Release Date: February 14th, 2020

Duration: 134 mins.

Director: Keishi Otomo

Writer: Kaori Sawai (Script), Shinsuke Numata (Story) 

Starring: Gou Ayano, Ryuhei Matsuda, Mariko Tsutsui, Tomoya Nakamura, Ken Yasuda, Jun Kunimura,

Website IMDB

After spending the 90s working in TV, director Keishi Otomo moved into film and has built a filmography stacked with adaptations of novels and manga. He is best known for the internationally successful Rurouni Kenshin trilogy, a big-budget samurai series with a visual sheen of intense action, dizzying stunt work and exquisite period details that swept viewers away. He reigns everything in for his latest work, Beneath the Shadow, Eirin in Japanese. 

This is based on a same-named 2017 Akutagawa prize-winning novel by Shinsuke Numata and is set in the director’s hometown of Morioka, Iwate Prefecture, both before and after the 3/11 disaster. It features a slow-burn character-driven drama that teases audiences with a light mystery that hinges on the idea that our interpretations of people’s behaviour can be wrong if our emotions get in the way but also, that all of us have something we keep in the shadows.

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Miyamoto 宮本から君へ Dir: Tetsuya Mariko (2019)

Miyamoto   From Miyamoto To You Film Poster

宮本から君へ Miyamoto kara Kimi e

Release Date: September 27th, 2019

Duration: 129 mins.

Director: Tetsuya Mariko

Writer: Tetsuya Mariko, Takehiko Minato (Screenplay), Hideki Arai (Manga)

Starring: Sosuke Ikematsu, Yu Aoi, Arata Iura, Kenichi Matsuyama, Tokio Emoto, Kanji Furutachi, Jiro Sato, Pierre Taki,

Website IMDB

Miyamoto is based on a seinen manga by Hideki Arai that ran from 1990 to 1994 in the magazine Weekly Morning. This slice-of-life story, based somewhat on Arai’s background, detailed the maturation of Hiroshi Miyamoto, a young man Miyamoto 宮本から君へ Mangafrom Yokohama who is uncertain of himself as he is fresh out of college and new to living life in Tokyo. Scenes of work and romance are tied to his struggle to establish himself as a man and start a family and everything is given the gaman/gambarimasu treatment with some shocking moments of violence and lots of hot-blooded emotions as he holds true to ideals of love and honour even if it puts him in a world of hurt.

For many international audiences, this 2019 movie adaptation will be their first contact with the franchise. It is a direct continuation of a 2018 drama. Both the drama and film were written and directed by Tetsuya Mariko, the man who helmed the absolutely bleak portrait of lost youth Destruction Babies (2016). Indeed the movie version of Miyamoto was filmed from September 09th to October 30th after the TV show finished airing in the summer of 2018, and so, a director with a strong vision reunites with a cast of great actors as they adapt the middle part of the manga and the main character, the titular Miyamoto, moves on to romancing a new woman, Yasuko.

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The Brightest Roof in the Universe, Ninzu no Machi, Restart After Come Back Home, Kiss Cam! COME ON KISS ME AGAIN!, Denen Boys, Reframe THEATER EXPERIENCE with you, The Sleeping Insect, Meg Lion, Daibutsu Kaikoku The Great Buddha Arrival Japanese Film Trailers

Happy weekend, everyone.

We made it to another one and thank you for joining me here.

This week was packed to the rafters with coverage of the New York Asian Film Festival and all the while I had to go back to regular work, with an admittedly reduced schedule, and amend a funding form for a film festival. I have been busy writing reviews for films and posted a preview for the San Sebastien Film Festival 2020 which launches later this month. Already underway is the Venice International Film Festival. I also posted about the upcoming release of Melancholic by Third Window Films. Here’s my review.

What were the films I reviewed?

Dancing Mary Dir: Sabu (2019) – a fun genre mash-up movie where a supernatural romance meets a road trip with yakuza action and Kurosawa style atmospherics. Sabu uses familiar themes of fate and finding a purpose whilst utilising a similar structure to some of his more recent films by having an extended flashback tie everything up. My review is over at V-Cinema

One Night Dir: Kazuya Shiraishi (2019) – it started off promisingly with a uncomfortable yet believable depiction of people dealing with domestic violence and the insidious ways that it can destroy and reshape people, but a let crime-fuelled subplot used to ease the characters into a cathartic ending was too contrived to be believed. My review is over at V-Cinema

A Beloved Wife Dir: Shin Adachi (2019) – a stellar comedy that is both hilarious and uncomfortable about the dysfunctional relationship between a lazy sex-mad writer and his long-suffering wife. The writing was pure perfection as these two angular characters clashed as she pushes him to be a better guy and he focuses on getting laid. A late redemption for everyone feels earned and highly rewarding. One of my favourite films of the year. Here’s my review.

I watched some non-Japanese films including Grizzly Man Dir: Werner Herzog and Taxi Dir: Jean-luc Besson.

What is released this weekend?

Continue reading “The Brightest Roof in the Universe, Ninzu no Machi, Restart After Come Back Home, Kiss Cam! COME ON KISS ME AGAIN!, Denen Boys, Reframe THEATER EXPERIENCE with you, The Sleeping Insect, Meg Lion, Daibutsu Kaikoku The Great Buddha Arrival Japanese Film Trailers”

Third Window Films Release dual-edition DVD/Blu-ray of hitman black comedy “Melancholic” on September 07th, 2020

Third Window Films are going to issue a dual-edition DVD/blu-ray release of the Melancholic Blu-Rayindie film Melancholic on September 07th with a selection of great extras typical for TWF.

Extra features:

Dual Format (Both DVD and Blu-ray included)
Behind the Scenes
Q&A with director and cast
Melancholic Short Film

Here’s the trailer and synopsis and a little extra info:

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A Beloved Wife 喜劇 愛妻物語 Dir: Shin Adachi (2019)

A Beloved Wife   A Beloved Wife Film Poster

喜劇 愛妻物語 Kigeki Aisai Monogatari

Release Date: September 11th, 2020

Duration: 115 mins.

Director: Shin Adachi

Writer: Shin Adachi (Screenplay/Novel)

Starring: Gaku Hamada, Asami Mizukawa, Chise Niitsu, Eri Fuse, Kaho, Kayoko Ookubo, Ken Mitsuishi, 

Website    IMDB

Writer/director Shin Adachi really grabbed the attention of the cinema world with his script for 100 Yen Love (2014) which charted one female loser’s rise from zero to hero via boxing. Following that he returned to writing scripts and made a number of hits but soon directed his debut film, the warmly received 1980s-set nostalgic comedy 14 That Night (2016). For his sophomore feature, A Beloved Wife, he adapted his semi-autobiographical novel and the old adage that “it is better to write what you know” turned out to be true as it won Best Screenplay at the 2019 edition of the Tokyo International Film Festival. A painfully funny and awkward comedy about marital disharmony, one hopes that this isn’t too close to reality.

The famous proverb, “Behind every great man is a great woman” applies to A Beloved Wife as it gives audiences ringside seats into a painfully funny dysfunctional marriage between a sex-obsessed writer and his long-suffering partner.

A Beloved Wife Film image 4

While every marriage has its peaks and troughs, for the Yanagida’s, the troughs have been longer and much deeper and it is all linked to the husband Gota Yanagida (Gaku Hamada) for he is a pompous and lazy scriptwriter running on the fumes of past successes. Suffering writer’s block, he has been living off his wife Chika (Asami Mizukawa) for the last 10 years. Contenting himself to occasionally doing cooking, cleaning and childcare and always promising to write a hit, he has forced her to her turn into the family breadwinner and so she is constantly working, constantly tired and very unhappy about their situation and has no problem loudly denouncing her husband because of it. Meanwhile, their daughter Aki (played by the adorable Chise Niitsu) is a cheerful poppet concerned mainly about having fun.

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