Jigoku no Hanazono: Office Royale 地獄の花園 Director: Kazuaki Seki (2021) [New York Asian Film Festival 2021]

Jigoku no Hanazono: Office Royale   Hell’s Garden Film Poster

地獄の花園  Jigoku no Hanazono

Release Date: May 21st, 2021

Duration: 102 mins.

Director: Kazuaki Seki

Writer: Bakarhythm (Screenplay), 

Starring: Mei Nagano, Alice Hirose, Rina Kawaei, Nanao, Miyuki Oshima, Eiko Koike, Masanobu Katsumura, Tomomi Maruyama, Kenichi Endo, Satoru Matsuo, Win Morisaki, 

Website IMDB

” In every world there exists factions. Female office workers are no different.”

And so begins Jigoku no Hanazono: Office Royale, one of the most fun cinematic experiences of the year. Imagine transposing the world of yankees and sukeban onto that of office ladies (OL) and you get this fourth-wall breaking film as it draws directly from and playfully critiques the delinquent manga genre that have proven so popular that many a film franchise has been built off them.

So, even if the fights lack grit, the film adds more colour, comedy and gusto to its good-natured tongue-in-cheek references to Terrifying Girl’s High School where female brawlers who display the guts of Gachiban characters get caught in epic conflicts akin to Crows, and the hot-headed ladies do hand-to-hand like High and Low, before everything ends in an epic beat down like Bebop High School. Forgive that last paragraph, I just wanted to get the references in there!

As awesome as all of this sounds, our main character, and the films narrator, Naoko Tanaka (Mei Nagano), is not one for fisticuffs. If you had to categorise her, it would be a “normal” girl who likes to go to cafes and watch dramas and just do a good job. And maybe catch a boyfriend, but she’d only tell her best friends that! What about the not-so-normal girls?

Naoko’s workplace is divided between factions run by fighters like Andoh the Demon (Nanao) who dominates R&D, Mad Dog Shiori (Rina Kawaei) who reps Sales, and Etsuko the Beast (Miyuki Oshima) in Manufacturing. This fearsome trio and their mobs are regularly rumbling UNTIL(!) a new OL named Ran (Alice Hirose perfectly  embodying a cocky lone hero) enters town and she proves to be the baddest battler on the block as she beats the aforementioned characters and the factions all come under her influence.

JIGOKU NO HANAZONO STILL 7
©2021 “Jigoku-No-Hanazono”Film Partners

In a strange turn of events, the ultra-charismatic Ran becomes Naoko’s best friend and they do things normal OL in order to get to know each other. They visit cafes together to eat the newest cakes on the menu, go shopping, and chat during their free time but what Naoko doesn’t realise is that Ran’s presence makes their company a prime target for various gangs of office ladies from all over Japan, some of whom intend to use Naoko as a way to get at Ran which sets up a high stakes battle. However, more twists are in store!

Continue reading “Jigoku no Hanazono: Office Royale 地獄の花園 Director: Kazuaki Seki (2021) [New York Asian Film Festival 2021]”

The Great Yokai War: Guardians, Tokyo Olympics 2017 Toei Kasumigaoka Apartment, We Have the Same Morning, Go Seppuku Yourselves, Shinkai no Survival!, Eiga Oshiri Tantei: Sufu-re-to no Himitsu, Kurayukaba (Preface) Japanese Film Trailers

Happy Weekend, everyone!

©2021 YAMIKEN

I hope you are all well.

I am still a little ill but that hasn’t stopped me from watching and writing about films. This week I posted reviews for The Fable: The Killer Who Won’t KillTonkatsu DJ Agetaro, and Hold Me Back. I’ll be doing a Heroic Purgatory podcast with Ghost in the Shell being the film the episode is dedicated to Ghost in the Shell, the anime movie from the 90s.

This week I watched Room 237, The Pusher, Wotakoi: Love is Hard for Otaku and a bunch of New York Asian Film Festival films that I will write about soon!

What is released this weekend?

Continue reading “The Great Yokai War: Guardians, Tokyo Olympics 2017 Toei Kasumigaoka Apartment, We Have the Same Morning, Go Seppuku Yourselves, Shinkai no Survival!, Eiga Oshiri Tantei: Sufu-re-to no Himitsu, Kurayukaba (Preface) Japanese Film Trailers”

Hold Me Back 私をくいとめて Director: Akiko Ohku (2020) [New York Asian Film Festival 2021]

Hold Me Back   

私をくいとめて Watashi o Kuitomete

Release Date: December 18th, 2020

Duration: 135 mins.

Director: Akiko Ohku

Writer: Akiko Ohku (Script), RisWataya (Original Novel)

Starring: Non, Kento Hayashi, Asami Usada, Ai Hashimoto, Hairi Katagiri, Takuya Wakabayashi, Tomoya Nakamura,

Website IMDB

Director Akiko Ohku’s Hold Me Back won the Best Film prize at the 2020 edition of the Tokyo International Film Festival (the only award on offer that year). This was the second time that she won the award, voted for by audiences, having previously nabbed it in 2017 with Tremble All You Want. Both films were adapted from novels by Akutagawa Prize-winner Risa Wataya and both feature young women engaging in romantic comedies that go beyond love and laughs to moments of self-actualisation that help them grow as individuals. Hold Me Back is an especially enjoyable film thanks to a layered performance from lead actor Non who is able to portray an everyday person with a quirky charm but also depths of emotion that come out in an odd but endearing way.

Continue reading “Hold Me Back 私をくいとめて Director: Akiko Ohku (2020) [New York Asian Film Festival 2021]”

Tonkatsu DJ Agetaro とんかつDJアゲ太郎 (2020) Director: Ken Ninomiya [New York Asian Film Festival 2021]

Tonkatsu DJ Agetaro   Tonkatsu DJ Age-Taro Film Poster

とんかつDJアゲ太郎 Tonkatsu DJ Age-Taro

Release Date: October 30th, 2020

Duration: 100 mins.

Director: Ken Ninomiya

Writer: Ken Ninomiya (Script), Iipyao, Yujiro Koyama (Original Manga)

Starring: Takumi Kitamura, Maika Yamamoto, Kentaro Ito, Yusuke Iseya, Brother Tom, Reiko Kataoka, Natsumi Ikema, Kou Maehara, Kodai Asaka,

Website IMDB

In Tonkatsu DJ Agetaro, Shibuya’s club land gets a sweet-hearted remix made via juggling an epicurean adventure in Japanese cuisine with musical antics. Its origins lie in a popular gag manga by Yujiro Koyama and Iipyao which originates from around 2014 with a TV animation released in 2016 but newbies need not worry as this fun family-friendly film is a standard-issue coming-of-age story that anyone can get into.

Continue reading “Tonkatsu DJ Agetaro とんかつDJアゲ太郎 (2020) Director: Ken Ninomiya [New York Asian Film Festival 2021]”

The Fable: A Contract Killer Who Doesn’t Kill  ザ・ファブル 殺さない殺し屋 (2021) Director: Kan Eguchi [New York Asian Film Festival 2021]

The Fable: A Contract Killer Who Doesn’t Kill   The Fable A Contract Killer Who Doesn't Kill Film Poster

ザ・ファブル 殺さない殺し屋 The Fable: Korosanai Koroshiya

Release Date: June 18th 2021

Duration: 123 mins.

Director: Kan Eguchi

Writer: Kan Eguchi, Masahiro Yamaura (Script), Katsuhisa Minami (Original Manga)

Starring: Junichi Okada, Fumino Kimura, Shinichi Tsutsumi, Yurina Hirate, Masanobu Ando, Mizuki Yamamoto, Ken Yasuda, Jiro Sato, Daisuke Miyagawa, Manami Hashimoto,

Website IMDB

Films based on manga are quite ubiquitous in Japan but few have qualities that gain the traction to make it onto the radars of global audiences the way the Rurouni Kenshin live-action films have. The closest has arguably been 2019’s well-reviewed The Fable which featured a combination of eccentric characters, quirky comedy, and a pair of attention-grabbing action set-pieces (choreographed by the Jackie Chan stunt team) that bookended proceedings. For the sequel, The Fable: A Contract Killer Who Doesn’t Kill, it is a case of more of the same as the director and cast return in a film which has a similar structure and feel to the previous instalment. 

Once again we are in the company of Akira Sato (Junichi Okada) A.K.A, The Fable. Behind his innocuously naïve and spaced-out persona lies a killing machine who is a legend in the criminal underworld. In the first film, his body-count had become so outrageous, his boss ordered him to keep a low profile in Osaka with his handler Yoko (Fumino Kimura) with strict orders not to kill anyone or anything. Sato now works a part-time job at a design company where his colleagues and new-found friends remain unaware of his hidden life but maintaining this deception soon proves impossible when a former target from Sato’s murky past re-emerges.

Continue reading “The Fable: A Contract Killer Who Doesn’t Kill  ザ・ファブル 殺さない殺し屋 (2021) Director: Kan Eguchi [New York Asian Film Festival 2021]”

The Fable: A Contract Killer Who Doesn’t Kill  ザ・ファブル 殺さない殺し屋 (2021) Director: Kan Eguchi [New York Asian Film Festival 2021]

The Fable: A Contract Killer Who Doesn’t Kill   The Fable A Contract Killer Who Doesn't Kill Film Poster

ザ・ファブル 殺さない殺し屋 The Fable: Korosanai Koroshiya

Release Date: June 18th 2021

Duration: 123 mins.

Director: Kan Eguchi

Writer: Kan Eguchi, Masahiro Yamaura (Script), Katsuhisa Minami (Original Manga)

Starring: Junichi Okada, Fumino Kimura, Shinichi Tsutsumi, Yurina Hirate, Masanobu Ando, Mizuki Yamamoto, Ken Yasuda, Jiro Sato, Daisuke Miyagawa, Manami Hashimoto,

Website IMDB

Films based on manga are quite ubiquitous in Japan but few have qualities that gain the traction to make it onto the radars of global audiences the way the Rurouni Kenshin live-action films have. The closest has arguably been 2019’s well-reviewed The Fable which featured a combination of eccentric characters, quirky comedy, and a pair of attention-grabbing action set-pieces (choreographed by the Jackie Chan stunt team) that bookended proceedings. For the sequel, The Fable: A Contract Killer Who Doesn’t Kill, it is a case of more of the same as the director and cast return in a film which has a similar structure and feel to the previous instalment. 

Once again we are in the company of Akira Sato (Junichi Okada) A.K.A, The Fable. Behind his innocuously naïve and spaced-out persona lies a killing machine who is a legend in the criminal underworld. In the first film, his body-count had become so outrageous, his boss ordered him to keep a low profile in Osaka with his handler Yoko (Fumino Kimura) with strict orders not to kill anyone or anything. Sato now works a part-time job at a design company where his colleagues and new-found friends remain unaware of his hidden life but maintaining this deception soon proves impossible when a former target from Sato’s murky past re-emerges.

Continue reading “The Fable: A Contract Killer Who Doesn’t Kill  ザ・ファブル 殺さない殺し屋 (2021) Director: Kan Eguchi [New York Asian Film Festival 2021]”

Situation Love, Super Moon a Ogikubo Takashi no Playback, It’s a Flickering Life, Gift of Fire, My Hero Academia THE MOVIE: World Heroes’ Mission Japanese Film Trailers

Happy Weekend!

© Yu Irie & cogitoworks Ltd.

I hope you are well.

This week I haven’t been feeling so good and I have taken time off work.

During this bit of downtime, I’ve been watching films connected to the New York Asian Film Festival 2021 and then took part in a special episode of Heroic Purgatory where my co-host and I give our opinions on some of the films involved. Other recent coverage of films includes reviews of Escape from Mogadishu, Ninja Girl, JUNK HEAD, and an interview with Atsuko Miyake, the talented stop-motion animator on JUNK HEAD.

Yesterday, I posted about the Heroic Purgatory podcast and the first of this two-parter trailer post.

What else has been released this week?

Continue reading “Situation Love, Super Moon a Ogikubo Takashi no Playback, It’s a Flickering Life, Gift of Fire, My Hero Academia THE MOVIE: World Heroes’ Mission Japanese Film Trailers”

Heroic Purgatory Podcast Covers the New York Asian Film Festival 2021 (August 06th – 22nd)

The New York Asian Film Festival launches tonight and will run from August 6th to August 22nd as a hybrid event with around 70 films split between cinemas and online streams and the HEROIC PURGATORY podcast is taking part. 

As I described in my preview, it’s a beautiful and exciting mix of experiences from 12 separate territories/nations with a mix of big-budget blockbusters to indie movies and the quality of the selection is so good, you can see why the festival is the premiere event for Asian films in North America – maybe even the West!

Continue reading “Heroic Purgatory Podcast Covers the New York Asian Film Festival 2021 (August 06th – 22nd)”

a hope of NAGASAKI yasashii hitotachi, It’s a Summer Film, Okinawa/Santos, Cowra Never Forgets, The River Bank The Couple The Ghosts, Shukatsu 5 A Game Called Employment Japanese Film Trailers

Happy Weekend.

I hope you are well.

This is the first in a two-part trailer post. The New York Asian Film Festival starts tonight with the opening film, South Korean action title Escape From Mogadishu. I’ll do another trailer post tomorrow and I’ll resume coverage of the festival on Monday.

What are some of the films released this weekend in Japan?

On the anniversary of the atomic bombing of Japan, we have a documentary about the Nagasaki attack. Lots of indie films, too.

Continue reading “a hope of NAGASAKI yasashii hitotachi, It’s a Summer Film, Okinawa/Santos, Cowra Never Forgets, The River Bank The Couple The Ghosts, Shukatsu 5 A Game Called Employment Japanese Film Trailers”

Escape from Mogadishu 모가디슈 (2021) Director: Ryoo Seung-wan [New York Asian Film Festival 2021]

Escape from Mogadishu    EscapeFromMogadishu_WellGoUSA_OfficialPoster_1382x2048

모가디슈 Mogadisyu

Release Date: July 28th 2021

Duration: 121 mins.

Director: Ryoo Seung-wan

Writer: Ryoo Seung-wan, Lee Ki-cheol (Script), 

Starring: Kim Yoon-seok (Han Shin-sung – South Korean ambassador), Zo In-sung (Kang Dae-jin – intelligence officer), Heo Joon-ho (Rim Yong-su – North Korean ambassador), Kim So-jin (Kim Myung-hee – ambassador Han’s wife), Koo Kyo-hwan (Tae Joon-ki – NK intelligence officer), Jung Man-sik,

Website IMDB   Korean Film

Escape From Mogadishu is a based-on-reality ensemble drama set amidst an action movie spectacle. With the backdrop of the Somali Civil War, it provides the pulse-pounding summer entertainment thrills with poignant moments of humanity as a group of opponents must join forces to survive scenes of carnage. 

We are taken Somalia’s capital city of Mogadishu, circa 1991. Already unstable, we witness bandits and government forces terrorising the local population and government business done with a massive side-order of corruption. Meanwhile, acting as an undercurrent to life in the city are news reports relaying dispatches from rebellious regions that signal Somalia’s oncoming slide into a decades-long civil war. The whys and wherefores of this turmoil are never gone into detail but what is presented feeds into another conflict, one between the staff of the South Korean embassy and their rivals from North Korea as each seek to curry favour with factions inside the failing Somali government in a diplomatic battle over securing votes for U.N. membership.

Continue reading “Escape from Mogadishu 모가디슈 (2021) Director: Ryoo Seung-wan [New York Asian Film Festival 2021]”