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Destiny: The Tale of Kamakura DESTINY 鎌倉ものがたり Dir:  Takashi Yamazaki (2017)

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

Kamakura is one of the old capitals of Japan and the most magical place in the country according to Destiny: The Tale of Kamakura. In this CG-heavy adventure, a young woman discovers her new husband’s titular home town is where the borders between life, death, fairytale and reality are blurred as she and her beloved embark on a magical fantasy adventure.

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Blame! ブラム Dir: Hiroyuki Seshita (2017)

Blame!   Blame Film Poster

ブラム Buramu

Running Time: 105 mins.

Director: Hiroyuki Seshita

Writer: Sadayuki Murai (Screenplay) Tsutomu Nihei (Original Creator),

Animation Production: Polygon Pictures

Starring: Takahiro Sakurai (Killy), Kana Hanazawa (Cibo), Sora Amamiya (Zuru), Kazuhiro Yamaji (Pop), Aki Toyosaki (Administration Authority), Aya Suzuki (Tae), Yuuki Kaji (Atsuji), Mamoru Miyano (Sutezo), Saori Hayami (Sanakan)

Website ANN MAL

Long-term readers will know that I am a fan of Tsutomu Nihei and I have written about his manga Abara, Biomega, and the anime adaptation of Knights of Sidonia. Blame! is based on Nihei’s manga of the same name which was his first commercial manga series when it was published in Kodansha’s Monthly Afternoon magazine from 1997 until it ended in 2003. This movie adaptation is from the team behind the TV anime adaptation of Knights of Sidonia and Ajin and it looks awesome thanks to the financial muscle and time given to the animation studio Polygon Pictures by their backers Netflix:

The story of the film takes place in the same setting, a distant dystopic technological future where civilisation has reached its ultimate net-based form and transhumanism is rife. Unfortunately, an “infection” wipes out the one way humans control everything – Net Terminal Genes. This causes the automated systems to spiral out of order, resulting in artificial intelligence running amok as it fulfils its function to create an ever-expanding multi-levelled city that replicates itself infinitely in all directions.

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Radiance 光 Dir: Naomi Kawase (2017)

RadianceHikari Film Poster

 Hikari

Running Time: 129 mins.

Release Date: May 27th , 2017

Director: Naomi Kawase

Writer: Naomi Kawase (Screenplay),

Starring: Masatoshi Nagase, Ayame Misaki, Tatsuya Fuji, Chihiro Ohtsuka, Kazuko Shirakawa, Saori Koide, Nobumitsu Onishi, Mantaro Koichi,

Website IMDB

Naomi Kawase is one of the “4 Ks”, directors who dominate contemporary Japanese cinema (the others are Kiyoshi Kurosawa, Kitano and Kore-eda) and she is a film-maker whose ability to capture sensual experiences makes for transcendent films. This is something which masks the slightness of some of her stories but at the same time it lends them more power. With Radiance she looks at the transcendent nature of film itself and she does so through the realm of using words.

Misako Ozaki (Ayame Misaki) is a woman who is involved in a project providing audio description for films for the visually impaired. She watches films and writes down the best way to describe scenes and characters and then presents them to a panel of people who critique her work so she can tweak it for a wider release. Masaya Nakamori (Masatoshi Nagase) is one of those people on the panel. He is a genius photographer and he has the harshest criticisms. The two initially don’t get on because Masaya has a cold attitude but when Misako sees a photograph of a sunset shot by him, she is inspired to look into Masaya’s life and discovers that he is losing his sight and their relationship changes as she gets to know him.Radiance Film Image 2

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Inuyashiki いぬやしき Dir: Shinsuke Sato (2018)

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

Ever since his debut The Princess Blade (2001), director Shinsuke Sato has helmed action-packed films with a particular focus on live-action adaptations of manga. Titles in his filmography include Death Note: Light Up the New World, Library Wars, and I Am a Hero. He also sat in the directors chair for the two adaptations of Hiroya Oku’s manga Gantz which were released in the early 00s. Most are slick and solid and his style is improving all the time with Inuyashiki, which is based on another of Oku’s works, being his best yet. This is like a coherent, sanitised, high-budget take on Tetsuo The Iron Man.

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I Am a Hero アイアムアヒーロー Dir: Shinsuke Sato (2016)

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: 126 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 is the best zombie film to have come out in a long, long time or at least since 28 Days Later (2002) when Danny Boyle sent fast-running infected across the streets of London. Much like the aforementioned title, I Am a Hero has zed-heads that tear across the screen and they are very scary to behold and much like the classic titles of the zombie genre such as George A. Romero’s Night of the Living Dead (1968) and Dawn of the Dead (1978) it features some social commentary. Also, unlike tongue-in-cheek J-horror zom-comedies like Stacy: Attack of the Schoolgirl Zombies (2008) and Big Tits Zombie (2010), I Am a Hero is serious and rooted in our world and gleefully slaps it sideways in a gory horror film that does justice to its source.

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One Cut of the Dead  カメラを止めるな! Dir: Shinichiro Ueda (2017)

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: Takayuki Hamatsu, MAO, Harumi Syuhama, Kazuaki Nagaya, Manabu Hosoi, Tomokazu Yamaguchi,

IMDB        Website

One Cut of the Dead was created by the ENBU Seminar guys, an outfit who do indie films on a shoestring budget with somewhat experienced crews working with newbie actors. Originally released in November 2017, it disappeared before being picked up by film distribution house Third Window Films and soon it was touring international festivals racking up awards and buzz throughout 2018. It won runner-up in the audience vote in the Udine Far East Festival while taking audience awards at a variety of fests like Yubari in Japan, Camera Japan in Holland, Reel Asian in Canada, and more. In 2019 it is unleashed across the UK as Third Window Films gives it a theatrical and then home release.

With so many awards and nothing but praise from fans and critics, film-makers and publicists, the hype is big for this film so I went into it with some trepidation, that I might be out of step with nearly the rest of the world and not feel anything. Thankfully I was charmed and enjoyed it a lot. Before I go further, part of my enjoyment was not knowing what happens in the story and so I make this request to those who have not watched it: avoid trailers and reviews and just watch the film however you can.

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Genkinahito’s Top 10 Films of 2018

Columbus Film Image 2

2018 was the year of “I haven’t achieved my dream yet but I do what I want”. I travelled back to Japan for a second time and spent a month in the country, visiting places from Kawagoe to Onomichi and some things in between and I worked at the Osaka Asian Film Festival again. I’ve become involved in more than just Kotatsu, I have become part of other festivals in Europe and America which is so much fun and such an honour because I love films. I have also continued to contribute to V-Cinema and Anime UK News, typically highlighting indie gems, many of which form my top ten titles of the year.

To summarise what I have experienced in terms of cinema, I have contributed to V-Cinema’s end of year post which will be out soon. 

Now here is my Top Ten Films of 2018, starting with number one…

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Love & Peace ラブ&ピース Dir: Sion Sono (2015)

Love & Peace      

Love and Peace Film Poster
Love and Peace Film Poster

ラブ&ピース Rabu & Pisu

Release Date: June 27th, 2015

Running Time: 117 mins.

Director: Sion Sono

Writer: Sion Sono (Screenplay),

Starring:  Hiroki Hasegawa, Kumiko Aso, Tohiyuki Nishida, Kiyohiko Shibukawa, Eita Okuno, Makita Sports, Erina Mano, Megumi Kagurazaka, Miyuki Matsuda

Website IMDB

Christmas movies range far and wide in terms of content from Heavenly interventions seen in Frank Capra’s classic It’s A Wonderful Life to the monstrous antics of the little green Gremlins seen in Joe Dante’s same-named film but these appear normal compared to Sion Sono‘s 2015 film Love & Peace takes the seasonal setting and goes down a radically different path as he makes genre mash-up of a Christmas movie with a kaiju/rock opera epic with a little help from Santa

Ryoichi Suzuki (Hiroki Hasegawa) once dreamed of becoming a punk rock star but he gave up on his dreams and became a salaryman at a musical instrument parts company in Tokyo. Life is miserable because he is bullied by his colleagues and he has no friends but he has feelings for a timid office lady named Yuko Terashima (Kumiko Aso) whose bravery and kindness keeps him from going insane. Alas, he can’t express himself to her but fate soon strikes!

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The Oyster Factory 牡蠣工場 Dir: Kazuhiro Soda (2016)

Oyster Factory  

Oyster Factory Film Poster
Oyster Factory Film Poster

牡蠣工場  「Kaki kouba

Release Date: February 20th, 2016

Duration: 145 mins

Director: Kazuhiro Soda

Starring: Shinsuke Hirano, Koichi Watanabe, Yukiko Watanabe

Website  IMDB

Earlier in 2018 I had the chance to see three of Kazuhiro Soda’s early films which he made as a student at New York’s School of Visual Arts in the 90s and was surprised to discover he started out making a comedy and dramatic short films with well-contained stories and acting. He is still based in New York but is now renowned for observational documentaries having produced works of the cinema vérité variety that look at communities in Japan starting with Democracy (2007). The Oyster Factory was one I first encountered in the 2015 run of the Vancouver International Film Festival. This 145 minute film looks at life inside an oyster factory and as Soda explores this environment he discovers wider issues about the generational divide through the lack of young people entering the industry and Chinese-Japanese relations as Chinese workers are brought in to help keep two oyster factories running.

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The Emperor’s Naked Army Marches On ゆきゆきて、神軍 Dir: Kazuo Hara (1987)

The Emperor’s Naked Army Marches On   The Emperor's Naked Army Marches On DVD Cover

ゆきゆきて、神軍  「Yuki yukite, shingun

Running Time: 122 mins.

Release Date: August 01st, 1987

Director:  Kazuo Hara

Writer: N/A

Starring: Kenzo Okuzaki, Shizumi Okuzaki,

IMDB

The Emperor’s Naked Army Marches On is regarded as one of the finest documentaries ever made. It derives its power from its subject, a World War II veteran and political agitator named Kenzo Okuzaki who is on a quest to expose a possible war crime as well as the irresponsible actions of Emperor Hirohito, the military, and post-war governments who carelessly tossed away the lives of their people and have imposed a sort of nation-wide amnesia over the wrongs committed during the war including the killing of their own soldiers.

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