Torso トルソ Director: Yutaka Yamazaki (2009)

Torso   Torso Film Poster

トルソ Toruso

Release Date: July 10th, 2010

Duration: 104 mins.

Director: Yutaka Yamazaki

Writer: Yutaka Yamazaki, Yuki Sato (Script),

Starring: Makiko Watanabe, Sakura Ando, Sola Aoi, Arata Iura, Renji Ishibashi, Miyako Yamaguchi,


Torso tells a tale of a woman whose life is troubled by men. The film’s hook is understanding how she mediates this trouble through her cohabitation with an inflatable male mannequin torso. The reason why she would choose an inanimate object over a flesh-and-blood person is gradually revealed when her younger half-sister moves into her apartment over the course of a hot Tokyo summer. This disturbance leads to an unearthing of traumas that create a pathology explaining why a woman would avoid men. 

We follow Hiroko Katagiri (Makiko Watanabe), a 34-year-old office lady working for a fashion house. Katagiri is not one for dates, for mixers, for being picked up in bars because she is not one for meeting men. She is quite content with leading solitary life, her only companion being the limbless torso which she treats in some ways like a boyfriend, albeit an undemanding one. Living solo she cooks what she wants, drinks wine whenever she likes, and can relax in freedom. The question of how she ended up like this is brought to the fore with the arrival of her more flighty half-sister Mina (Sakura Ando) who comes seeking shelter after fleeing her abusive boyfriend, Hiroko’s ex.

Like water and oil, the two aren’t that good at mixing as Mina, a budding fashion video director is the younger, prettier, and more popular of the two, with both men and their mother, and she flaunts it. As Mina unsettles Hiroko’s routines the older sister faces up to traumas that have shaped her life such as how she lost her boyfriend to Mina and a dark family past and so, as odd as the hook of living with a torso is, that becomes secondary to understanding Hiroko and her problem with men.

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Ninja Girl シュシュシュの娘(こ)Director: Yu Irie (2021) [New York Asian Film Festival 2021]

Ninja Girl   Ninja Girl Film Poster

シュシュシュの娘(こ) Shushushu no Musume (ko)

Release Date: August 21st 2021

Duration: 88 mins.

Director: Yu Irie

Writer: Yu Irie (Script)

Starring: Saki Fukuda, Ryoka Neya, Matsuo Yoshioka, Mayumi Kanetani, Shohei Uno, Arata Yamanaka, Arata Iura,

Website IMDB

The shushushu onomatopoeia in the Japanese title of Ninja Girl is the swishing sound of shuriken thrown through the air. However, the titular character at the heart of this film is probably the least able shadow warrior one could find with shurikens not in her armoury and, even if they were there, she would probably not able to use them.

This is the comedy of Ninja Girl, the latest work by Yu Irie, a veteran director whose name has more recently been attached to many major mainstream films like Memoirs of a Murderer (2017). His film shows the least likely person taking a stance against conservative political orthodoxy. In order to make it, he had to turn to crowd-funding since no major studio would be likely back a story with subject matter critical of the establishment, especially not during the Covid-19 pandemic which is when this was filmed with a small team as a quick and fun pick-me-up for an industry afflicted by the cancellation of projects. Since it is an indie film, Irie returns to the cheaper rural locations featured in his earlier titles, like 2009’s 8,000 Miles (aka SR: Saitama Rapper), and makes great use of them to bring about a deliberately bumbling action film set in what looks to be a boring part of Japan defined by low-rise buildings, featureless fields, and winding roads.

The ninja girl we follow is Miu Komaru (Saki Fukuda), a timid and somewhat naïve young woman who lives on the edge of rural Fukuya City, Saitama. We watch her quiet quotidian routines and see her time is split between her work at Fukaya city hall, where she is snowed in by paperwork, and her home, where she looks after her bedridden paternal grandfather, her last living relative. While she is pensive and obsequious, he is a political firebrand who is at odds with the local government who have co-opted nationalist thugs and xenophobia to influence the area.

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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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RANDEN: The Comings and Goings on a Kyoto Tram Dir: Takuji Suzuki (2019) Osaka Asian Film Festival 2019

RANDEN: The Comings and Goings on a Kyoto Tram  RANDEN The Comings and Goings on a Kyoto Tram Film Poster

嵐電 Randen

Running Time: 114 mins.

Release Date: May 24th, 2019

Director:  Takuji Suzuki

Writer: Takuji Suzuki, Hiroshi Asari, (Screenplay),

Starring: Arata Iura, Ayaka Onishi, Tamaki Kubose, Satoko Abe, Kenta Ishida, Hiroto Kanai,


Opening the Osaka Asian Film Festival 2019 is the world premiere of RANDEN: The Comings and Goings on a Kyoto Tram, a love-letter to the local tram that runs in the west of Kyoto City that links famous sites such as scenic Arashiyama to the ancient Koryu-ji temple and the exciting Toei Kyoto Studio Park where jidaigeki have been made over the centuries. It is beloved by many who ride it and the film’s story depicts the intersecting lives of three different couples whose love resonates throughout a narrative as fate, by way of the trams, deliberately bring people together.

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Osaka Asian Film Festival 2019’s Opening Film: “RANDEN: The Comings and Goings on a Kyoto Tram”

The opening film of the 2019 edition of the Osaka Asian Film Festival is Randen: The Comings and Goings on a Kyoto Tram. It is a magical tale of romance amidst the heart of historic Kyoto with the Randen tram’s that runs in the western part of the city uniting a selection of commuters fated to be together. The film will have its World Premiere on Friday, March 8th at Hankyu Umeda Hall.


As mentioned earlier, Randen is a local tram that runs in the west of Kyoto City. It’s a wonderful way to travel between tourist sites like temples and Arashiyama and it is beloved by local people as well as tourists from all over the world. This story depicts the love of three different couples who resonate and echo each other as they are drawn to the Randen trams.

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