The Suicide Manual 自殺マニュアル (2003)

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The Suicide Manual

Romaji: Jisatsu Manyuaru                               Suicide Manual Poster

Japanese Title: 自殺マニュアル

Release Date: 04th October 2003 (Japan)

Running Time: 86 mins.

Director: Osamu Fukutani

Writer: Osamu Fukutani, Hiroshi Kanno (Screenplay), Wataru Tsurumi (Original Book)

Starring: Kenji Mizuhashi, Chisato Morishita, Yuko Nakamura, Niki Nagasawa, Kei Horie, Hideo Sakaki, Miho Fujima, Yuka Hanabusa, Maki Meguro Ayaka Maeda

Wataru Tsurumi’s notorious book, The Complete Manual of Suicide has been blameComplete Manual of Suicide by Wataru Tsurumid for helping people to commit suicide and improving the chances of death occurring. This is not the first time I have encountered Wataru Tsurumi since news organisations around the world carried reports on his work. What I did not know was that his book had inspired a film. The result is far less interesting than one might think.

Yuu (Mizuhashi) is a journalist/cameraman with AX TV, a local broadcaster. He has been tasked with investigating a recent spate of suicides by his boss Yashiro (Sakaki). He heads over to the scene of a group suicide with his assistant Rie (Morishita) where they encounter a survivor (Nagasawa) who puts them on the trail of a woman named Rikki (Nakamura) who organises group suicides through her suicide bulletin board and a DVD she sends to potential suicides. The DVD is called The Suicide Manual. Yuu finds himself haunted by the concept of suicide and becomes obsessed with contacting Rikki.

This V-cinema release was the second directorial effort of Osamu Fukutani, one of the writers from the low-budget horror films The Locker 1 and 2. The cast list for The Suicide Manual features actors from both of those films and even the director Kei Horie. While I was no fan of Osamu Fukutani’s writing in The Locker I am interested in seeing how he squares up as a director.

The film opens with the lines:

The purpose of this movie is to warn against suicide. Its intent is not to encourage people to commit suicide

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The Locker 2 渋谷怪談 2 (2004)

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The Locker 2                                                                                     Shibuya Kaidan 2 Poster

Japanese: Shibuya Kaidan 2 (Shibuya Ghost Story 2)

Romaji: Shibuya Kaidan 2

Japanese Title:渋谷 怪談 2

Release Date: 07th February 2004 (Japan)

Running Time: 71 mins.

Director: Kei Horie

Writer: Osamu Fukutani, Issei Shibata

Starring: Maki Horikita, Asami Mizukawa, Kenichi Matsuyama, Akane Kimura, Chisato Morishita, Tomohisa Yuge, Chiaki Ota,

I found the first instalment of the Shibuya Kaidan franchise to be hampered by a disappointingly generic story with wafer thin characters while the low-budget effects offered mixed results. The Locker 2 improves greatly on the first film.

Ayano (Horikita) has been given a terrible gift from Rieka (Mizukawa) – a key to a coin-locker. Ayano tracks down the coin-locker but decides that she should leave it be. Unfortunately some students at her school have heard of the urban legend surrounding a coin-locker in Shibuya which grants wishes. Their interest in the coin-locker will release the curse again.

Following directly on from the last movie the world of Shibuya Kaidan has already been established and so the sequel has a lot of material to work from including characters. There is also a greater examination of the origins of the curse and more twists on the coin-locker legends. As a result of this there is more time spent massaging scenes and details to create a solid story and even tone. The quality of the script has improved. Nothing evolutionary or wholly original but enough to make the plot tighter and believable, improve the flow of the action, and add details to the characters.

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