Tokyo Idols (2017)

Tokyo Idols    Tokyo Idols Film Poster

Running Time: 89 mins

Director:  Kyoko Miyake

Writer: Kyoko Miyake (Screenplay),

Starring: N/A

Website IMDB

Many people will be aware of the glitzy and glamorous world of idols which is slowly but surely encroaching on mainstream life due to its increasing ubiquity thanks to the money it makes and the fact the culture is cultivated and energised online. There are many opinions on how innocent it is as unbelievably cute females have their innocence and erotic potential fetishised for profits by record labels but what is the reality?

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A Normal Life: Chronicle of a Sumo Wrestler 辛抱 Dir: Jill Coulson (2009)

A Normal Life: Chronicle of a Sumo Wrestler

辛抱 「Shinbou

Running Time: 55 mins.

Release Date: NHK 2009

Director:  Jill Coulson

Writer: N/A

Starring: Takuya Ogushi

Website IMDB

This review was published on V-Cinema.

A Normal Life: Chronicle of a Sumo Wrestler (辛抱)” is a documentary that was produced for Japanese TV corporation NHK in 2009 as part of its “Tokyo Modern” series.

A Normal Life Sumo Wrestler Film Image 3

When you think of sumo wrestling, you might think of two big men explosively launching themselves at each other as they try and quickly push their opponent out of the ring. This seemingly speedy spectacle of power belies the amount of eating, effort, and training that goes into moulding the wrestlers, something indicated by the kanji in the title which means endurance. Sumo is a test of endurance for the participants and also a comment on how this sport has maintained a central place in Japanese culture since the 08th Century. Both are demonstrated in a film that reveals a fascinating world of ancient traditions and physical dedication in a behind-the-scenes look at the early phase of one sumo wrestler’s career.

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Japanese Films at Tokyo FILMeX International Film Festival 2017

Taking place in Yurakucho as Yurakacho Asahi Hall, Tokyo FILMeX offers English-subtitled films from across Asia. It runs from November 18th to the 26th and during that time, filmmakers will appear to show off their latest works and take part in industry events aimed at strengthening Asian cinema. Some of these titles have already hit the festival circuit and won awards. There are three Japanese films due to be screened and they all look special as do all the other films from various parts of Asia.

Here is the trailer for the festival and the films will follow. Click on a title to be taken to the festival page:

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Cooperation and Community [績(う)みの村] (2015) Dir: Keishiro Ikeda Osaka Asian Film Festival Housen Catalogue

Cooperation and Community

績(う)みの村  Isao (u) minomura   

Running Time: 51 mins.

Director: Keishiro Ikeda

Writer: N/A

Starring: N/A

One of the more interesting trends in documentaries made in Japan over the last decade is the number that are dedicated to tracking the movement of people from the major cities back to small villages as they take up farming and find their place in smaller communities. This focus on settlers in smaller villages and on communitarianism is here in Cooperation and Community, my favourite film from the Housen strand since it gives an insight into a village undergoing a fascinating revitalisation and offers a possible answer to the much-publicised issue of the falling population and the stresses of modern life in Japan.

This particular documentary takes place in a small mountain village near Miyazu city in the Tango Peninsula which is located in Kyoto Prefecture. It is here that twelve households reside. It had been dying since most of the youngsters had left for the bigger cities but recently, more and more people disillusioned with life in capitalist society have arrived seeking a new way of living. These new settlers are only allowed in through introductions from friends and family ensuring some harmony as these newcomers and the original population of mostly elderly people must learn to get along.

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“Dogs Without Names” Documentary Film Screening and Q&A at London’s Phoenix Cinema on May 31st

The Japan Society in London has organised another screening in London and this one looks like it will be a moving subject.

One of the films in my list of titles covering the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami (which I need to update…) finally reaches the UK after it was released in 2015. The film is a documentary all about the animals who were abandoned and the people who rescue them and it will be screened at the Phoenix Cinema on May 31st. Not only that, there will be a Q&A with the director Akane Yamada and representatives of organisations featured in the film.

Here’s more on the director from the organisers: “Akane Yamada has over 30 years experience as a film and television director. Recent productions include The Happiness of Mucchan (NHK, 2014) which tracks Mucchan, a dog abandoned in the 20 kilometer ‘red zone’ around the Fukushima nuclear reactor, and The Woman Who Sleeps with 1,000 Cats (Fuji Television, 2015) featuring Yuri Nakatani, of NPO Minashigo Dogs and Cats Rescue in Hiroshima.”

Here are the details on the film:

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Documentaries at the Nippon Connection Film Festival 2017

Nippon Connection Logo

The Nippon Connection Film Festival takes place from May 23 to 28, 2017 and it will be held in Frankfurt am Main. The organisers released details of the 100+ short and feature length films that will be screened and there are many top titles that audiences can see to get a perfect snapshot of the myriad of stories and talents that the Japanese film industry is producing. There are a whole host of premieres and these will be shown in the presence of many directors and actors who will introduce and talk about their work to the audience. 

This post deals with documentaries that will be screened at the festival. They cover a wide variety of topics from the reactor meltdown at Fukushima Daiichi in Abandoned Land and the evacuees to reclaim their hometown to Raise your Arms and Twist, in which the director Atsushi Funahashi observes the everyday life of the Japanese pop idol singers of the group NMB48. The director skillfully combines social and media critique without degrading the stars or their fans. Steven Okazaki’s Mifune: The Last Samurai portrays the life and work of legendary actor Toshiro Mifune, who has written film history through his cooperation with Akira Kurosawa whilein her film 95 and 6 to Go young American filmmaker Kimi Takesue explores the history of her Japanese ancestors who emigrated to Hawaii, taking the conversations with her grandfather as a starting point.

Here’s the line-up:

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Economic Migrant Documentary “Burmese on the Roof” at the Korean Cultural Centre in London on April 27th

The documentary Burmese on the Roof will be screened at the Korean Cultural Centre in London on Thursday, April 27th at 19:00. This is the UK premiere of a film that has played at the Busan International Film Festival. It is one of six films selected by students attending the National Film and Television School. Each film was made in a different genre but all touch on the economic draw of Korea and it looks to be an interesting programme that will introduce audiences into the lives of a diverse array of characters. Burmese on the Roof is the first in this series of films.

Here are the details on the film:

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Osaka Asian Film Festival 2017: Mrs. B., A North Korean Woman

Mrs. B., A North Korean Woman   mrs-b-woman-of-n-korea-poster

マダム・ベー(原題)  Madamu Be- (Gendai)   

Running Time: 72 mins.

Director/Writer: Jero Yun


“Mrs. B., A North Korean Woman” focuses on the titular Mrs. B (full name never given), a woman who escaped across the border from North Korea into China with the intention of getting a job for a short period of time and sending money back to her husband and two boys. This documentary, shot over the course of three years, reveals that things didn’t quite go according to plan since she was sold into marriage to the son of a Chinese farming family and willingly spent around a decade in China. What happened?

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Ghost in the Shell: ARISE border:2 Ghost Whispers, Flying Bodies – a Hiroyuki Nakano Nonfiction Film, Negative: Nothing – Step by Step for Japan, Tobidase Shinsengumi, Senpuku, Kotatsu, Orange, Murderous Intent and Meow, Gebaruto, Maria Roaring Song Japanese Film Trailers

Doctor Who 50th Episode Gallery 2This week was a bit of a transitional period, wrapping up the Republic of Thieves read-along, sating my desire to write about Samurai Flamenco and getting my reactions before and after episodes 7 and 8, and posting about the latest Doctor Who 50th Anniversary special. It’s all in preparation for a Christmas period when I up the ante and post lots of reviews for films. More on that next week. What did I watch in film terms? South Korean disaster flick Flu and that was it. I’m preparing the finishing touches to the latest winter anime guide which will be released by Anime UK News and my thoughts on the other titles from the autumn season.

Yesterday’s trailer post was about three films, all of which were totally different from each other but today’s post features lots of documentaries.


Flying Bodies – a Hiroyuki Nakano Nonfiction FilmFlying Bodies Film Poster

Running Time: 78 mins.

Release Date: November 30th, 2013

Director: Hiroyuki Nakano

Bodies fly in coordination alongside some visual special effects as the all-male super-technological rhythmic gymnastic troupe of Aomori University led by Issey Miyake in a performance in Tokyo earlier this year. I’m not one for dancing but this looks kind of fun. You’ll have to go to the website for a trailer!


Travelling Projector                            Travelling Projector Film Poster

Japanese Title: 旅 する 映写機

Romaji: Tabi Suru Eishaki

Running Time: 105 mins.

Release Date: November 30th, 2013

Director: Keiko Morita

Keiko Morita’s film is all about film projectors during a time when the digitisation of films is rapidly underway in Japan. Keiko heads to small town Urakawa, Hokkaido and explores the history of a cinema with the staff at the theatre who maintain it.


Continue reading “Ghost in the Shell: ARISE border:2 Ghost Whispers, Flying Bodies – a Hiroyuki Nakano Nonfiction Film, Negative: Nothing – Step by Step for Japan, Tobidase Shinsengumi, Senpuku, Kotatsu, Orange, Murderous Intent and Meow, Gebaruto, Maria Roaring Song Japanese Film Trailers”

SPEC: Close – Reincarnation, Asa Hiru Ban, Story of a Butcher Shop Japanese Film Trailers

Samurai Flamenco OH GODI’m splitting the trailer post up again and will continue doing this because it’s better to have shorter posts than huge ones with lots of videos and text. There are three Japanese films released today in Japan and more tomorrow. The big hulking beast is the latest SPEC movie so a lot of the other releases seem to be counter-programming. Don’t like the big-budget flashy SPEC films then you get documentaries, comedies, and anime.

The SPEC films are a phenomenon of their own. They are based on a television series which started with Keizoku back in 1999 and has had numerous television series and movie adaptations.  They look fun but my viewing habits are fragmented so I won’t be embarking on watching them.

I must admit that I have no idea what’s going on with the films at this point because there are so many of them!

SPEC: Close – Reincarnation                                              SPEC Close Progress Criss Cross Version

Japanese: 劇場版 SPEC 結(クローズ) 爻(コウ)ノ篇

Romaji: Gekijō-ban supekku yui (kurōzu) (Kō) no-hen

Running Time:  85 mins.

Release Date: November 29th, 2013

Director: Yukihiko Tsutsumi

Writer: Yumie Nishiogi

Starring: Erika Toda, Ryo Kase, Raita Ryu, Kazuki Kitamura, Chiaki Kuriyama, Ryunosuke Kamiki, Yuko Oshima, Takahiro Miura, Kasumi Arimura,

This is the second half of the two-part conclusion (the first being Incarnation which was released at the beginning of the month.) It’s the final dramatic summary of the TV show and movie franchise with all sorts of guests from different episodes/movies. like Chiaki Kuriyama and so forth

Detective Saya Toma (Erika Toda) has an IQ of 201 and works together with veteran detective Takeru Sebumi (Ryo Kase) in the Unsolved Crimes Unit taking on and cracking mysterious cases that others have given up on. As a fierce, earth-shaking battle rages with spec holders, the powers hidden within Saya are awakened. and the mysteries regarding her relationship with Takeru, the fate of humanity, and all other matters are revealed.


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