The Garden of Words, Someone’s Gaze, Real, Kinoshita Keisuke Story, Dogs and Cats and Humans Earthquake of Animals 2, Two Years of Cancer and Yoko Enjoys Life, AKIKO Portrait of a Dancer by AKIKO, Kankin Tantei Trailers

Saturday MahouThe week started with the announcement of Hirokazu Koreeda’s win of the Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival for his latest film Like Father Like Son. I followed that with news on the BFI Nikkatsu Season and then my take on the very amusing fantasy/comedy anime Hataraku Maou-Sama and I’m writing up my thoughts on Red Data Girl. In terms of films I watched 2LDK and that was it. I really need to review it but finding time is tough. Tonight I am going to watch Kuroneko and tomorrow I will try and watch something else… I can’t decide what but it will probably be anime. Ah, this time next week I’ll be in London watching Japanese films on the big screen at the Terracotta Far East Film Festival! Awesome!

Before we get into the trailers, here’s an image from Takashi Shimizu’s Live Action Kiki’s Delivery Service:

Kiki's Delivery Service Live Action

16-year-old Fūka Koshiba stars as the magical good-natured witch Kiki. This story is based on the book and has no connection to the Ghibli anime according to Anime News Network. The film is directed by horror veteran Takashi Shimizu (Ju-On The Curse 1 & 2) and written by Satoko Okudera (The Wolf Children).

The trailers stretch across May and June with Makoto Shinkai’s latest films getting its release on May 31st and a bunch of live-action titles going on June 01st.

The Garden of Words                               Garden of Words Film Poster

Japanese Title: 言の葉の庭 

Romaji: Kotonoha no Niwa

Release Date: May 31st, 2013 (Japan)

Running Time: 46 mins

Director: Makoto Shinkai

Writer: Makoto Shinkai

Starring: Kana Hanazawa (Yukino), Miyu Irino (Takao)

Makoto Shinkai’s latest film was released yesterday. The anime looks and sounds stunning. The depiction of the world, the rain and the plants, and the highlighting of natural sounds stand out. It looks very immersive. A five minute promo was released quite recently and so here is the trailer and the promo.

“We met, for each of us to walk forward.

Takao is a 15-year-old boy with dreams of becoming a professional shoe designer and was skipping high school, sketching shoes in a Japanese garden when he encounters a mysterious older woman named Yukino who is 27. Without arranging it they end up meeting again and again, but only on rainy days, deepening their relationship and opening up to each other. But the end of the rainy season soon approaches…


The Gaze of Another                               The Gaze of Another Film Poster

Japanese Title: だれかのまなざし

Romaji: Dare ka no Manazashi

Release Date: May 31st, 2013 (Japan)

Running Time: 7 mins

Director: Makoto Shinkai

Writer: Makoto Shinkai

Starring: Aya Hirano (Katari),  Satomi Hanamura (Aya Okamura), Shinji OGawa

This short was produced for a home living exposition that took place at the Tokyo International Forums in February. The themes are “the future” and “family ties” and we watch the story of the growth of a family from the point of view of the cat. Seiyuu involved include Satomi Hanamura (Kanae in 5 Centimetres Per Second), Aya Hirano (Kana in Nura Rise of the Yokai Clan) and Shinji Ogawa (Suguru in Roujin Z and Fukushima in Patlabor: The Movie).

June Trailers:

Real                                                                                 Real Film Poster

Japanese Title: リアル 完全なる首長 竜の日

Romaji: Riaru Kanzen’naru Shuchou Ryuu no Hi

Release Date: June 01st, 2013 (Japan)

Running Time: 127 mins.

Director: Kiyoshi Kurosawa

Writer: Kiyoshi Kurosawa (Screenplay), Rokuro Inui (Original Novel)

Starring: Takeru Sato, Haruka Ayase, Jo Odagiri, Miki Nakatani, Shota Sometani, Keisuke Horibe, Kyoko Koizumi, Keisuke Horibe, Yuki Kan


After my embarrassingly enthusiasm was displayed in a rambling preview I can finally take in the reviews of the films and see if it lives up to y lofty expectations. This is Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s latest film. After helming TV dorama Penance he has gone on to make this big-budget sci-fi thriller. The film is based on the 2011 novel Riaru Kanzen’naru Shuchou Ryuu no Hi, written by Rokuro Inui and it stars a mixture of new and familiar actors like Shota Sometani (Himizu), Haruka Ayase (Ichi), Miki Nakatani (Loft, Zero Focus), Joe Odagiri (Adrift in TokyoMushishi, Retribution and Bright Future) and Kyoko Koizumi, (Survive Style 5+).

Koichi (Sato) and Atsumi (Ayase) are childhood friends who have become lovers. Despite this closeness when Atsumi attempts suicide Koichi is at a loss as to what the reason that drove her to do such a thing could be. Now she is in a coma and Koichi needs to find out the reason. Since Koichi is a neurosurgeon he has access to the latest studies and so he takes part in a medical procedure that will allow him to enter Atsumi’s subconscious through her central nervous system.

When he arrives she asks him to find a picture of a plesiosaur she drew as a child. It is the key to a suppressed memory connected to a childhood trauma. Finding this picture will allow Koichi to truly get close to knowing his love.


Road of the Beginning (Literal Title) / Kinoshita Keisuke Story (Working Title)                                                                 

Japanese Title: はじまり の みち    Kinoshita Keisuke Story Film Poster

Romaji: Hajimari no Michi

Release Date: June 01st, 2013 (Japan)

Running Time: 96 mins.

Director: Keiichi Hara

Writer: Keiichi Hara (Screenplay),

Starring: Ryo Kase, Yuko Tanaka, Aoi Miyazaki, Gaku Hamada, Ren Osugi, Mari Hamada, Yusuke Santamaria, Ken Mitsuishi Shigeru Saiki, Itsuki Sagara, Mayu Matsuoka, Shoko Fujimura

This film is made to commemorate the 100th year anniversary of Keisuke Kinoshita’s birth and it follows his early life from his days as a lively youth to his entry into Shochiku movie studio. The trailer is pretty earnest and some of the themes seem to be the loyalty of a son to his mother and the mother’s belief in him. Wipe away the tears and you will see that footage from Kinoshita’s films has been interwoven into the new film. Aoi Miyazaki leading those children along the riverbank  is a clear nod to Twenty-Four Eyes.

Keisuke Kinoshita was a contemporary of Kurosawa, Ozu and Mizoguchi and yet he is Keisuke Kinoshitapretty unknown to a lot of cinephiles in the west. Okay, that may be a bit of an exaggeration because his films Twenty-Four Eyes and The Ballad of Narayama are available in the west and pretty famous but a lot of his other titles are only now getting screened at recent film festivals like Berlin and Venice. To be quite frank his work is unknown to me but from  writing up about him I can see how he is important since a lot of those titles sound different to the films of Ozu, presenting interesting new stories that must have challenged the views of audiences of the time. Wikipedia makes him sound like he has an interesting visual style as well:

He refused to be bound by genre, technique or dogma. He excelled in almost every genre, comedy, tragedy, social dramas, period films. He shot all films on location or in a one-house set. He pursued severe photographic realism with the long take, long-shot method, and he has gone equally far toward stylization with fast cutting, intricate wipes, tilted cameras and even medieval scroll-painting and Kabuki stage technique.

Well the cast involved are suitably skilled with Ryo Kase (Outrage) taking the role of the director, Yuko Tanaka (The Milkwoman) playing his mother. Other actors include Gaku Hamada (Foreign Duck, Potechi), Aoi Miyazaki (The Great Passage), Ken Mitsuishi (Noriko’s Dinner Table), Itsuki Sagara (Goodybye Debussy), Mayu Matsuoka (The Kirishima Thing) and Ren Osugi (Exte).

It is directed and written by Keiichi Hara who has a background in anime and helmed the film Colorful.

Dogs and Cats and Humans Earthquake of Animals 2          Dogs and Cats and Humans Earthquake of Animals 2 Film Poster

Japanese Title: 犬と猫と人間と2 動物たちの大震災

Romaji: Inu to Neko to Ningen to 2 Doubutsu-tachi no Daishinai

Release Date: June 01st, 2013 (Japan)

Running Time: 104 mins.

Director: Daiyu Shishido

Writer: N/A

Starring: N/A

Prepare to cry. This documentary depicts the stories of cats and dogs and their owners who were all affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake. We watch the fortunes of a family of stray cats, dog owners who lost their pets during the tsunami, the hardships of farmers and their livestock in the Fukushima area. It’s not all grim though because pets and owners are reunited.

Two Years of Cancer and Yoko Enjoys Life,          Inochi o Tanoshimu Yoko to Gan no 2-nenkan film Poster

Japanese Title: いのち を 楽しむ 容子 戸がん 2 年間

Romaji: Inochi o Tanoshimu Yoko to Gan no 2-nenkan

Release Date: June 01st, 2013 (Japan)

Running Time: 102 mins.

Director: Akira Matsubara, Yumi Sasaki

Writer: N/A

Starring: N/A

Awful translation work again because there’s nothing enjoyable about something like cancer but that does appear to be the title.

Inochi wo Tanoshimu = I enjoy life

Yoko to Gan no 2-nenkan = Yoko and 2 Years of Cancer

The documentary follows Yoko Watanabe who was diagnosed with breast cancer at te age of 40 and died at the age of 58. More specifically it catches the last two years of her life where she went without taking any form of surgery or medication and just had the support of her doctor, family and friends.

Kankin Tantei                         Kankin Tantei Film Poster

Japanese Title: 監禁探偵

Romaji: Kankin Tantei

Release Date: June 01st, 2013 (Japan)

Running Time: 103 mins.

Director: Takuro Oikawa

Writer: Takuro Oikawa (Screenplay), Takemaru Abiko (Manga)

Starring: Takahiro Miura, Natsuna Watanabe, Shoko Tsuda, Masahiro Komoto 

Kankin Tantei = Confinement detective. Confinement and detective work? Sounds sexy. Or problematic. Being confined would be problematic. Not that I would complain if it involved Natsuna Watanabe… Anyway, moving on before I embarrass myself further… Takuro Oikawa, director of suspense thriller Shuffle is on hand to make this locked room mystery come to life. The premise is intriguing and the trailer is promising and it stars two fine young actors in the form of Takahiro Miura (Cold Bloom, Ninja Kids!!!) and Natsuna Watanabe (Gantz).

A woman has been stabbed to death  in an apartment and all clues point to Ryota (Miura). He is suspected to be the killer by Akane (Watanbe) who just happened to be at the murder scene but Ryota claims he is innocent and imprisons her so he can think about what happened and prove his innocence. Definitely the actions of an innocent man! Akane offers to help him.


AKIKO Portrait of a Dancer by AKIKO,                               A Portrait of Akiko Film Poster

Japanese Title: してAKIKO… AKIKO あるダンサーの肖像

Romaji: Shite AKIKO wa… AKIKO ARU DANSA- no Shouzou

Release Date: June 01st, 2013 (Japan)

Running Time: 120 mins.

Director: Suiko Haneda

Writer: N/A

Starring: Akiko Kanda

Akiko Kanda was a major award winning figure in the modern dance movement in Japan at her death due to cancer at the age of 75 in September 2011. She had a film made about her in 1985 when she was in her 40’s and this is the follow-up made when she was in her 70’s. We see her hospitalised after a dance recital in 2010 and her recovery and attempt at dancing again.

Great East Japan Earthquake Aftermath on Film

311 Film ImageI remember the morning of the Great East Japan Earthquake quite vividly. I finished work early and watched the unfolding disaster online. It was terrifying and it was bewildering and it seemed so overwhelming. I also remember the (ani)blogging community coming together quick sharp to relay news and to set up charity appeals. The charity appeals are still needed as rebuilding is moving slowly and people are still displaced which is why I posted about a Japan Foundation film event on the anniversary earlier this week. It is strange to think that the disaster was two years ago because it seems closer and I suspect that the reason it still seems so close is because of the many films that have use it as subject matter.

One of the things I do on my blog is write up trailer posts for most of the Japanese films released in cinemas and for the films touring the festival circuit. Through doing this I have seen that Japanese filmmakers are intensely interested. Not a month goes by without two or three titles and with the recent anniversary the number of films has intensified. The range of filmmakers covers documentarians, directors who are better known for horror films and bleak dramas (bleakies as fellow film-blogger Alua calls them), veterans and directors making their debuts. It stands in complete contrast to other disasters and countries. How many films are there directly or indirectly about Hurricane Katrina (a handy wikipedia list)? There are probably more because The Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans isn’t present in that list but still it just does not compare to the efforts that the Japanese filmmaking community has made to highlight document disaster and the continuing problems. Whatever the case, I present this list to you. I can’t claim that it’s exhaustive but it’s somewhere to start. It is shows how unique cinema can be and it is something we can use to remember the event and the impact it had on people’s lives and hopefully chart the recovery of the region.

Here are some of the films:


A Gentle Rain Falls for FukushimaA Gentle Rain Falls for Fukushima

Director: Atsushi Kokatsu, Writer: Atsushi Kokatsu, Uichiro Kitazato

Starring: Kosuke Toyohara, Chieko Matsubara, Jurina, Shono Hayama, Gitan Otsuru, Hitomi Sato

This was the directorial debut of Kokatsu. When preproduction of the film was finished in early 2011 and funding was secured from the Fukushima government the Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami struck. After initially suspending the film the filmmakers continued with production and donated some of the profits to charity. The film is a mix of heartfelt drama and light comedy that comes with the role-swapping like finding out a girl younger than you used to be your mother in a past life. It centres around a diverse group of people who are all lonely and struggling in life. They meet in Fukushima where they discover that they were a family in a previous life. At first uneasy with each other, the more they talk the better they feel about their problems and their bond grows but their time together remains short as they must soon leave.


Himizu PosterHimizu

Director: Sion Sono, Writer: Sion Sono (script adaptation), Minoru Furuya (manga)

Starring: Shota Sometani, Fumi Nikaidō, Tetsu Watanabe, Denden, Jun Murakami, Makiko Watanabe, Ken Mitsuishi, Mitsuru Fukikoshi, Megumi Kagurazaka, Asuka Kurosawa, Taro Suwa,

Himizu is Sion Sono’s adaptation of Minoru Furuya’s manga of the same name and the only film on this list I have seen. I was in tears at the end. Sono takes a manga already full of anger and tough subject matter like child abuse and murder, and weaves in the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami to create a film which is ultimately a moving exploration of life, identity, redemption and the will to live. I’m quoting my review now. Here are more quotes “Sono hammers the references home with scenes of actors wandering around the disaster hit areas complete with the skeletal remains of buildings and mounds of rubble surrounding them. The sight of the destruction is a terrifying testament to the power of the disaster. The scenes are accompanied by the sound of Geiger counters and a menacing rumbling reminding us the events even more. It feels like a natural part of the film and added to the theme of enduring whatever life throws at you.” I would consider Himizu to be one of the best films I saw last year.

Junior high school kid Yuichi Sumida (Sometani) wants a quiet life but his mother (Watanabe) comes home with different men every night, and his drunken, hate-filled father (Mitsuishi) only pays him visits when he needs money. Yuichi carries on running the family boat rental business and lives surrounded by homeless people who are victims of the tsunami. Meanwhile at school he is ignoring class-mate Keiko Chazawa (Nikaidō) who has a massive crush on him. Things get tough when his mother abandons him and Kaneko (Denden), a Yakuza loan-shark, shows up looking for Yuichi’s father and ¥6 million. Pushed to breaking point by his situation Yuichi finds himself unable to control his anger and a series of events leads him to the brink of madness.

Women on the Edge Movie PosterWomen on the Edge                                         

Director: Masahiro Kobayashi, Writer: Masahiro Kobayashi

Starring: Miho Fujima, Yuko Nakamura, Makiko Watanabe

Masahiro Kobayashi, writer and director of grim films like Bashing is back with Women on the Edge which stars Miho Fujima (Ju-On: The GrudgeTajomaru), Yuko Nakamura (Blood and Bones), and Makiko Watanabe (Himizu, Love Exposure).

The three Onodera sisters return to the home of their deceased parents’ in Kesennuma, Miyagi, a place affected by the Tohoku Earthquake. The house has survived the earthquake and tsunami and the three are looking to claim an inheritance. Nobuko (Nakamura) moved to Tokyo and is a divorcee, Takako (Watanabe) moved to New York and works as a butoh dancer. Third sister Satomi (Fujima) stayed behind. There are deep resentments and over the course of the film they will come out.


Odayaka Film PosterOdayaka                                                                      

Director: Nobuteru Uchida, Writer: Nobuteru Uchida (Script),

Starring: Kiki Sugino, Yukiko Shinohara, Takeshi Yamamoto, Ami Watanabe, Ami Watanabe, Yu Koyanagi, Makiko Watanabe, Maho Yamada, Susumu Terajima, Maki Nishiyama, Kotaro Shiga, Kanji Furutachi, Yuko Kibiki, Yuya Matsumura,

This is a film which covers the March 11th earthquakes. This is another fiction film addressing the March 11th Earthquake and Tsunami following Women on the EdgeThe Ear Cleaner and The Land of Hope. It is written and directed by Nobuteru Uchida (Love Addiction).

Saeko (Sugino) and Yukako (Shinohara) are neighbours in a Tokyo apartment complex. Following the March 11th Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami both find their lives affected by newfound fears. Saeko is undergoing a divorce and fears her daughter may get radiation exposure. Yukako also fears the radiation and asks her husband to move. When Saeko saves Yukako from suicide, the two become close.

The Intermission Film PosterThe Intermission                 

Director: Naofumi Higuchi, Writer: Naofumi Higuchi, Minato Takehiko (Screenplay),

Starring: Kumiko Akiyoshi, Shota Sometani, Kyoko Kagawa, Akiko Koyama, Kumi Mizuno, Naoto Takenaka, Shiro Sano,

An indie film which deals indirectly with the effects of March 11th as we get the real life story of an old movie theatre in Ginza, Tokyo was closed in March. It stars Shota Sometani (Himizu), Kumiko Akiyoshi (Deep River), Kyoko Kagawa (Shall We Dance?) and Kumi Mizuno (Godzilla Final Wars).

Kumiko (Akiyoshi) is the manager of the Ginza Shinepatosu and she has a younger husband named Shota (Sometani). The movie theatre faces closure following the Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami of 2011 due to safety fears. As the final day approaches, Kumiko’s anxieties over earthquakes and radiation grow.

Continue reading “Great East Japan Earthquake Aftermath on Film”