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.

Continue reading “The Locker 2 渋谷怪談 2 (2004)”

Fuse: A Gun Girl’s Detective Story Full Trailer

The first full-length trailer for the anime movie adaptation of Kazuki Sakuraba’s novel Fuse: A Gun Girl’s Detective Story (Fuse Teppō Musume no Torimonochō) was released last week and I am even more excited at the prospect of this historical fantasy anime movie which reminds me of Duelist.

The story  follows a teenage girl named Hamaji who joins her brother in hunting dog-human hybrids known as Fuse as part of a karmic cycle of retribution. The movie is based on the novel Fuse Gansaku: Satomi Hakkenden which was written by Kazuki Sakuraba, author of the Gosick light novels. She was inspired by a 19th century epic novel series named Nansō Satomi Hakkenden written by late Edo Period popular author Kyokutei Bakin. His tales dealt with themes based on Buddhist philosophy, Confucianism, and Bushido as it followed eight samurai serving the Satomi clan during the Sengoku (Warring States) period. These samurai are the reincarnations of the spirits that Princess Fuse mothered with a dog named Yatsufusa and they each represent a Confucianist virtue.

Although this isn’t the first time Kyokutei’s story has been adapted into modern mediums like anime – it had a 1999 sci-fi TV anime series named Shin Hakkenden and the story was Fuse no Musume Torimonochō Teppo Imageadapted for the video game Okami – it is the first time it has been made into a movie. The film is directed by Masayuki Miyaji (Eureka Seven, Xam’d: Lost Memories). The script comes from Ichiro Okouchi who is the scriptwriter for episodes of Azumanga Daioh and the Berserk movie adaptations. Music comes from Michiru Oshima who has composed the music for Production I.G.s historial fantasy Le Chevalier D’Eon. Okama is in charge of design and he has worked on the recent Evangelion anime movies.

Hamaji is voiced by Minako Kotobuki (Yūko Nishi in A-Channel) and she is supported my Mamoru Miyano (Rintarō Okabe in Steins;Gate), Maaya Sakamoto (Hitomi in Escaflowne and Akashi in Tatami Galaxy), and Hiroshi Kamiya (Kou in Arakawa Under the Bridge).

The film is released on the 20th of October!

Staff: Masayuki Miyaji (Director) Ichiro Okouchi (Script), Seiichi Hashimoto (Character Design), Okama (Design), Kazuki Sakuraba (Original Novelist), Michiru Oshima (Music), Chara (Movie Theme Song)

Voice Actors: Minako Kotobuki (Hamaji), Mamoru Miyano (Shino), Hirofumi Nojima (Iesada Tokugawa), MHiroshi Kamiya (Makuwari), Kanako Miyamoto (Meido), Katsuyuki Konishi (ousetsu), Maaya Sakamoto (Funamushi)

Studio: TMS Entertainment

The Locker 1 渋谷怪談 (2004)

Shibuya Kaidan Review Header

The Locker                                                                                            Shibuya Kaidan Poster

Japanese: Shibuya Kaidan (Shibuya Ghost Story)

Romaji: Shibuya Kaidan

Japanese Title:渋谷 怪談

Release Date: 07th February 2004 (Japan)

Running Time: 71 mins.

Director: Kei Horie

Writer: Osamu Fukutani, Issei Shibata

Starring: Fumina Hara, Maki Horikita, Asami Mizukawa, Chisato Morishita, Mayuka Suzuki, Soko Wada, Tomohisa Yuge, Tsugumi Shinohara

I first heard of the director Kei Horie when I did one of my trailer round-ups a few months ago. His latest film, Sentimental Yasuko, sounded very interesting so I checked his filmography where I discovered that he had a number of J-horror titles early on in his career named The Locker 1 and 2 and he had starred in Takashi Shimizu’s Ju-On: The Grudge 2. Both The Locker 1 and 2 are available as a set in the west. I am going to review them one at a time to find out what they are like.

Rieka (Morishita) and her friends Ai (Suzuki), and Akihiko (Wada), are on a group date with a bunch of guys. They travel to the countryside for a camping trip and end up in a field with a Jizo statue which indicates that the ground is sacred and looked after by the statue. Rieka hears a baby crying but none of the others do. Ai points out that “Rieka has always been the one who says strange stuff” but it is clear that the group are spooked and they soon head back to Shibuya where they have stored some of their stuff in a coin locker. When Ai and Akihiko disappear Rieka is concerned. A student Rieka is tutoring named Ayano (Horikita) tells her of a haunted coin locker in Shibuya that brings luck if you confess love in front of it but this does not seem to be the case and that coin locker may be much more deadly than first imagined.

Shibuya Kaidan Haunted Phone

The Locker is low-budget take on the urban legends which surround coin lockers. It attempts to weave together ideas surrounding love and responsibility and the disposable nature of such things in the modern world with a nice twist on the coin locker legend. It is these elements which are the strongest in the movie because every other element is under-written and its horror imagery is all too familiar but even within the clichés it has moments when it shows a degree of skill.

Continue reading “The Locker 1 渋谷怪談 (2004)”

Irma Vep

Genkina hito's Review Banner for Irma Vep

Irma Vep                                                                     Irma Vep Poster

Release Date: 13th November 1996 (France)

Running Time: 95 mins.

Director: Olivier Assayas

Writer: Olivier Assayas

Starring: Maggie Cheung, Jean-Pierre Léaud, Nathalie Richard, Nathalie Boutefeu, Jacque Fieschi, Lou Castel, Bulle Ogier, Olivier Torres, Arsinée Khanjian

Irma Vep is a film about the magic of filmmaking, a comment about global film culture and a satirical look at the realities of the French film industry and it has a stellar performance from the incredibly beautiful Maggie Cheung.

Maggie Cheung (playing herself) has been cast by a once legendary director named René (Jean-Pierre Léaud) in the lead role of cat burglar Irma Vep in his remake of the classic silent film serial Les Vampires. From the moment Maggie arrives in Paris chaos ensues as the crew bicker amongst each other, a costumier named Zoe (Nathalie Richard) falls in love with her, and the director suffers a mental breakdown. Already an outsider in Paris she finds herself drawn to the character of Irma Vap and takes to wearing the spandex costume and prowling her hotel at night.

Maggie Cheung in Irma Vep

At its simplest the film can be seen as an outsider in Paris stumbling around the chaos of a film in crisis. There are big personalities and the film’s crew suffers internecine warfare, ignorant journalists giving their opinions in interviews, and Maggie left bewildered and amused by these aggressive and forward Europeans. She is frequently cut out of the conversations, only the odd person speaking English to her, and for the most part no one treats her like a star since they are unfamiliar with Hong Kong cinema. It is amusing and great at conveying the sense that she is an outsider which is a situation and sensation that allows Maggie to explore a different culture and her relation to films and the creative process which creates different layers of ideas.

I saw you in a very cheap movie theatre in Marrakech

Irma Vep Film SetThe film shows how global film culture and creativity is through many details. Various characters have tales of working on Japanese/Chinese film sets and we witness life on a French one. There are clips from French political cinema from 40 years ago and Johnny To’s Heroic Trio.The soundtrack features West Africans melodies, Gainsbourg, and rock & roll, mixing alongside classics sung by chanteuses.

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Bedevilled

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Bedevilled                                                                       Bedevilled Poster

Release Date: 02nd September 2010 (South Korea)

Running Time: 115 mins.

Director: Jang Cheol-Su

Writer: Choi Kwan-Young

Starring: Seo Young-Hee, Ji Sung-Won, Park Jung-Hak, Baek Su-Ryeon, Lee Ji-Eun, Je-Min, Bae Sung-Woo, Jo Duk-Je

When I picked up Bedevilled I expected a slasher film. The cover has a blood-spattered glowering young woman holding a scythe in a forest. What I got was a horror film but one similar to Eden Lake and Straw Dogs. People pushed to the brink and forced into savagery.  

Hye-Won (Ji Sung-Won) lives and works in Seoul. She is a cold and focussed individual and these character traits lead her into a fight with a co-worker. As a result of this her boss tells her to take a vacation. Stumped for ideas Hye-Won eventually goes to Moo-do island, a place where her grandfather lived and a place where she made friends with an island girl named Kim Bok-Nam. When Hye-Won arrives, Kim Bok-Nam (Seo Young-Hee) is overjoyed to see her. It is clear the locals are behind the times. Rather worryingly Kim Bok-Nam is treated like a serf by them but this mistreatment will have disastrous consequences for all involved.

Kim Bok-Nam (Seo Young-Hee) in BedevilledWhen I was watching Bedevilled I felt the spectre of Kim Ki-Duk emerge on screen. He and the director of Bedevilled, Jang Cheol-Su, share concrete connections since Jang Cheol-Su was assistant-director on Kim Ki-Duk’s films Samaritan Girl and Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter…  and Spring. Critics have accused Kim Ki-Duk in displaying misogyny in his films, especially Bad Guy and Samaritan Girl with their mix of sex and violence. What about Bedevilled?

Kim Ki-Duk’s influence is seen in the subject matter in Bedevilled as it features many, many uncomfortable moments of sexual abuse, violence, and hatred, a lot of it directed at women. However unlike Kim Ki-Duk’s films where I get the impression that the director is putting his mental anguish on the screen, Bedevilled is addressing issues and the cumulative effect of the action builds up to a bitter diatribe against misogyny and gender roles while offering a warning to women about how self-preservation risks making victims of others.

There are many moments when women are subjected to violence. The violence is graphic and brutal. That is bad in itself but what is worse is the sense that the violence is culturally accepted or at least easily ignored for many of the characters.

You’re an adult you should take care of yourself

Hye-Won (Ji Sung-Won) at Work in Bedevilled

The first character we are introduced to is Hye-Won. We do not see her for a while and instead we see the world of from her perspective as she is driving her car. The opening of the film takes place in night time Seoul and amidst the bright lights and bumper-to-bumper traffic. We witness two men being physically aggressive to a Street Scene in Seoul in Bedevilledwoman. The camera breaks off for a long shot as we see the woman pushed, prodded, and punched while passers-by try to avoid her. The camera cuts back to Hye-Won’s perspective as the woman leans into the open passenger side window begging for refuge. Hye-Won hears her pleas for help and rolls up the window leaving the woman to face the men abusing her.

Continue reading “Bedevilled”

Helter Skelter, Drudgery Train, Umizaru 4: Brave Hearts, Paikaji Nankai Sakusen, Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha The MOVIE 2nd, Pokemon Best Wishes! The Movie: Kyurem vs. the Sacred Swordsman Keldeo Trailers and the Japanese Movie Box-Office Charts

This week I posted a review for 2 Days in New York and trailers for the forthcoming big screen anime adaptation of Asura and the latest Naruto movie.

What’s does the Japanese movie box-office chart look like this week?

  1.  The Amazing Spider-Man
  2.  Snow White and the Huntsman
  3.  Rinjo
  4.  Soreike! Anpanman Yomigaere Bananajima
  5.  Man on a Ledge
  6.  Hotaru: It’s Only a Little Light in my Life
  7. Guskou Budori no Denki
  8. Thermae Romae
  9. Men in Black III
  10.  Go, Masao!

The Amazing Spider-Man, Snow White and the Huntsman, and Rinjo remain in the top three – Snow White is actually pretty decent even if I found the Princess Mononoke section awful.  Two of last week’s releases, Soreike! Anpanman Yomigaere Bananajima and Guskou Budori enter at four and seven respectively. Thermae Romae spends yet another week in the top ten. It must be seriously funny!

What Japanese films are released today (and yesterday)?  Well it’s pretty busy but we see Erika Sawajiri back on the big screen!

Helter Skelter                                                            Helter Skelter Poster

Japanese Title: Heruta Sukeruta

Release Date: 14th November 2012 (Japan)

Running Time: N/A

Director: Mika Nanigawa

Writer: Arisa Kaneko (Script), Kyoko Okazaki (manga)  

Starring: Erika Sawajiri, Nao Omori, Shinobu Terajima, Gou Ayano, Yosuke Kubozuka, Mieko Harada, Sho Aikawa, Junki Tozuka, Anne Suzuki, Hirofumi Arai

Lead actress Erika Sawajiri (Ghost Train) makes her movie comeback with Helter Skelter a stunning looking movie with a great cast. The director is Mika Ninagawa, an art/fashion photographer who made her directorial debut with Sakuran. The film adapts Kyoko Okazaki’s psychological manga which was originally released in 2003.

 

Ririko (Sawajiri) is a vision of perfect beauty. What the public does not know is that her beauty is derived from multiple cosmetic surgeries and a lot of medication. To maintain her beauty and position she needs to keep taking medication and getting surgery but when the clinic that performs her surgery comes under investigation for medical ethics from authorities led by Prosecutor Asada (Omori) Ririko finds her career on the brink of calamity. With pressure mounting, Ririko’s body begins to suffer and her emotions and career, and sanity begin to fall apart.

Umizaru 4: Brave Hearts                                Brave Hearts Umizaru

Romaji: Brave Hearts Umizaru

Japanese Title: Brave Hearts  海猿

Release Date: 13th July 2012 (Japan)

Running Time: N/A

Director: Hasumi Eiichiro

Writer: N/A

Starring: Hideaki ito, Ai Kato, Riisa Naka, Ryuta Sato, Shohei Miura, Hiroyuki Hirayama, Tsuyoshi Ihara, Saburo Tokito

Another big-screen adaptation of a popular television series only this one focusses on the Japanese Coast Guard. Taking to the high seas are an interesting cast list including Hideaki Ito (Sukiyaki Western Django) and Riisa Naka (Mitsuko Delivers), Ai Kato (Another), and Tsuyoshi Ihara (13 Assassins, Retribution).

When a plane due to land at Haneda Airport begins to suffer engine failure, Sea Marshal Daisuke  Senzaki (Hideaki Ito) is on the case. He better hurry because one of the flight attendants is Riisa Naka!

 

Drudgery Train                                             Drudgery Train Movie Poster

Romaji: Kueki Ressha

Japanese Title: 苦役 列車

Release Date: 14th July 2012 (Japan)

Running Time: 112 mins.

Director: Nobuhiro Yamashita

Writer: Kenta Nishimura (Novel)

Starring: Mirai Moriyama, Kengo Kora, Atsuko Maeda

Drudgery Train comes from Nobuhiro Yamashita (Linda, Linda, Linda), and is based on Kenta Nishimura’s Akutagawa Prize-winning novel Kueki Ressha. This character-study stars Mirai Moriyama (Fish on Land, Fish Story), Kengo Kora (The Woodsman and the Rain, Norwegian Wood), and Atsuko Maeda (The Suicide Song), a member of Team A in AKB48 and has got some great reviews. This has to be my favourite trailer from today.

Kitamichi (Moriyama) is a 19-year-old junior high drop out with alcohol problems. He works as a labourer in a warehouse and he has no friends and wastes his days doing very little apart from reading mystery novels. Then he meets Kusakabe (Kora), a new hire at the warehouse. The two become friends and Kusakabe brings Kitamichi into his circle of friends which includes Yasuko (Maeda) who works in a book store. Kitamichi falls for her. The problem is that Kusakabe is also in love with Yasuko and Kitamichi gets jealous. Can his new-found friendships last?

  Continue reading “Helter Skelter, Drudgery Train, Umizaru 4: Brave Hearts, Paikaji Nankai Sakusen, Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha The MOVIE 2nd, Pokemon Best Wishes! The Movie: Kyurem vs. the Sacred Swordsman Keldeo Trailers and the Japanese Movie Box-Office Charts”

Asura Movie Trailer

Toei animation have been working at making the movie adaptation of George Akiyama’s manga Asura (1970 – 1971) since they announced its start back in 2010. Now that its release is nearing there are trailers, images, and staff details being released.

Mid-15th Century Japan, the country is suffering war and gripped by drought and famine. When a young child named Asura is born he is plunged into a harsh world of violence and desperation which turns him into a beast that roams the hills. After provoking the rage of a local lord, Asura finds himself being hunted but a young girl named Wakasa comes to his aid. Can Wakasa help rehabilitate him and bring him back to civilisation amidst the suffering and chaos that surrounds them?

Highly controversial at the time of its publication, Asura was an amoral tale that focussed on the will to live but it drew criticism in Japan due to its depiction of violence¹ which got it banned in some prefectures of Japan during its original publication. The film is directed by Keiichi Sato (Tiger & Bunny) with a theme song by Yasuha Kominami.

The voice acting cast is strong with Masako Nozawa (Goku in Dragon Ball and Tetsuro in Adieu Galaxy Express 999) voicing Asura and Megumi Hayashibara (Rei Ayanami in Evangelion) voicing Wakasa. Also in the cast are Hiroaki Hirata (Akihiko in Mōryō no Hako, Sanji in One Piece) and Kaori Yamagata (Chacha in Legend of Basara).

The film gets a theatrical release on the 29th of September.                                        Asura Poster

Staff: Keiichi Sato (Director), Yasuha Kominami (Theme Song Performance)

Voice Actors: Masako Nozawa, Megumi Hayashibara, Yuu Mizushima, Kinya Kitaōji, Tessho Genda, Kaori Yamagata, Hiroaki Hirata, Bin Shimada, Kappei Yamaguchi,

Studio: Toei

¹ Spoiler/ the manga opens with Asura’s mother starved into madness and throwing Asura onto a fire so she can cook and eat him!


2 Days in New York

2 Days in New York Gallery Banner

2 Days in New York                                              

Release Date: 15th May 2012 (UK),

Running Time: 95 mins.

Director: Julie Delpy

Writer: Julie Delpy, Alexia Landeau

Starring: Julie Delpy, Chris Rock, Albert Delpy, Alexia Landeau, Alex Nahon

I was determined to see this film when it went on theatrical release for many reasons but chief amongst them was the fact that Julie Delpy was acting with Chris Rock. Julie Delpy who has appeared in Three Colours: White and Chris Rock who has appeared in Beverly Hills Ninja.

Actually that pairing isn’t so strange since Delpy has appeared in big budget Hollywood films – An American Werewolf in Paris. Meanwhile as a fan of Rock’s comedy I knew he had a deep interest in cinema beyond the usual roles handed out to black comedians as evidenced by films like Nurse Betty, and the fact that he wrote and directed a remake of Eric Rohmer’s Chloe in the Afternoon but how would he translate to the screen here? Well Chris Rock underplays his role with ease, allowing the Europeans to initiate a refreshingly amusing and warm take on the familiar culture clash comedy.

Marion (Delpy) is an artist who lives in New York with her boyfriend Mingus (Rock) and their two children. The couple get along well until Marion’s family from France arrive in New York on a vacation. Mingus will get to see a real French family up close with Marion’s widowed father Jeannot (Albert Delpy), over-sexed sister Rose (Landeau) and Rose’s boyfriend Manu (Nahon) staying at their apartment.

I always feel more comfortable having sex without the kids in bed.

2 Days in New York Rock and Delpy

The relationship between Marion and Mingus is refreshingly natural. In the first ten minutes we get a potted history of their history: Marion met Mingus at the Village Voice and he became her confidante during a messy divorce with Jack (from 2 Days in Paris). The two being intellectual and outsiders in American culture, were attracted to each other (Marion being gorgeous must have helped too) and now they share an affectionate and supportive relationship where she calls him her “sweet little koala bear”, and he’s hankering after a taste of Marion. Their cultures have mixed easily – their office is a mixture of books on Duke Ellington, Miles Davis, Lacan and posters of Barack Obama and Cannes – while their children from previous marriages are happy. While they are a liberal couple – Mingus is a journalist/radio host with numerous writing projects and Marion is an artist – they are still a realistic in the sense that the two aren’t so financially comfortable that they can top working even though their French relatives are staying.  Race, never backed away from, plays a component of some conversations but it does not overwhelm, it is just a fact of life which Marion and Mingus splice naturally into jokes and discussions. It is Marion’s relative who bring the chaos and comedy.

Is that some kind of French thing?

If this were an American comedy then we might have been subjected to the chauvinistic/arrogant French stereotype which harbours disdain for uncultured Americans. Despite introducing the family by having them arrested for smuggling cheese into America there are no stereotypes here as Julie Delpy along with her co-star Alexia Landeau create loveable characters who are extremely French in their behaviour but still multi-faceted and real.

Jeannot is emotionally expressive, hugging everyone and delivering every sentence as an exclamation, but it is the behaviour of a man savouring life and humanity. Marion’s sister Rose is an incredibly sexy woman and she knows it, walking around the apartment in the nude and flashing flesh at people, but far from being some bimbo she is a highly intelligent woman who has graduated from the Sorbonne and is just having fun. Nahon’s character is the only one which is one-note as he is goofily in love with black American culture, referencing 90’s hip-hop (Salt and Pepper, Public Enemy), and saying things like “Don’t sweat it bro, I’m easy”. What translates well is the chemistry between the actors, I felt ike I was watching a family living an energetic life.

2 Days in New York Sisters Rose (Landeau) and Marion (Delpuy)
Watching Mingus coping with the cultural differences and linguistic differences is amusing as Manot mistranslates everything he says and Jeannot and his girls fall back into old breakfast table routines of hysterics – my Mingus (Rock) is Stunned in 2 Days in New Yorkfavourite scene being is set in a diner where the two sisters cattily argue with each other in public. A lot of the action takes place in a cramped apartment they all stay in becomes a sort of playground for them and we feel like we are there being so up close with all of those bodies moving around. We feel for Marion and Mingus whose own relationship comes under strain but this being a heart-warming comedy where human relations are celebrated, family wins through. For Marion there are points of melancholy: “Paris is kind of blurry from the Empire State Building” and both Mingus and Maion learn to appreciate their relationships with everybody.

Mingus (Rock) Comforts Marion (Delpy) in 2 Days in New York

2 Days in New York proves the old adage that family are like laces, the tighter they are the more they can hur, but we still need them and does so with humour and the affection at its heart.

4/5

Sion Sono Appreciation Society Podcast Part 1

Welcome to the Sion Sono Appreciation Society Suicide Season podcast. By Society I mean Goregirl and I, but that’s still a pretty awesome line-up. Anyway this is the first of two podcasts which will analyse some of Sono’s output. The two podcasts originally started out as a general discussion of his films in general but we decided to focus on his titles that gravitate closer to horror. In this episode we look at two of his greatest films, Suicide Circle and Noriko’s Dinner Table. Despite my rather lame attempts at trying to add structure to the conversation this is pretty much two cinephiles discussing whatever comes to mind. We go pretty in depth and there are some spoilers so if you have not watched the films yet then you might want to view them.

I hope you enjoy. My thanks go out to Goregirl for her brilliant performance!

Genkina-hito-Sono-Season-Noriko's-Dinner-Table-Report

Genkina-hito-Sono-Season-Noriko's-Dinner-Table-Kumiko

The Life of Guskou Budori, Soup, Soreike! Anpanman Yomigaere Bananajima Trailers and the Japanese Movie Box Office Chart

This week saw me initiate a new Sion Sono Season with a focus on Suicide Circle and Noriko’s Dinner Table with a podcast I recorded with Goregirl due tomorrow.

What’s does the Japanese movie box-office chart look like this week?

  1.  The Amazing Spider-Man
  2.  Snow White and the Huntsman
  3.  Rinjo
  4.  Hotaru: It’s Only a Little Light in my Life
  5.  Thermae Romae

The Amazing Spider-Man takes number one while Japanese crime drama Rinjo enters at three. Thermae Romae spends a tenth week in the top five. Two major anime titles have taken a tumble with the latest Berserk film down at fourteen while Library War is performing better as it rests at thirteen.

What are the latest Japanese films released in Japan today? Well for me the highlight has to be a certain cat and his magical adventure.

The Life of Guskou Budori                      The Life of Guskou Budori Poster

Release Date: 07th July 2012 (Japan)

Running Time: N/A

Director: Gisaburo Sugii

Writer: Kenji Miyazawa (original novel), Gisaburo Sugii

Starring: Shun Oguri, Shiori Kutsuna, Akira Emoto, Kuranosuke Sasaki Tamiyo Kusakari, Ryuzo Hayashi

This is the anime movie adaptation of Kenji Miyazawa ‘s 1932 fairy tale The Life of Guskou Budori. As mentioned previously it stars Shun Oguri (Ghost Tunnel) in the lead vocal role with Shiori Kutsuna (My Back Pages) and Akira Emoto (Villain, Starfish Hotel) providing support.

Guskou is a cat who lives in the Tohoku forests in north eastern Japan in the 1920’s. A series of droughts and natural disasters forces Guskou to leave hoe ad search for a new place to live. He soon falls in with a group of scientists at the Ihatov Volcano Department and discovers that they are dealing with the same natural disasters that have altered Guskou’s life.

Soup                                                                                       Soup Movie Poster

Romaji: Supu Umarekawari no Monogatari

Japanese Title: スープ 生まれ変わり の 物語

Release Date: 07th July 2012 (Japan)

Running Time: 117 mins.

Director: Yuki Otsuka

Writer: Yuki Otsuka

Starring: Katsuhisa Namase, Manami Konishi, Yuiko Kariya, Shuhei Nomura, Alice Hirose, Ai Hashimoto, Suzuka Ohgo, Ayumi Ito, Arata Furuta, Hiroki Matsukata

Soup Rebirth Story…  This looks like the debut of Yuki Otsuka and a very heart-felt story (not the first reincarnation story of this year though) It stars Katsuhia Namase (Kamikaze Girls), Yuiko Kariya (Confessions), Manami Konishi (Tokyo Park), Ai Hashimoto (Another, Control Tower) Ayumi Ito (Vanished, All About Lily Chou-Chou), Arata Furuta (Tokyo Zombie, 13 Assassins), Hiroki Matsukata (Tajomaru, 13 Assassins).

 

Kenichi Shibuya (Namase) is a fifty-year-old recently divorced salaryman with a rocky relationship with his daughter Mika (Kariya). One day, he and his boss Yumi (Konishi) are both struck by lightning, die and head off to the afterlife where they head of a legendary soup that will allow a person who consumes it to be reborn. There’s just one catch, that person will lose their memories of their prior life. Shibuya wants to be reborn but he doesn’t want to lose his memories of Mika. Can he figure out the soup’s recipe and beat the catch?

Soreike! Anpanman Yomigaere Bananajima                   Soreike! Anpanman Yomigaere Bananajima Movie Poster

Romaji: Soreike! Anpanman Yomigaere Bananajima

Japanese Title: それいけ! アンパンマン よみがえれ バナナ島

Release Date: 07th July 2012 (Japan)

Running Time: N/A

Director: Hiroyuki Yano

Writer: Tomoko Komparu (Screenplay), Takashi Yanase (Original Creator)

Starring: Keiko Toda, Ryusei Nakao, Yoshino Kimura, Yuuki Himura

A kid’s film based on Takashi Yanase’s massively popular and long running picture book series which was, according to Wikipedia, inspired by Yanase’s struggles to survive as a soldier during World War II, when he was faced with starvation and dreamed of eating anpan (a bean-jam filled pastry). This is the 24th movie adaptation and it stars the voices of Keiko Toda (Osono in Kiki’s Delivery Service, Kitarou in GeGeGe no Kitarou… she also dubbed Scully in the X-Files) and Ryusei Nakao (Genkei in Mononoke), Yoshino Kimura (Fine, Totally Fine, Sukiyaki Western Django).

 

Banana Island is located in the topics and shaped like a banana. On this island delicious bananas grow but cold weather threatens them and it looks like Baikinman (Bacteria Man), a villain from the “Germ World”, is behind this problem. Enter Anpanman, a character whose head is an anpan to save the island.