Emi-Abi エミアビのはじまりとはじまり Dir: Kensaku Watanabe (2016)

Emi-abi    

Emi-Abi Film Poster
Emi-Abi Film Poster

エミアビのはじまりとはじまり 「Emiabi no Hajimari to Hajimari」 

Running Time: 88 mins.

Director: Kensaku Watanabe

Writer: Kensaku Watanabe (Screenplay)

Starring:  Ryu Morioka, Tomoya Maeno, Haru Kuroki, Hirofumi Arai, Mari Yamachi,

Website IMDB

Emi-Abi is a film marked by death but it is incredibly life-affirming. Written and directed by Kensaku Watanabe (he adapted the novel The Great Passage  into a script for the big screen), it tells the tale of artistic endeavour in the face of disaster and comes up trumps with a happy ending in a film that perfectly balances tragedy and comedy.

The story begins at the end of the manzai act Emi-Abi. The duo has lost its funny-man Unno (Tomoya Maeno) in an accident. All that remains is the handsome straight man Jitsudo (Ryu Morioka) and his dutiful manager Natsumi (Haru Kuroki) who has a comedy streak funnier than her remaining charge. With Unno’s funeral in the past and an uncertain future as a mere pretty-boy performer in a pretty crowded field, Jitsudo is on his way to his comedy sempai Kurosawa’s (Hirofumi Arai) home to pay respects and to get advice.

Continue reading “Emi-Abi エミアビのはじまりとはじまり Dir: Kensaku Watanabe (2016)”

100 Yen Love 百円の恋 (2014)

100 Yen Love   

100 Yen Love Film Poster
100 Yen Love Film Poster

百円の恋 「Hyaku-en no Koi

Running Time: 113 mins.

Release Date: December 20th, 2014

Director: Masaharu Take

Writer: Masaharu Take (Screenplay),

Starring: Sakura Ando, Hirofumi Arai, Miyoko Inagawa, Saori, Shohei Uno, Tadashi Sakata, Yuki Okita,

Website   IMDB

The sports film is a popular genre because most of us participate or are interested in sports. It is also popular because sport offers an arc of development for the main protagonist who journeys from the bottom to the top through training, usually for a make-or-break final match. 100 Yen Love works with this formula and in a year when boxing films have made a comeback with Southpaw (2015) and Creed (2015), it proves to be a strong and distinctive drama thanks to a terrific performance from leading lady Sakura Ando as Ichiko, a girl who goes from zero to not quite hero but is inspirational nonetheless.

Continue reading “100 Yen Love 百円の恋 (2014)”

The Ravine of Goodbye さよなら渓谷 (2013)

Genki The Ravine of Goodbye Review Banner

The Ravine of Goodbye             The Ravine of Goodbye Film Poster

Japanese Title: さよなら渓谷

Romaji: Sayonara Keikoku

Release Date: June 22nd, 2013 (Japan)

Seen at the BFI London Film Festival 2013

Running Time: 117 mins.

Director: Tatsushi Omori

Writer: Shuichi Yoshida (Novel), Tatsushi Omori (Screenplay)

Starring: Yoko Maki, Shima Onishi, Nao Omori, Anne Suzuki, Arata, Hirofumi Arai, Mayu Tsuruta

SPOILER WARNINGS IN EFFECT I have done as much as possible to avoid major spoilers for this mystery drama, even going as far as altering plot synopses from older posts where I mention this film but there are still some spoilers. The official festival synopsis and trailers give a lot away but whether you know the twists or turns is pretty irrelevant because at its heart is a story about sexual violence and witnessing the suffering caused to characters is gruelling and quite affecting. It may be better to watch the film and come back if you are still interested.

A boy has been killed in a valley dense with trees and his mother, Satomi Tachibana, is the prime suspect. As the press besiege her house the police arrive to arrest her.

 Genki-The-Ravine-of-Goodbye-Press-Mob

Meanwhile her neighbours, factory worker Shunsuke Ozaki (Onishi) and his wife Kanako (Maki), a convenience store worker, seem to be uninvolved. Apparently a happy couple, the two try their best to ignore the press and carry on with their lives. 

 The Ravine of Goodbye Image Stare

As the police are investigating the murder rumours emerge that Satomi is romantically involved with Shunsuke Ozaki (Onishi).

Continue reading “The Ravine of Goodbye さよなら渓谷 (2013)”

A Road Stained Crimson, The End of Puberty, Bakarea High School, Space Battleship Yamato 2199, Puella Magi Madoka Magica the Movie Part 2: Eternal Trailers and the Japanese Movie Box Office Chart

chungking-expressThis week will be memorable for me forever because I attended my first ever major film event in the shape of the BFI London Film Festival where I saw some God-tier films although things got dicey on my final day because I had to run part of the way to the BFI because I took a wrong turn at Horse Guards Parade (I got there just before the film started). Thankfully I had such a great time that my Olympic marathon could not dent my enthusiasm and the film I saw was, as I mentioned earlier, God-tier. Meanwhile, back at the ranch… the blog kept going because I posted information about Third Window Films and their forthcoming releases of the double set for Tetsuo: The Iron Man and Tetsuo II: Body Hammer, and Kotoko, which came out on Monday and Isn’t Anyone Alive? which comes out on the 22nd. I also posted a trailer for Park Chan-Wook’s English language debut film Stoker and a little piece about my trip to London for the 56th BFI London Film Festival.

What are the new entries in the Japanese movie box-office this week?

  1. Outrage Beyond
  2. Bayside Shakedown 4: The Final New Hope
  3. Tsunagu
  4. Resident Evil: Retribution
  5. The Mystical Law
  6. Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax
  7. Madoka Magica
  8. The Bourne Legacy
  9. I Have to Buy New Shoes
  10. Intouchables

All of last week’s releases are in the charts…? Really? Even The Mystical Law? Well Outrage Beyond is at the top spot, Tsunagu takes third, The Mystical Law takes fifth and I Have to Buy New Shoes is at nine despite the negative criticism from Alua and Goregirl 😉

What are the Japanese films getting a release today?

A Road Stained Crimson                      A Road Stained Crimson Movie Poster

Japanese Title: 赤い 季節

Romaji: Akai Kisetsu

Release Date:  13th October 2012 (Japan)

Running Time: 111 mins.

Director: Tetsuhiko Nono

Writer: Tetsuhiko Nono

Starring: Hirofumi Arai, Jun Murakami, Jun Fubuki, Masatoshi Nagase, Taguchi Tomorowo

This trailer featured on Otherwhere last month because it was part of Raindance London. It looks absolutely brilliant, a feeling reinforced by the actors since it stars Hirofumi Arai (Outrage Beyond), Jun Fubuki (Séance, Pulse), Taguchi Tomorowo (Tetsuo: The Iron Man, Tetsuo: Body Hammer), and Jun Murakami (Land of Hope). It features music from Yusuke Chiba, former frontman of J-rock outfit Thee Michelle Gun Elephant.

Ken (Arai) was once a contract killer but has turned his back on violence and spends his time working in a motorcycle shop with his mother Yoko (Fubuki). The one thing that eats away at him is the identity of the man who killed his detective father. Until Akira (Murakami), another contract killer, shows up at the shop and tries to lure Ken back into the killing life. With Akira and the mystery surrounding his father playing on his mind, Ken is faced with destroying the peaceful life he has established with Yoko.

The End of Puberty                                                                       The End of Puberty Movie Poster    

Japanese Title: 恋 に 至る 病

Romaji: Koi ni Itaru Yamai

Release Date:  13th October 2012 (Japan)

Running Time: 116 mins.

Director: Shoko Kimura

Writer: Shoko Kimura

Starring: Miwako Wagatsuma, Yoichiro Saito, Aimi Satsukawa, Shota Sometani

Shoko Kimura makes her directorial debut in a comedy that was seen at this year’s Berlin Film Festival. It sounds like an absolutely twisted story seen in the anime world but reviews plug it as something more considered. It stars. Miwako Wagatsuma (Sentimental Yasuko, Guilty of Romance), Aimi Satsukawa (Demon’s Elevator) and rising star Shota Sometani (Himizu, Isn’t Anyone Alive?, The Wolf Children Rain and Snow). I love the chip-tune music!

Madoka (Saito) is a biology teacher with no backbone. Therefore, he cannot control his class who misbehave. Tsubara (Wagatsuma) is the only person who takes any notice of him. She’s not interested in lessons as she is more interested in Madoka himself because she’s in love with him. Tsubara is quite a strange person herself as she only eats things with preservatives so that her body will not rot after death and she and be remembered. She also likes to draw manga of Madoka and herself having sex but with sexual organs reversed. When the two do have a real life encounter and their sexual organs are switched, they flee to the countryside. Tsubara’s best friend En (Satsukawa) and her amorous boyfriend Maru (Sometani) track them down and they have some erotic energy of their own that they want to work out.

Bakarea High School                                         Shiritsu Bakarea Koko Movie Poster

Japanese Title: 私立バカレア 高校

Romaji: Shiritsu Bakaleya Koko

Release Date:  13th October 2012 (Japan)

Running Time: 111 mins.

Director: Takashi Kubota

Writer: Akimoto Yasushi, Yuko Matsuda

Starring: Shintaro Morimoto, Hokuto Matsumura, Taiga Kyomoto, Haruka Shimazaki, Mina Oba, Kaoru Mitsumune

Popular NTV show Shiritsu Bakaleya Koko gets the big screen treatment. It features a whole gamut of (ridiculously named) young idols from groups managed by Johnny’s Jr and teams from AKB48 (Haruka Shimazaki, Mina Oba). Just looking at the cast list, poster and the trailer I know I should be packing up my stuff and heading for the hills because this is not aimed at me. Actually parts of it look like a cheap and unmemorable Ai to Makoto.

When the the all-male high school of Baka merges with the all-female high school of Cattleya, the rich girls find themselves confronted with a bunch of troublemakers. Presumably hilarity and romance ensue. 

Space Battleship Yamato 2199                   Space Battleship Yamato 2199 Poster

Japanese Title: 宇宙 戦艦 ヤマト 2199

Romaji: Uchū Senkan Yamato 2199

Release Date: 13th October 2012 (Japan)

Running Time: 110 mins.

Director: Akihiro Enomoto, Yutaka Izubuchi

Writer: Ryusuke Hikawa

Starring: Daisuke Ono (Susumu Kodai), Houko Kuwashima (Yuki Mori), Kenichi Suzumura (Daisuke Shima), Takayuki Sugo (Captain Jūzō Okita), Aya Hisakawa (Lt. Kaoru Niimi), Rie Tanaka (Ensign Akira Yamamoto), Rina Satou (Makoto Harada)

In 1974 Leiji Matsumoto (Galaxy Express 999, Captain Harlock) and Yoshinubu Mishizaki created Space Battleship Yamato which became a massive hit. Thirty-eight years later we see  the latest part of the anime movie adaptation released. The role of director is taken up by two men: Yutaka Izubuchi is a veteran designer in the anime industry having worked on anime like RahXephon and the brilliant anime Patlabor. He joined by Akihiro Enomoto who has worked on Fafner, Mobile Suit Gundam 00. Nobuteru Yuki (Escaflowne) acting as character designer and animation director.

There are a lot of veteran seiyuu involved with Daisuke Ono (Shizuo Heiwajima in Durarara!!), Kenichi Suzumura (Uta no Prince Sama), Aya Hisakawa (Yoko Yuzuki in Mōryō no Hako), Rina Satou (Mikoto Misaka (A Certain Magical Index), and Rie Tanaka (Sammy in Time of Eve). The animation is produced by Xebec (Nyarko-san: Another Crawling Chaos) and AIC (Burn Up). 

 

In the year 2199, the human race has lost a war against alien invaders named Gamilos and have been driven underground due to the threat of radiation. Scientists give humanity a year before it is destroyed. When young officers Susumu Kodai and Daisuke Shima retrieve a capsule from a ship that crash landed on Mars they set off to Iscandar on the other side of the Magellan Galaxy which has the technology to smash the Gamilos and save Earth. The battleship Yamato is sent on a mission to get that technology.

 

Puella Magi Madoka Magica the Movie Part 2: Eternal                             Madoka Movie 2 Poster

Japanese Title: Maho Shojo Madoka Magika Eien no Monogatari

Romaji: Maho Shojo Madoka Magika Eien no Monogatari

Release Date:  13th October 2012 (Japan)

Running Time: 109 mins.

Director: Akiyuki Shinbou

Writer: Gen Urobuchi

Starring: Aoi Yuuki (Madoka Kaname), Eri Kitamura (Sayaka Miki), Chiwa Saito (Homura Akemi), Emiri Kato (Kyuubey)

Following on from last week’s release of the first Madoka Magica movie, this is the second and it covers the last four episodes of the television series. The animation in the trailers and the look of the posters are incredible but I still cannot bring myself to watch the film. Cast and staff remain largely unchanged but it looks like the one character I might have rooted for didn’t make it…

 

Madoka Kanome (Yuuki) is a normal school girl with a caring family and good friends like Sayaka (Kitamura). She leads a calm life until she meets a new transfer student named Homura Akemi (Saito). What changes? She sees Homura attack a creature. When Madoka tries to stop Homura she finds herself transported to a strange world where scary creatures exist and it is only with the help of a girl called Mami Tomoe (Mizuhashi) that she manages to escape. She soon finds herself in a world of magic but soon finds it can be very deadly.

Bayside Shakedown 4: The Final New Hope, Blazing Famiglia, Dreams for Sale Trailers and the Japanese Movie Box Office

This week I enjoyed seeing Doctor Who back in his new series and the Paralympic Games butHyoka Nichijou Pictures I did not watch too many films… I am watching the anime Le Chevalier D’Eon andI also have plans for a season dedicated to a Japanese director (more on that next week)… Indeed, the only Japanese film activity I have taken done this week is furiously posting about the Japanese Films at the 37th Toronto International Film Festival, and furiously planning my trip to the BFI London Film Festival (post tomorrow – here is Alua’s post about the event at Otherwhere). I also posted about the cool anime Kyousogiga and Annoying Dragon interrogating me. Blogging style. It was fun! Enough about me.

What is happening with the Japanese movie box office?

  1. Rurouni Kenshin
  2. The Avengers
  3. Prometheus
  4. Dear
  5. Akko-chan: The Movie
  6. The Wolf Children Ame and Yuki
  7. Umizaru 4: Brave Hearts
  8. Intouchables
  9. Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted
  10. Ushijima the Loan Shark 

Akko-chan the movie, one of the Japanese films released last week enters the chart at number five. Rurouni Kenshin remains at the top spot. Indeed, the top three remain unchanged from last week. Umizaru and The Wolf Children are still raking in cash while another new entry, the French film Intouchables enters just above them.

There is an interesting selection of Japanese films released today.

Bayside Shakedown 4: The Final New Hope                      Bayside Shakedown The Final New Hope Movie Poster

Japanese Title: 踊る 大捜査線 新た なる 希望

Romaji: Odoru Daisosasen The Final Arata Naru Kibo

Release Date:  07th September 2012 (Japan)

Running Time: 126 mins.

Director: Katsuyuki Motohiro

Writer: Ryoichi Kimizuka

Starring: Yuji Oda, Eri Fukatsu, Toshiro Yanagiba, Yusuke Santamaria, Shingo Kotori, Shun Oguri, Kotaro Koizumi, Yuki Uchida, Atsushi Ito

This latest entry in the Bayside Shakedown series was released yesterday. This is a popular franchise running since the 90’s – when I first visited Asia movie sites like Kung Fu Cult Cinema back in the early 2000’s, this was a familiar title. This latest one is apparently the final entry in the franchise and it stars Yuji Oda who has been in numerous entries franchise, Eri Fukatsu (Villain, Space Travellers), Yusuke Santamaria (Doppelganger), and Shun Oguri (Ghost Train, Space Brothers). The trailer looks like fun.

Shunsaku Aoshima (Oda) and the team have to unravel a case of kidnap/murder which takes place an International Environmental Summit which may involve a member of the police organisation.

 

Blazing Famiglia                          Blazing Famiglia Movie Trailer

Romaji: Bakugyaku Famiglia

Japanese Title: 莫逆家族 バグギャクファミーリア

Release Date: 08th September 2012 (Japan)

Running Time: N/A

Director: Kazuyoshi Kumakiri

Writer: Hiroshi Tanaka (manga)

Starring: Yoshimi Tokui, Kento Hayashi, Sadao Abe, Tetsuji Tamayama, Tatsuya Nakamura, Jun Murakami, Hirofumi Arai, Nao Omori, Arata, Kazuki Kitamura, Mitsuko Baisho

This film is an adaptation of Hiroshi Tanaka’s manga. It stars a whole bunch of popular actors who I keep writing about including Kento Hayashi (Ushijima the Loan Shark), Sadao Abe (Paikaji Nankai Sakusen, Maiko haaaan!!!, After Life), Tetsuji Tamayama (Who’s Camus Anyway?, Elevator to the Gallows, Norwegian Wood), Hirofumi Arai (A Road Stained Crimson), Arata (The Millennial Rapture) and Jun Murakami (Himizu, The Land of Hope). I really need to review After Life and Who’s Camus Anyway?

Tetsu Hino (Tokui) once led a teenage motorcycle gang which struck fear in the Kanto area. He is now a father struggling to provide for his family including his teenage son Shuhei (Hayashi) who is now following a rebellious path. When Tetsu is contacted by his old biker gang it is because the daughter of one of them was assaulted by an old rival named Igarashi (Murakami). Tetsu finds himself drawn back into his old life-style.

 

Dreams for Sale                                   Dreams for Sale Movie Poster

Japanese Title: 夢 売る ふたり

Romaji: Yume Uru Futari

Release Date:  08th September 2012 (Japan)

Running Time: 137 mins.

Director: Miwa Nishikawa

Writer: N/A

Starring: Takako Matsu, Sadao Abe, Lena Tanaka, Sawa Suzuki, Tamae Ando, Yuka Ebara,  Tsurube Shoufukutei, Tae Kimrua, Teruyuki Kagawa, Yusuke Iseya,

This film is at both the Toronto International Film Festival and the London Film Festival and from the review that the Japan Times gives it looks pretty good. The cast includes Teruyuki Kagawa (Tokyo Sonata), Takako Matsu (9 Souls, Confessions, April Story), Sadao Abe (Paikaji Nankai Sakusen, After Life), Sawa Suzuki (Loft), Tae Kimura (My House, Kaidan, Starfish Hotel, Infection), and Tamae Ando (Noriko’s Dinner Table, Phone Call to the Bar).

 

When Kanya (Abe) and Satoko (Matsu) celebrate the fifth anniversary of their restaurant they had no idea it would end with the place burning down. This disaster forces Satoko to take on a job at a noodle shop while Kanya gets depressed and does what most movie men do in such a situation: drink and gamble. Then, one night, he returns home with cash and claims he got it by spending time with a lonely woman.  Satoko is initially angry but then realises the full potential of the scame and so the two embark on a series of sham relationships to get money together to re-open their restaurant. Surely it wont go that smoothly?

Ihara and Yakusho in RetributionUnfortunately before I posted this my computer suffered a major software fault. Right now I am running on a slightly older back-up which means I have had to do a bit of tinkering to restore settings/programs. I was able to retrieve my files and get things back up and running but this does not leave me feeling terribly confident. I am going to have to get a new computer and another portable hard drive. If I go dark for a spell, you know why. Fingers crossed, this is just a hiccup.