Japan Foundation’s “Pre-Summer Explorers!” Free Film Screenings in August

The Japan Foundation are running their Summer Explorers full of anime and live-action films that are set during the summer. This is a free event which you have to register for. I repeat, this is a free event. Free films!!! To find out more about it, visit the Japan Foundation’s website.

Saturday, 4 August 2018: Soho Hotel Cinema
4 Richmond Mews (via Richmond Buildings), London, W1D 3Dh

NHK WORLD DOUBLE BILL PART ONE

A Tale of Love & Honour: Life in Gion
Dir. Maki Kubochi, 2017, 49min

Take a peek into the distinct district of Gion in Kyoto and witness the proud and wistful stories of people belonging to this secret world in this fascinating documentary from NHK WORLD-JAPAN.

Living Ninja Legend Masaaki Hatsumi
Dir. Fuyuhiko Nishi, 2016, 41 min

Masaaki Hatsumi, 84 years old, is a living ninja in modern times. What is the essence of his astonishing art? This documentary investigates the hidden power of this ninja master.

House    House Film Poster

ハウス 「Hausu」

Released: July 30th, 1977 (Japan)

Running time: 88 mins.

Director: Nobuhiko Obayashi,

Writer: Nobuhiko Obayashi, Chiho Katsura (Screenplay),

Cast: Kimiko Ikegami – Oshare,  Miki Jinbo – Kung-Fu, Kuniko Oba – Fantasy, Ai Matsubara – Prof., Kiyohiko Ozaki – Mr. Togo, Yoko Minamida – Auntie,

IMDB

The highlight, in my opinion. This film is a riot of fun and good music with a haunted house setting to die for as a bunch of girls will find out. It comes from Nobuhiko Obayashi and his daughter and features so much imagination and flair for visual spectacle and cool music that it is a delight to watch. I highly recommend it. Here’s my review.

Synopsis: The summer holidays have arrived and for seven high school girls named Melody, Prof, Sweetie, Kung-fu, Mac, Fantasy and Oshare (Kimiko Ikegami) they have the chance to go camping with their teacher Mr. Togo. Oshare declines because her father is back from Italy and she’s looking forward to staying at a villa with him. Her plans are ruined when he introduces her to his potential new wife. Oshare is upset at the presence of the woman and decides to visit an eccentric spinster aunt, inviting her friends along for the trip. After a long journey the girls arrive at the aunt’s house but find their presence has triggered a hostile force that immediately attacks them, picking them off one by one while the eccentric aunt watches.

Continue reading “Japan Foundation’s “Pre-Summer Explorers!” Free Film Screenings in August”

Nerawareta Gakuen (School in the Crosshairs) Full Trailer

Nerawareta Gakuen (School in the Crosshairs)      Nerawareta Gakuen Poster

Japanese Title: ねらわれた 学園

Romaji: Nerawareta Gakuen lit. Aimed School

Release Date:  19th October 2012 (Japan)

Running Time: N/A

Director: Ryousuke Nakamura

Writer: Taku Mayumura (Original Story), Yuko Naito, Ryosuke Nakamura (Screenplay)

Starring: Mayu Watanabe, Yuutaro Honjou, Kana Hanazawa, Daisuke Ono

A full trailer for the forthcoming anime movie adaptation of Taku Maymura’s popular 1973 sci-fi novel Nerawareta Gakuen (School in the Crosshairs) has been released by the production studio Sunrise (Cowboy Bebop, Colorful). It looks stunning. Just watch.

It is spring and another new school year and another school for 8th grade junior high school student Ryoichi Kyogoku (Ono) who has recently moved to Kamakura. Things might be boring but Kyogoku is a telepath and has been ordered by his father to use this ability to scan other people’s minds and take over the school.

Being good looking and charismatic, he wins major popularity at the school which allows him to initiate his plans. He secretly manipulates his followers and pushes aside anyone who gets in his way but there is one student who seems unaffected – Seki. Does Seki have what it takes to save everyone?

This is the first anime movie adaptation and it looks spectacular – a rich mix of colours seen in the likes of Makoto Shinkai’s works. It is being produced by Sunrise’s Studio 8 (Accel World) with Ryosuke Nakamura acting as director and scriptwriter. Nakamua earned my attention with his work on Mōryō no Hako. He has also worked on other favourite anime titles of mine like Monster and Occult Academy. The music production group supercell (familiar from the Bakemonogatari themes) providing the theme song which can be heard in the trailer. Music composer Shusei Murai, who also worked on Mōryō no Hako, is here. Character designer Mieko Hosoi has worked on an interesting catalogue of titles including The Tatami Galaxy and The House of Five Leaves. It stars the voices of Kana Hanazawa (Anri in Durarara!! and Kobato in the anime of the same name and, most importantly for me, Mayuri in Steins;Gate) and Daisuke Ono (Itsuki in the Haruhi Suzumiya franchise) while AKB48 member Mayu Watanabe takes another role.

This is not the first time that the book has been adapted into different formats multiple times with two live-action films made in 1981 and 1997 and four live-action television dramas. Interestingly, the 1981 film was directed by Nobuhiko Obayashi who made the wonderful and surreal horror film House. For those of us in the UK this October it can be seen at Scotland Loves Anime.

Nerawareta Gakuen (School in the Crosshairs) Trailer

Taku Maymura’s popular 1973 sci-fi novel Nerawareta Gakuen (School in the Crosshairs) is due for an anime treatment with the production studio Sunrise (Cowboy Bebop) handling the adaptation. This is not the first time that the book has been adapted into different formats multiple times with two live-action films made in 1981 and 1997 and four live-action television dramas. Interestingly, the 1981 film was directed by Nobuhiko Obayashi who made the wonderful and surreal horror film House.

 

Synopsis

Abeno 6th Middle School is one of the best in the country but high expectations have lead to a stressful atmosphere which has lead to a deterioration of discipline among the pupils. In steps a mysterious and beautiful girl named Michiru Takamizawa who becomes chairperson of the student council. At first she seems normal but it soon becomes evident that she controls the school by force. Concerned students Kōji Seki and Kazumi Kusumoto decide to stop her but it is soon revealed that an even more powerful person is shaping events.

This is the first anime movie adaptation and it looks spectacular. It is being produced by Sunrise’s Studio 8 (Accel World) with Ryosuke Nakamura (Mōryō no Hako) acting as director and the music production group supercell (familiar from the Bakemonogatari themes) providing the theme song which can be heard in the trailer.  It is expected to see a release this autumn.

Staff: Ryosuke Nakamura (Director), Taku Mayumura (Original Writer), Supercell (Theme Song)

Voice Actors: N/A

Studio: Sunrise

Best Movie of 2011 – 13 Assassins

2011 has been marked by two things – I went to the cinema less and I bought more Japanese films on DVD. This is partly explained by my decision to shift the blog to focus on Japanese films and bore people to death with my opinions on them. It’s also explained by the fact that few titles released in cinemas captured my imagination this year.

There was no film like Inception that totally blew my mind as to what a major Hollywood blockbuster could do, where films could technically and thematically go and what they could visually depict. There was no film like Scott Pilgrim that appealed to the nerdy fanboy in me and showed wild visual imagination. Okay, I’m demanding.

Of the films I did write about seeing they have all been well-crafted but lacked a magical hook for me. Norwegian Wood was a visual spectacle but having read the source novel I felt that the filmmakers had excised so much source that what was left was hollow much like Tinker Tailor. The King’s Speech was a lesson in excellent acting and brilliant writing but lacked any challenging or euphoric elements which made me tackle thinking about it with any gusto. Jane Eyre captured what I had imagined the book to be like but the fire of romance was lacking. I did gain a new depth of understanding for Lars von Trier and Pedro Almodovar. When I think about it I’m left with one title that did impress me. It made me so happy to be alive and able to watch it on the big screen.

13 Assassins

13 Assassins Header

If there is a cinematic equivalent of a pleasurable electric chair (if one exists…) then 13 Assassins was it for me.

For the first half of the film there was an ominous and careful build up as the narrative and historical details gripped me by the arms and walked either side of me, escorting me to my seat and attaching the restraints. I felt my nerves pushed increasingly on edge as an impending sense of dread stole over me and I wondered what I would meet in the second half of the film. Takashi Miike flicked a switch and for an hour I felt like electric was coursing through my body as I twitched and ducked, grinned and winced while I watched an hour-long on screen battle. Has there ever been a film which has had a battle last more than an hour and maintained a sense of coherence and interest?

If there has then it hasn’t been as good as 13 Assassins. This was a lesson in carefully choreographed and controlled the chaos as charismatic characters contained and killed scores of samurai so stylishly that I can still remember snatches of sequences as I write this.

When people comment about Takashi Miike they focus too much on him being an extreme director and miss his skill and interest in (mostly twisted) humanity and the cinematic craft that he can bring when focussed. Audition is probably the biggest example.

Other critics have been somewhat sniffy towards this when comparing it to the original 1962 version but I have yet to see that one so I cannot comment. All I know is that when I stepped out of the cinema with the end credits still rolling I was on a cinematic high, grinning maniacally and full of vim and vigour. Not even a sudden rain storm could wash away my feelings because I had just seen a film that got my blood rushing! I loved every moment of it.

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House ハウス (1977)

Only recently released in the west, this horror film has earned cult status for being one of the silliest, surreal, inventive and fun horror movies ever, House is an exciting experience because director Obayashi uses various cinematic tools to create a cross between Poltergeist and Scooby Doo.

The summer holidays have arrived and for seven high school girls, Melody, Prof., Sweetie, Kung-fu, Mac, Fantasy, and Angel, they have the chance to go camping with their teacher Mr. Togo. Angel declines because her father is back from Italy and she’s looking forward to staying at a villa with him. Her plans are ruined when he introduces her to his potential new wife. Angel is upset at the presence of the woman and decides to visit an eccentric spinster aunt, inviting her friends along for the trip. After a long journey the girls arrive at the aunt’s house but find their presence has triggered a hostile supernatural force that immediately attacks them, picking them off one by one while the eccentric woman watches.

Yoko Minamida as Auntie in House

Continue reading “House ハウス (1977)”