A Preview of Nippon Connection 2021: Animation

Nippon Connection Logo

Nippon Animation

Nippon Connection (June 01st – 06th) is running online for its 2021 edition. This year’s selection of animated films is small but contains some good titles. It’s difficult to programme an online festival because some film distributors/reps require theatrical distribution so a big hit like the Demon Slayer movie is unlikely. It has also been a slow year for mainstream Japanese animation compared to the 2016-2019 period. Check out the films released every weekend and you fill only find a handful of original titles that stand out amidst re-cuts and continuations of TV anime and re-releases of modern classics. It’s a small pool to choose from.

On the other hand, universities are producing highly talented animators and, as always, Nippon Connection have this covered. I’ve seen quite a few as part of my work on an animation festival so I can recommend these programmes. All are region-locked.

This post summarises all of the anime and animation that will be available to view. It’s the follow-up and last of the Nippon Connection highlight posts, following a look at Nippon Visions, Nippon Cinema, and Nippon Docs.

To find out more about the films, click on the titles.

Here are the films:

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10 and 16 Years. Far Away., Ararat, 10-nen, Shibuya wo Samayotte A Decade of Roaming, Dreams on Fire, Fate/Grand Order: Shinsei Entaku Ryouiki Camelot 2 – Paladin; Agateram Japanese Film Trailers

Happy weekend, again!

The Real Thing Tsuji (Win Morisaki) and Ukiyo (Kaho Tsuchimura) 2

I hope you are feeling fine.

This is part two of the trailer post. I split them up when there are ten or more films released on a weekend because I think it makes the post easier to read. Here’s the first post.

What else is on release this weekend?

Continue reading “10 and 16 Years. Far Away., Ararat, 10-nen, Shibuya wo Samayotte A Decade of Roaming, Dreams on Fire, Fate/Grand Order: Shinsei Entaku Ryouiki Camelot 2 – Paladin; Agateram Japanese Film Trailers”

Stream Contemporary Japanese Film with the Chicago Japan Film Collective (May 25th to 31st)

Chicago Japan Film Collective is the first Japanese film festival in Midwest. From May 25 to the 31, they will stream nine films, a mixture of dramas and documentaries, many of them highly acclaimed by critics and audiences alike – you can read some of my reviews and interviews with two of the directors via links below!!! – that give you a good insight into what contemporary indie films in Japan look like.

An early-bird ticket is available and costs only $13 until the 15th. I cannot emphasise how much value for money this is considering you get nine high-quality films. Tickets are handled by Eventive and it looks easy to register with. I’m assuming that this is region-locked and probably only available in America.

What plays at the festival?

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Toshiaki Toyoda’s Uprising 2021 in Chicago and A New Toyoda Film

“Only those rescued by movies will save movies” – Dir: Toshiaki Toyoda

Source: https://www.kodo.or.jp/cms/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/Profile_toshiaki-toyoda_credit_Keisuke-Nagoshi.jpg

That’s a pretty cool mantra and one I can believe in and I hope that you do, too. You wouldn’t be reading this post if it were otherwise. Anyway, earlier this month I saw information on an event called The Toshiaki Toyoda’s Uprising 2021 in Chicago. This is a physical screening of Wolf’s Calling (2019) and The Day of Destruction (2020) on Friday, April 09th, at 19:00 at Chicago’s MUSIC BOX THEATRE – THEATRE1.

Seeing these two films on the big screen would be an incredible experience as they present blisteringly unique and challenging visions of cinema thanks to director Toshiaki Toyoda who is one of Japan’s most challenging voices. He brought together top-line actors to grace the screens and rock groups to bring bone-shaking sounds to blow out speakers in a couple of short films that shook the world.

Here is information on the films:

Continue reading “Toshiaki Toyoda’s Uprising 2021 in Chicago and A New Toyoda Film”

Japanese Films at the Berlin International Film Festival 2021


Like Rotterdam earlier this month, the Berlin International Film Festival has had to change its format due to Covid-19 and so it launches in two sections. From the website:

From March 1 to 5, 2021, the 71st Berlinale is being launched with an Industry Event (European Film MarketBerlinale Co-Production MarketBerlinale Talents and Word Cinema Fund) for film professionals and accredited representatives of the press. All Industry Event activities will take place online.
Information on Participating in the Industry Event
Selected events from Berlinale Talents (talks and live workshops) and the World Cinema Fund (WCF Day) will be accessible online to the general public. The respective programmes will be published in mid-February.

From June 9 to 20, 2021, the Summer Special will give the general public the opportunity to see the majority of the 2021 selected films in Berlin cinemas in the presence of the filmmakers. The opening of the Summer Special will be celebrated with a gala event on June 9.

Check this festival page just before the Summer Special to see what will be screened in cinemas. I’ll update this post if more films are added.

What are the Japanese films programmed so far?

Continue reading “Japanese Films at the Berlin International Film Festival 2021”

Osaka Asian Film Festival 2021 Announces Opening/Closing Films

The key visual of OAFF 2021 is an original art by Vancouver-based cartoonist Marc Bell.

The Organisers of the Osaka Asian Film Festival have announced details of the 2021 edition. The top headlines are:

It is going ahead in two forms, one physical and one digital

  • On screen (OAFF 2021 programs in cinemas): March 5 – March 14
  • Online (Selected films from previous OAFF programs): February 28 – March 20

The screen programs will consist of the Competition, Indie Forum, and other sections and special programs dedicated to emerging trends in Asian cinema.

The Online Programs will have a rich selection of works that have been screened at the Osaka Asian Film Festival in the past. These films will be available to rent for a limited time through VOD (video on demand) services via a streaming platform. The viewing period for these films is from February 28 to March 20 as “Osaka Asian Film Festival Online” and it will be available in Japan. The first title to bee announced for online screening is WHOLE, a drama about biracial people searching for their identity in Japan (here’s my review).

Due to the Coronavirus situation, there will be rules in place at cinemas to keep people safe and the festival’s program might change at short notice, so please keep an eye on the official site and also SNS: Twitter, Facebook etc.

Also announced were the OPENING and CLOSING films.

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Third Window Films Unleashes the Weird and Wild World of Director UJICHA with His Films “Violence Voyager” & “Burning Buddha Man” on January 25th 2021

Kyoto Saga Art University graduate Ujicha is a talented artist who uses hand-made and painted paper cut-outs for models and moves them by hand like marionettes to tell horror stories. He has dubbed it “Geki-mation” and he directs, writes, draws, edits, his own work and it is clear to see his skill is undeniable. Third Window Films are going to release a set of his works entitled UJICHA: Violence Voyager / Burning Buddha Man on January 25th on blu-ray & digital. 

Here are the details!



Disc 1: Violence Voyager
Wonderful World of Ujicha VV

Uncut original Japanese language version
Audio commentary from director Ujicha and producer Reo Anzai
Interview with director Ujicha (20min)
Short Film: Tempura (4min)
Teaser of Ujicha’s latest film
Original Trailer

Disc 2: The Burning Buddha Man  Wonderful World of Ujicha Blu-ray cases

Short Film: The Retnepac2 (16min)   
Short Film: Space Yokai War (9min)
Original Trailer

Reversible sleeve artwork
Region B

Here are the trailers and synopses and a little extra info that I wrote when each film came out:

Continue reading “Third Window Films Unleashes the Weird and Wild World of Director UJICHA with His Films “Violence Voyager” & “Burning Buddha Man” on January 25th 2021″

Angry Rice Wives, Adult’s Situation, Gintama: The Final, Gekijouban Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon Eternal 2, Otenmon no Hen, Musubi no Shima and Other Japanese Film Trailers

Happy weekend, everyone.

I hope you are all well.

I’m leading in with politics because… After the crazy events of the last week at the US Capitol (and numerous state houses across America), I am not sure what to write other than this was the inevitable escalation of right-wing thought which is dominated by racism and a severe ignorance of history. None of this is new. People knew it was going to happen but nobody stopped it. Indeed, politicians encouraged it. And let’s not think that countries in Europe, Asia, and elsewhere are better or immune to this madness. I hope that we hold the leaders and commentators accountable and part of this is moderate conservatives need to own what has happened and stop this culture war/grievance culture BS they have initiated. This needs to lead to a paradigm shift in how we engage with politics and people and we see people inspired to organise against hatred and poverty otherwise this will escalate.

Society is only as strong as the measure of everyone’s engagement with it and for too long many people have been checked out or convinced that only certain people belong which leads to division. We need unity. I recommend watching Majority Report videos to get more perspective.

This week I reviewed the films Soul Music and The Sleeping Insect.

What is released this weekend? Lucky Chan-sil, one of the best films I saw in 2020!

Continue reading “Angry Rice Wives, Adult’s Situation, Gintama: The Final, Gekijouban Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon Eternal 2, Otenmon no Hen, Musubi no Shima and Other Japanese Film Trailers”

GEMINI 双生児 -GEMINI- (1999) Dir: Shinya Tsukamoto

This year’s Halloween movie review is back and I am returning to a familiar name for this year’s chosen film, Shinya Tsukamoto. There are slight spoilers in here.


双生児 -GEMINI- そうせいじ ジェミニ

Release Date: September 15th, 1999

Duration: 83 mins.

Director: Shinya Tsukamoto

Writer: Shinya Tsukamoto (Script), Edogawa Rampo (Original Story – Souseiji: Aru Shikeiin ga Kyoukaishi ni Uchiaketa Hanashi)

Starring: Masahiro Motoki, Ryo, Yasutaka Tsutsui, Shiho Fujimura, Akaji Maro, Masako Motai, Renji Ishibashi, Tomorowo Taguchi, Tadanobu Asano, Naoto Takenaka, Yuriko Hirooka,


Gemini (1999) is an adaptation of the Edogawa Rampo story ‘The Twins’ by Shinya Tsukamoto. Now, tone down any expectations of hyper-stylised violence and prepare yourself for psychological horror as a doppelganger forces a doctor to confront class issues in Tsukamoto’s first period film.

It is Meiji-era Japan and as the country goes through growth pains Yukio (Masahiro Motoki) has been blessed with good fortune. Following his unscathed return from being a military surgeon on the bloody frontlines of an unspecified war, he has followed in his father’s footsteps and taken over the practice in his family’s beautiful home. He is handsome, highly educated and refined, a naturally talented doctor, and well-respected by those who can afford him. To cap things off, he has a beautiful wife, Rin (Ryo). The only wrinkle in his picture-perfect life is that Rin has no past for she has amnesia and nobody knows a thing about her and her social status, something which rankles his parents. Despite this, Yukio is happy.

Gemini 1

Continue reading “GEMINI 双生児 -GEMINI- (1999) Dir: Shinya Tsukamoto”