The Fable ザ・ファブル Dir: Kan Eguchi (2019) [New York Asian Film Festival 2019]

The Fable    The Fable Film Poster

ザ・ファブル  Za Faburu

Release Date: June 21st, 2019

Duration: 123 mins.

Director: Kan Eguchi

Writer: Yusuke Watanabe (Screenplay), Katsuhisa Minami (Original Manga)

Starring: Junichi Okada, Fumino Kimura, Koichi Sato, Mizuki Yamamoto, Kai Inowaki, Jiro Sato, Sota Fukushi, Ken Mitsuishi, Yuya Yagira, Ken Yasuda,

Website IMDB

Katsuhisa Minami’s seinen manga The Fable has been serialised in Weekly Young Magazine since 2014 and it won the general category of the 41st Kodansha Manga Awards in 2017. Its straight shooting story of a hit-man’s travails is mostly down-to-earth in art style and narrative for a manga. Its hard-boiled nature is supported by characters drawn with natural proportions engaging in fisticuffs and gunfights, the seriousness subverted by dashes of satire thanks to unique personality traits harboured by different people. A movie version is a natural progression but to make it engaging it will need a cast and crew to capture the comedic and action parts of the story.

The Fable (Junichi Okada) is actually the name of a contract killer operating in the Tokyo underworld. His ability to kill is almost preternatural and it is shown with visual pizzazz in the bombastic opening where he takes out two gangs in a fancy sky-rise restaurant. Efficient shooting and movement, short and sharp physical strikes and an aura of something unstoppable is what defines him and overpowers his opponents. All tumble down before him in action scenes excitingly delivered by director Kan Eguchi who favours quick editing, kinetic camerawork and exploding sets to bolster the slick action choreography. Eguchi doubles-down on the style by showing the mental calculations Fable makes through cute on-screen text and illustrations that get shattered by the bullets the killer sends flying.

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Hana no Utame Gothicmade, The Floating Castle, A Chorus of Angels, Be My Slave, Fly with the Gold Trailers and the Japanese Movie Charts

Persona SaturdayThis week began with my excitement over some of Manga Entertainment’s 2013 releases which includes The Wolf Children and Blood-C: The Last Dark, then I watched The Pact (2012) and Zombie Apocalypse (2011). Then I posted Genkinahito and It Came From Japan, which saw me submit five Japanese horror movie reviews for a Halloween special run by The LAMB.  I then posted a review of  Sion Sono’s excellent ero-guro title Strange Circus for my Halloween review (it is proving most popular, not least a certain picture…) and another trailer for the forthcoming Evangelion movie. Still no word on Premiere Japan, which I have Googled every day this week…

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

  1. Smile Precure! Everyone is all Mixed Up in the Picture Book
  2. The Expendables 2
  3. Tsunagu
  4. Bayside Shakedown 4: The Final New Hope
  5. 009 Re:Cyborg
  6. Outrage Beyond
  7. Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax
  8. The Terminal Trust
  9. The Mystical Law
  10. Resident Evil: Retribution

Well colour me unsurprised that the mega phenomena that is Precure dominates the charts. The three anime films released last week make an impressive splash. Despite opening on less than 200 screens, Precure has posted impressive figures. Also impressive is 009 Re:Cyborg, Production I.G’s 3D film. Resident Evil: Retribution sneaks in at ten. Also entering the chart is The Terminal Trust at eight (KOJI YAKUSHO!).

What films are released today (yesterday in the case of one and the day before in the case of another)?

Hana no Utame Gothicmade                                   Gothicmade Film Poster

Japanese Title: ゴテイック メード 花 の 詩女

Romaji: Goteikku Me-do Hana no Uta Me

Release Date: 01st November 2012 (Japan)

Running Time: N/A

Director: Mamoru Nagano

Writer: Mamoru Nagano

Starring: Maria Kawamura, Nozomu Sasaki, Akio Ohtsuka, Yoshiko Sakakibara, Ikue Ohtani

Kadokawa initiated this anime movie to celebrate 65 years since the founding of their business. It looks like a slice of great old school anime. Gothicmade is the directorial debut of designer and manga creator Mamoru Nagano. On top of directing he also takes on other major roles such as screenwriting, storyboarding and character design. If the anime looks old school then it reflects the fact that he has been in the animation industry for quite some time, his biggest project being the manga/anime franchise Five Star Stories (1986!!!) which is also handled by Kadokawa and is still being released today. Every time I post this here it is met with indifference but on AUKN it has been a very popular news article.

Carmine is a tiny colony world under the harsh control of the ruling interplanetary league. It would be unremarkable except that this planet special is that it has a special tradition: young women known as songstresses inherit and pass down the memories of the generations that came before them. They then use this knowledge to help the people of their planet.

A 16-year-old named Berin Ajelli has been reborn as a songstress and must set out on a holy pilgrimage across the planet to the capital. After hearing rumours of a possible terrorist attack the militant Donau Empire send Prince Toriharon to protect her but he is the antithesis of everything Bellin believes in. The two are stuck together on their journey to the capital of Carmine.

The Floating Castle                                 Floating Castle Movie Poster

Japanese Title: のぼう の 城

Romaji: Nobo no Shiro

Release Date:  02nd November 2012 (Japan)

Running Time: 144 mins.

Director: Shinji Higuchi, Isshin Inudo

Writer:  Ryo Wada (Original Novel)

Starring: Mansai Nomura, Nana Eikura, Hiroki Narimiya, Koichi Sato, Masachika Ichimura, Takehiro Hira, Takayuki Yamada, Yusuke Kamiji, Tomomitsu Yamaguchi

This film was delayed from release last year due to the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami. It looks like a complete blast and it stars Nana Eikura who will be in next year’s live-action adaptation of library war, Koichi Sato (Infection, Sukiyaki Western Django) and Takayuki Yamada (Thirteen Assassins).

The year is 1590 and the daimyo Hideyoshi Toyotomi (Ichimura) is going to unify Japan… until he comes across a floating fortress known as Oshi Castle. Well he isn’t going to let that stop him and so he sends an army of 20,000 men to lay siege to it. The only thing standing between the castle and capitulation is Nagachika Narita (Nomura) and his army of 500 men. Let battle commence.

 

A Chorus of Angels                                           Kita no Kanariatachi Movie Poster

Japanese Title: 北 の かなりあたち

Romaji: Kita no Kanariatachi

Release Date:  03rd November 2012 (Japan)

Running Time: 130 mins.

Director: Junji Sakamoto

Writer:  Yusuke Kishi

Starring: Sayuri Yoshinaga, Mirai Moriyama, Hikari Mitsushima, Ryo Katsuji, Aoi Miyazaki, Eiko Koike, Ryuhei Matsuda, Toru Nakamura,

A Chorus of Angels has quite the cast what with Sayuri Yoshinaga, a veteran of more than a hundred films, leading a battery of young talent like Hikari Mitsushima (Sawako Decides, Love Exposure), Aoi Miyazaki (The Wolf Children, Eureka) and Ryuhei Matsuda (Gohatto, Nightmare Detective). The film is based on a novel written by Yusuke Kishi who has had a few of his novels turned into films (Black House for one).

Haru (Yoshinaga) was once a dedicated teacher working in Hokkaido with various problems and disabilities but since retiring she has worked in a library in Tokyo. Then the police question her about a murder committed by a former student named Nobuto (Moriyama). Spurred on by her curiosity, she decides to investigate what happened to her former students like Manami (Mitsushima) a park worker, Yuka (Miyazaki) a kindergarten teacher and Isamu (Matsuda) a policeman.

Be My Slave                                          Be My Slave Movie Poster

Japanese Title: のぼう の 城

Romaji: Watashi no Dorei ni Narinasai

Release Date:  03rd November 2012 (Japan)

Running Time: N/A

Director: Toru Kamei

Writer:  Takehiko Minato,Shu Satami (Original Novel)

Starring: Mitsu Dan, Akihiro Mayama, Itsuji Itao

Despite the sexy poster, this film seems to be more in the vein of a psychological piece which reveals the sexual hang-ups of three characters. There are shades of Shame and A Snake of June. Toru Kamei is the director. He is familiar from a film named Black Cat Lucy which was released a few weeks ago. This is the big-screen debut of Mitsu Dan. She is supported by Akihiro Mayama (Carved 2) and Itsuki Itao (Love Exposure, One Missed Call Final).

 

Fly with the Gold               Fly with the Gold Movie Poster

Japanese Title: 黄金 を 抱いて 翔べ

Romaji: Ougon O Daite Tobe

Release Date:  03rd November 2012 (Japan)

Running Time: N/A

Director: Kazuyuki Izutsu

Writer:  Kaoru Takamura (Original Novel)

Starring:  Tadanobu Asano, Satoshi Tsumabuki, Kenta Kiritani, Shim Chang-Min, Toshiyuki Nishida, Junpei Mizobata, Munetaka Aoki, Yuri Nakamura, Tomorowo Taguchi, Shingo Tsurumi

Wow, just when I’m stock-piling crime thrillers from Japan and Korea, this comes along. Kazuyuki Izutsu makes his first film since Swing Man (2000) with this cool looking heist thriller. The cast is particularly strong what with Satoshi Tsumabuki (For Loves Sake) and Tadanobu Asano (Vital, Bright Future), taking the lead roles with support from the ever reliable Tomorowo Taguchi (Tetsuo: The Iron Man) and Toshiyuki Nishida (Outrage Beyond, The Magic Hour). Yuri Nakamura (The Grudge: Girl in Black) provides some femininity to balance things out.

Sumita Bank has a lot of gold sitting in its basement. When Kota (Tsumabuki) runs into his former college classmate Kitagawa (Asano) he hears about a heist which will take place. Helping them beat the bank’s security is a North Korean spy pretending to be a college student (Shim Chang-Min), Kitagawa’s brother Haruki (Mizobata), an elevator engineer known as Zii-chan (Nishida) and a bank employee known as Noda (Kiritani) Can they do it?

Rurouni Kenshin, Dear, Ai Ore! Love Me! Ushijima the Loan Shark, After School Midnighters, Anata E Trailers and the Japanese Movie Box Office Chart

Hyouka Chitanda RushI replied to Andina’s Liebster blog award, reviewed the awesome Korean thriller Desire to Kill, dug into the Japanese films and TV (Kiyoshi Kurosawa is there with his latest TV show!) at the Venice International Film Festival and posted a trailer for the 2013 film entry in the A Certain Magical Index franchise. Scotland Loves Anime announced their line-up and I will post about that tomorrow. Alua has a nice round-up. Just as I wrote that Strange Circus and Eureka were delivered by the postal service \o/.

What do the Japanese movie box office charts look like?

  1. The Avengers
  2. Umizaru 4: Brave Hearts
  3. The Wolf Children Ame and Yuki
  4. Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted
  5. Pokemon: Best Wishes 2012
  6. Total Recall (2012)
  7. Kamen Rider Fourze the Movie: Everyone, Space is Here!
  8. The Dark Knight Rises
  9. Fairy Tail: The Phoenix Priestess
  10. Eight Ranger
  11. Helter Skelter

 

Last week saw the release of Marvel’s The Avengers so there was only one Japanese film released last week. The dust has settled and The Avengers movie is at the top of the charts while Fairy Tail lies at nine. Umizaru and Wolf Children drop one place each to two and three respectively. Helter Skelter, Another and The Kirishima Thing – Erika Sawajiri and Ai Hashimoto!!! – remain in the top fifteen.

This week sees a flood of Japanese films released and all but one of them are based on manga.

 

Rurouni Kenshin                                              るろうに剣心 Poster

Romaji: Rurouni Kenshin

Japanese Title: るろうに剣心

Release Date: 25th August 2012 (Japan)

Running Time: N/A

Director: Keishi Ohtomo

Writer: Watsuki Nobuhrio

Starring: Takeru Sato, Emi Takei, Taketo Tanaka, Munetaka Aoki, Yu Aoi, Yosuke Eguchi, Koji Kikkawa, Teruyuki Kagawa

The live-action adaptation of Nobuhiro Watsuki’s classic chanbara manga Rurouni Kenshin is released today. The film stars Takeru Sato (BECK, Kamen Rider Den-O) as the titular samurai with Emi Takei (Ai to Makoto) playing Kaoru, Yu Aoi (Memories of Matsuko, Honey and Clover), and Teruyuki Kagawa (Tokyo Sonata, Sukiyaki Western Django). The film is directed by Keishi Ōtomo who directed a popular NHK historical television series named Ryomaden which featured Takeru Sato.


The early Meiji period in Japan is a time of rapid industrialisation and modernisation and a time when samurai like Kenshin Himura are being consigned to the history books. He was once an elite swordsman known as “Battosai” before taking an oath not to kill. He now finds himself as a wandering samurai offering aid to those in need as atonement for his past actions. During his travels he meets Kaoru Kamiya, an instructor at her father’s Kendo school. She offers Kenshin a place to stay at her dojo and their relationship begins to blossom but Kenshin’s past will soon catch up with him as he discovers that somebody has been using the name “Battosai” while committing murders in Tokyo.

 

Dear                                                                 Anata e Film Poster

Romaji: Anata e

Japanese Title: あなた へ

Release Date: 25th August 2012 (Japan)

Running Time: N/A

Director: Yasuo Furuhata

Writer: Seichi Ichiko, Takeshi Aoshima, Yasuo Furuhata

Starring: Ken Takakura, Yuko Tanaka, Koichi Sato, Tsuyoshi Kusanagi, Kimiko Yo, Haruka Ayase, Takahiro Miura, Tadanobu Asano, Takeshi Kitano, Mieko Harada

I can feel the emotion from this trailer. I’m getting a Okuribito feel from this film. It stars Yuko Tanaka (the voice of Lady Eboshi in Princess Mononoke), Koichi Sato (Starfish Hotel, Sukiyaki Western Django, Infection), Kimiko Yo (Villain, Ace Attorney), Haruka Ayase (Ichi, Cyborg She), Tadanobu Asano (Kids Return, Survive Style 5+, Bright Future, Vital, Last Life in the Universe), and Takeshi Kitano (Kikujiro, Boiling Point, Fireworks).

Eiji Shimakura (Takakura) is a 53-year-old prison guard in Hokuriku. When he loses his wife Yoko (Tanaka) he receives a letter from her and follows her last wishes, which is to have her ashes spread in the sea next to her home town of Nagasaki. He is curious as to the reason why she wants her ashes taken there and decides to go Nagasaki n his homemade camper van.

  Continue reading “Rurouni Kenshin, Dear, Ai Ore! Love Me! Ushijima the Loan Shark, After School Midnighters, Anata E Trailers and the Japanese Movie Box Office Chart”

Starfish Hotel スターフィッシュホテル (2007)

Starfish Hotel Storefront Review Banner

John Williams is a Briton making films in Japan. This is his third feature but it borrows so extensively from David Lynch and Haruki Murakami that it lacks a heart of its own.

Yuichi Arisu (Koichi Sato) is a salary man leading a bland existence with Chisato (Tae Kimura) his beautiful wife who finds him distant. His only joy is in the supernatural mystery novels of Jo Kuroda (Kazuyoshi Kushida) which are set in Darkland, a mysterious alternate universe. A series of coincidences turn Arisu’s life upside down; he meets a psychologically disturbed chap in rabbit costume named Mr. Trickster (Akira Emoto), Chisato disappears and, when he falls asleep on the underground, he finds himself in conversation with Kuroda who wants him to tell his story, a story of an affair with a beautiful and mysterious woman named Kayako (KIKI) which begins at the eponymous Starfish Hotel. As the story is revealed and he searches for Chisato, Arisu‘s reality, memories and nightmares begin to mix.

Starfish Hotel Follow the Rabbit on the Platform

If you are a fan of Haruki Murakami you can play spot the reference. A disappearing wife comes from The Windup Bird Chronicle. The mysterious hotel, alternate reality and weird animal-men can be found Dance, Dance, Dance. Throw in Alice in Wonderland and Lynchian alternate realities and you have a film beholden to its source material.

The film’s familiar story ransacks the personal life of Arisu. Prior to his wife’s disappearance he is living an existential nightmare as a simple office drone who takes refuge in different masks to avoid authenticity and responsibility for his actions. His life and his surroundings are sterile while he plays loyal salary-man.

Starfish Hotel Office Drone Arisu (Koichi Sato)

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Infection 感染 (2004)

The Review Header for the J-Horror Film InfectionJ-horror imagery has become so clichéd that Hollywood has appropriated it, parodied it and moved on. Infection is a nice surprise as it expands the territory of J-horror by adding psychological horror, neat set-pieces using the hospital and the green gloop of the infection itself.

Infection takes place over a single night in a failing hospital where the doctors are late getting paid, supplies are running out, nurses are quitting, and those that are staying are either inexperienced or so overworked they fall asleep standing up. There are a lot of neglected patients including one covered in bandages, a man in constant pain, a victim of a hit and run accident and a senile old woman who sees ghosts. Trying to hold things together is Doctor Akiba but when a patient with a mysterious infection appears and a fatal medical blunder occurs, events spiral out of control.

Doctor Akiba (Koichi Sato) in the J-Horror Film Infection          

Ochiai spends the first quarter creating a convincing and disconcerting sense of decay and claustrophobia in the hospital. The set is a lobby, some corridors and a few rooms which look run-down. The place is packed with a variety of patients with a variety of maladies that look difficult to treat. Equally varied are the hospital staff who look exhausted and, as the dialogue reveals, are pushed to the edge due to various crises and personal troubles.

Patients are mishandled and ignored while the staff members bicker amongst themselves, doctors upbraid the (foxy) nurses who bully less experienced (but equally foxy) nurses.

The Foxy Nurses in Infection

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