Japanese Films at the Five Flavours Film Festival

The 11th Five Flavours Film Festival takes place from November 15th to the 22nd in Poland and the programme was announced at the end of October. It’s packed with a great selection of films for people who will be in Warsaw for the event.

Here they are:

Yamato Californiayamato-california-film-poster

大和(カリフォルニア)  Yamato (Kariforunia)   

Running Time: 75 mins.

Director: Daisuke Miyazaki

Writer: Daisuke Miyazaki (Screenplay)

Starring: Hanae Kan, Nina Endo, Reiko Kataoka, Mayumi Kato, Shuya Nishiji, Haruka Uchimura,


I watched this at the Osaka Asian Film Festival and quite recently and was impressed. I didn’t have the nerve to talk to the director but would have congratulated him on making a great coming-of-age tale that combines Hip-Hop and international politics and getting great performances from his actors. Here’s my review!

Synopsis from the Osaka Asian Film Festival SiteSakura is a moody teenage girl living close to the US military base in the city of Yamato, a town north of Tokyo. She wants to become a musician like the American rappers she admires, but is held back by stage-fright when faced with performing in front of a live audience. Then she meets Rei, the half-Japanese half-American daughter of her mother’ s American soldier boyfriend. Rei has flown from California to visit for the summer. Sakura dislikes her immediately, but Rei’ s familiarity with American Hip Hop becomes a bridge between the two girls as they spend an unforgettable time together exploring, arguing over and bonding through the mix of Japanese and American culture in the unique landscape of Yamato. Though their adventures and quarrels may lead Sakura into danger, they may also let her face her fears and participate in the city’s music competition.

Continue reading “Japanese Films at the Five Flavours Film Festival”

Third Window Films Release Tetsuo: The Iron Man, Tetsuo II: Body Hammer and Kotoko Tomorrow

The 08th of October 2012 will be a momentous day for Japanese film fans as Third Window Films are going to release three Shinya Tsukamoto films which played a pivotal role in my Shinya Tsukamoto Season.

The first two titles are Tetsuo: The Iron Man and Tetsuo II: Body Hammer which stunned me as my reviews show. They are released as part of a 2-disc DVD/Blu-Ray set and this Blu-Ray will be the first time the Tetsuo films have graced the format anywhere in the world. More importantly, Shinya Tsukamoto has been heavily involved with the release which results in a phenomenal set of extras which impressed me so much I felt they merited review themselves. Here are the details:


 Tetsuo DVDBluRay Cover

A film by Shinya Tsukamoto (Kotoko, Snake of June, Vital)

Two of the most talked-about Japanese cult films of all time makes their way onto a double-disc blu-ray set for the first time in the world with a brand new high definition transfer supervised by Shinya Tsukamoto!



Tetsuo Metal FetishistA strange man known only as the “metal fetishist”, who seems to have an insane compulsion to stick scrap metal into his body, is hit and possibly killed by a Japanese “salaryman”, out for a drive with his girlfriend. The salaryman then notices that he is being slowly overtaken by some kind of disease that is turning his body into scrap metal, and that his nemesis is not in fact dead but is somehow masterminding and guiding his rage and frustration-fueled transformation.


Tetsuo 2More of a companion piece to Tetsuo: The Iron Man than a sequel, Tetsuo II: Body Hammer sees Tsukamoto’s disturbing vision of a world populated by man-machines explode into a stunning colour interpretation.

I gave both films 5/5 because I was left flabbergasted by the arresting images, disturbing soundscapes and inventive use of the medium of film. I ended my review for Tetsuo: The Iron Man with the sentence, “If you consider yourself a cinephile willing to push the boundaries of your experiences then buy this film.” I stand by this because the works are just that great and show the power of film and the inventiveness of Shinya Tsukamoto.


Here is the UK trailer:

This 2 disc blu-ray and DVD set includes a brand new exclusive interview with Shinya Tsukamoto that lasts for nearly twenty minutes and goes into detail about how he started making movies, the making of Tetsuo and what film and cyberpunk mean to him. Also included is 45 minute ‘The Adventures of Electric Rod Boy’, an early film Tsukamoto made just before Tetsuo: The Iron Man which is an absolute riot and full of joy and creativity. This is the first English-subtitled release and it has also been remastered.

The release features both a slipcase as well as a reversible sleeve so fans can choose whether they’d rather have an image from Tetsuo I or II on the front of their box.

Tetsuo: The Iron Man – Japan / 1989 / 67 Mins / In Japanese with English subtitles / B&W / 16mm

Tetsuo II: Body Hammer – Japan / 1992 / 83 minutes / In Japanese with English subtitles / Colour / 16mm

DVD/BLU-RAY Special Features:

New High Definition Transfer supervised by Shinya Tsukamoto
Exclusive interview with Shinya Tsukamoto
‘The Adventures of Electric Rod Boy’ – Shinya Tsukamoto’s early film
New UK Trailer
Japanese Theatrical Trailers for both Tetsuo I & II


The third film released by Third Window Films is Kotoko which won the ‘Best Film’ award in the Orrizzonti at the Venice Film Festival last year, the only Japanese Film to ever win that award. When I watched it I was struck by the difference between Tsukamoto’s earliest films as seen in Tetsuo and the way he has changed his style but retained his visual literacy and kept his ability to use the medium of film to convey so many ideas. I described Kotoko as a harrowing film to watch but worth striving for because it is strong emotionally and visually and powered with a strong central performance from Cocco and I gave it 4.5/5.

Here are the details of the release: 


 Kotoko DVD Case

A film by Shinya Tsukamoto (Tetsuo, Snake of June, Vital)

Cocco as Kotoko Dancing

Kotoko (Cocco) is a young single mother who lives alone with her baby son. Suffering from an unknown illness that makes her see doubles of people and not knowing which version of the person is real, it severely impacts her day-to-day life, often leading to her lashing out violently. The only time she does not see double is when she is singing. As her situation worsens and she becomes a liability her son Daijiro is taken from her and put in the care of her sister. Kotoko is left alone with her own thoughts and is at a loss as to how to get Daijiro back. Then a man named Tanaka (Tsukamoto) enters her life when he hears her singing on a bus trip and finds something awoken inside himself. Tanaka is a novelist with a hit title called The Man Who Brightened the Moon in bookshops but he leads a lonely life. Despite initial rejections he persists but Kotoko’s mental state is not getting better.

Japan / 2011 / 91 Mins / In Japanese with English subtitles / Colour / HD

DVD/BLU-RAY Special Features:

Exclusive interview with Shinya Tsukamoto
UK Trailer
Japanese Theatrical Trailer

Shinya Tsukamoto Films at the East End Film Festival

Shinya Tsukamoto, Director of Nightmare DetectiveShinya Tsukamoto (Nightmare Detective, Vital) is going to have three of his films screened at the East End Film Festival next month ahead of their blu-ray release, thanks to Third Window Films, in the UK later this year. The madness kicks off on the 4th of July when the festival screens two of his films, the classic Tetsuo, The Iron Man (1989) and Tetsuo: Body Hammer (1992) at the Hackney Picturehouse. The festival will then be screening his latest film Kotoko which will be shown on the 5th of July at 20:30 at the Rich Mix CinTetsuo, the Iron Manema.

Earlier this year Third Window Films announced that the Tetsuo films will be released together as a Blu-ray double-pack in October with brand new transfers restored from the original negatives by Shinya Tsukamoto and his  45 minute Tetsuo-prototype film ‘The Adventures of Electric Rod Boy’ (Denchu Kozo no Boken) in the package. KOTOKO will also be released in October.

Also screening at the festival is the film Cut, a gritty post-modern tale of a passionate cinephile mixing with the yakuza (this film was released at the end of last year and part of one of my first proper weekly trailer posts), Reed: The Life and Works of Roy Kiyooka, a film which looks at the Japanese-Canadian artist and his influence on North American art, and Radioactivists which looks at the recent changes in protest culture in Japan.

Thanks go out to Kyaputenbanana for the alert an Otherwhere for further information.

Third Window Films Movie Extravaganza – Tetsuo, Himizu, Love Exposure, Are Any of You Alive?

At the beginning of the week Adam Torel of Japanese film distributor Third Window Films revealed to Twitch some great news: Love Exposure on Blu-ray, Tetsuo 1 & 2 on Blu-ray, and Are Any of You Alive? will get distributed in the UK.

Love Exposure Blu-ray

Aya Koike (Ando) and Her Gang in Love ExposureWhen I reviewed the Love Exposure as part of my Sion Sono Season I revealed my love of the film. Many of the commenters were well aware that the four hour masterpiece of love and identity was missing at least an hour of footage and they were curious as to what that might hold. Well they will now get their chance to see it sinceThird Window Films is giving the film is getting the Blu-ray treatment which means way more storage space for way more movie goodness. According to Adam:

The film will be a new transfer to HD (they’re making a new HDCAMSR from the original master and definitely no upconversion or anything like that) and will put the film on 1 Blu-ray, then extras on a separate DVD. This is really going to be an amazing release

Extras are to include:

Nearly an hour of deleted and extended scenes, New exclusive interview with Sion Sono plus the 1 hour long ‘making of’ which was on our original DVD release

Anybody who owns the DVD version will know that they have to swap disks halfway through but thanks to the power of Blu-ray there is no need to do that thus we don’t need to break the spell of the film. Plus we get to see what was cut from theatrical versions on a disc dedicated to extras. Sounds awesome.

Continue reading “Third Window Films Movie Extravaganza – Tetsuo, Himizu, Love Exposure, Are Any of You Alive?”

Kotoko, SPEC: The Movie, Totecheeta Chikicheeta, Atsuhime Number 1, Trailers

Alien PosterI started off this week with some nice news when Goregirl nominated me for an award (which I’ll respond to tomorrow) and I worked on a few reviews for some J-horror films and posted two trailers for films I’m eager to watch plus there was news of the Terracotta Film Festival. As far as what’s happening next week I had such fun writing my Sion Sono Season posts that I want to start a new season soon so I’ll break out my DVD’s in preparation. Anyway, I read a book about the making of Alien named Alien Vault which was fascinating and featured a replica of this Japanese ad which was amusing and not a patch on the US poster which has the egg and legendary tag-line: In space no one can hear you scream.

How does the Japanese box-office chart look?

  • 01.  Doraemon – Animal Adventure
  • 02. We Were There: Part 1
  • 03. Sherlock Holmes
  • 04. Puss In Boots
  • 05. Pretty Cure All Stars

Well the top ten are choked full of adaptations of books/manga/anime which is a familiar state of affairs. Doreamon holds on to the top spot with over thirty-five million dollars grossed so far. I knew he was popular but wow. We Were Here, Liar Game: Reborn and Precure are still doing good business too and Arakawa Under the Bridge is still in the top twenty. Interestingly Drive has entered at number fourteen. I hope it hangs in there and performs well since it was one of the best films of last year.

All of the films released today look entertaining but Kotoko and SPEC look the most exciting and if I had to lay down my money for cinematic goodness it would go to those two. Here are the trailers!


Release Date: 07th April 2012 (Japan)

Running Time: 91 mins.

Director: Shinya Tsukamoto

Writer: Shinya Tsukamoto

Starring: Cocco, Shinya Tsukamoto

Kotoko is from Shinya Tsukamoto the director of Tetsuo, Vital and Nightmare Detective. It has recieved excellent reviews and will get a UK release via Third Window Films later this year.

A single mother (Cocco) begins to see doubles and becomes paranoid which makes taking care of her baby a nightmare. Her only relief from the double vision is singing and cutting herself but she soon suffers a nervous breakdown and her baby is taken away. One day, while riding a bus, she sings to herself and this catches the attention of a man (Shinya Tsukamoto) who falls in love with her. The man is a novelist and he begins stalking her until they engage in a volatile relationship which seems to ease her visions and paranoia. Then her baby returns and her condition worsens.


SPEC: The Movie

Release Date: 07th April 2012 (Japan)

Running Time: N/A

Director: Yukihiko Tsutsumi

Writer: Yuie Nishiogi

Starring: Erika Toda, Ryo Kase, Chiaki Kuriyama, Denden, Saki Fukuda

The director of 20th Century Boys and dark comedy/thriller 2LDK brings us the cinematic sequel to a long-running drama series that started out on TBS.

Detective Saya Toma (Erika Toda) has an IQ of 201 and works together with veteran detective Takeru Sebumi (Ryo Kase) in the Unsolved Crimes Unit taking on and cracking mysterious cases that others have given up on.

  Continue reading “Kotoko, SPEC: The Movie, Totecheeta Chikicheeta, Atsuhime Number 1, Trailers”

Third Window Films Release Kotoko in the UK, Rurouni Kenshin, Wild 7, Futari H: Second Kiss, Isoroku Yamamoto, the Commander-in-Chief of the Combined Fleet Trailers

It is Christmas Eve, I have done no wrapping and I’m putting the finishing touches to this blog post. Priorities, right… I’ll start wrapping presents while listening to some J-Rock after finishing this post!

Twitch broke news about Third Window Films ending the year with yet another awesome acqusittion announcement (I do like alliterations!) in the form of Kotoko from legendary J-horror director Shinya Tsukamoto (you should know him from the Tetsuo films and Nightmare Detective). Reading the synopsis this sounds more in the line of his dark dramas like Vital.

A single mother begins to see doubles and becomes paranoid which makes taking care of her baby a nightmare. Her only relief from the double vision is singing and cutting herself but she soon suffers a nervous breakdown and her baby is taken away. One day, while riding a bus, she sings to herself and this catches the attention of a man who falls in love with her. The man is a novelist and he begins stalking her until they engage in a volatile relationship which seems to ease her visions and paranoia. Then her baby returns and her condition worsens.

Anyway these are the last films to be released in Japan for 2011 and a trailer for Rurouni Kenshin which will hit next year and looks particularly awesome.

Rurouni Kenshin

Release Date: 25th August 2012

Running Time: N/A

Director: Keishi Ōtomo

Writer: Nobuhiro Watsuki (manga)

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

The live-action adaptation of Nobuhiro Watsuki’s chanbara manga Rurouni Kenshin wasrecently released. The film’s titular character is played by Takeru Sato who has appeared in the live-action adaptation of BECK and Emi Takei, star of Takashi Miike’s forthcoming Ai to Makoto adaptation, takes the lead female role of Kaoru Kamiya.  The film is being directed by Keishi Ōtomo who directed a popular NHK historical television series named Ryomaden which featured Sato.

The story takes place in the early Meiji period, a time of transition for Japan where industrialisation allowed Japan modernise itself and consign samurai to the history books as they are replaced by guns and are banned from wearing swords in public. One such samurai is Himura Kenshin who was once an elite assassin during the final years of the Edo period 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.

Continue reading “Third Window Films Release Kotoko in the UK, Rurouni Kenshin, Wild 7, Futari H: Second Kiss, Isoroku Yamamoto, the Commander-in-Chief of the Combined Fleet Trailers”