Wandering Alien Detective Robin さすらいのエイリアン 私立探偵ロビン Dir: Lisa Takeba (2012)

Wandering Alien Detective Robin

さすらいのエイリアン 私立探偵ロビンSasurai no eirian shiritsu tantei Robin

Release Date: June 16th, 2012

Duration: 20 mins.

Director: Lisa Takeba

Writer: Lisa Takeba (Script), 

Starring: Masanori Mimoto, Takuro Kodama, Lisa Geran, Kinuo Yamada, Arata Yamanaka, Takashi Nishina, Yaeko Kiyose, Yuya Ishikawa, Marc Walkow,

JFDB IMDB

Lisa Takeba is a multi-hyphenate talent who gleefully blends genres, utilises melodrama and has the sort of imaginative hands-on DIY special effects that can charm an audience enough to paper over how slight or loopy her stories are. This can best be appreciated in her feature films The Pinkie (2014) and Haruko’s Paranormal Laboratory (2015), both of which are zany romances with a science fiction spin. Her earliest available work, the short film Wandering Alien Detective Robin (2012), is a good indicator of what she is capable of.

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The Horse Thieves. Roads of Time オルジャスの白い馬 Director: Yerlan Nurmukhambetov, Lisa Takeba (2019)

The Horse Thieves. Roads of Time Film Poster

The Horse Thieves. Roads of Time   

オルジャスの白い馬Oruhasu no Shiroi Uma

Release Date: January 18th, 2020

Duration: 81 mins.

Director: Yerlan Nurmukhambetov, Lisa Takeba

Writer: Yerlan Nurmukhambetov (Screenplay),

Starring: Dulyga Akmolda, Madi Minaidarov, Mirai Moriyama, Samal Yeslyamova,

Website IMDB

 

The Horse Thieves. Roads of Time is a wholly original film that runs for a tight 81 minutes and utilises the mechanics of various genres to explore the impact of a murder on a family in a remote region of the world. The film, which opened the 2019 edition of the Busan International Film Festival, is an international co-production between Kazakhstan and Japan. It’s the collective vision of two directors: Yerlan Nurmukhambetov, who won the New Currents Award at the Busan International Film Festival 2015 for The Walnut Tree, and Lisa Takeba who is known for her quirky sci-fi tinged romcoms, The Pinkie (2014) and Haruko’s Paranormal Laboratory (2015). What is delivered is a picture that definitely deserves to be seen on the widest screen possible as it zeroes in on the tiny dramas of a group of characters clinging to life in an uncaring environment.

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Haruko’s Paranormal Laboratory 春子超常現象研究所 Dir: Lisa Takeba (2015)

Haruko’s Paranormal Laboratory    Haruko'sParanormal Laboratory Film Poster

春子超常現象研究所「 Haruko Chojo Gensho Kenkyujo」

Release Date: December 05th, 2015

Duration: 73 mins.

Director: Lisa Takeba

Writer: Lisa Takeba (Screenplay),

Starring: Aoi Nakamura, Moeka Nozaki, Fumiyo Kohinata, Sayaka Aoki, Takumi Saito, Yumiko Takahashi,

Website    IMDB

The spirit of love and youth animates everything in Lisa Takeba’s sophomore feature. With the imagination and energy of a high schooler drunk with love for B-movies, she showers the screen with handmade sets, head-spinning moments of romance, and characters set up to accentuate the giddy energy of love as Takeba crafts a colourful, creative and offbeat tale of a maladjusted girl finding romance with a TV in a film that doesn’t belabour but parodies and placates the existential angst living creatures feel as they seek a place in the world.

The story begins  with Haruko (Moeka Nozaki), a loner with a passion for the paranormal, something she has longed to encounter since childhood when she sought out an alien abduction to free her of her high school days which were fraught with betrayal and bullying. Her only company at home is her television, an old analogue set from the 1950 which, one day, transforms into a man (Aoi Nakamura) with a TV-shaped head. Haruko names him Terebi and soon falls in love with him. Their path to true love proves to be rocky and the two have to work through issues, Haruko’s being a hatred of other people and Terebi’s being an existential crisis brought on by the fact he was once an inanimate object and not human (so what are feelings and aree his real or something he learned from a TV show!?!?!).

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The Pinkie Film Image Miwako Wagatsuma 2

The Pinkie さまよう小指 Dir: Lisa Takeba (2014)

The Pinkie   

The Pinkie Film Poster
The Pinkie Film Poster

さまよう 小指  Samayou Koyubi

Release Date: September 14th, 2014 (Japan)

Duration: 63 mins.

Director: Lisa Takeba

Writer: Lisa Takeba (Screenplay),

Starring: Ryota Ozawa, Miwako Wagatsuma, Haruka Suenaga, Kanji Tsuda,

Website

When I first saw this film I fell in love with it and hyped the director up. Lisa Takeba is one of those multi-hyphenate talents whose imagination covers writing, directing and more. She has a background in advertising and writing videogames for the likes of Nintendo so she’s got a lot of experience with different styles to work with, something which shows in this fun and insane mash-up of genres where rom-com meets offbeat sci-fi and yakuza thrills in a story that firmly places love at the centre of everything.

The story is about love as experienced by four people but it starts with two.

Since they were both five, Ryosuke (Ryota Ozawa) has been stalked by Momoko (Miwako Wagatsuma) – the ugliest girl in the village. Momoko’s love for Ryosuke is so boundless that she has her face surgically altered to suit his taste – but still, he wants nothing to do with her. Ryosuke is a louche NEET who is in love with the girlfriend of a yakuza boss, a slippery dame named Manami (Haruka Suenaga), but when the boss finds out about their affair he has Ryosuke’s little finger hacked off and chases him off. Magically, the finger falls into Momoko’s hands and she uses it to clone Ryosuke so she can finally have him (or almost him) for herself – and that’s the first five minutes of this deranged tale of pure-hearted love.

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Japanese Films at the Rotterdam International Film Festival 2015

The 2015 Rotterdam International Film Festival launches in just over a week and it will take place from January 21st to February 01st. Rotterdam has always been good for Japanese filmmakers with many like Sion Sono, Takashi Miike and Kiyoshi Kurosawa getting their films screened and receiving support. This year’s line-up of titles has some of their latest projects programmed as major films come to the end of a long festival run including Toronto which is where I got some of the trailers from. Of note is the appearance of Lisa Takeba who was at last year’s festival with The Pinkie. Her projects strike me as interesting and it seems that the programmers at Rotterdam agree because she is back with the world premiere of her latest, Haruko’s Paranormal Laboratory!

The line-up features a real variety in topic and tone making this Rotterdam a good one for fans of Japanese films. There are a lot that have toured other festivals but more which have not been widely seen so it’s worth looking at all of them to see if there are any that catch your eye!

Here’s the line-up of films:

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