Lychee Light Club ライチ☆光クラブ Manga Review

Title: Lychee Light Club ライチ☆光クラブ, RaichiHikari Kurabu Lychee Light Club Manga Cover

Author: Usamaru Furuya

Launched in 2005, 1 volume and completed

Lychee Hikari Club is a one-volume manga whose origins can be found in a stage play that was performed at the Tokyo Grand Guignol Theatre in 1985. Usamaru Furuya takes the story and crafts a disturbing tale with a potent atmosphere given gory life by great artwork, a strong setting, ero-guro (erotic grotesque) and the excesses of yaoi all of which made me shudder and shocked me at points.

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I am a Hero アイアムアヒーロー Manga

I am a Hero アイアムアヒーロー Kengo Hanazawa

Author: Kengo Hanazawa

Launched in 2009, 16 volumes and currently ongoing.

I am jaded when it comes to zombies.

Zombies are everywhere in the West. They dash along cinema screens in horror movies like World War Z and they shamble across small screens in video games like Resident Evil and television series The Walking Dead, anime like Highschool of the Dead, and even reality TV shows like the BBC’s I Survived a Zombie Apocalypse.

I watch them but I am beginning to get weary of it all.

Gone are my teenage years when I first experienced the existential and visceral terror of the horror and bleak social commentary that Night of the Living Dead and Dawn of the Dead carried. Today it’s all a shooting gallery or dramas about snarky teenage zomboys and zomgirls and romance for the iPad generation.

It has been a long time since I was thrilled by zombie apocalypse
scenario. There is one exception. I have been reading Kengo Hanazawa’s manga I am a Hero since 2013 and each volume has proven to be a thrilling and scary read.

I Am a Hero Cover
I Am a Hero Cover

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6000: The Deep Sea of Madness 6000 ロクセン

6000: The Deep Sea of Madness 6000 ロクセン

Author: Nokuto Koike

Launched in 2010, 4 volumes and completed

6000 ロクセン Cover
6000 ロクセン Cover

Somewhere in the Philipines Sea, 6000 metres under water where neither the eyes of God or man can see lies a scientific facility once owned by a Japanese company. A tragic “accident” occurred in this underwater lab and it was abandoned for three years until a Chinese company buys the Japanese business and re-activates the facility.

The only way to access this facility is by an elevator of sorts that is 6000 Facility
connected to a floating platform with the master controls on the surface. This is how everybody gets down.

Taking the ride is Kengo Kadokura, our lead character. He is a liason between his Chinese bosses and the Japanese workers but even before he takes the plunge under water he has misgivings about the endeavour not least because the two sides he is working with distrust each other.

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Sion Sono’s Latest Film Update: Tokyo Tribes Audition Videos

Back in March I posted about Sion Sono’s latest project which is an adaptation of Santa Inoue’s Tokyo Tribes manga, a seinen title that mixes US street culture with a future dystopian reading of Tokyo where different gangs control different territory. Sono created a YouTube channel for the film where both he and Santa Inoue recorded messages about the project and instructions on how one can audition. The rules were:

To audition you must introduce yourself, “describe and demonstrate a special skill, act out a scene that includes their favourite character from the series, and give a message to the director.” Successful auditions at this point will get to audition in person.

So, bypass casting directors and going straight to the people!

Well I gave it time and the auditions are coming thick and fast. I sat through the ones you’ll see here (and more) and there are no disasters – although there is a naked guy shadow-boxing – lol at the random person wandering in to shot and hurrying away. In fact there’s a nice mix of people although some don’t seem to adhere to the rules like acting out a scene with a favourite character! There are a lot of audition vids where the applicant simply talks direct to camera. Any trends? A lot of college/university students (there’s one studying in Berlin!) have sent videos in while guys with facial hair seem to go straight for humour.

The videos run from the earnest and dedicated:

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Mushishi 蟲師 (2007)

Mushishi Genki Review Banner Genki Jason

Mushishi                                                                   Mushishi Film Poster

Japanese Title: 蟲師

Romaji: Mushishi

Release Date: March 24th, 2007 (Japan)

Running Time: 131 mins.

Director: Katsuhiro Otomo

Writer: Yuki Urushibara (Original Manga/Screenplay), Sadayuki Murai (Screenplay),

Starring: Joe Odagiri, Yu Aoi, Makiko Esumi, Nao Omori, Reia Moriyama, Reisen Ri, Lily, Hideyuki Inada,

Mushishi is based on Yuki Urushibara’s award-winning manga. It is a title which has captured imaginations because it was quickly adapted into a highly regarded award-winning anime in 2005-06. To cap it all off we get a live-action version.

Mushishi Ginko Manga Anime Live Action Comparison

This story of an itinerant spiritualist wandering through a Japan just entering the meiji era is beautiful and poignant with bits of human drama and nostalgia. This combined with the visuals formed a wonderful film which is a visual and aural feast that submerges the viewer in a narrative that evokes wonder.

Mushishi begins with long-held wide-angle shots of rain-soaked tree-covered mountains wreathed with mist. It feels like a scene from a primordial time before man has trod on the earth and a time where spirits could be lingering in this natural world.

Mushishi Landscape 2

The film then cuts to a shot of two people trudging along a muddy road that clings to the Mushishi Ginko and His Motherside of the mountain. The smallest figure, Yoki, is a boy moving from town to town with his mother who carries a heavy pack with all of their belongings. All talk about spirits lingering proves right as Yoki can see wisps of spirits emanating from the landscape. These are mushi (bugs), the phantom soul of nature which breathes through the living and the dead. Think of them like magical presences which can affect people in various, mostly negative, ways such as causing the growth of horns and sucking souls. Few people can see them but it seems that Yoki (Inada) is one of them. They fascinate Yoki who lags behind his mother on the road. Perhaps this is what saves him as a landslip causes trees and earth to careen down the side of the mountain and engulf the road he and his mother are on. His mother yells at him to run before she is swept away. When the smoke clears all we see is Yoki clawing through rocks trying to find his mother while an enigmatic figure with white hair steps into high angle shot and watches his futile effort. Her name is Nui (Esumi) and she will play a pivotal role in his future.

Mushishi Nui (Esumi) Watches

Mushishi Snowbound VillageCut to a snowy landscape and Yoki has grown up into Ginko (Odagiri), a humble mushi-shi (bug master) who travels around Japan with his huge chest of medicines and tools helping people beset with mushi problems by trying to solve, or at the very least, lessen the problems mushi cause. The film tracks a selection of his adventures such as his first where he wanders into a snow-bound village and discovers that the inhabitants have been infected by mushi who make the villagers deaf in one ear. By following Ginko we see that mushi are everywhere and affect people in various ways but he is not alone in tracking the mushi of the world as he reunites with a woman named Tanyu (Aoi) who chornicles the different mushi in Japan to tackle a fierce mushi which may be linked to his past.

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Detroit Metal City デトロイトメタルシテイ (2008)

Detroit Metal City Rock Genki Jason Review Banner

Detroit Metal City                                               Detroit Metal City Film Poster

Japanese Title: デトロイト メタル シテイ

Romaji: Detoroito Metaru Shiti

Release Date: August 23rd, 2008 (Japan)

Running Time: 104 mins.

Director: Toshio Lee

Writer: Mika Omori (Screenplay), Kiminori Wakasugi (Manga)

Starring: Kenichi Matsuyama, Rosa Kato, Yasuko Matsuyuki, Yoshihiko Hosoda, Ryuji Akiyama, Kazuma Suzuki, Ryo Kato, Yoshiko Miyazaki, Minami, Kaera Kimura, Rumi Hiragi, Yoshinori Okada, Gene Simmons

Detroit Metal City Kenichi Matsuyama as Soichiro NegishiMeet Soichiro Negishi. He hails from a farm in rural Inukai, Oita prefecture and he is leaving home for the first time to go to Tokyo University. His dream as he states it is to “live in a fashionable apartment in Tokyo, live a fashionable life. Above all I want to be a fashionable musician.”

He really loves fluffy J-Pop and he has songs like Raspberry Kiss (unfashionable and incredibly cheesy). While at university he meets and falls in love with the angelically beautiful and nice Yuri Aikawa, a girl who also loves his twee pop music and she forms a small circle of friends who encourage Negishi to display his musical talents.Detroit Metal City Yuri Aikawa (Rosa Kato)

“No music no dream!” is his rallying cry and with a CD of his work he walks into the office of Death Records…

Fast forward some time and Negishi is now known as Johannes Krauser II, lead singer of Detroit Metal City (DMC), a death metal band who look like KISS and perform songs about rape and murder at a seedy club called Hell’s Gate. His band-mates are Masayuki Wada aka Alexander Jagi (Hosoda) on bass, and Terumichi Nishida aka Camus (Akiyama) the drummer.

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Terracotta Release Live Action Antique Bakery

Terracotta took me by surprise when they released the anime OVA adaptation of Junji Ito’s Gyo: Tokyo Fish Attack. Now they bring us another adaptation only this time it is the Korean live-action version of Fumi Yoshinaga’s Antique Bakery. This is not a brand new title for me because I have read the first volume of the manga purely out of curiosity. I was not enamoured with it but then again I am not at all interested in BL titles like some people are…


 Here are the details:
Antique Bakery DVD Case

 Antique Bakery


Dir: Min Kyu-Dong (All About My Wife, Memento Mori) 

Starring: Joo Ji-Hoon, Yoo Ah-In, Kim Jae-Wook, Choi Ji-Ho 

Korea/ 2008/ 109 Mins/ In Korean with English subtitles/ Colour/ Cert 15


Out on DVD February 11th, 2013

DVD Special Features:
Making of ‘ANTIQUE BAKERY’, Korean Trailer, Music Video, Photo Gallery

As an heir to family fortune, Jin-hyuk (Joo Ji-Hoon) has money, the looks, the charm, everything except finding the love of his life. So he sets up a cake shop where women are sure to come. He hires Sun-woo (Kim Jae-Wook), a talented patissier who had a crush on Jin-hyuk back in high school.

Along with an ex-boxing champion Gi-beom (Yoo Ah-In) and a clueless bodyguard Su-young (Choi Ji-Ho), the four unique and handsome young men stir up the quiet neighbourhood at their cake shop, Antique. Although seemingly careless and happy, each of the four men has an unforgettable past that they are afraid to face. But their secrets slowly begin to unravel.

Gyo: Tokyo Fish Attack ギョ (2012)

Genkina Hitos Gyo Review Header

Gyo: Tokyo Fish Attack                             Gyo Tokyo Fish Attack Cover

Romaji: Gyo 

Japanese Title:ギョ

Japanese Release Date: 15th February 2012

UK DVD Release Date: 03rd of September 2012 (Terror-cotta)

Running Time: 71 mins.

Director: Takayuki Hirao

Writer: Takayuki Hirao (script), Junji Ito (Original Manga)

Starring: Mirai Kataoka (Kaori), Hideki Abe (Shirakawa), Ami Taniguchi (Erika), Masami Saeki (Aki), Takuma Negishi (Tadashi)

Junji Ito occupies a very special place in my life. He makes my nightmares. I can think of few other manga-ka or filmmakers that have had the effect of leaving me genuinely unnerved. Gyo (Japanese for fish) is the first of his stories to get an anime adaptation. Does it work?

Kaori is visiting Okinawa with her friends Aki and Erika for a grad trip. They are staying at a beach house owned by Kaori’s fiancé Tadashi’s uncle and are enjoying Okinawa’s beautiful beaches when she finds herself caught in the middle of a land invasion by bizarre fish which scuttle on land with sharp metal legs and spread a “Death Stench”. These fish turn aggressive and soon spread across the island and spread further afield to Tokyo where Tadashi resides. Kaori decides to return to Tokyo and find Tadashi. She hooks up with a freelance cameraman named Shirakawa but things are about to get a whole lot weirder than she could have imagined.

Fish Invasion in Gyo

Anybody familiar with Ito’s weird fiction manga will know that his skill lies in taking something simple in an everyday situation like a physical feature or a desire and crafting something truly dreadful that twists relatable characters. Sometimes his stories become so unhinged that logic can fly out of the window but even then they are still affecting thanks to the mood, the ideas, and imagery which are so visceral. Movie adaptations struggle in conveying these stories and change things to make them more accessible as seen in the live-action Uzumaki and here.

The anime has been adapted by Takayuki Hirao who is the anime’s writer and director. He learned his craft under the guidance of Satashi Kon and even directed the first episode of the magnificent Paranoia Agent. Hirao has simplified Gyo’s story and turned it from pure psychological horror into a simple apocalypse movie that uses the brilliant animation to foreground the action and weirdness and the disgusting and brutal body horror. As a result Gyo has created a new nightmare for me… that of the sea and what lurks in it!

Kaori in Gyo

Have you ever stared out at an ocean and wondered what lies beneath the surface? Think about it. Oceans are large areas that have been barely explored and thousands of years of evolution have crafted so much life which is mostly undiscovered. This does not take into account the impact that humanity has had. The last few times I have looked out to sea I only thought about what was on the surface. What Gyo does is give vent to the sense of fear that surrounds the unknown and making the everyday crash against the monstrous.

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News on Sion Sono’s Himizu and Trailers for Potiche, Viva Riva, Hobo with a Shotgun

This week we had news for Sion (Love Exposure) Sono’s adaptation of the manga Himizu.

Manga cover for Himizu

The man just doesn’t stop working and Himizu wrapped up filming last month and will be released early in 2012. It was only announced in April but Sion Sono’s nothing if not prolific (a point I keep making). Anyway, news emerged on (movie) about the cast. The lead will be played by Shota Sometani and the heroine will be played by Fumi Nikaido.

The actors in Sion Shono's film Himizu

The trailers collected this week are for a mixed bag of films due to be released in the UK over the next few weeks and are the interesting titles that I can see.


UK release – 17th June –

Running Time – 96 mins –

A belated release for Francois (Water Drops on Burning Rocks, 8 Women) Ozon’s last film which was released in France in 2010. It is a comedy that stars Catherine Deneuve in a ghastly track-suit, Gerard Depardieu.

1977 France, Suzanne Pujol (Catherine Deneuve) is the trophy wife (potiche) of Robert (Fabrice Luchini) who  runs an umbrella factory. She leads a life of under-appreciation as her husband cheats on her with his secretary and their children regard her as a joke. That is until Robert is kidnapped and then hospitalised by the workers in the factors during an industrial dispute. After this series of events, Suzanne takes control of the factory and finds she is rather good at running it. However she runs into a familiar face from the past, an old flame named Maurice Babin (Gerard Depardieu), who just happens to be a Communist union activist and Robert’s sworn enemy.

Viva Riva

UK release – 24th June –

Running Time – 96 mins –

In the same week that Transformers is released in the UK an African action movie will also premiere. This film has been earning a lot of good reviews on the internet and the trailer looks like a lot of fun.

Written and directed by Djo Munga, the story takes place in Kinshasha in the Democratic Republic of Congo, it centres on a young guy in Angola named Riva (Patsha Bay) who works for a gang as a petrol smuggler. He decides to steal petrol from his own boss and sell it in petrol-starved Kinshasha, which is enough to earn his boss’s ire. After celebrating his quick profit making scheme with wild parties he falls for the local mob boss’s girl, Nora (Manie Malone). With two gangsters on his case, Riva goes on the run.

Hobo with a Shotgun

Release Date – 15th July

Running Time –  86 mins

This sounded like an elaborate joke but whenever I checked in with websites like… news just kept coming and then announcements that it was screening in festivals like SXSW and gaining great reviews. I never thought this would get a UK exhibition. This has passed by serious film magazines without mention and the fact that it’s based on a spoof trailer in Tarantino and Rodriuez’s Grindhouse didn’t fill me with hope but cinema needs more Rutger Hauer, right? Then I watched the trailer and was convinced – this could be the most fun in the cinema this year.

A hobo (Rutger Hauer)hops off the train at Hope Town, a violent urban war-zone full of gangsters, paedophiles and other scum-bags who think nothing of terrorising the innocent and making hobos fight each other for videos. The hobo just wants to start a new life but the gangsters won’t leave him alone.