Mystical Laws, Outrage Beyond, Chat Noir Lucy, I Need to Buy New Shoes, Tsunagu, Puella Magi Madoka Magica the Movie Part 1 Trailers and the Japanese Movie Box Office Charts

This week I created a Film Review Archive (an excuse to use an image of Rin Takanashi) and trailers for the anime movies Gothicmade and Nerawareta Gakuen as well as the release details for Petty Romance. Reviews have been a bit light this week because I saw an uninspiring K-horror and I have been super busy with work helping set up a genuinely Blazblue Noel Kisaragiunnerving exhibition and trying to post at AUKN and other assorted projects – there are still two follow-up Tsukamoto posts to come. I am now coming into a period of calm and stability. In other words, blue skies are ahead and I can write a lot more. Blue skies the week after next week, to be more precise, because that is when I am going to attend some screenings at THE BFI LONDON FILM FESTIVAL.

What are the new entries in the Japanese box-office this week?

  1. Bayside Shakedown 4: The Final New Hope
  2. Resident Evil: Retribution
  3. The Bourne Legacy
  4. The Hunger Games
  5. Rurouni Kenshin
  6. Intouchables
  7. Insight into the Universe
  8. Tiger and Bunny: The Beginning
  9. Key of Life
  10. Hotel Transylvania

The major change from last week in the chart is the fact that there are three western films muscling their way in. As far as Japanese films go, Resident Evil and Bayside Shakedown switch places at the top. Rurouni Kenshin and Insight into the Universe and Key of Life remain in the top ten while Intouchables remains at six. The Wolf Children Rain and Snow hangs in at number thirteen.

What are the Japanese films released today in Japan?

Mystical Laws                                                         Mystical Laws Movie Poster

Japanese Title: 神秘 の 法

Romaji: Shinpi no Hou

Release Date:  05th October 2012 (Japan)

Running Time: 119 mins.

Director: N/A

Writer: N/A

Starring: Takehito Koyasu, Daisuke Hirakawa, Ayumi Fujimura, Ryoka Yuzuki, Shinichiro Miki, Miki Ito

The Happy Science religion (Kofuku no Kagaku) has released their latest film yesterday in both the US and Japan and it is a feature length anime named Shinpi no Hou – The Mystical Laws.

It is the year 201X… and the newly-formed Empire of Godom has been able to gain access to technology offered to them by Reika Chang (Fujimura), the president of a trading company. With this technology they plan to take over the world. Shou Shishimaru (Koyasu) is the only one who can stop them because he has access to mystical technology as well. The Empire know this and decide to hunt him down but thanks to the intervention of mysterious Indians, he evades capture and sets about trying to fulfil a prophecy about the second coming of a saviour.

Yeah… The religion of Happy Science was founded in Japan on the 6th of October, 1986 by Ryuho Okawa who, according to Wikipedia, “claims to channel the spirits of Muhammad, Christ, Buddha and Confucious and claims to be the incarnation of the supreme spiritual being called El Centre.” If this sounds like a cult to you then you are not alone because mainstream Japanese media regard the as such. Still, the movie does look rather… special. Seiyuu involved include some pretty well known ones like Daisuke Hirakawa (Franz d’Epinay in Gankutsuou), Ayumi Fujimura (Miwa in Bartender, Raimei in Nabai no Ou, Takashi Natsume in Natsume Yuujinchou) and Takehito Koyasu (the legend that is Il Palazo in Excel Saga).

Outrage Beyond                                                    Outrage Beyond Film Poster

Japanese Title: アウトレイジ ビヨンド

Romaji: Autoreiji Biyondo

Release Date: 06th October, 2012 (Japan)

Running Time: 110 mins.

Director: Takeshi Kitano

Writer: Takeshi Kitano

Starring: Takeshi Kitano, Ryo Kase, Tomokazu Miura, Fumiyo Kohinata, Toshiyuki Nishida, Hirofumi Arai, Akira Nakao, Yutaka Matsushige, Kenta Kiritani, Sansei Shiomi, Hideo Nakano

Outrage Beyond recently had its world premiere at the Venice International Film Festival in competition and then at the Toronto International Film Festival. I have half read a review for it and it seems like those who loved the first will find that there is much to enjoy in this as the politics way heavy in the first half and the violence and gangster thrills come clobbering in during the second. The stars are on the poster but if you need more names then take a gander at these: Takeshi Kitano (Kids ReturnBoiling Point), Ryo Kase (Like Someone in LoveSPEC: Heaven), Tomokazu Miura (Adrift in TokyoSurvive Style 5+), Hirofumi Arai (A Road Stained Crimson), Kenta Kiritani (Beck), Yutaka Matsushige (Ring) and Fumiyo Kohinata (Ring 2, Audition) who plays that wiley cop Kataoka who wasn’t as dumb as he looked.

When Tokyo’s anti-gang investigator is found dead the police crack down on the Yakuza. Corrupt cop Kataoka (Kohinata) is in charge of the investigation and he finds himself caught in the machinations of two rival families. Cue the release from prison of Ohtomo (Kitano) who finds himself part of a police plot to destroy his former Yakuza brothers. Not that he would object considering his shabby treatment at their hands.

Chat Noir Lucy                      

Kuro Neko Lucy

Japanese Title: くろ ねこ ルーシー

Romaji: Kuro Neko Rushi (literally Black Cat Lucy)

Release Date:  06th October 2012 (Japan)

Running Time: N/A

Director: Toru Kamei

Writer: Yuji Nagamori

Starring: Muga Tsukaji, Megumi Yasu

I a totally unfamiliar with the director and the actors’ Muga Tsukaji (Akko-chan: The Movie) and Megumi Yasu but the trailer is amusing. Both leads have acted alongside each other before in Honcho Azumi television series so I am assuming that fans of that are going to be drawn to this film.

Ken Kamoshida (Tsukaji) is a middle-aged fortune teller who is highly superstitious. Since splitting from his wife (Yasu), he has been beset by difficulties. One day, he encounters two black kittens which represent misfortune and they seem to be living up to the legend since he takes to caring for them but soon he uses them in his fortune telling and he sees what is really important to him.


I Have to Buy New Shoes                                                 I Have to Buy New Shoes Movie Poster

Japanese Title: 新しい 靴 を 買わなくちゃ

Romaji: Atarashii Kutsu wo Kawanakucha

Release Date:  06th October 2012 (Japan)

Running Time: 115 mins.

Director: Eriko Kitagawa

Writer:  Eriko Kitagawa

Starring: Miho Nakayama, Osamu Mukai, Mirei Kiritani, Gou Ayano

I would probably avoid this based on the poster and title. I am not even a familiar with two of the actors – Miho Nakayama, Osamu Mukai (Beck, Girls for Keeps). I am familiar with Gou Ayano (The Samurai that Night, Helter Skelter, Tajomaru) and Mirei Kiritani who was Maya in Ace Attorney and Nino in Arakawa Under the Bridge. It is directed and written by Eriko Kitagawa and this is the third film directed by a Japanese woman I have written about this year. She was apparently inspired when she read about the actress Miho Nakayama and her life in France. It is produced by Shunji Iwai (All About Lily Chou-Chou, Vampire, April Story).

Aoi Teshigahara (Nakayama) is a freelance writer based in Paris. She meets Sen Yagami (Mukai) who is a photographer who has just arrived in the city of flowers to join his younger sister Suzume (Kiritani). When Aoi and Sen meet they fall in love over the next three days while Suzume and Kango (Ayano), the beau at the other long distance relationship, meet.


Tsunagu                                                               Tsunagu Movie Poster

Japanese Title: ツナグ

Romaji: Tsunagu

Release Date:  06th October 2012 (Japan)

Running Time: 129 mins.

Director: Yuichiro Hirakawa

Writer:  Mizuki Tsujimura (Novel)

Starring: Tori Matsuzaka, Kirin Kiki, Ryuta Sato, Mirei Kiritani, Ai Hashimoto, Ito Ono, Tetsuya Bessho, Miyoko Asada, Kenichi Endo, Manami Honjou

This featured over at Otherwhere in a trailer weekly where I first saw it. It stars Tori Matsuzaka (The King and I, The Wings of the Kirin) and Kirin Kiki (Still Walking, Villain) in the leads with support from Ryuta Sato (Umizaru 4: Brave Hearts, Insight into the Universe) and Ai Hashimoto (Control Tower, Sadako 3D, Another, The Kirishima Thing).

Ayumi (Matsuzaka) is a high school student who is being trained by his grandmother (Kiki) as a tsunagu, an intermediary between the living and the dead.


Puella Magi Madoka Magica the Movie Part 1                   Madoka Movie 1 Poster

Japanese Title: 劇場版 魔法少女まどか☆マギカ [前編]始まりの物語

Romaji: Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magika Movie 1

Release Date:  06th October 2012 (Japan)

Running Time: 130 mins.

Director: Akiyuki Shinbou

Writer: Gen Urobuchi

Starring: Aoi Yuuki (Madoka Kaname), Kaori Mizuhashi (Mami Tomoe), Eri Kitamura (Sayaka Miki), Chiwa Saito (Homura Akemi), Emiri Kato (Kyuubey)

I have no interest in magical girl anime. I watched a few episodes of Sailor Moon and that was enough for me. However, the Madoka Magica franchise is getting such positive buzz that I may have to check it out. It is looking like the Evangelion of magical girl anime what with its post-modern take on the genre and devastating psychological intrigues. Anyway, the first in the trilogy of movie adaptations is released today and it covers the first eight episodes of the television series. It has been directed by Akiyuki Shinbou who has been connected to some of the most important anime of the last five years like Arakawa Under the Bridge and Bakemonogatari.


Madoka Kanome (Yuuki) is a normal school girl with a caring family and good friends like Sayaka (Kitamura). She leads a calm life until she meets a new transfer student named Homura Akemi (Saito). What changes? She sees Homura attack a creature. When Madoka tries to stop Homura she finds herself transported to a strange world where scary creatures exist and it is only with the help of a girl called Mami Tomoe (Mizuhashi) that she manages to escape. She soon finds herself in a world of magic but soon finds it can be very deadly.

Japanese Films at the 37th Toronto International Film Festival

Toronto International Film Festival LogoThe Toronto International Film Festival is about to launch soon and the number and quality of Japanese films is ABSOLUTELY BLOODY BRILLIANT! Forget Venice, London, Berlin and Cannes. I wish I were living in Toronto! While there are a few titles that were screened at the Venice Film Festival, there are even more which are premieres and have yet to be released in Japan. They are all interesting. Whether you want the number one Japanese movie box office smash (Thermae Romae), a forthcoming drama involving otaku and sex (The Cowards Who Look to the Sky) or Yakuza tearing chunks out of each other (Outrage Beyond), it is all here.

Here is the line-up!

The Cowards Who Looked to the SkyThe Cowards Who Looked to the Sky Movie Poster

Japanese Title: ふがいない 僕 は 空 を 見た

Romaji: Fugainai Boku wa Sora wo Mita

Release Date: 17th November 2012 (Japan)

Running Time: 142

Director: Yuki Tanada

Writer: Kosuke Mukai, Misumi Kubo (Novel)

Starring: Tomoko Tabata, Kento Nagayama, Masataka Kubota, Mieko Harada, Takahiro Miura

Otaku have proven fertile ground for but when I read more of the plot it sounded quite miserable. I haven’t read the original novel by Misumi Kubo but judging by the trailer, emotions are running very high! It stars the beautiful Tomoko Tabata (Blood and Bones, The Hidden Blade), the handsome Kento Nagayama (Crime or Punishment?!?), the young Masataka Kubota (13 Assassins), Takahiro Miura (Tokyo Playboy Club), and Mieko Harada (Helter Skelter).

Anzu (Tabata) is a depressed housewife who lives with a nagging mother-in-law and indifferent husband. When she attends an anime convention in cosplay she meets Takumi (Nagayama). The two start an affair at Anzu’s home. At this point, those already in Takumi’s life go through emotional upheaval of their own as a classmate confesses her love for him and his friend Fukuda (Kubota) finds himself at the mercy of a loan shark who has come to collect his mother’s debts. This is just the start of the emotional turmoil for all characters involved.


Dreams for SaleDreams for Sale Movie Poster

Japanese Title: 夢 売る ふたり

Romaji: Yume Uru Futari

Screening Dates: Monday, 10th September, 6:30 P.M. – TIFF Bell Lightbox 2, Wednesday 12th September 2:00 P.M. – Cineplex Yonge & Dundas 2, Sunday 16th September 2:45 P.M. – Scotiabank 3

Running Time: 137 mins.

Director: Miwa Nishikawa

Writer: N/A

Starring: Takako Matsu, Sadao Abe, Lena Tanaka, Sawa Suzuki, Tamae Ando, Yuka Ebara,  Tsurube Shoufukutei, Tae Kimrua, Teruyuki Kagawa, Yusuke Iseya,

The first of two films at the festival which stars Teruyuki Kagawa and both are dark comedies… but I’m getting ahead of myself here. This one involves a couple who scam lonely women out of money through conning them into marriage. The principal cast are lead by Takako Matsu (9 Souls, Confessions, April Story), Sadao Abe (Paikaji Nankai Sakusen, After Life), Sawa Suzuki (Loft), Tae Kimura (My House, Kaidan, Starfish Hotel, Infection), and Tamae Ando (Noriko’s Dinner Table, Phone Call to the Bar).

When Kanya (Abe) and Satoko (Matsu) celebrate the fifth anniversary of their restaurant they had no idea it would end with the place burning down. This disaster forces Satoko to take on a job at a noodle shop while Kanya gets depressed and does what most movie men do in such a situation: drink and gamble. Then, one night, he returns home with cash and claims he got it by spending time with a lonely woman.  Satoko is initially angry but then realises the full potential of the scame and so the two embark on a series of sham relationships to get money together to re-open their restaurant. Surely it wont go that smoothly?

  Continue reading “Japanese Films at the 37th Toronto International Film Festival”

Japanese Films at the Venice International Film Festival 2012

Genkina hitos Venice Film Festival 2012 Banner

The 69th Venice International Film Festival launches on the 29th of August and ends on the 8th of September. It is a place where Japanese films frequently crop up – Himizu premiered at last year’s event. This year’s festival has a few Japanese films and since this is a blog dedicated to Japanese films (most of the time…) here are the titles:

Penance                   Shokuzai Drama Poster

Romaji: Shokuzai

Japanese Title: 贖罪

Screening Dates: 2:30 p.m. 30th of August (Palabiennale)

Running Time: 270 mins.

Director: Kiyoshi Kurosawa

Writer: Kiyoshi Kurosawa (Script), Kanae Minato (Original Novel)

Starring: Kyoko Koizumi, Eiko Koike, Sakura Ando, Chizuru Ikewaki, Yu Aoi, Mirai Moriyama

Kiyoshi Kurosawa followed the magnificent Tokyo Sonata with this five-episode TV drama based on Kanae Minato’s novel of the same name (Minato also wrote the novel which the film Confessions is based on). It is playing Out of Competition, a section dedicated to “Important works by directors already established in previous editions of the Festival”. Well that applies to the genius that is Kiyoshi Kurosawa. Anyway this stars a collection of some of the best actresses in Japan including Kyoko Koizumi (Tokyo Sonata, Adrift in Tokyo), Sakura Ando (Love Exposure, Crime or Punishment?!?), Yu Aoi (Memories of Matsuko, All About Lily Chou-Chou), Eiko Koike (Kamikaze Girls, 2LDK) and Chizuru Ikewaki (Haru in The Cat Returns). It seems like 30 minutes has been cut from the total running time but it has Kurosawa’s trademark eerie atmosphere and deep characters.


When a girl named Emiri moves from Tokyo to Ueda she makes friends with four girls named Sae, Maki, Akiko and Yuka. One day when the five girls are playing volleyball at school they are approached by a man dressed in work clothes who asks for their help in repairing the ventilation system. He picks Emiri. The two head towards the gym. When there is no sign of Emiri returning her friends head in the same direction and discover her dead. When questioned by the police they cannot describe the man which means leads to the investigation grinding to a halt. Several months later, Emiri’s mother Asako (Koizumi) invites the four girls to her house on Emiri’s birthday. It is there that she tells them that they will have to atone for their inability to describe the man and help in his capture. Fifteen years later, Sae (Aoi), Maki (Koike), Akiko (Ando) and Yuka (Ikewaki) are leading troubled lives and live in fear of the penance expected of them.

Carmen Comes Home                                  Carmen Comes Home Film Poster

Romaji: Karumen Kokyō ni Kaeru

Japanese Title: カルメン 故郷 に 帰る

Screening Dates: 5:00 p.m. 31st of August (Sala Perla), 10:00 p.m. 01st September (Sala Volpi)

Running Time: 86 mins.

Director: Kinoshita Keisuke

Writer: Kinoshita Keisuke

Starring: Hideko Takamine, Toshiko Kobayashi, Yūko Mochizuki, Shuji Sano, Kuniko Igawa, Chishu Ryu, Keiji Sada, Koji Mitsui

Carmen Comes Home is screened as part of the Venice Classics section. It was Japan’s first colour film and was released in 1951. It stars Hideko Takamine (When a Woman Ascends the Stairs which Goregirl loved, and Obaasan), Yūko Mochizuki (Ballad of Narayama, Kaidan). It was directed by Kinoshita Keisuke (Ballad of Narayama) and his assistant director was Masaki Kobayashi (Harakiri, Kaidan, Samurai Rebellion). No trailer but here’s a scene.

A girl named Aoyama (Takamine) returns to the small village she grew up in after living in Tokyo. When the truth of the life she has been leading in Tokyo is revealed there is a scandal. Her name in Tokyo is Lily Carmen and she is a… I’ll leave that up to the audience to find out.

Outrage Beyond                                       Outrage Beyond Film Poster

Romaji: Autoreiji Biyondo

Japanese Title: アウトレイジ ビヨンド

Screening Dates: 4:30 p.m. 03rd of September (Sala Grande), 10:00 p.m. (Palabiennale)

Running Time: 110 mins.

Director: Takeshi Kitano

Writer: Takeshi Kitano

Starring: Takeshi Kitano, Ryo Kase, Tomokazu Miura, Fumiyo Kohinata, Toshiyuki Nishida, Hirofumi Arai, Akira Nakao, Yutaka Matsushige, Kenta Kiritani, Sansei Shiomi, Hideo Nakano

Outrage Beyond gets its world premiere in September at the Venice International Film Festival in competition. This is ahead of its Japanese release on the 06th of October. Just a look at the synopsis and cast list contains some spoilers for the first film but there you go. It stars that magnificent filmmaker Takeshi Kitano (Kids Return, Boiling Point), Ryo Kase (Like Someone in Love, SPEC: Heaven), Tomokazu Miura (Adrift in Tokyo, Survive Style 5+), Yutaka Matsushige (Ring). After watching the first film I know who I want to see get bumped off first but the guy is so slick he might just survive round two!

When he is released from prison Otomo (Kitano) finds himself part of a police plot to destroy his former Yakuza brothers.

The Millennial Rapture                          Millenial Rapture Film Poster

Romaji: Sennen no Yuraku

Japanese Title: 千 年 の 愉楽

Screening Dates: 11:30 a.m. 04th September (Sala Grande), 2:00 p.m. 05th of September (Sala Grande),

Running Time: 118 mins.

Director: Koji Wakamatsu

Writer: Koji Wakamatsu(Script), Kenji Nakagami (Original Novel)

Starring: Shinobu Terajima, Kengo Kora, Shota Sometani, Shiro Sano, Arata, Taro Yamamoto, Mayu Harada, Sousuke Takaoka

Fresh from premiering 11:25, the Day He Decided His Own Fate, the prolific Koji Wakamatsu uses the wonderful month of September to appear at the Venice International Film Festival in the Orizzonti section which covers new trends in world cinema. His latest is called The Millennial Rapture and it stars Shinobu Teraima (Helter Skelter, 11:25, The Day He Decided His Own Fate), Shota Sometani (Himizu), Shiro Sano (Vanished, United Red Army), and Kengo Kora (Norwegian Wood, The Woodsman and the Rain, The Drudgery Train, Signal).

This collection of stories is set in Shingu in the Wakayama Prefecture and focusses on the lives of various people of the Burakumin minority group. These people include a womaniser and a yakuza.


That’s a pretty strong line-up of films actually. There are also other titles like Kim Ki-Duk’s latest. Needless to say I wish I was there sipping expensive coffee, gazing at the beautiful women and watching awesome Japanese films. I will try and follow the buzz as I have done with previous festivals.