Japanese Films at the Cannes Film Festival 2013 Critical Reactions and Awards

Genki Cannes Film Festival 2013 Banner

The 66th Cannes Film Festival came to an end today  and the illustrious jury lead by Steven Spielberg had a tough time picking winners. Apart from Spielberg , the jury included Cannes Film Festival 2013 Posterinteresting names like Japanese film maker Naomi Kawase (The Mourning Forest) who recently had some of her films screened at Rotterdam, Ang Lee (Eat Drink Man Woman), Christoph Waltz (Django Unchained and, uh, Carnage), Nicole Kidman (Stoker) and the fantastic French actor Daniel Auteuil (La Reine MargotHidden).

This year’s Cannes film festival had a wide variety of films in the running for the Palme d’Or. There were a lot of American films getting excellent reviews like Alexander Payne’s Nebraska and the Coen Brothers Inside Llewyn Davis. Steven Soderbergh’s Behind the Candelabra was also highly rated with Michael Douglas tipped to win the best actor award for his performance as Liberace. Then it seemed that their chances were eclipsed by a French film that was screened on Wednesday called Blue is the Warmest Colour. As a report on the BBC stated Blue is the Warmest Colour was tipped to win the Palme d’Or with many critics were singing its praises and so it proved to be the right tip since it did walk away with the Palme d’Or.

Last year brought us a few treats in terms of Japanese films but no titles in competition to win the coveted Cannes Palme d’Or but this year Japan has made a major impact with two films in competition from two very special directors, Koreeda and Miike. Review are in for their films and it has been a split between love and dismissal for each director respectively.

How did the Japanese films do?

Shield of Straw                           Shield of Straw Film Poster

Japanese Title: 藁 の 楯

Romaji: Wara no Tate

Release Date: April 26th, 2013 (Japan)

Running Time: 124 mins.

Director: Takashi Miike

Writer: Kazuhiro Kiuchi (Original Novel), Tamio Hayashi (Screenplay),

Starring: Takao Osawa, Tatsuya Fujiwara, Nanako Matsushima, Kimiko Yo, Kento Nagayama, Goro Kishitani, Tsutomu Yamazaki, Hirotaro Honda, Masata Ibu

Shield of Straw Screening Cannes Film Festival 2013

Takashi Miike is no stranger to Cannes but the possibility that his latest film Shield of Straw would take the Palme d’Or looked highly unlikely before the critical reviews came in. Let’s be honest, action titles like this just don’t win festival awards regardless of their quality but the critical reaction from western critics has been surprisingly lukewarm and even dismissive.

Japanese reviewer Masaichiro Murayama of the Nihon Keizai Newspaper summed it up the way I figured the movie would perform overall, “Miike’s direction is straightforward, tailored create an enjoyable action movie.” That’s what the trailer promised. On sites like Pia there are a lot of user ratings hanging around 3/3.5 on average.

Then the Cannes reviews came in:

“Though shot in widescreen on a relatively hefty budget, the two-hour-plus thriller makes limited use of its resources, featuring far more talk than action.” Peter Debruge (Variety)

“Sleek and engrossing, though awfully drawn out and short on psychological complexity, this is a straight-up police action thriller that adheres to a very familiar Hollywood template. In fact, its chief enticement outside Japan may be as remake fodder.” David Rooney (Hollywood Reporter)

“It’s hard to immerse yourself in the film’s emotional fabric, however, when your attention is constantly being diverted by the furious pacing and glaring plot holes.” Adam Woodward (Little White Lies)

“It is put together with technical competence, but is entirely cliched and preposterous, and it implodes into its own fundamental narrative implausibility.” Peter Bradshaw (Guardian)

“The script alone could easily inspire a novella detailing all of the plot holes, gaps in logic and insanely repetitive exposition… but the real shame is that the man responsible for some of the smartest, most insane, exuberant, boundary-pushing Japanese movies of the past decade has brought the story to life with such flat, joyless direction…” Brian Clark (Twitch Film)

I wasn’t expecting it Shield of Straw get love at Cannes but I was expecting it to fare better than it did – the 1 star Guardian review is just totally outrageous and an example of what is striking about some of the reviews where more attention is focussed on the implausibility of the script – this is a high concept action film, just enjoy the ride! –  but when the reviews do focus on the action it seems to be lacking.

Overall, it looks like one of Miike’s middling movies like Ninja Kids!!!. Not as extreme as his earlier stuff like his low-budget extreme films Visitor Q and Ichi the Killer and not as accomplished as something like his more recent big-budget mainstream films 13 Assassins or For Love’s Sake. I figure I’d like this film. I did like Ninja Kids!!! more than I thought I would. If it were to get screened in the UK I would head out to see it.

Now we come to the good news. 

Like Father, Like Son                         Like Father Like Son Cannes Poster

Japanese Title: そして 父 に なる

Romaji: Soshite Chichi ni Naru

Release Date: October 05th, 2013 (Japan)

Running Time: N/A

Director: Hirokazu Koreeda

Writer: N/A

Starring: Masaharu Fukuyama, Machiko Ono, Yoko Maki, Jun Fubuki, Keita Ninomiya, Lily Franky, Jun Kunimura, Kiki Kirin, Isao Natsuyagi

Koreeda and Cast at Cannes

Like Father Like Son looked to be the favourite Japanese film to take the Palme d’Or before the explicit French lesbian relationship drama Blue is the Warmest Colour came onto the scene and wowed lots of people. Like Father Like Son ticked all of the boxes which could give it the win, great drama, great acting and it has a sentimental story which should appeal to Spielberg. Director Kore-eda is a modern day Ozu, able to capture the emotional geography of everyday Japanese people in all sorts of scenarios and Japanese family life.

The Japan Times beat me to the critical reactions round-up but here are some that stood out to me:

“It is a very decent piece of work, although not as distinctive as those two previous movies, not quite as finely observed and frankly a little schematic and formulaic, with life-lessons being learnt by the obvious people. It does however have charm and abundant human sympathy.” Peter Bradshaw (Guardian)

Not only is it the best picture to be shown in competition so far, it also prompted the loudest reactions yet from this habitually noisy crowd: rippling laughter throughout, sustained applause at the close, and a steady refrain of goosey honks as attendees cleared their tear-streaming noses. Robbie Collin (Telegraph)

Kore-eda’s “Like Father, Like Son” is a characteristically low-key but supple treatment of familial bonds, expectations and responsibilities that reverberates with heartrending impact. Maggie Lee (Variety)

With the same restraint and control over plot and the characters that he has always displayed, he leads the story carefully, avoiding unnecessary histrionics and managing to draw out of calm, carefully weighed reactions, much more than other directors would do by unchaining explosions of temper. But all these qualities are partially wasted on a plot that leaves too many issues unsolved. Dan Fainaru (Screen Daily)

A character study of a rare density and undeniable accuracy, not succumbing neither pathos nor the clinical severity, included in a spontaneous narrative, in which each player is shown a disturbing nature. Two hours, LIKE FATHER, LIKE SON leads the viewer to pests territories laughter the most outspoken of the most cathartic tears.  Aurelien Allin (Cinema Teaser)

The reaction of the critic Robbie Collin is what I hoped the film would get. I have yet to review Kore-eda’s films on this blog but I have watched quite a few of them and I feel that each of them has been a carefully crafted drama with so much emotional resonance and humanity that it means so much. They have certainly evoked emotional reactions from me.  Perhaps I’m much more sentimental than I’d like to admit but from the early reviews from critics I’m sure I would have been in floods of tears from another great drama. This one looks exactly like tear fuel to me as the trailer reveals.

Well Like Father Like Son didn’t win the Palme d’Or but it did win the Jury Prize! The success of a Japanese film at Cannes makes me happy especially when it’s by Kore-eda. This gets a release later in the year in Japan and with its subject matter and the critical reaction at Cannes it should do well and hopefully get released in the UK soon.

Koreeda Cannes 2013 Jury Prize Win

Congratulations go out to Hirokazu Kore-eda.

I would like to thank Bonjour Tristesse for doing a great job covering all of the films at the festival! I only focus on Japanese ones and so getting a round-up of what the rest of the world is doing is really great. Check out his full list of winners!

Genki Jason 2013 Festivals Banner

Japanese Films at the Cannes Film Festival 2013

Genki Cannes Film Festival 2013 Banner

The 66th Cannes Film Festival is taking place from May 15th to the 26th and its line-up of Cannes Film Festival 2013 Posterfilms was announced earlier this week and the line-up looks very promising.

The festival opens with Baz Luhrmann’s lavish looking adaptation of F Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby and, following their major success with Drive, Ryan Gosling and Nicolas Winding Refn pair up again to take the festival by storm with Only God Forgives (which also has fierce looking Kristin Scott Thomas (Leaving), a gangster thriller set in Bangkok which is In Competition and has a chance of winning the Palme d’Or. There are also two Japanese films In Competition and boy do they look so damn awesome!

Last year brought us a few treats in terms of Japanese films but this year Japan has made a major impact with two films in competition from two very special directors, Koreeda and Miike. People who watch contemporary Japanese films will know that they are two of the most talented filmmakers in Japan… heck, anywhere and if I were at Cannes I think I’d make these two films my priority.

Shield of Straw                           Shield of Straw Film Poster

Japanese Title: 藁 の 楯

Romaji: Wara no Tate

Release Date: April 26th, 2013 (Japan)

Running Time: 124 mins.

Director: Takashi Miike

Writer: Kazuhiro Kiuchi (Original Novel), Tamio Hayashi (Screenplay),

Starring: Takao Osawa, Tatsuya Fujiwara, Nanako Matsushima, Kimiko Yo, KentoShield of Straw Film Poster 2 Nagayama, Goro Kishitani, Tsutomu Yamazaki, Hirotaro Honda, Masata Ibu

Oh wow, Cannes decided to get some balls and screen this action-packed film from Takashi Miike!

I find it brilliant that a chap who got his start making OTT V-cinema titles is on top of the world but it’s an indication of just how talented Takashi Miike is. He has been in fine form recently with a string of hits ranging from his exciting remake of the classic 13 Assassins, the amusing kids film Ninja Kids!!!, the cracked musical For Love’s Sake and an adaptation of a video game with Ace Attorney. His last film, Lesson of the Evil proved to be a return to violent and twisted territory similar to something like Cold Fish. Miike continues expanding into different genres and the mainstream with an all-out action title, a crime-thriller which is based on a novel by Kazuhiro Kiuchi.

Take a gander at the poster and then watch trailer and tell me you did not grin with excitement over the action!

As a fan of Miike who grew up watching his slightly older work like Audition and Visitor Q all I can say is that I love it and I hope (I really do hope) this tours the festival circuit and lands in London!

Kunihide Kiyomaru (Fujiwara) is a murderer. His victim is the granddaughter of a power-player in the political and financial world named Takaoki Ninagawa (Yamazaki).Three months elapse and Kiyomaru thinks he is in the clear until he sees that Ninagawa has placed full page ads in three of the biggest newspapers in Japan offering a 1 billion yen reward to the person who kill Kiyomaru. Fearing for his life, he turns himself in to Fukuoka Prefectural Police.

This case is potentially explosive so five elite detectives from the security section (SP) of the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department travel to Fukuoka to escort Kiyomaru back. The distance between Fukuoka and Tokyo is 1,200 km and there are a lot of people who want to collect that reward including rogue police officers. The pressure is on and one of the SP officers, Mekari Kazuki (Takao) begins to show doubts about whether they should protect Kiyomaru but fellow officer Atsuko Shiraiwa (Matsushima) is determined to get the job done.

I had shivers running up and down my spine just writing that! Anyway it sound a bit like the Bruce Willis film 16 Blocks only on a larger stage and I loved 16 Blocks.

It stars Takao Osawa (Aragami, Ichi), Nanako Matsushima (Reiko Asakawa in Ringu), Tatsuya Fujiwara (Battle Royale, Death Note), Tsutomu Yamazaki (The Woodsman & the Rain, Tampopo), Kento Nagayama (Crime or Punishment?!?), Kimiko Yo (Departures, For Love’s Sake) and Hirotaro Honda (Zero Focus).

The film is released in Japan next week!

Like Father, Like Son                         Koreeda Drama Poster

Japanese Title: そして 父 に なる

Romaji: Soshite Chichi ni Naru

Release Date: October 05th, 2013 (Japan)

Running Time: N/A

Director: Hirokazu Koreeda

Writer: N/A

Starring: Masaharu Fukuyama, Machiko Ono, Yoko Maki, Jun Fubuki, Keita Ninomiya, Like Father Like Son Cannes PosterLily Franky, Jun Kunimura, Kiki Kirin, Isao Natsuyagi

Hirokazu Koreeda is another favourite director of mine ever since I watched his film After Life back in high school. Since then he has made tremendously moving family dramas like Nobody Knows and Still Walking. I am not the only fan since Koreeda has had two films screened at Cannes with Distance (2001) and Nobody Knows (2004). There are no trailers or teasers as of yet since the film is not released until October but the story sounds like potential tear fuel.

Succesful business-man Ryota (Fukuyama) and his wife Midori (Ono) have a happy family life with their six-year-old son Keita (Nonomiya) but a phone call from the hospital informing them of the fact that their child was mixed up with another at birth shatters their happiness. Ryota and Midori must decide whether to hand over the son they have carefully raised for the last six years and take back their biological son or not.

The film stars Masaharu Fukuyama (Suspect X), Machiko Ono (Eureka, The Floating Castle), Yoko Maki (Infection, The Grudge), Lily Franky (Afro Tanaka), Jun Fubuki (SéanceRebirth) Kirin Kiki (Kiseki) and Jun Kunimura (Outrage, Vital) Isao Natsuyagi (Warm Water Under a Red Bridge).

Like last year I will try and track what the critical reception of these films was. For a full list of all of the films In Competition, check out Bonjour Tristesse who always does a great job covering all of the films at the festivals! I cannot wait to see how the Japanese films perform!

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The Wolf Children おおかみこどもの雨と雪 (2012)

Genkina hito's Wolf Children Rain and Snow Review Banner

The Wolf Children (Ame and Yuki)                    The Wolf Children Poster

Romaji: Okami Kodomo no Ame to Yuki

Japanese Title: おおかみこどもの雨と雪

Japanese Release Date: 21st July 2012

UK Release Date: 2013

Running Time: 110 mins.

Director: Mamoru Hosoda

Writer: Mamoru Hosoda, Satoko Okudera

Starring: Aoi Miyazaki, Takao Osawa, Yukito Nishii, Haru Kuroki, Amon Kabe, Momoka Oona, Shota Sometani, Kumiko Aso, Mitsuki Tanimura,

The Wolf Children was the first film I saw at the 56th BFI London Film Festival and a film I had been eagerly tracking all year. Despite being left cold by the director’s last film I went into this with an open mind and was soon won over.

Maybe you’ll laugh and say it’s a fairy tale. Think it too preposterous to be true. But it is a true story about my mother.

The Wolf Children is a story about identity and love between parents and children that takes place over thirteen years. It starts when a university student named Hana falls in love with Ōkami who is a “wolf man”. The two have children named after the weather on the day they were born – Yuki (Snow) the older sister and Ame (Rain) the younger brother. The four live quietly in Tokyo concealing the true nature of their existence. Then Ōkami leaves and Hana is faced with the prospect of being a single mother with two children who are half wolf.

The film’s writer and director Mamoru Hosoda is frequently compared to Hayao Miyazaki but while his work shows a similar ease at mixing the fantastical with realism there was always something forced and, in the case of Summer Wars, bland. The Wolf Children is different. Despite providing a familiar coming-of-age tale it is executed with subtlety, realism, detail and humanity, leaving the film feeling refreshingly natural and meaningful.

Till the field

The synopsis, trailers and character design suggest heart-warming fantasy fun but the film’s direction is rooted in realism which is used to underline the struggles faced by characters and depth of feelings felt by the characters. By presenting us with such detail the film defines itself and makes itself original and gripping.

We are first introduced to Hana and through a few deft details like dialogue and a family picture we understand her independent character. We then witness the courtship between Hana and Ōkami and while the idea of a wolf man and a human woman having children sounds outrageous it is handled in a subdued and naturalistic way whether it’s seeing Ōkami’s day job or Hana’s pregnancy cycle, morning sickness and all. The early quarter of the film tracks the parents who sacrifice their own identities as they build a family life. It ensures that we understand that Hana’s acceptance of Ōkami and her children is based on love.

Wolf Children Early PArenthood

When Ōkami leaves it is Hana who emerges as the hero. She exists in a universe which can be quite indifferent and must dig deep into her character to create a family life for the rambunctious and cute Ame and Yuki.

Wolf Children Transform

The wolf children are quite a handful. The script sets up many charmingly cute scenes where they are a recognisable and exhausting combination of child and puppy. They burst with energy and desire to be as mobile as possible, constantly morphing into wolves. This has genuinely amusing consequences like Ame and Yuki’s teething troubles ruining furniture and tantrums usually involving screaming, tears and sprouting whiskers and pointy ears.

Wolf Children Teething

While the situations start off as amusing it is clearly difficult to handle in a crowded place like a city and soon there is a believable undercurrent of fear faced by Hana. Walks in the park are impossible and living in an apartment with a no-pets policy becomes stifling as she restricts her children’s natural exuberance. Most menacingly the child welfare agency appear. All the while Hana is making things up as she goes along but never wavering despite exhaustion. Soon she takes the gutsy decision of moving to the country which opens the film up visually and offers a celebration of family, community and nature.

You have to be stronger

When Hana moves to the country she is initially an outsider herself with locals whispering things like “She’s going to start missing convenience stores”.

She buys a ramshackle house which is lovingly detailed in all of its disrepair. In a montage we see her fixing the place up and engaging in back-breaking farming. These activities display the beautiful animation and speak volumes on Hana’s hope, belief and determination in providing a future for her children. These sequences are most like the  Ghibli classic My Neighbour Totoro but what defines The Wolf Children is the observation on the struggles that Hana faces and the refusal to be sentimental which I appreciated immensely.

Wolf Children Height Check

Eventually Hana and her children are accepted, albeit by hiding their odd forms. While the negativity they faced in the city remains in the memory, the countryside folks exhibit all of the good qualities of Japanese society and the message of the film becomes one of community spirit, as voiced by one of the elderly characters when she says “We have to help each other”.

There is a consistent theme of nature and traditional values and it is told with no fuss. The use of montage and succinct sequences providing vignettes of daily life continue to track the change in the characters, seasons and nature.

With the change in location the film truly comes alive with brilliantly animated sequences which are truly breathtaking and capture spectacular scenes of the natural world in Japan. Mist wreathed mountains, surging waterfalls, endless fields, and dense forests are all vividly brought to life with vibrant colours and deep levels of detail. Gone are the claustrophobic close-ups of the city and in come long-shots of the terrain with the bright pink and blue of Ame and Yuki moving through it. The film moves the action onto a larger canvass as the wolf children experiment with their abilities like being a wolf up against cats and snakes, dashing through tall grass up trees and discovering which part of the natural world’s eco-system they belong to. The best sequence is an exhilarating chase over a snowy landscape as it evokes feelings of youth, discovery, freedom and joy.

Wolf Children Snow Chase

While the titular wolf children can morph between human and wolf in the blink of an eye they face the same difficulties of growing that are universal to everyone, mainly the need to be accepted and know their place in the world and define themselves in their journey to decide whether they will be human or wolf while Hana must also learn to change her character as she watches them mature. Their character arcs are not completely original but thanks to the realism, playfulness and sharp characterisation we are anchored in their struggle and root for them. Every funny use of wolf transformation draws laughter, every dangerous situation draws gasps of shock (one woman in the audience gave a gasp so loud I initially misinterpreted as being part of the soundtrack) and every moment of love and growth draws a smile and, for many in the audience, tears of happiness.

Be human or wolf

I cannot praise the visuals or script enough but on top of direction, script and images, Hosoda also gets pitch-perfect performances from the voice actors. I especially loved the performances of the younger voice actors of Ame and Yuki.

Momoka Oona who plays the youngest version of Yuki is brilliant. Her voice overflows with such tomboyish enthusiasm and energy when she does particularly unladylike things like chasing cats and bagging snakes. Every growl, shout and squeal contained a childish and admirable joy of life and the determination to face the world around them.

Amon Kabe who plays the youngest version of Ame adds such depth to the script’s characterisation with his shy voice full of searching questions and a need for certainty and reassurance. Typical childhood things like fairy tales become sources of pain as he discovers the wolf is always the bad guy. Through him you feel the precarious nature of their situation.

They have the lion’s share of the film and the comedy and they essay their characters so well they become an intrinsic part of the character and remained the way I chose to remember how the characters sounded.

The Wolf Children has to be one of the best films I have ever seen. Its intelligent script and assured direction justify Hosoda’s high critical regard and wash away any doubts about his abilities. Despite echoes of the finest of Ghibli’s output, The Wolf Children feels like its own beast thanks to a script which mixes fantasy with realism and humanity that makes the film have substance. It is a film that pays tribute to Japan and Japanese culture while remaining universal because of its trio of characters who will charm and be familiar to us all.

5/5

Wolf Children Snow Laughter

My Departure, A Terminal Trust, Resident Evil: Damnation, 009 Re:Cyborg, Smile PreCure! The Movie: Everyone is All Mixed Up Inside the Picture Book! Trailers and the Japanese Movie Box Office Chart

FFXIII LightningThis week a gallery that had remained dormant opens and so there has been extra work for me to do. Not that it stopped me from posting information for Terracotta’s forthcoming release of a double-bill of Kim Ki-Duk movies in the form of Arirang and Crocodile, the Japanese films at the London International Animation Festival and a trailer for the hotly anticipated Evangelion: 3.0 You Can (Not) Redo anime movie. I also wrote a small obituary for the Japanese filmmaker Koji Wakamatsu who tragically died last week. I had a day off earlier in the week which allowed me to write up my notes from the BFI London Film Festival and do a lot of previews for films. My prediction about getting free time made a couple of weeks back did not quite pan out as expected but I am running slightly ahead of schedule (writing this did not feel like a desperate struggle).

What does the Japanese movie chart look like?

  1. The Expendables 2
  2. Tsunagu
  3. Bayside Shakedown 4: The Final New Hope
  4. Outrage Beyond
  5. Uchu Keiji Gyaban: The Movie
  6. Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax
  7. The Mystical Law
  8. Resident Evil: Retribution
  9. Bakarea High School
  10. Intouchables

The big change is the fact that The Expendables 2 is at the top spot and Space Ranger Gavan is at five. Sono latest film, The Land of Hope is apparently not in the top ten which strikes me as a crime, especially as it has had good reviews.

What is released in Japan today? A lot of anime!

 

My Departure                   My Departure Movie Poster

Japanese Title: 旅 の 贈りもの 明日へ

Romaji: Tabi no Okurimono Ashitae

Release Date:  27th October 2012 (Japan)

Running Time: 109 mins.

Director: Tetsu Maeda

Writer: Takashi Shinohara

Starring: Kiyoshi Maekawa, Wakako Saki, Yu Yamada, Kurumi Shimizu, Shono Hayama, Yu Tokui Taro Suruga, Atsuka Sakurai

Tetsu Maeda… That name rings a bell That’s right! Late last month his film The King and I was released. Well he’s back with My Departure, a film which stars the popular enka singer Kiyoshi Maekawa, Wakako Sakai, Yu Yamada (Nodame Cantabile live-action films). Being a gaikokujin and completely unfamiliar with Japanese television beyond Keizoku, The Water Margin and Monkey Magic, the only people I recognise are Yu Yokui (Keizoku, Swing Girls, Insight into the Universe, Dark Water, and the amusingly titled I am a Cat Stalker) Kurumi Shimizu and that’s only because I wrote up a film she was in last month called The Kirishima Thing, which I really want to see. From the synopsis I thought I might not like the trailer but actually… I kind of liked it. Maybe it is because I commute to work via train.

A man from Tokyo who worked for a construction company, a woman from Nagoya who is a hair stylist and another woman from Osaka who is about to get married travel by train to the city of Fukui As they travel by train these three people go on a journey both physical and personal.

 

A Terminal Trust                        The Terminal Trust

Japanese Title: 終 の 信託

Romaji: Tsui no Shintaku

Release Date:  27th October 2012 (Japan)

Running Time: 144 mins.

Director: Masayuki Suo

Writer: Saku Tatsuki (Original Short Story)

Starring: Koji Yakusho,Tadanobu Asano, Takao Osawa, Yoshihiko Hosoda, Tamiyo Kusakari

Masayuki Suo, director of I Just Didn’t Do It and the smash-hit film Shall We Dance? reunites two cast members from the latter film with Tamiyo Kusakari and Koji Yakusho (Séance, Cure) as the trailer shows at the beginning. They are joined by Tadanobu Asano (The Kids Return, Bright Future, Vital, Survive Style 5+) and Takao Osawa (All About Lily Chou-Chou, Ichi) This medical/legal drama is based on a short story named Tsui no Shintaki (The Final Request) by the lawyer Saku Tatsuki.

Doctor Ayano Orii (Kusakari) is placed in a difficult position when a patient named Shinzo Egi (Yakusho) who suffers severe asthma requests that he does not want to be put on life support following an attack. When he does die she is questioned in a criminal case. 

Resident Evil: Damnation                             Resident Evil Damnation

Romaji: Baiohazādo: Damunēshon

Japanese Title: バイオハザード ダムネーション

Japanese Release Date: 27th October 2012 (Japan)

Running Time: N/A

Director: Makoto Kamiya

Writer: Shotaro Suga

Starring: Paul Mercier (Leon), Alyson Court (Claire Redfield), Sam Riegel (Steve Burnside), Patricia Jay Lee (Jill Valentine)

I am old enough to remember when Resident Evil was first released… I think I played it that same year. Over the intervening years I have lost interest in the franchise – the last one I played was Code Veronica on the Dreamcast – but I still watch the films if I have nothing better to do. Anyway a trailer for Resident Evil: Damnation, the 3D CGI anime film sequel to Resident Evil: Degeneraton, was released last week.

In this story Leon S. Kennedy takes centre stage as he finds himself in a war-torn European country, the East Slavic Republic to verify that Bio Organic Weapons (BOWs) are being used in a civil war which both the US and Russia plan to intervene in. Obviously there are BOWs since the trailer shows Leon battling Lickers. Makoto Kamiya who directed Resident Evil: Degeneration and has handled the special effects on Gantz, acted in Tokyo Gore Police and was assistant director on Mamoru Oshii’s Avalon is directing this. Takahashi Tetsuya (AppleseedHalo Legends) is composing the music.

009 Re:Cyborg                                                           009 ReCyborg Poster

Japanese Title: ゼロゼロナイン リサイボーグ

Romaji: Zero Zero Nain Resaibo-gu

Release Date:  27th October 2012 (Japan)

Running Time: N/A

Director: Kenji Kamiyama

Writer:  Kenji Kamiyama (Script), Shotaro Ishimori (Original Creator)

Starring: Sakiko Tamagawa (Cyborg 001 / Ivan Whisky),Daisuke Ono (Cyborg 002 / Jet Link), Chiwa Saito (Cyborg 003 / Françoise Arnoul), Toru Ohkawa (Cyborg 004 / Albert Heinrich), Teruyuki Tanzawa (Cyborg 005 / Geronimo Jr), Tarou Masuoka (Cyborg 006 / Chang Changku), Hiroyuki Yoshino (Cyborg 007 / Great Britain), Noriaki Sugiyama (Cyborg 008 / Pyunma), Mamoru Miyano (Cyborg 009 / Joe Shimamura)

Production I.G.’s 3D anime take on Shotaro Ishinomori’s classic manga is released today. Kenji Kamiyama (Eden of the EastGitS: Stand Alone Complex) has taken on the roles of director and screen-writer for the movie. Other notable staff attached to the movie include Yusuke Takeda (Blood: The Last VampireGhost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex) as the art director, Gatou Asou (Moribito – Guardian of the SpiritOccult Academy) as the character design Masanori Uetaki who has handled 3D CG on titles like Asura Cryin’ and Tiger & Bunny, is lead animator, and Kenji Kawai (Patlabor!Ghost in the Shell!!) handling the soundtrack.

The story follows a group of nine people who have been kidnapped from across the world for a project involving human experimentation. These people are turned into cyborgs but escape and turn their new powers against their former captors in order to protect humanity from them.

Smile PreCure!  The Movie: Everyone is All Mixed Up Inside the Picture Book!Precure Mixed Up Movie Poster

Japanese Title: 映画 スマイル プリキュア! 絵本 の なか はみんな チグハグ

Romaji:  Eiga Sumairu Purikyua! Ehon no naka wa minna Chiguhagu

Release Date:  27th October 2012 (Japan)

Running Time: N/A

Director: Narumi Koda

Writer:  Shoji Yonemura (Script), 

Starring: Asami Tano (Akane Hino/Cure Sunny),Chinami Nishimura (Reika Aoki/Cure Beauty), Hisako Kanemoto (Yayoi Kise/Cure Peace), Marina Inoue (Nao Midorikawa/Cure March), Misato Fukuen (Miyuki Hoshizora/Cure Happy), Daisuke Sakaguchi (Pop), Ikue Ohtani (Candy), Megumi Hayashibara (Niko)

 

The PreCure anime is popular amongst girls in Japan where it is a massive franchise. I am not a girl or Japanese, therefore this has no effect on me. The film is directed by Narumi Kuroda who has acted as a director on the differenttelevision series. Shoji Yonemura (Glass Fleet, Fairy Tale, Smile PreCure!) is writing the script for the film and characters designs come from PreCure franchise veteran Toshie Kawamura.  Kozue Komatsu is also aiding Kawamura in character design as well as fulfilling the role of animation director. Chie Satou, another PreCure franchise familiar is handling the art direction.

Voice actors from the PreCure franchise are also reprising their roles and they are joined by Megumi Hayashibara (Rei Ayaname in Evangelion).

The five legendary PreCure girls find themselves transported into a picture book and are guided in their journey out by Niko, a girl who lives in fairy tales.