Genkina hito at the Raindance Film Festival 2013

Genki Raindance Film Festival 2013 Review Banner

I’m back in London at another film festival a week after this year’s Raindance Independent Film Festival finished.

The thing about this festival is that it screens titles that would be hard to find even in their native countries. Indie films that would have a narrow release, usually in a capital city (Tokyo, London) and perhaps at some regional third-tier film festivals. If I had to describe the titles I watched with simple words then I would use confident and stylish. Every story was told with an assured skill and was highly absorbing. The only downside was the small turn-out for each of the films I attended. It was most disappointing during the Remiges screening because I played a part in getting it into the festival and the director came all the way from Japan to perform a Q&A!

The most positive thing is that I met friends and watched excellent films that have shot to the top of my favourite films of the year list – oh how I loved watching Shady, The Kirishima Thing, and Remiges – and I’ve become immersed even more in cinema culture.

Even more immersed in the culture?

Well, I write for Gigan magazine and some of my reviews for the festival appeared in the paper edition (no sign of digital yet). Thanks to Adam of Third Window Films I was able to conduct a couple of interviews with directors. So what reviews do I have in connection with the festival? Here are the reviews and interviews:

The Kirishima Thing

Shindo 

Ku_On 

Sake-Bomb + Interview 

Remiges + Interview 

Shady

The Kirishima Thing                                         The Kirishima Thing Poster          

Romaji: Kirishima, Bukatsu Yamerutteyo

Japanese Title: 桐島、 部活 やめるってよ

Running Time: 103 mins.

Director: Daihachi Yoshida

Writer: Ryo Asai (Original Novel), Kohei Kiyasu, Daihachi Yoshida (Screenplay)

Starring: Ai Hashimoto, Ryunosuke Kamiki, Suzuka Ohgo, Mayu Matsuoka, Motoki Ochiai, Masahiro Higashide, Kurui Shimizu, Mizuki Yamamoto,   

The Kirishima Thing is a teen drama featuring a collection of bright young things of the Japanese acting world that show they are a new and strong generation of talent. Its depiction of the social mores and strata in high school is well-observed and real and for its efforts it was the big winner at the recent Japanese Academy Awards scoring Best Film and Best Director prizes. I already watched and reviewed it before the festival so expect a re-review or lots of picture/Gifs.

When high school volleyball star player Kirishima quits the team shockwaves are sent through the school. This is the story of the students surrounding Kirishima from his friend Hiroki Kikuchi (Higashide), girlfriend Risa (Yamamoto), Aya (Ohgo) a brass band musician with a crush on Kirishima, badminton player Kasumi (Hashimoto), and the president of the film club Maeda (Kamiki). The students will cross social boundaries and defy groups as they attempt to redefine themselves.

 

Shady                                                                           Shady Film Poster 

Japanese Title: かしこい狗は、吠えずに笑う

Romaji: Kashikoi Inu wa, Hoezu ni Warau

Release Date: June 22nd, 2013

Director: Ryohei Watanabe

Writer: Ryohei Watanabe (Screenplay)

Starring: mimpi * β, Izumi Okamura, Isao Nakazawa, Gota Ishida, Ayumi Seko

I’ve been hyped for this ever since seeing at on Alua’s blog back in January. This film was released in June 2013 and it has been wowing critics and distributors (Winner of the Entertainment Award at the PIA Film Festival) and has been picked up by Third Window Films for the UK. This was my film of the festival. It was a genuinely unexpected treat that kept me hooked from start to finish. I want the soundtrack as well!

 

Misa Kumada (mimpi * β), an outcast at her school who is mercilessly teased and has no friends. She hates the place but when the popular and pretty Izumi Kiyose (Okamura) befriends her the two develop bonds of friendship. What Misa doesn’t know is that the seemingly angelic Kiyose has quite a dark side.

  Continue reading “Genkina hito at the Raindance Film Festival 2013”

Japanese Films at the Raindance Film Festival 2013

Genki Raindance Film Festival 2013 Banner

The films for the Raindance Film Festival (September 25th – October 06th ) have been announced and there are a lot of Japanese titles on offer in the Way Out East strand. There are some I have reviewed, some I have viewed and a lot that have come up in Saturday trailer posts I do every week. There are enough that I am willing to attend the festival. I will be heading down to London and watching Shindo, The Kirishima Thing, Shady and Remiges.

Here’s a trailer for the festival:

Here’s the line-up of titles:

Soul Flower Train            Soul Flower Train Film Poster

Japanese Title:  ソウル フラワー トレイン

Romaji: Souru Furawa- Torein

Running Time: 97 mins.

Director: Hiroshi Nishio

Writer: Miyuki Uehara, Hiroshi Nishio (Screenplay), Robin Nishi (Original Manga)

Starring: Mitsuru Hirata, Saki Seishi, Kensuke Owada, Mio Otani, Kaoru Kusumi, Megumi Wada, Shoichi Asano, Marin Sayoko

Robin Nishi, the mind behind the manga/anime Mind Game has another of his works adapted. It’s a road-trip movie with a soundtrack by Shounen Knife. This trailer was featured just last weekend and I liked it a lot but the screening date is a little too early for me so I’ll have to miss it.

In this tale, a father named Amamoto leaves his small village and heads to Osaka to track down his estranged daughter Yuki. He hooks up with a friendly young woman who helps him but ends up getting lost and caught up in a surreal adventure on the island before he finds her and discovers she is keeping secrets.

Continue reading “Japanese Films at the Raindance Film Festival 2013”

The Kirishima Thing 桐島、部活やめるってよ (2012)

Genki Kirishima Thing Banner

The Kirishima Thing                                                   The Kirishima Thing Poster

Romaji: Kirishima, Bukatsu Yamerutteyo

Japanese Title: 桐島、 部活 やめるってよ

Release Date: August 11th, 2012 (Japan)

Running Time: 103 mins.

Director: Daihachi Yoshida

Writer: Ryo Asai (Original Novel), Kohei Kiyasu, Daihachi Yoshida (Screenplay)

Starring: Ai Hashimoto, Ryunosuke Kamiki, Suzuka Ohgo, Mayu Matsuoka, Motoki Ochiai, Masahiro Higashide, Kurui Shimizu, Mizuki Yamamoto, 

High school is a universal experience for a lot of people and a very popular setting for film and anime. Japan is especially good at creating high school, especially when one considers the dominance of clubs in high school life¹. Many stories look deep into the nature of relationships and the way people socialise and deconstruct various aspects to capture high school life and all of the ephemeral emotions adolescents have as this treasure of a film demonstrates.

Genki Kirishima Thing Cast of Characters

The story starts on a Friday when news that the popular high school volleyball star player Kirishima has quit the team is broken to various people.

Shockwaves are sent through the school’s social world with Kirishima’s handsome and equally popular best friend Hiroki Kikuchi (Higashide) left bewildered by the few facts that emerge, Kirishima’s socially popular girlfriend Risa (Yamamoto) angry, and the volleyball team in a panic ahead of a big game with the less capable Koizumi Fuusuke (Taiga) taking Kirishima’s pivotal libero position and getting scared by the pressure to live up to Kirishima’s performance leel.

Also affected, but indirectly, are the rest of the students who see the results of the revelation of Kirishima’s disappearance like badminton players Kasumi Higashihara (Hashimoto) and Mika Miyabe (Kurumi Shimizu), the less popular kids in the culture clubs like Aya Sawashima (Ohgo) a brass band musician with an impossibly earnest crush on Hiroki, and the president of the film club Ryoya Maeda (Kamiki) and his assistant director Takefumi (Maeno).

The story ends on a Tuesday when some of the students find themselves having crossed social boundaries and redefined themselves while others remain steadfastly in their mind-set. 

The Kirishima Thing was the big winner at the 36th Japan Academy Prize Awards taking Picture of the Year, Most Popular Film and Director of the Year awards.  It is based on a similarly named high school novel written by Ryo Asai who worked on adapting the book’s omnibus story framework into a film which has resulted in a non-linear narrative that covers all sorts of people who witness different things from different perspectives.

Continue reading “The Kirishima Thing 桐島、部活やめるってよ (2012)”

2013 (36th) Japan Academy Prize Award Winners

Genki 36th Japanese Academy Awards

The 36th Japan Academy Prizes were announced on Friday and an interesting line-up of winners has been announced.

The big news is that Hiroshi Abe (Survive Style 5+) and Kiki Kirin (Villain) take the outstanding acting awards. Abe won for his performance in the phenomenally successful Thermae Romae , beating out Koji Yakusho (who was nominated twice!) and Kirin won for the drama Chronicle of My Mother, beating out Erika Sawajiri (Ghost Train) who was in Helter Skelter. The other big news is that The Kirishima Thing, a film that interested me last year, took Picture of the Year and earned its director Daihachi Yoshida the award for Director of the Year beating far more experienced directors. Screenplay of the year went to Kenji Uchida for Key of Life which was a brilliantly written comedy. Outstanding Foreign Language Film went to The Intouchables.

The star filled film Dearest took the awards for Outstanding Performance by an Actress/Actor with Kimiko Yo (For Love’s Sake, The Story of Yonosuke, Departures, Suicide Club) and Hideji Otaki (Alley Cat, Izo) takng the awards. The Kirishima Thing and A Chorus of Angels split the technical awards between each other.

The Animation of the Year went to the brilliant The Wolf Children, my favourite film and anime of last year and it beat out A Letter to Momo and Evangelion 3.0.

AKB48’s Yuko Oshima won Most Popular Actor for her role in Ushijima the Loan Shark.

Being a Japanese film fan in the west is hard because we are usually a year or two behind the releases by the time we see them and it is only thanks to film festivals and enterprising film labels like Third Window Films that we get in touch with them in their year of release so it is hard to voice an opinion on how right or wrong the choices are. I have to admit that I am only familiar with most of these films thanks to my weekly trailer posts but I have had the pleasure of seeing some of the winners (Wolf Children, Key of Life) and I wholeheartedly back the awards given to them. Here is the full list of the nominees and winners complete with trailers for the winners and some of their posters:

Picture of the Year                                                          The Kirishima Thing Poster

  • The Kirishima Thing – Award Winner
  • Dearest
  • A Chorus of Angels
  • The Floating Castle
  • Chronicle Of My Mother

 

Animation of the Year

  • Wolf Children – Award Winner
  • Evangelion: 3.0 You Can (Not) Redo
  • A Letter to Momo
  • Friends Naki on Monster Island
  • One Piece Film Z

                                           The Wolf Children Poster

Most Popular Film

  • The Kirishima Thing

 

Director of the Year

  • Daihachi Yoshida (The Kirishima Thing) – Award Winner
  • Shinji Higuchi, Isshin Inudo (The Floating Castle)
  • Junji Sakamoto (A Chorus of Angels)                                       Key of Life Movie Poster
  • Masato Harada (Chronicle Of My Mother)
  • Yasuo Furuhata (Dearest)

 

Screenplay of the Year

  • Kenji Uchida (Key Of Life) – Award Winner
  • Takeshi Aoshima (Dearest)
  • Kohei Kiyasu, Daihachi Yoshida (The Kirishima Thing)
  • Machiko Nasu (A Chorus of Angels)
  • Masato Harada (Chronicle Of My Mother)

                     

Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Leading Roleテルマエ&スパワールド

  • Hiroshi Abe (Thermae Romae) – Award Winner
  • Masato Sakai (Key Of Life)
  • Mansai Nomura (The Floating Castle)
  • Mirai Moriyama (The Drudgery Train)
  • Koji Yakusho (Admiral Yamamoto)
  • Koji Yakusho (Chronicle Of My Mother)

 

Outstanding Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role

  • Kirin Kiki (Chronicle Of My Mother) – Award WinnerChronicle of my Mother Poster
  • Tamiyo Kusakari (A Terminal Trust)
  • Erika Sawajiri (Helter Skelter)
  • Takako Matsu (Dreams for Sale)
  • Sayuri Yoshinaga (A Chorus of Angels)

 

Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role

  • Hideji Otaki (Dearest) – Award Winner
  • Teruyuki Kagawa (Key Of Life)
  • Kengo Kora (The Drudgery Train)
  • Koichi Sato (Dearest)
  • Koichi Sato (The Floating Castle)                                               Anata e Film Poster
  • Mirai Moriyama (A Chorus of Angels)

 

Outstanding Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role

  • Kimiko Yo (Dearest) – Award Winner
  • Shinobu Terajima (Helter Skelter)
  • Ryoko Hirosue (Key Of Life)
  • Hikari Mitsushima (A Chorus of Angels)
  • Aoi Miyazaki (Chronicle Of My Mother)

  Continue reading “2013 (36th) Japan Academy Prize Award Winners”

Just Pretended to Hear, The Kirishima Thing, Jewelpet the Movie: Sweets Dance Princess Trailers and the Japanese Movie Box Office Charts

I have been watching yet more of the London 2012 Olympics and marvelling at how sono3spectacular it has been and the great sporting achievements. Whilst writing reviews I have had the BBC’s coverage streaming in the background. What reviews did I write? Angel Dust, a brilliant psychological thriller by Sogo Ishii, Sweet Home, a brilliant haunted house film by Kiyoshi Kurosawa and I also wrote a preview for 009 Re:Cyborg.

What’s the state of the Japanese movie box-office chart this week?

  1. Umizaru 4: Brave Hearts
  2. The Wolf Children Ame and Yuki
  3. The Dark Knight Rises
  4. Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted
  5. Pokemon: Best Wishes 2012
  6. Road to Ninja: Naruto the Movie
  7. Helter Skelter
  8. Eight Ranger
  9. Another
  10. Brave

 

The Dark Knight Rises drops one place from two to three in its second week as The Wolf Children Ami and Yuki claw their way back to second place. Helter Skelter remains at seven. Two of last week’s releases enter the top twenty with the Code Geass anime at twelve and Another at nine.

What Japanese films are released in Japan today?

Just Pretended to Hear                                                    Just Pretended to Hear Poster

Romaji: Kikoeteru, Furi wo Sita Dake

Japanese Title: 聴こえてる、ふり を した だけ

Release Date: 11th August 2012 (Japan)

Running Time: 99 mins.

Director: Kaori Imaizumi

Writer: Kaori Imaizumi

Starring: Hana Nonaka, Meru Gouda, Takayuki Sugiki, Aki Etohu, Yasumi Yashima

This film was at this year’s Berlin Film Festival where it came second in the Generation section and received a special mention from the Children’s Jury earning it a Crystal Bear. It is directed by Kaori Imaizumi, a nurse who shot this on maternity leave, and stars Hana Nonaka.

This film follows a young girl named Sachi whose mother has died and her father is emotionally self-destructing as a result. Her only relief is in a friend and the belief in an afterlife that allows her mother to stay by her side.


The Kirishima Thing                                                  The Kirishima Thing Poster

Romaji: Kirishia, Bukatsu Yamerutteyo

Japanese Title: 桐島、 部活 やめるってよ

Release Date: 11th August 2012 (Japan)

Running Time: 99 mins.

Director: Daihachi Yoshida

Writer: Ryo Asai (Novel)

Starring: Ai Hashimoto, Ryunosuke Kamiki, Suzuka Ohgo, Mayu Matsuoka, Motoki Ochiai, Masahiro Higashide, Kurui Shimizu, Mizuki Yamamoto,

Ryo Asai’s high school novel “Kirishima, Bukatsu Yamerutteyo” (2010) gets the big screen treatment. The omnibus story tells of the stories of multiple characters and as a result it features a range of young acting talent. It stars Ai Hashimoto (Another, Control Tower), Ryunosuke Kamiki (Survive Style 5+, SPEC: Heaven),  Suzuka Ohgo (Soup), Mayu Matsuoka (Love Exposure), and Motoki Ochiai (Hard Romanticker). The director of the film is Daihachi Yoshida who should be familiar to UK cinephiles from his excellent work film Funuke Show Me Some Love, You Losers!

When high school volleyball star player Kirishima quits the team shockwaves are sent through the school. This is the story of the students surrounding Kirishima from his friend Hiroki Kikuchi (Higashide), girlfriend Risa (Yamamoto), Aya (Ohgo) a brass band musician with a crush on Kirishima, badminton player Kasumi (Hashimoto), and the president of the film club Maeda (Kamiki). The students will cross social boundaries and defy groups as they attempt to redefine themselves.

 

Jewelpet the Movie: Sweets Dance Princess       Jewel Pet Poster

Romaji: Eiga Juerupetto: Suuītsu Dansu Purinsesu

Japanese Title: 映画 ジュエルペット スウイーツ ダンス プリンセス

Release Date: 11th August 2012 (Japan)

Running Time: N/A

Director: Hiroaki Sakurai

Writer: Takashi Yamada

Starring: Mana Ashida, Ayaka Saitō, Aya Hirano, Nozomi Sasaki, Miyuki Sawashiro Aki Toyosaki, Rina Hidaki

Despite writing for anime news sites and posting trailers daily I sometimes forget to place that info on my own blog. I might have forgotten this because it is an anime movie based on a property aimed at young girls but I am determined to get things in order! Not that I will ever watch this. Anyway the seiyuu involved include Aki Toyosaki (Momoka Oginome in Mawaru Penguindrum – her scene in the child crusher made me emotional…), Aya Hirano (Konata in Lucky Star), and Ayaka Saitō (Akane Kojima in Boogiepop Phantom).

 

Ruby (Saito) and her friends are preparing for Princess Mana’s birthday party in Sweetland but when a mysterious item falls out of the sky, a Sweetspet boy appears. Cue much hilarity.

Continue reading “Just Pretended to Hear, The Kirishima Thing, Jewelpet the Movie: Sweets Dance Princess Trailers and the Japanese Movie Box Office Charts”