Japan Foundation’s Free London Screenings of “The Night is Short Walk on Girl” and More

The Japan Foundation in London have set up their annual Summer Explorers films season with a fun build-up of titles that feature titles from masterful directors both old – Takeshi Kitano and Seijun Suzuki – and new – Masaaki Yuasa. There is even a fun indie film thrown in. It’s really diverse and totally free! All you need to do is book your place!

Here’s some hype and information from the Japan Foundation:

“From wacky time-travel to ancient Rome (Thermae Romae) and a musical extravaganza set in feudal Japan (Princess Raccoon), to a slapstick twist on the film noir genre of the 60’s (Murder Un-Incorporated) – our annual Pre-Summer Explorers season aims to make you shake and cry with laughter while presenting the multi-faceted and unique sense of humour in Japanese cinema!”

Dates: 26 June 2019 – 30 June 2019
Screen 1, The Soho Hotel, 4 Richmond Mews, W1D 3DH London


Prince Charles Cinema, 7 Leicester Place, WC2H 7BY London

See the Japan Foundation website for more information or click on the links below.

What are the films?

Continue reading “Japan Foundation’s Free London Screenings of “The Night is Short Walk on Girl” and More”

Spring Explorers: Japan Foundation Shows Four Free Films in London

Spring Explorers Header Image

Spring is all about new beginnings and the Japan Foundation has programmed four films for its Spring Explorers screenings. They stretch from 1954 to 2013 and feature characters forced to enter new stages in their lives and even new worlds. Protags range from a little girl who walks on ceilings to a middle-aged man who hasn’t left his family home in years.

Here are the details:

Continue reading “Spring Explorers: Japan Foundation Shows Four Free Films in London”

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”

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”

Thermae Romae, Chronicle of My Mother, Home: Itoshi no Zashiki Warashi Trailers

I ended last week with a review for The Cabin in the Woods and kicked off this week with news about the Japanese films screening at Cannes. Although the selection of films is small it is still interesting. I’ll probably have more to say on the selection next week. I released news on the UK release of Hara Kiri and the forthcoming Japanese theatrical release in Blood-C: The Last Dark.

What’s happening with the Japanese box-office charts?

  1.  Kamen Rider X Super Sentai Super Hero Taisen
  2.  Detective Conan: The Mystery of the Eleventh Striker
  3.  We Were Here: Part 2
  4.  SPEC: The Movie
  5.  Battleship

There’s an alarming abundance of bad Hollywood movies in the top ten but it is pleasing to see A Letter to Momo break into the top ten. What are some of the titles released today?

Thermae Romae

Release Date:  28th April 2012 (Japan)テルマエ&スパワールド

Running Time: N/A

Director: Hideki Takeuchi

Writer: Mari Yamazaki (manga), Shogo Muto

Starring: Hiroshi Abe, Aya Ueto, Masachika Ichimura, Kai Shishido, Kazuki Kitamura

The live-action adaptation of Mari Yamazaki’s manga of the same name has time travel, culture clash comedy. It was partly filmed in Cinecitta in Rome but features Japanese actors who don’t look too Japanese playing principal Romans characters. This looks like a lot of fun and the recent anime wasn’t too bad. I’m also a fan of Hiroshi Abe so I’d definitely like to give this a go.

Roman bath house architect Lucius (Hiroshi Abe) is a perfectionist and traditionalist who gets fired from his architectural practice. In order to cheer him up, a friend takes him to a bathhouse but Lucius slips through a time portal and ends up in modern day Japan. Although initially bewildered Lucius takes inspiration from modern day Japanese baths and implements the designs in his Roman bathhouses. This sees him become favoured by Emperor Hadrian (Ichimura) but clash with emperor-in-waiting Antoninus (Kazuki Kitamura). Lucius soon finds himself caught up in political intrigue in between his time travel adventures but it is not all bad as he has met a beautiful aspiring manga artist named Mami (Ueto) who loves to sketch him.

Continue reading “Thermae Romae, Chronicle of My Mother, Home: Itoshi no Zashiki Warashi Trailers”

Third Window Films Release Kotoko in the UK, Rurouni Kenshin, Wild 7, Futari H: Second Kiss, Isoroku Yamamoto, the Commander-in-Chief of the Combined Fleet Trailers

It is Christmas Eve, I have done no wrapping and I’m putting the finishing touches to this blog post. Priorities, right… I’ll start wrapping presents while listening to some J-Rock after finishing this post!

Twitch broke news about Third Window Films ending the year with yet another awesome acqusittion announcement (I do like alliterations!) in the form of Kotoko from legendary J-horror director Shinya Tsukamoto (you should know him from the Tetsuo films and Nightmare Detective). Reading the synopsis this sounds more in the line of his dark dramas like Vital.

A single mother begins to see doubles and becomes paranoid which makes taking care of her baby a nightmare. Her only relief from the double vision is singing and cutting herself but she soon suffers a nervous breakdown and her baby is taken away. One day, while riding a bus, she sings to herself and this catches the attention of a man who falls in love with her. The man is a novelist and he begins stalking her until they engage in a volatile relationship which seems to ease her visions and paranoia. Then her baby returns and her condition worsens.

Anyway these are the last films to be released in Japan for 2011 and a trailer for Rurouni Kenshin which will hit next year and looks particularly awesome.

Rurouni Kenshin

Release Date: 25th August 2012

Running Time: N/A

Director: Keishi Ōtomo

Writer: Nobuhiro Watsuki (manga)

Starring: Takeru Sato, Emi Takei, Taketo Tanaka, Munetaka Aoki, Yu Aoi, Teruyuki Kagawa, Yosuke Eguchi,

The live-action adaptation of Nobuhiro Watsuki’s chanbara manga Rurouni Kenshin wasrecently released. The film’s titular character is played by Takeru Sato who has appeared in the live-action adaptation of BECK and Emi Takei, star of Takashi Miike’s forthcoming Ai to Makoto adaptation, takes the lead female role of Kaoru Kamiya.  The film is being directed by Keishi Ōtomo who directed a popular NHK historical television series named Ryomaden which featured Sato.

The story takes place in the early Meiji period, a time of transition for Japan where industrialisation allowed Japan modernise itself and consign samurai to the history books as they are replaced by guns and are banned from wearing swords in public. One such samurai is Himura Kenshin who was once an elite assassin during the final years of the Edo period he now finds himself as a wandering samurai offering aid to those in need as atonement for his past actions. During his travels he meets Kaoru Kamiya, an instructor at her father’s Kendo school. She offers Kenshin a place to stay at her dojo and their relationship begins to blossom but Kenshin’s past will soon catch up with him.

Continue reading “Third Window Films Release Kotoko in the UK, Rurouni Kenshin, Wild 7, Futari H: Second Kiss, Isoroku Yamamoto, the Commander-in-Chief of the Combined Fleet Trailers”

Kaibutsu-Kun, Ai to Makoto, Ranma ½ , The Parasite Doctor Suzune, Thermae Romae Trailers

Lots and lots of trailers linked by the fact that they are manga adaptations. This post was put together with a D’Espairs Ray, the Nico Nico Chorus as well as some Madoka Magica covers for background music.

The Japanese film charts look similar to previous weeks with A Ghost of a Chance and Kaiji 2 still in the top three but there is a new number 1 in the shape of Kaibutsu-Kun.

Kaibutsu-Kun The Movie

Release Date:  26th November 2011

Running Time: 103 min.

Director: Yoshihiro Nakamura

Writer: Fujio A. Fujita (manga), Masafumi Nishida

Starring: Satoshi Ono, Umika Kawashima, Tatsuomi Hamada, Norito Yashima, Ryuhei Ueshima, Choi Hong-Man, Takeshi Kaga

Kaubutsu-kun (Satoshi Ono) is the prince of monster land. To prove that he is a worthy heir to his father’s (Takashi Kaga) throne he goes to earth accompanied by his friends Dracular (Norito Yashima), Wolfman (Ryuhei Ueshima) and Franken (Choi Hong-Man)  to visit his friends Utako (Umika Kawashima) and Hiroshi (Tatsuomi Hamada)

This looks bad… but it’s in 3Deeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

Ai to Makoto (Love and Sincerity)

Release Date:  16th June, 2012

Running Time: N/A

Director: Takashi Miike

Writer: Ikki Kajiwara (manga)

Starring: Satoshi Tsumabuki, Emi Takei

Fresh from Phoenix Wright, Miike’s latest film is based on Ikki Kajiwara’s romance manga of the same name which ran in Shonen magazine from 1973 to 1976 with illustrations from Takumi Nagayasu. It received the live-action television treatment in 1974 and three films which makes Miike’s effort the fourth. It stars Satoshi Tumabuki (Villain) and Emi Takei who will be in the forthcoming Rouroni Kenshin live-action movie.

Troubled high school student Makoto Taiga (Satoshi Tsumabuki) meets the innocent student Ai Saotome (Emi Takei) in a love story.

Continue reading “Kaibutsu-Kun, Ai to Makoto, Ranma ½ , The Parasite Doctor Suzune, Thermae Romae Trailers”