Recent and not so recent Japanese dramas

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Re: Recent and not so recent Japanese dramas

Unread post by HungFist » 13 Apr 2013, 12:33

mini review:

Flashback Memories 3D (2012)

Perhaps the first film with meaningful use of 3D, courtesy of genius documentary filmmaker Tetsuaki Matsue. A fitting follow up to his superb Tokyo films Live Tape (2009) and Tokyo Drifter (2011), Matsue focuses on musician Goma who lost his memory some year back. Utilizing 3D technology, Matsue sets a live concert in the front, and re-creates Goma’s past in the background in 2D. Talking heads are nowhere to be found as Matsue uses archival footage, personal interpretations, and even animation. In the end, the viewer is not quite sure whether he witnessed a documentary or a live concert – or both. An original and successful film, though the visual information flood can be a bit much and Goma’s music is not for everyone.

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site: http://flashbackmemories.jp/
HungFist wrote:Birthright (Saitai)

Terrible taglines and posters, unpromising subject, the trailer nevertheless looks intriguing:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ao7bA1xn2zc

- http://www.saitai-film.com/index_e.html
- http://www.elevenarts.net/Feature/Titles/Birthright/

Festival screenings so far, dvd presumably sometime this year.

via AVManiacs / Sheldon Warnock

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The director's previous film, Hikari sasu umi, boku no fune (ヒカリサス海、ボクノ船 ), doesn't look that good, though:
http://video.jp.msn.com/watch/video/...B7%A8/1m4w8h3o
This just came out on rental-only dvd in Japan. I will review it when I find time.

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Re: Recent and not so recent Japanese dramas

Unread post by HungFist » 27 May 2013, 07:51

Wandering Alien Detective Robin (Sasurai no alien, 2012)

A modern film noir inspired by Sting’s alienation song Englishman in New York. A lonely private detective searching for a killer. A sad world that does not accept differing individuals. What makes Lisa Takeba’s 19 minute short film unique is the main character: a big headed alien from outer space.

The odd but amusing film does not make a number of its peculiarity. Takeba plays tribute to the genre with stylish B&W cinematography, jazzy soundtrack and moody bars – not special effects. Aliens live on earth next to humans, and being a minority, they are often discriminated. The “no aliens” signs on restaurant and bathhouse doors remind of the “no foreigners” policy that some Japanese businesses still engage in even in reality.

The alien mask, which marks as the film’s main special effect, is worn by a relatively well known face: Alien vs. Ninja’s Masanori Mimoto. Sushi Typhoon man Marc Walcow doubles for the New York scenes – it was cheaper to fly just the mask than the cast.

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edit: of course this is not exactly a drama film (hence a bit off topic) but a nice little discovery that I wanted to give a bit of visibility and couldn't think of a better thread...

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Re: Recent and not so recent Japanese dramas

Unread post by HungFist » 27 May 2013, 08:00

Audio Erotica (Iro koe) (Japan)

A man’s voice becomes fuel for erotic desire and despair in an urban Tokyo film. A stunningly promising movie by the young (female) director Kimi Yawata.

Somewhat resembling Shinya Tsukamoto’s movies such as Snake of June, Audio Erotica follows a woman who becomes obsessed with her boyfriend’s voice. The sublime film remains focused to its theme and features no sex scenes or female nudity at all. Such scenes simply did not have place in the story. The outcome is one of the most unique and stylish takes on sexual psychology.

The well acted and written film is supported by superb cinematography and harrowing audio. The scenes with the protagonist wandering in Shibuya’s neon light jungle, filled with warm colors and low sounds, are the most impressive.

The storyline eventually descends to a Tsukamotoan hell, but even then the film suggest of a birth of a new talent rather than a tribute. The 37 minute film is easily one of the most interesting discoveries of 2012.

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Audio Erotica (and a bunch of other Yubari 2013 shorts are available for VoD for 210 yen at Cinema 247. I don't know if it works abroad, but foreign credit card is accepted at least (the site is in Japanese, but easy to use). All shorts are subtitled in English.

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Re: Recent and not so recent Japanese dramas

Unread post by HungFist » 20 Jun 2013, 14:07

Kota Yoshida's Ochiki R2J 2013/08/21
- http://www.allcinema.net/prog/show_dvd. ... sid=891090
- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_SN7Uqmw4HE

The trailer doesn't look that good to me, though. From Yoshida's earlier films I adore Kyojima 3rd St., Sumida City, but found Yumiko's Aroma rather mediocre.

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Re: Recent and not so recent Japanese dramas

Unread post by HungFist » 20 Jun 2013, 14:11

I seriously lack time to write about movies, so long stories short. Only good movies recently:

Birthright (2011)
An impressive slow burner of a revenge movie. Naoki Hashimoto feminist revenge tale is like an early Kiyoshi Kurosawa film with melancholic gray visuals and nothing but female characters. Long, 10 to 15 minute sequences with no dialogue, and music used sparingly.

It's an endurance test to many, but rewards are fittingly high. Hashimoto pulls impressive performances from his leads, kidnapper Sayoko Oho, and victim Miyu Yagyu, who is kept captive without knowing the reason. Both women went through days of filming hardly without any food or drink to relate to their characters.

After an exceptionally challenging build up, the film’s ending hits like a million volts. This kind of brave filmmaking is a rare threat, although it will limit the audience to minimum.

Director Hashimoto is better known as producer for Jun Ichikawa and Shunji Iwai. This is where many of his influences are, though Hashimoto dares to take minimalism much further than Iwai and Ichikawa ever did. He also does a rare move by using only female characters in important roles: men are only seen in minor supporting roles, and none of them have dialogue.


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(R2J rental screencaps. Retail release does not exist so far)


Zero Man vs. the Half Virgin (2011)

Takashi Miike screenwriter Sakichi Sato's (Gozu, Ichi the Killer) trendy romance /drama / comedy / fantasy. A policeman wakes up with no memory, but instead a new skill. He can see the number of other people’s past sex partners as the figure appears on their foreheads.

Raunchy concept makes for relatively innocent comedy romance. Sex is limited strictly to one scene where the titular semi-virgin (pink star Shijimi) comes out of her shell. Characterization is decent enough to hold the film together. Sato makes most out of his limited budget, utilizing wonderful pop/rock soundtrack and some visually mesmerizing scenes. The film is 20 minutes too long, but the energy and innovative camera angles keep the film running.

Performances are solid throughout, including a standout stand-out supporting performance by film translator Don Brown as the 55-hit gaijin. Nobuhiro Yamashita regular Hiroshi Yamamoto co-stars. The amusing little film is unlikely to be discovered by larger audiences, but possesses potential for minor cult classic. Among mini-budgeted J-obscurities, this certainly a small discovery. Part of the second season of Artport’s Seishun H films

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(R2J rental screencaps)


Extend Hands From Darkness (2013)

Yukihiro Toda’s Yubari Fanta 2013 winner tackles the obscure world of Japanese sex business. The country’s bizarre forms of sex trade are largely due to the legislation which prohibits prostitution, yet defines prostitution simply as vaginal intercourse. As a result, Japan is packed with legal non-prostitution that offers everything imaginable without intercourse.

Extend Hands from Darkness follows a delivery health (basically home delivery prostitution) girl serving disabled customers. The interesting topic is shot in semi-documentary fashion. Characters feel real, as do some street scenes, and at least one of the actors is genuinely disabled.

At 66 minutes the film at the length of a pink flick, but lacks any real nudity for lead girl Maya Koizumi being a gravure idol. She acts alright, but hiding strategic bits feels a bit pretentious in a film dealing with sex. Director Toda lacks distinct style, but also avoids preaching and cliché for the most part. Tech credits are modest, giving the film a bit cheap look.

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(youtube trailer screencaps, film viewed in cinema)

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Re: Recent and not so recent Japanese dramas

Unread post by HungFist » 02 Jul 2013, 09:20

HungFist wrote: Somewhat the same story with Sora kara kita tenkousei (literally "The Exhange Student who Came from Heaven). Skipped in favor of another screening, but the (short) film looks intriquing nevertheless. Theatrical release planned soon.
- http://www.itoh-c.com/sora/index.html

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I'm still waiting for this to land a theater near me (playing with another short feature from the same director, ネコヤドのハルとアキ (Nekoyado no Haru to Aki / Haru and Aki in Nekoyado), which also screened at Yubari), and now dvd is announced as well: 2013/09/27

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- http://www.allcinema.net/prog/show_dvd. ... sid=892041

Nekoyado no Haru to Aki is included on the dvd as well + plenty of other extras

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Re: Recent and not so recent Japanese dramas

Unread post by HungFist » 19 Jul 2013, 13:53

Petal Dance BD coming 2013/09/25. English subs listed.
- http://www.allcinema.net/prog/show_dvd. ... sid=895455

The earlier Ishikawa BD's, Tokyo.Sora and Sukida, also have English subs according to the product descriptions at amazon

Kitano's Kid's Return BD on the same day, also with subs.
- http://www.amazon.co.jp/dp/B00DU6NZE4/

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Re: Recent and not so recent Japanese dramas

Unread post by Shingster » 20 Jul 2013, 14:08

Can't believe Ishikawa hasn't made any feature-length films since sukida!

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Re: Recent and not so recent Japanese dramas

Unread post by HungFist » 30 Jul 2013, 19:02

HungFist wrote: Two other films I'm looking forward to are Yutaka Tsuchiya GFP Bunny (Midnighteye's review and interview) and Nobuhiko Obayashi's Casting Blossoms to the Sky. The latter I skipped in cinema as I'm under the impression it's a very long, dialogue heavy film full of fine detail and was a little unsure if my Japanese was up to fully appreciating it.

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New poster for GFP Bunny, now distributed in Japan as Thallium shôjo no dokusatsu nikki (タリウム少女の毒殺日記)

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Trailer 1:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j4Ot7R37qT8

Trailer 2:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o-976C5NGZQ

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Re: Recent and not so recent Japanese dramas

Unread post by HungFist » 20 Aug 2013, 10:16

ah, I just realized I've forgot to post anything about About a Pink Sky...

About the Pink Sky (Momoiro sora o, 2011)

Keiichi Kobayashi’s Tokyo International Film Festival winner is an empty affair. The youth film follows a high school girl who finds a wallet on the street. This leads to a series of encounters with various characters, most importantly the wallet’s owner. Storyline, however, is secondary to Kobayashi, who is more interested in looking into the psyche of a high school girl. It is for the audience to decide how fascinating of a protagonist a frequently screaming, idiosyncratic and selfish teen girl makes.

Rather than atmospheric and existential, the film is loud and scripted. Comparisons to such masters as Shinji Somai or Shunji Iwai are a far cry from reality – Yuya Ishii’s awkward comedies would be a closer match. On the positive side, the film’s B&W cinematography is gorgeous and effectively hides some of the shortcomings of digital video.

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(viewed at cinema, screencaps from the trailer)

Two trailers:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zAa6YNyzr9Q
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FS5Nci7PfG8

Toei's DVD is coming October 11, 2013
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Re: Recent and not so recent Japanese dramas

Unread post by HungFist » 06 Sep 2013, 10:51

A few more Yubari reviews, it's only been 6 months...

Winter’s Alpaca (Fuyu no arupaka) (冬のアルパカ) 2012)

Japanese culture worships anything cute and sweet. It is no wonder Alpaca, the bad smelling mixture of sheep and camel, has become a local favourite. The South American animal is a rare but adored sight in Japan. Yuji Harada’s black comedy Winter’s Alpaca casts alpacas in supporting role.

The half-hour short film roughly resembles the early comedies of Nobuhiro Yamashita. The protagonist is an unattractive young woman in dept for the yakuza. To save her alpaca farm she sets out to collect the money before the deadline – any way possible.

The small budgeted film plays its cards well. Drama is well made and humour unexpectedly dark, cleaning the floor with the audiences sympathies. Acting and tech credits are good enough to raise the film above amateur productions. The city of Yamakoshi in the Niigata prefecture, which serves as the setting, obtained the alpacas as an international gift after an earthquake that struck the area the area.

Website: http://fuyunoalpaca.web.fc2.com/index.html

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(Screencaps from the trailer)


From Here to Nowhere (Gokushiteki runaway) (極私的ランナウェイ) (2012)

23 year old director Ken Kawai’s road movie From Here to Nowhere is a humoristic coming of age story where no one really comes of age. The film follows a good-for-nothing boy who meets an eccentric prostitute in Tokyo and decide to run away with her – with no apparent destination.

Kawai was the youngest director at this year’s Yubari Fanta competition series. His good meaning film has its moments, but it hardly breaks any new grounds. The Japanese slacker movie genre has already been mastered by directors such as Nobuhiro Yamashita and Yuya Ishii. Kawai’s dry humour and quiet, ill-lucked characters feel derivative in comparison, although a graphic sex scene comes as a surprise.

Among low budget indies, the film looks quite acceptable visually. Acting is occasionally stiff, however, and some of the jokes lose their effect because of the lack of originality. Nevertheless, Kawai and his 24 year old main actors put their hearts into the film and don’t try to fish laughs with loud and childish slapstick. From Here to Nowhere isn’t a terribly good movie, but it’s a good try from a young director. Perhaps next time Kawai will find a more original approach to the material.

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t6Q-E2KE3gY

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(Screencaps from the trailer)

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Re: Recent and not so recent Japanese dramas

Unread post by HungFist » 17 Sep 2013, 19:43

Yukuharu (2012)

Jason Gray’s directorial debut, shot in Tokyo with a Japanese cast. Two elementary school students with a crush on each other share the walk home and discover they know each others’ secrets.

The 13 minute short film is very “Japanese” in its colourful and effective visual style contrasting spring (cherry blossom) and fall. The young cast is quite good and the film holds the attention well. Gray uses music and visual effects a bit too obviously to underline moods, and the storyline becomes predictable towards the end.

Nevertheless, it’s a pleasing small film for the most part. Hopefully Gray will get an opportunity to direct more and improve his delivery.

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(caps from the trailer)


River (2012)

A teenage brother and sister live together but hardly say a word to each other. He doesn’t even know her phone number. Then, one day he finds her bag at the riverside and begins to suspect something she never told anyone has happened to her.

An interesting psychological short film (23 min) by the potential future promise Ikuro Tomeda. The director combines quiet youth drama and slight mystery, with the emphasis firmly on the former. Above all, the film is a portrayal of alienation and lack of communication between two people. Captivatingly directed, Tomeda cuts the dialogue to the minimum. Cinematography would benefit from better quality digital video, though.

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(caps from the trailer)


Transferring (Tenkousei, 2012)

Beautifully filmed short film follows two alienated high school girls who become friends. The 20 minute film is a Shunji Iwai / Jun Ichikawa esque addition to the distinctly Japanese sub-genre of high school films focusing on friendship between girls. Director Junichi Kanai handles the material as skilfully and delicately as the genre’s masters.

Although shot digitally, the film looks great with its slightly greenish hue. The two girls are well portrayed by Riko Masuda and Aoi Morikawa (who also starred in this year’s not-so-good Schoolgirl Complex movie adaptation).

Director Kanai was awarded as the best director at the 2012 Sapporo International Short Film Festival for this film, and only a few weeks later again received a special price at Pusan International Film Festival. His feature length debut, Yurusenai, aitai (2013) hits Japanese theatres later this year. A director to keep an eye on.

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(caps from the trailer)

(all viewed at Sapporo Short Fest 2013)
(blog version of the reviews: http://sketchesofcinema.wordpress.com/2 ... k-takes-9/ )

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Re: Recent and not so recent Japanese dramas

Unread post by HungFist » 05 Oct 2013, 06:42

In love with Petal Dance. The film is mesmerizing. The cinematography is breathtakingly beautiful and you can feel the winter breeze coming through the screen. Aoi Miyazaki is at her absolute best here, and Sakura Ando has never been this good before. There's a 4 minute single shot scene in a car that is especially brilliant. I didn't expect Ishikawa to be back in this good form after a downwards trend with the second half of Su-ki-da and Kimi no yubisaki, but this is almost as good as Tokyo.Sora. Only Yoko Kanno's soundtrack is a bit too obvious/artistic, but thankfully sparsely used.

Will buy the BD at some point. Hopefully has better image than the DVD (which I rented), which has tons of edge enhancement (update: comparison). Don't let that prevent you from seeing the film, though.

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(R2J rental screencaps)
(and yes, the JP DVD and BD come with English subs, just like all other Ishikawa DVDs and BD's except Kimi no yubisaki)

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Re: Recent and not so recent Japanese dramas

Unread post by HungFist » 10 Oct 2013, 17:40

Still about Petal Dance: the 4 minute single shot car scene is gotta be one of the most naturally acted, written and directed scenes ever filmed. I have watched that scene 4 times and I'm blown away every time. Sakura Ando is even better than Aoi Miyazaki in it.

In other news, Extend Hands from Darkness (my review is on the previous page) R2J coming 2014/01/08
- http://www.allcinema.net/prog/show_dvd. ... sid=904700

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Re: Recent and not so recent Japanese dramas

Unread post by HungFist » 17 Nov 2013, 04:04

Schilling reviews Yurusenai, aitai (Again):
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/culture/201 ... omN1ScUapB

Site:
http://yuru-ai.com/

Looking forwards to this. Loved director Kanai's earlier film Transferring

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Re: Recent and not so recent Japanese dramas

Unread post by HungFist » 24 Nov 2013, 14:10

School Girl's Gestation (リュウグウノツカイ) (2013)

A new high school girl movie with Rina Takeda in it (no karate to be expected). Looks semi-interesting. Details are pretty sparse, no official site or film database entries that I could find, yet. The director is called Atsushi Ueda. The Japanese title Ryugu no tsukai means Giant oarfish (which is a bloody big fish in case you don't know). Runs only 60 minutes.

Trailer:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bSb83qpCG2g

Twitter:
https://twitter.com/ryugunotsukai17

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Re: Recent and not so recent Japanese dramas

Unread post by HungFist » 27 Nov 2013, 13:47

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School Girl Complex (School Girl Complex: Hôsôbu-hen ) (2013)

Yuki Aoyama’s hugely popular School Girl Complex photo book has finally been turned into a movie. There is both irony and admiration to director Yuichi Onuma’s take on the franchise, which somewhat turns the material upside down.

Unlike Aoyama’s book, which drooled all over high school girls in expertly framed photos that never revealed their faces, Onuma goes for a realistic coming-of-age drama where his protagonists look more real, perhaps less beautiful, than the actresses playing them normally do. It is quite ironic that this appears in a School Girl Complex adaptation, while any average Japanese youth film would draw a more romanticized / fetishized image of high school girls. Opening credits aside Onuma’s camera focus, too, is on the girls’ faces rather than on their bodies or uniforms.

Unfortunately the film never manages to dig that deep into its characters, despite solid acting by Mugi Kadowaki and Aoi Morikawa. Onuma takes a no-hurry approach to his love triangle set in an all girls’ high school, but comes out with little psychological depth. A quiet girl secretly in love with a classmate, who in turn receives little response from the class’s newcomer she has a crush on, is hardly an original character set up either.

One problem is also the film’s rough low-budget looks. With all the blown out whites and exceedingly digital looking images the film is hardly a pleasure to the eye. Perhaps, with more appealing visuals and more captivating camerawork the film’s character focus would also reveal more depth.

All complaints aside, School Girl Complex is not actually a bad movie. It is, in fact, a somewhat functional character drama with some good acting. It also lacks the flashiness and silly melodrama found in most high school films. At the same time, however, it feels like a missed opportunity on several fronts. Those who saw Onuma’s earlier work Nude (2010) – an interesting take on AV industry – no doubt expected more from the promising director.

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(screencaps from the trailer)

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Re: Recent and not so recent Japanese dramas

Unread post by HungFist » 01 Jan 2014, 05:27

HungFist wrote:TWF's Adam Torrel's pick for the film of 2012: Ryohei Watanabe’s Shady (Kashkoi Inu wa Hoezuni Warau / かしこい狗は、吠えずに笑う). The trailer looks quite good indeed:
And Third Window's got it scheduled for 2014 March DVD release!
- http://thirdwindowfilms.com/films/shady

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Great news! The film is still touring Japan, but it's skillfully avoiding me (always playing in the wrong place at the wrong time)

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Re: Recent and not so recent Japanese dramas

Unread post by HungFist » 04 Jan 2014, 13:12

Haru and Aki in Nekoyado (Nokoyado no Haru to Aki, 2012) and Summer of Angels (Sora kara kita tenkousei, 2013)

Director Yuichi Kondo always wanted to make giant monster movies. Fate did not favour him and he ended up making idol films about teenage girls – with small special effects.

Kondo's been a regular name on short film festivals for about a decade now, mostly producing films via his special effects company GirafFilm, but had his first exposure to wider theatrical distribution in 2013 when his films Haru and Aki in Nekoyado (15 min) and Summer of Angels (49 min) played as a double feature nationwide.

Haru and Aki in Nekoyado is a rather charming if unremarkable small fantasy about two girls and two small teddy bears. The girls used to be best friends until falling in love with the same boy. Now the girls are brought back together to save two teddy bears (who are in love with each other) from being separated.

The film’s real stars are the two CGI generated teddy bears. Japanese cinema, especially low budget films, is not known for high quality CGI – rather the opposite – but Kondo is an exception. He has wisely limited the amount of special effects shots to a minimum and invested all his skill into them. The result is a pair of photorealistic teddies who are cute enough to bring Takashi Miike’s The Great Yokai War and its Sunekosuri creatures to mind.

The film stars a pair of young idols; Megumi Mizoguchi and Rika Hoshina, both manufactured by idol factory Itoh Company. Mizoguchi is the more competent of the two. She’s not only sweet and cute, but can also play her character in a believable way. Rika Hoshina, on the other hand, is more suitable for being a model. This is actually exactly what Kondo did with her in a video camera demo shot around the same time as the film.

The latter is what is most interesting about Kondo. Being a technically oriented filmmaker, he has insights into cinematography. His films look much better than most Japanese low budget films. He uses light quite well. In Haru and Aki in Nekoyado he does, however, weaken the visual impact a bit with an odd smooth cam effect that makes the image softer.

Cinematography is what stands out most in Kondo’s second film Summer of Angels. The fantasy film follows a schoolgirl angel who comes down to earth in search of a missing person. The film is very nicely shot; especially the colours are a standout. Few Japanese low budget films look half as good as this does. Unfortunately the visuals are the only good thing that can be said about the film.

Summer of Angels stars Megumi Mizoguchi and Rika Hoshina again, but this time in reverse order. This turns out a fatal decision as the girl with acting talent is pushed to a supporting role while Hoshina struggles to carry the lead role. The supporting cast too, which is made mostly of Itoh Company reserve, seem to be competing who can deliver the most wooden performance in the film.

Director Kondo is equally to be blamed for. His clumsy script is full of dialogue that never sounds natural. The director’s attempt at poetic and playful storytelling falls flat, being a mere shadow of his obvious role models such as the films of Shunji Iwai / Noboru Shinoda (Hana and Alice especially).

Kondo is a semi-interesting name for his talent behind the camera, as well as with special effects, but he might serve cinema better by focusing on his strengths. It’s a shame other directors have not spotted his talent as a cinematographer. Nevertheless, his brand new follow up to Haru and Aki in Nekoyado (the name, btw, refers refers to a small shopping street in director Kondo's hometown in Tochigi prefecture), Tenen no chisai koi (2013, 17 min) sounds intriguing. Admittedly, he’s also very good and filming pretty girls and idols in harmless fantasy tales that make some of the sweeter products in the idol market.

The Japanese DVD release features both films on the same disc. No subtitles. The rental disc (hopefully not retail) is incredibly irritating: it begins with 10 minutes of commercials that cannot be skipped or fast forwarded!

Haru and Aki in Nekoyado
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Summer of Angels
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Trailer for Tenen no chisai koi:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IqUY3k1EXlU

Trailer for Haru and Aki in Nekoyado:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MUivDJnMBAE

Trailer for Summer of Angels:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R0xktRS8Jws

Rika Hoshina walking in the park (shot by Kondo) (really good!):
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oskczJUbCE4

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Re: Recent and not so recent Japanese dramas

Unread post by HungFist » 21 Jan 2014, 15:59

HungFist wrote:Ninifuni looks totally great!

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It only took me 1.5 years to finalize the mini-review I wrote after seeing the film back then... I guess better late than never.

Ninifuni (2011)

Smash hit teen girl band stars in a minimalist arthouse film.

Director Tetsuya Mariko, who broke into film festival fame with Yellow Kid in 2009, is one of the more interesting young talents in Japanese cinema. Ninifuni is a metaphoric 42 minute meditation on depression and death. The film follows a criminal (Masaru Miyazaki) who runs from the police and eventually ends up on the same beach where the pop band Momoiro Clover is shooting a new music video.

Mariko mixes art and pop, resulting in an original, though not entirely successful film. The film’s first half consists of waiting and wandering, and is almost completely void of dialogue. The storyline is actually based on a real life tragedy, but this could easily pass unnoticed by the viewer until the ending. Those viewers who fail recognize the film’s roots, and to get a grab of the
protagonist’s mindset, may be left rather clueless for most of the film.

In the film’s second half Mariko constructs a somewhat clumsy but effective contrast between the lively teen girl business machinery performing on the beach and the human wreck hiding behind the trees. Surprisingly enough, and for better or worse, Mariko restrains himself and never lets the film into a a full pop music bloom, but instead opts for low tech, documentary style means.

For Momoiro Clover Ninifuni marks already the second fascinating and highly unexpected cinematic appearance. The band was previously seen in Koji Shiraishi’s hilarious faux-documentary experiment Shirome, in which (it was claimed) the girls performed without knowing they were in a fictional movie. Whoever is the girls’ agent deserves a big glass of beer.

Ninifuni was originally released in 2011 as part of three film Movie Pao collection. It was later given a theatrical run of its own in 2012 under the title Ninifuni - Full Volume Version, which is the version reviewed here.

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Re: Recent and not so recent Japanese dramas

Unread post by HungFist » 01 Feb 2014, 05:40

Unexpected set of R1 released by Pathfinder:

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Coming with My Brother is also stated to include short film Tears of Elephant.

Not so convinced with Pathfinder... some of their youtube trailers are cut in half (that's Sato's Love & Loathing & Lulu & Ayano btw), others have out of sync sound, and half of the films have some stupid new title that makes them difficult to identify. How did Takahiro Ishihara's yakuza dramas Osaka Violence and Snake of Violence become Osaka Kick-Ass and Osaka Badass. The level of embarrassment is indescribable.

Also too bad they didn't include Kyojima 3rd Street Sumida City (2010), another Yoshida short film and absolutely terrific at that, on their Yoshida dvds. Still no dvd release available... I'd pay a fortune to own it on dvd.

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Re: Recent and not so recent Japanese dramas

Unread post by HungFist » 17 Feb 2014, 14:21

Trailer for Nobuhiko Obayashi's Seven Weeks (野のなななのか):
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NDZ6bqC-NmY

Frankly it doesn't look that that interesting to me, and I'm not happy at all that Yubari Fanta, where it will premier next month, is forcing everyone to either see it or sit outside in the snow (it's the closing film, and not other films are scheduled to screen at the same time). It's a long film, too: 171 min. Theatrical release in May.

Story description:
http://yubarifanta.com/films/invitation/81/?lang=en

Site:
http://www.nononanananoka.jp/

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Re: Recent and not so recent Japanese dramas

Unread post by HungFist » 19 Feb 2014, 04:09

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Looking forward to Kazuyoshi Kumakiri's My Man (私の男), set for June 2014 release. I’ve missed the last few Kumakiri films (loved Sketches of Kaitan City, though), but this sounds very interesting. No trailer yet, though. I love the poster art, interesting to see Asano directed by Kumakiri, and Fumi Nikaido!!! This girl has really impressed me lately. She was quite good in Sono’s Himizu, and she was by far the best thing in Why Don’t You Play in Hell. Speaks fluent English too, I hear.

Site:
http://watashi-no-otoko.com/

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Re: Recent and not so recent Japanese dramas

Unread post by HungFist » 19 Feb 2014, 13:49

HungFist wrote:Schilling reviews Yurusenai, aitai (Again):
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/culture/201 ... omN1ScUapB

Site:
http://yuru-ai.com/

Looking forwards to this. Loved director Kanai's earlier film Transferring

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R2J DVD coming March 14, 2014
- http://www.allcinema.net/prog/show_dvd. ... sid=920853

Other interesting upcoming DVD/BD releases:

March 5, 2014
Shinji Aoyama's Backwater (Tomogui / 共喰い), which was on both Kinema junpo and Eiga geijutsu's top 10 lists
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March 19, 2014
Kazuyoshi Kumakiri's The End of Summer (Natsu no owari / 夏の終わり)
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Re: Recent and not so recent Japanese dramas

Unread post by HungFist » 19 Mar 2014, 04:30

HungFist wrote:Image

Looking forward to Kazuyoshi Kumakiri's My Man (私の男), set for June 2014 release. I’ve missed the last few Kumakiri films (loved Sketches of Kaitan City, though), but this sounds very interesting. No trailer yet, though. I love the poster art, interesting to see Asano directed by Kumakiri, and Fumi Nikaido!!! This girl has really impressed me lately. She was quite good in Sono’s Himizu, and she was by far the best thing in Why Don’t You Play in Hell. Speaks fluent English too, I hear.

Site:
http://watashi-no-otoko.com/

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Teaser: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1kdrxzFmY10
via Eigapedia

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