Genki Kawamura, the producer of such acclaimed movies as Villain (Akunin), Confessions, and Detroit Metal City, said years ago that the Japanese film industry is in a state of "sakoku" (the period when Japan shuts out to the outside world). More recently, it was Hirokazu Koreeda who said:
... But we do have a crisis in Japan. However it is difficult to see from the outside because Japanese films can support themselves in the Japanese market, so it’s not an open-aired crisis. The problem is that Japanese films get enough revenue from inside, but don’t look outward. The problem is that our films have difficulty exporting themselves and getting outside Japan. [ source ]
Is it all that bad? I think not. The thing is, there is no more Kurosawa or Ozu and to say that the 'golden age of Japanese cinema' is long gone serves no purpose other than to cling to the past. Of course, today's audience of Japanese films needs to appreciate the work of the great filmmakers and at the same time look forward to today's movie offerings.
Kawamura also said that Japanese filmmakers are no longer feeling any "inferiority complex about Hollywood anymore. " Though I just watched Shin Godzilla and to say that it's an inferior film to some of Hollywood's recent releases is an understatement.
Ok, let's have some list.
Every December, we come up with our hit list - Top 10 movies of the year, newsmakers of the year, top 10 drama series (we'll have those list later) and we look forward to the next year. In this case, there are plenty of new movies for 2017. Aside from the 'usual' live-action adaptations, there are some novels about to be made into full-length films.
So far, what do we have? [ In alphabetical order ]
- Ajin: Demi-Human
- Anonymous Noise
- Blade of the Immortal
- Daytime Shooting Star
- Fullmetal Alchemist
- Girls in the Dark
- I Want to Eat Your Pancreas
- Jojo's Bizarre Adventures
- Kodomo Tsukai
- Karera ga Honki de Amu Toki wa
- Laughing Under the Clouds
- March Comes in Like a Lion
- P and JK
- Re: LIFE
- Sakurada Reset
- Teiichi's Country
- The Disastrous Life of Saiki K.
- Tomodachi Games
- Tokyo Ghoul
Takashi Miike's Blade of the Immortal has already started to make waves, with an impressive trailer. From what appears to be a 'resurging' Takashi Miike who will be collaborating, for the first time, with Johnny's biggest idol, Takuya Kimura, how can anyone not be excited about a movie that deals with revenge, eternal youth, and immortality? The star-studded cast includes Hana Sugisaki, Erika Toda, Sota Fukushi and Hayato Ichihara.
Among the young actors worth watching for - it must be Taishi Nakagawa, Kento Yamazaki, Ryunosuke Kamiki, Masaki Suda, Shuhei Nomura and Takeru Satoh who have most-anticipated 2017 projects.
Kamiki (who headlined 2016 in all corners - movies, voice acting) takes his career to another level with March Comes in Like a Lion, a tale of loneliness and self-discovery.
Suddachi will deal with student politics in what may be considered light drama for the acclaimed actor - Teiichi no Kuni - from the same author who wrote Litchi Hikari Club and retains some of the cast. Shuhei Nomura joins Suda, and will also take the lead in Sakurada Reset (with Yuina Kuroshima).
Satoh will play a semi-human who is also immortal and is set to commit mass murders against humans in Ajin. He has done less than 20 movies, but the variety of his roles is impressive, especially with his foray into drama, complementing the success of his box office hits (Kenshin, Bakuman).
With a most handsome award, Taishi Nakagawa is slowly claiming his place among the elite acting squad and will headline Re: LIFE about a failed young guy who joins an experiment that will set him back to high school. Said project complements the romantic appeal of Today's Kira-Kun, making Nakagawa more than just a romantic leading man.
Ryo Yoshizawa takes a high-profile role - something he truly deserves - in Tomodachi Games, about money, friendship, and some deadly games that involve both.
With four (and counting) movies for 2017, Kento Yamazaki is as high profile as anyone can get. Takashi Miike will be collaborating with the actor for Jojo's Bizarre Adventures (which also stars Ryunosuke Kamiki, Mackenyu), but Hyouka, that incredible coming of age/slice of life investigative drama is the one I most anticipate.
Mei Nagano stars in Daytime Shooting Star. Said role appears to be tailored fit for the actress as she plays a provincial girl forced to relocate to Tokyo and falls for her homeroom teacher played by Shohei Miura.
Tao Tsuchiya takes two - P and JK with Kame and Tori Girl.
Fumika Shimizu, Marie Iitoyo, Yuna Taira collaborates with Saiji Yakumo (MARS, My Pretend Girlfriend) for Girls in the Dark, a tale of mystery, death and student politics.
Ayami Nakajo takes on Yuta Koseki and Jun Shison in Anonymous Noise, a story of young musicians and their struggle to express their passion for music. I'm a fan of Yuta Koseki, but I am not impressed with Shison who appears to be all hype with no solid acting ability. I hope this movie will prove me wrong. Nakajo impresses in Litchi Hikari Club and is destined for more leading roles.
After Pink and Gray, Isao Yukisada cast Jun Matsumoto and Kasumi Arimura for Narratage. The storyline appears interesting, and hopefully, they will not make a mess of it. I'm quite confident Matsumoto will be good, so I hope Arimura can rise to the occasion and deliver an excellent performance.
Hikari Mitsushima reunites with Satoshi Tsumabuki in Traces of Sin, while Eita joins Arata in Hikari and Yuriko Yoshitaka takes the lead in Yurigokoro.
Shun Oguri's Gintama appeals to movie fans who loves fantasy. Set in Edo period, aliens invade Earth and samurai fight them, not knowing that the political establishment has already conceded with the invaders. Masami Nagasawa, Yuya Yagira, Ryo Yoshizawa, Masaki Okada and Masaki Suda join the cast.
Finally, there's Tokyo Ghoul with Masataka Kubota, Fumika Shimizu, and Yu Aoi.
The story follows Ken Kaneki (Kubota), a college student who barely survives a deadly encounter with Rize Kamishiro (Yu Aoi), his date who reveals herself as a ghoul, he is taken to the hospital in critical condition. After recovering, Kaneki discovers that he underwent a surgery that transformed him into a half-ghoul. This was accomplished because some of Rize's organs were transferred into his body, and now, like normal ghouls, he must consume human flesh to survive. The ghouls who manage the coffee shop "Anteiku" take him in and teach him to deal with his new life as a half-ghoul. Some of his daily struggles include fitting into the ghoul society, as well as keeping his identity hidden from his human companions [ Wiki ]
I'm rooting for Hana Sugisaki to make good in Blade of the Immortal and Fumika Shimizu in Tokyo Ghoul. Both actresses are incredibly talented and are ready to take on more significant roles.
How about you? Which of these movies will be at the top of your list? Let us know what you think!