The 100 Best Contemporary Japanese Movies - Psycho Drama has launched an ambitious project to compile 100 of the best modern-day Japanese movies from the last 2 decades or so. Featuring the best young actors of their generation - from Joe Odagiri, Takako Matsu and Tadanobu Asano, to Satoshi Tsumabuki, Hikari Mitsushima, Mao Inoue, Ryuhei Matsuda, Shun Oguri and Masanabu Ando to the current crop of exciting young talents - Shota Sometani, Yuya Yagira, Kamiki Ryunosuke, Sosuke Ikematsu, Kento Yamazaki, Fumi Nikaido and Ai Hashimoto. [ click here ]
Yeah right. Fans of Battle Royale and The Hunger Games may disagree with me. Certainly a movie that is yet to be released cannot be better than these two movies which are already big box office hits and star incredibly good actors. As the Gods Will has to prove itself first - make people watch it and see if it can earn decent earnings in the box office in Japan and during its international release.
However, you might be curious why there is already a lot of interest from moviefans, especially in Japan about this upcoming Takashi Miike movie. Let's see... are there good enough reasons to watch it, let alone be considered a future competitor to the likes of Battle Royale and The Hunger Games?
#1 - It's directed by Takashi Miike. It might turn out to be his biggest hit yet. Why? Compared to Lesson of Evil, it has more fun factor. I mean, students and teachers are being killed left and right in Miike's previous movie, what the audience need are some breather for all the blood and gore.
“They live, some heads roll, they run, blood sprays, they cry, they laugh and then they die – in other words, a fun movie.” [ source ]
Takashi Miike is Japan's most recognized filmmaker abroad, surely that counts for something.Read more...
I'm pretty sure you've heard of Yuya Yagira's comedic, often hilarious take on his first drama lead in Blue Blazes (Aoi Honoo) but wait till you see him in the current Nobunaga Concerto where he plays the younger brother of Nobunaga Oda (Shun Oguri) - Nobuyuki.
In a singular performance that took away most of the spotlight on his co-stars, Yuya Yagira shows why he's Best Actor at Cannes. Yes, that might be years ago - 10 years to be exact, but Yagira's intensity as an actor has not diminished. With fire in his eyes, and that sense of urgency to rule and take over the reigns of power, we are all witness to someone who is full of hatred, jealousy and insecurity. As Nobunaga's younger brother, he was expected to rule and govern, but their father had a change of heart. What a performance!
In true historical context, Nobuyuki was supposed to have conspired against his brother Nobunaga, but in the drama, Nobunaga Concerto, his cruel intentions were immediately exposed. Bitter and totally frustrated at the turn of events, Nobuyuki tries to kill his brother as he offers food, but his attempt was foiled. Left with no other choice, he commited seppuku.
It's probably the eyes that got to me. He really made good use of his facial expression to the point of "facial contortion" if there is such a word.
Standing at 170 m (about 5'6"), his co-stars tower above him - Shun Oguri is 184 m and Osamu Mukai is 182 m, but this height issue was never in question as he towers above them in terms of acting. Not that Oguri and Mukai are less capable, but Yuya Yagira just captured the imagination of the viewers - as Japanese twitters reacted to him: compelling, masterful, powerful.
I really hope there are more scenes featuring Yagira in this on-going drama...
There are reportedly 36 new Japanese dramas this Fall 2014 season and it has already started! There are samurais, firefighters, fashionistas, doctors, teachers, students - the usual lots, but the type of mix may prove exciting (or boring for that matter). We had the chance for speedy viewing by foregoing the usual subtitles, but in this case, they are not as essential to understanding what is going on. (i.e. the shows are quite easy to watch).
I would say there is a good mix of genre in the new season, populated by some favorite stars who can either make or break the shows - but it all depend on their characters and the relative experience and skills of the directors (since they are totally responsible for the over-acting or under-acting anyway).
It would be close to impossible to monitor all 36 shows, so it would depend on what will caught our interest. In this part, we'll put the spotlight on Nobunaga Concerto, Hell Teacher Nube and Regrets from my Youth (Gomen ne Seishun). First Impressions on these new shows after the jump!Read more...
When you think of a terrific sports movie from Japan, you'll be happy to note that there are many to choose from - The Prince of Tennis, Dive!!, Oppai Volleball to name a few, but one particular movie stands out from the list of awesome sports J-movies mentioned already - Ping Pong. Directed by Fumihiko Sori, who is also a visual effects expert, he was nominated for the Japan Academy Prize Best Director for this film. Sori is the same guy who directed Tommorow's Joe and incorporated certain FX techniques to make the boxing match (as with the ping pong battles) so awesome to watch.
Ping Pong tells the story of two friends who became rivals for the love of table tennis. Yosuke Kubozuka is Peco and Arata is Smile, they first met early in their lives and Peco introduced his new-found friend to the sport. Peco has always been a pro-active individual who speaks his mind and can be brash at times. Smile is his exact opposite. When Smile was being bullied, it was Peco who came to his rescue and a close friendship bloomed. Their personality is also reflected in the way they play - Smile is considered to possess the talent to win but hesitates destroying his opponents while Peco has the determination to win against all odds. Who will win in the end?
If you think watching Ping Pong would require technical know-how of the sport, think again. The visual effects during the competition is first-rate and while the exciting scenes where during the competition, it's the coming of age tales and the friendship that made this movie special.
Movie's Cinematic Moment: The championship match is definitely one of the most awesome scenes in the movie, and I would leave it at that.
Special screenings for the world premiere of Parasyte (Part 1) will soon commence at the Tokyo International Film Festival this month. As excitement intensifies, the anime - Parasyte (The Maxim) has aired its first episode. The similaries between the movie (as seen from the trailer) and the anime is quite obvious, but since it's only EP1, there is definitely more to the story that the anime can offer compared to the movie version. Since there are two movies (in the tradition of Rurouni Kenshin, Harry Potter and Twilight), we can expect highly selected scenes taken from the manga to be part of both movies.
Based on the manga series "Kiseiju" by Hitoshi Iwaaki, it took the movie version almost 20 years to make. The heart and soul of the story is Shinichi Izumi (Sometani), a shy, unassuming highschool student who is afraid of spiders and lacks appetite. As aliens began to invade the bodies of his fellow humans, Shinichi's alien failed to fully occupy his body and settled down by eating his right hand. This failure allowed Shinichi to remain alive while hosting the worm-like alien.Read more...
Mikako Tabe and Gou Ayano are supposed to do challenging, realistic love scenes in the live action adaptation of Piece of Cake, based on the manga series (5 Volumes) by George Asakura. The movie will center on Tabe's character - Shino Umemiya - a young woman who has just escaped from an abusive relationship and moved away to find a new life. Enters Kyoshiro Sugahara (Gou Ayano) who happens to be her neighbor and also the manager of a bookstore where she works part-time.
While she has a "liberal outlook" in life and relationships, Shino is somewhat hesitant to pursue her attraction to Kyoshiro - the presence of Akari, his girlfriend adds to her dilemma. But is the young man also attracted to her? Will they become passionate lovers?
Tori Matsuzaka (who coincidentally is Ayano's co-star in Gatchaman) joins the cast as Shino's best friend, while Masaki Suda (Ayano's co-star in The Light Shines Only There) plays one of the bookstore's crew and interacts with Shino during work.
Having read the manga series by George Asakura, I will definitely enjoy doing this movie, and I know there will be some challenges with Gou Ayano as my co-star. There will be some romantic, intense, sexy scenes and I need to do real quality work here. Says Mikako Tabe, who has worked previously with Haruma Miura in The Hours of My Life and the previous sleeper hit Kimi ni Todoke (From Me to You).
I'm expecting some scene stealing from Masaki Suda, and really looking forward if there will be good chemistry between Tabe and Ayano.
The TV Drama special of the highly-successful Eien No Zero which broke box office records in Japan has an almost complete cast! Various Japanese entertainment sites reported the addition of Ryoko Hirosue and Kenta Kiritani as brother-sister tandem who will investigate the death of their biological grandfather, played by Osamu Mukai (Junichi Okada played the role in the movie version).
As previously reported, Aoi Nakamura will reprise the role played by Shota Sometani in the 2013 movie. I would say this is going to be a tall order for Nakamura, since Sometani's character is extensive and requires intense dramatization, but Nakamura has shown he also has what it takes to play dramatic characters. Nakamura topbills Tokyo Refugees as a student who became a club host.
Ryoko Hirosue will play the role of Keiko Saeki, portrayed in the movie by Kazue Fukiishi while Kenta Kiritani will take over the role originally played by Haruma Miura as the law student who kept on failing his bar exams - Kentaro Saeki. The role played by Mao Inoue (Matsuno) is yet to be announced.Read more...
Kentaro Sakaguchi created quite a stir when it was announced that he'll model for the manga character Daiki Mamura, one of the main characters in Hirunaka no Ryusei. But further reports revealed that he was actually the "pattern" or inspiration for Mamura. Sakaguchi was an exclusive male model for Men's Non-No and has established a record of sorts by appearing in the magazine as the sole cover.
In the span of 1 year since he announced that he will pursue an acting career, he already had 3 movies in various state of production - Shanti Days 365 Days, Happy Breath is his first movie, and he's cast in a bit role. Two feature films are scheduled for release in 2015 including the Yasuko Matsuyuki-Yutaka Takenouchi drama-thriller called At Home, where Sakaguchi will play one of the kids. This might be a fun start for the young actor as the story is about a thief and a swindler (played by Takenouchi and Matsuyuki respectively) where Matsuyuki was kidnapped by someone she is supposed to take money from.
The other film is called Otoko no Isshou, where he plays another supporting role with Nana Eikura as the lead.
I’m currently studying acting so I really want to be an actor. Little by little and slowly, I want to increase the number of people that know me, says Sakaguchi in an interview. He also revealed that he admires most of Studio Ghibli productions and that his favorite movies include Blue Spring (starring Ryuhei Matsuda)Read more...
In partnership with Coventry University and Third Window Films, East Winds will be celebrating East Asian film and culture through a selection of 11 International, European and UK Premieres from Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Thailand, ranging from star-studded action blockbusters and chilling horrors to touching dramas and delightful comedies.
Alongside some pretty major titles such as the European Premieres of 'Partners in Crime', 'Z Storm', 'Record of Sweet Murder' and 'Teacher's Diary' (Thailand's Oscar submission) there are also many other UK premieres and 2 new Third Window genre titles: 'Greatful Dead' and 'The Lust of Angels' which will play.
More details at the Film Festival website
13oys and Men - Promoting the awesome and talented young Japanese actors, with lots of screenshots and insights into the careers of top and upcoming young talents.
Asian Addicts Anonymous - Comprehensive reviews and recaps of exciting Japanese drama, including interesting post on Asian music and movie news.
Dorama Doll - a new blog that will feature recaps of selected Japanese dramas, most probably related to Johnny & Associates talents, with some great recommendations on what to watch if you're new to the J-drama scene.
Genkinahito's Blog - Reviews, news, box office results & some amazing insights into Japanese films, including manga and anime.
My Drama Tea - Honest and insightful reviews of Japanese drama, also reviews of Chinese, Korean and Taiwanese dramas, with music news and movie reviews.
Ritsu No Dorama Land - J-dorama reviews with a difference, complete with recaps that really complements the review.
OtherWhere - Excellent and varied trailer showcase, insightful reviews of Japanese movies (both indies and mainstream), and a great resource for news on Studio Ghibli too!
The Corner of the Mind - Drama reviews (with detailed analysis of up and coming dramas via first impressions) and anime spotlights.