A timid, yet aspiring brass band member (Tsuchiya Tao) and an ambitious baseball player (Takeuchi Ryoma) take center stage in Aozora Yell (青空エール), a tale of young romance, ambition, and dreams. A lot has been said about the acting competence of the petite and alluring Miss Tsuchiya but in this case, her presence as the fumbling often mistreated and underestimated trumpet player is spot on. At 155 cm, her co-star Takeuchi (185 cm) towers above her, which makes their romantic team-up all the more unexpected. 

Aozora Yell Movie Review

The two protagonist first met while admiring the trophies won by the school's baseball team, Shirato. Yamada Daisuke (Takeuchi) is proud of his ambition to become an excellent baseball player. It's quite apparent that he wants to be the team’s next captain. Ono Tsubasa (Tsuchiya), on the other hand, feels modest of her chances to join the band. But seeing how Daisuke's eyes shine brightly upon her, she made her resolve to fight for a spot. No one has looked at her with such undisguised sense of camaraderie and affection. She will not let him down.

Based on the manga series "Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso" by Arakawa Naoshi, the live action adaptation of Your Lie in April (四月は君の嘘) centers on Arima Kosei (Yamazaki Kento), a shy, unassuming young boy and piano prodigy and Miyazono Kaori (Hirose Suzu), a free-spirited and fearless young girl who is a passionate violinist. Their lives intersect when a close friend (Ishii Anna) set up a date between Kaori and Watari Ryota (Nakagawa Taishi) with Kosei tagging as the friend's date.

Review - Your Lie in April

While the girl tries to be friendly with her match, it was Kosei she is eyeing all along. She later revealed to having known Kosei as the young musical genius who inspired her to take on the violin. Thus, a bond was formed which gets to be tested time and again as the duo joins a number of musical competition. 

It's not hard for Kosei to fall for Kaori since they are opposites - Kosei plays the piano with subtlety, technical competence, and honesty, while Kaori challenges conventions by doing her own interpretation without regard to what the judges (or the audience for that matter) might say. 

Destruction Babies is an intense tale of two brothers, Taira Ashihara (Yuya Yagira) and Shota (Nijiro Murakami) who live by themselves in a small port town. Both young men are prone to violence - the older lives by the thrill of a fight, while the younger is more restrained, yet might follow the same path of destruction. 

Destruction Babies - Film Review

The most extreme 108 minutes in Japanese film history?

That byline, which caught my fancy when the casting news was announced, lives up to its expectation. 

Tetsuya Mariko, the celebrated indie filmmaker, showcases his latest work, in the tradition of Yellow Kid (rookie boxer turned manga model) and Ninifuni (about a provincial young burglar). While his previous films feature young men who are often misunderstood and treated shabbily by society, Destruction Babies goes a notch higher as Mariko's characters reverse roles spewing hate and violence to an otherwise unsuspecting society. 

Playing the dual role of the devil and the victim, Takeru Satoh headlines If Cats Disappeared From the World. Directed by Akira Nagai (who made the comedy 'Judge!' and will next work on 'Teiichi no Kuni') the film is primarily a launching pad for Satoh to signal his foray into dramatic roles. 

If Cats Disappeared from the World, Takeru Satoh - Movie Review

The Rurouni Kenshin actor has made significant acting strides as he delineates the story of a young man who is diagnosed to have a terminal illness.

A Double Life is about a curious young woman who followed her neighbor and discovered he is having an extramarital affair. Based on the novel "Nijyuu Seikatsu" by Mariko Koike, Tama (Mugi Kadowaki) becomes inspired by the French writer and artist Sophie Calle during her Uni lectures. Calle is known for "her detective-like ability to follow strangers and investigate their private lives." In other words, Calle is the model and inspiration of today's stalkers.

A Double Life, starring Mugi Kadowaki review

To put Calle's methods into practice and prepare her Master's paper, she did exactly as the French writer and began to tail her neighbor Ishizaka (Hiroki Hasegawa), who is a family man with a secret.