Gassoh tells the tale of three childhood friends who harbor different political and social leanings. The year is 1868, after 300 years of domination, The Tokugawa Shogunate has fallen. Yoshinobu Tokugawa, the last Shogun, has just been exiled to Mito. This historical political event was said to have started without bloodshed as the political leaders at that time agreed to a peaceful discussion (rather than war) to usher in the Meiji era. But as the movie's narrator explained, humans are not so innocent creatures as discontent and rebellion soon ignited all over Japan.

We have 3 life-long friends - Kiwamu (Yuya Yagira), the fiery and loyal samurai who clings to the glory of the Shogunate; Masanosuke (Koji Seto) the adopted son of the House of Kasai who was forced to leave his home as a result of the death of his adopted father and Teijiro (Amane Okayama), the scholar among the three, who pursues Goku for breaking off his marriage to his younger sister (Mugi Kadowaki). 

Set against the backdrop of an imaginary "industrial town" called Keikoh in Japan, Litchi Hikari Club tells the tale of 9 young boys who are obsessed with beauty and the search for the fountain of youth. Their other mission is to take over Keikoh and exact revenge on the adult population for being the source of decay, death, and ugliness. To gain eternal beauty, they created an iron-made "monster-hunter" named Litchi - a robot programmed to search for beautiful young girls. Of all things, the robot runs by the lychee fruit, which symbolizes not only the club's carnal intentions but their desire for beauty and superiority.

Directed by Eisuke Naito, a filmmaker known for provoking and challenging his audience, Litchi is one of 2015's most anticipated Japanese movies. 

In Tokyo Refugees, Aoi Nakamura is no longer just a doe-eyed, cute boy who graces the covers of magazines and acts as eye candy in movies and TV shows. He is Shu Tokieda, a naive college boy who underwent a painful transformation to become a favorite male host who caters to older women. This career-defining role has finally proven that he can become a credible dramatic actor.

Nakamura won the Junon Super Boy Contest at the age of 14, making him the youngest recipient of this much-coveted competition for aspiring actors, models, and idol-wannabes. He wanted to become a soccer player, but winning the contest offered a new and equally exciting career. Before Tokyo Refugees, Nakamura appears to be just another aspiring actor who is usually outshined by his more talented co-stars. But there were flashes of brilliance - a few scene-stealing in My Back Page (as Kenichi Matsuyama's activist-sidekick), as Kakiten who adores Nino in The Lady Shogun and Her Men and as the young boy who was infatuated with Riisa Naka in Yuya Ishii's Mitsuko Delivers.

Bon Lin is one of the funniest, amusing Japanese movies I've seen in a long time. Starring two up and coming actors, Mahiro Takasugi and Ema Sakura, it's more than a slice of life, coming of age drama. How did these two words come together? Bon comes from the word ribbon. She is a geeky-nerdy character who is passionate about Boys' Love manga and plays online video games. Lin is her long-time game playmate, with a lithe almost paper-thin body - the perfect uke (the passive partner) in the world of Yaoi.

In what would be described as one of the funniest first-hand encounters on J-cinema, Bon was apologetic to Bebe for not buying him a BL manga and says...

" I don't want you to start hating anal. "

With that opening, Bon and Lin get to know the older Bebi whom Bon becomes acquainted with via the internet. Bebi asked why Bon likes Boys Love and she replied:

" Perversion... Maybe because my favorite characters like to fondle each other...? "

When it was first announced way back in 2013 that The Vancouver Asahi will have Satoshi Tsumabuki and Kazuya Kamenashi among the cast, I am quite confident I will do whatever it takes to watch this movie. I am aware that many sports drama films (coming from Hollywood and elsewhere) are - more often than not - glossed over to highlight particular sport's milestone. I would not be bothered if this movie follows the formula, just to watch this latest directorial attempt from Yuya Ishii is already enough for me. 

Reports have it that it was only Tsumabuki who has no prior knowledge of the sport and has to undergo training. I am thinking this would not be a big deal since the spotlight might be on Kame, but I was dead wrong. I'm happy (ecstatic even) that it was Tsumabuki who grabbed the biggest share of the movie - his scenes were not only important and telling, his character runs the show!