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Japanese cinema: Japanese and Japan-related movie reviews, feature articles, interviews and DVD sales.

Tokyo Story, Lost in Translation, The Last Samurai, Kill Bill, Firefly Dreams, The Laborer, The Matrix Reloaded, Zatoichi, Twilight Samurai, Fear And Trembling, The Fog Of War, Memoirs of a Geisha, Tony Takitani, Kokoyakyu: High School Baseball, Heart Beating in the Dark, Starfish Hotel, Letters From Iwo Jima, Black Rain, Cyber City Oedo 808, Yojimbo, Tokyo Godfathers, Castle in the Sky, Ran, Throne of Blood, My Neighbor Totoro, Tales From Earthsea, Grave of the Fireflies, Porco Rosso, Empire of the Sun, My Neighbors the Yamadas, Afro Samurai, Princess Mononoke, Sonatine, The Cat Returns, Tokyo Ga, The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift, Nippon Connection, Godzilla, AKB48, AKB48 Show Must Go On, Norwegian Wood, Kabukicho Love Hotel, Manzai Gang, Dias Police

Dias Police

Tokyo in the very near future: the city looks terribly rundown, almost like a slum, and it's populated to a great part by illegal foreigners from all over the world. Japanese society has been pushed to the margins, Japanese police have no clue what's going on but they are out to harass, arrest and deport refugees. Saki Kubozuka is the man charged with keeping order in this criminal underworld. Dias Police is a manga, TV series and movie based on the original manga Dias Police: Real Tokyo Underworld by Richard Woo aka Takashi Nakamura.

Dias Police Review by Johannes Schonherr, June 2016


Kabukicho Love Hotel

Ryuichi Hiroki's new movie Kabukicho Love Hotel (original title Sayonara Kabukicho), long before the opening credits roll, and it would already be a spoiler to tell why Toru bites his lip. It's that kind of a movie.
The plot, the characters and their secrets reveal themselves piece by piece throughout the film, often in unexpected ways. The film centers on 24 hours at a love hotel in the Kabukicho red light district in Shinjuku, Tokyo, starting from the beginning of the staff morning shift and lasting till the morning next day.

Kabukicho Love Hotel Review by Johannes Schonherr, January 2015


Atsuko Maeda and Shota Sometani start the day.
Atsuko Maeda and Shota Sometani start the day in Ryuichi Hiroki's Kabukicho Love Hotel

Norwegian Wood

Vietnamese director Tran Ahn Hung's attempt at a film version of Haruki Murakami's famed novel Noruwei no mori suggests why, apart from the clearly well-founded reticence of Murakami himself, so few of his books have been turned into movies, and even these slow to be English-subtitled. (Tony Takitani, based on the short story of the same name, is the only other attempted to date, and I found that a pretty indifferent work.) In short, not a lot happens in the movie, and what does is desperately titivated and over-dramatised in an attempt to make up for the lack of Murakami's lovelorn narrator.

Norwegian Wood Review by Richard Donovan, June 2012


Manzai Gang

Kamiji Yusuke has universal charisma. Don't be put off by his rough and seemingly intimidating dreadlocks look for his recent movie, Manzai Gang. He is as charming as ever, and shows that he can fight as well as laugh - but in the end, everyone knows that it's the laugh that wins.

Manzai Gang Review by Joanne G. Yoshida, March 2012


Documentary of AKB48, the Show Must Go On

When I mentioned the world changing in the course of a year, I hadn't anticipated this moment of the opening scenes---AKB48 members look out the window of a bus to the devastation and ruins of houses and towns from the March 11th Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami. The movie begins with the camera following their relief effort visit to the affected areas of the great earthquake that shook the Northeast of Japan in 2011, and is punctuated by interviews with members about how the events of the past year effected them and their dreams.

AKB48 Documentary Review by Joanne G. Yoshida, February 2012


Documentary of AKB48, to be continued

Even though the audience is mostly boys, to me it didn't seem that the girls/ young women, are performing just for them. Rather I had a sense they are discovering themselves through their careers as performers.
What makes their energy exciting is the way their genuine curiosity, dedication, and talent pour out in to tightly choreographed yet expressive performances.

AKB48 Documentary Review by Joanne G. Yoshida, February 2011


Godzilla Documentaries

Bringing Godzilla Down to Size is a special feature on the DVD release of the 1956 monster classic Rodan/War of the Gargantuas directed by Honda Ishiro, the same man who also directed the first Godzilla.
Monsterland was produced for German / French TV channel ARTE and aired in Europe repeatedly in 2009.

Godzilla Documentaries Review by Johannes Schonherr, January 2010


Nippon Connection

Nippon Connection Film Festival takes place annually in mid-April and is the largest festival of Japanese cinema worldwide.

Film Festival Review by Johannes Schonherr, September 2009


The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift

Fast, loud, and cheap drifting thrills from LA to the smokin' streets of Tokyo.

Film Review by Vance Cross, November 2008


Tokyo Ga

Wim Wender's tribute to Japanese director Yasujiro Ozu and the city of Tokyo.

Film Review by Hemanth Kissoon, March 2008


The Cat Returns

Directed by Hiroyuki Morita and released in 2002 from the awesome Studio Ghibli.

Film Review by Hemanth Kissoon, March 2008

Sonatine

A violent yet thoughtful gangster drama played out in Okinawa, this 1993 movie remains probably Takeshi Kitano's best.

Film Review by Hemanth Kissoon, March 2008


Princess Mononoke

A powerful and imaginative Hayao Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli classic.

Film Review by Hemanth Kissoon, February 2008


Afro Samurai

Afro Samurai created by Takashi Okazaki and voiced by Samuel L. Jackson the anime is set in a parallel universe, where only two items matter: The Number One headband and the Number Two headband.

Film Review by Hemanth Kissoon, February 2008


Black Rain

Black Rain is one way how late 80s America viewed Japan, both positively and negatively and with arguable sweeping judgements, through the prism of a cop thriller. The Paramount studio logo in the intro fades to a red disc that in turn fades to a large statue of a globe where America is the country on view. This symbolism of the Japanese flag over the United States sets the tone for the culture clash that is about to ensue.

Film Review by Hemanth Kissoon, June 2007


My Neighbors the Yamadas

Isao Takahata's movie is one of the most original-looking animated features ever made.

Film Review by Hemanth Kissoon, February 2008


Empire of the Sun

Steven Spielberg classic war film with a first film role for a young Christian Bale.

Film Review by Hemanth Kissoon, February 2008


Porco Rosso

Studio Ghibli's movie about the adventures of an ace pig pilot in the lead up to the Second World War.

Film Review by Hemanth Kissoon, August 2007


Grave of the Fireflies

Studio Ghibli's Isao Takahata's stirring and moving portrayal of war.

Film Review by Hemanth Kissoon, August 2007


Tales From Earthsea

Writer-director son of Hayao Miyazaki, Goro Miyazaki makes a mixed debut.

Film Review by Hemanth Kissoon, August 2007


My Neighbor Totoro

Studio Ghibli's Hayao Miyazaki's animation masterpiece.

Film Review by Hemanth Kissoon, August 2007


Throne of Blood

Akira Kurosawa's adaptation of Shakespeare's Macbeth set in the fog and gore of feudal Japan and starring Toshiro Mifune and Isuzu Yamada.

Film Review by Hemanth Kissoon, August 2007


Ran

Akira Kurosawa's epic samurai interpretation of Shakespeare's King Lear transferred to 16th century Japan and the "Warring States" period, starring Tatsuya Nakadai and Akira Terao.

Film Review by Hemanth Kissoon, July 2007


Castle in the Sky

Could this 1986 film be one of the greatest animated features of all time? It surely must be in the running. Studio Ghibli, under the auspices of co-founder and brilliant writer-director Hayao Miyazaki, is a force of nature in the world of cinema.

Film Review by Hemanth Kissoon, July 2007


Tokyo Godfathers

Tokyo Godfathers is heart-warming and entertaining animation set at Christmas time in modern-day Tokyo when a trio of homeless characters discover an abandoned baby.

Film Review by Hemanth Kissoon, July 2007


Yojimbo

Yojimbo a classic samurai movie directed by Akira Kurasawa and starring Toshiro Mifune. Yojimbo influenced such Hollywood movies as A Fistful of Dollars and Last Man Standing.

Film Review by Hemanth Kissoon, June 2007


Cyber City Oedo 808

Cyber City Oedo 808 a fantastic new cyber-punk anime created by Yoshiaki Kawajiri (a talent that was respected enough to contribute to The Animatrix). This is a review of the first three files (or episodes).

Film Review by Hemanth Kissoon, June 2007


The Laborer

Rodosha (The Laborer) is a short film set in Japan that is a cautionary tale about defining your life by your work. Tetsuya is already working consecutive nights of overtime when his friend drags him along to a party to meet some girls.

Film Review by Richard Donovan, April 2007


Letters From Iwo Jima

Letters From Iwo Jima - veteran director Clint Eastwood goes behind "enemy" lines to portray the inner lives of the Japanese soldiers defending a tiny island in the Pacific.

Film Review by Joe Sinclair, March 2007


Starfish Hotel

Starfish Hotel is a film of alternate and alternative worlds, and as such it could be otherly titled Arisu in Darkland.

Film Review by Richard Donovan, December 2006


Heart, Beating in the Dark A young couple are on the run after killing their baby.

Heart, Beating in the Dark is a uniquely disturbing film, it is not the horrific crimes of the past which catch up with the protagonists, but a guilty future.

Film Review by Joe Sinclair, November 2006

Kokoyakyu: High School Baseball This is a powerful documentary on Koshien.

Kokoyakyu: High School Baseball is a insightful look at Japan's summer baseball tournament.

Film Review by C. Ogawa, July 2006


Tony Takitani Skewed a few degrees away from reality, this is a trancelike film.

Tony Takitani based on the book by Haruki Murakami and directed by Jun Ichikawa, starring Issey Ogata and Rie Miyazawa.

Film Review by Joe Sinclair, June 2006


Memoirs of a Geisha Geisha-lite for a Hollywood audience.

Memoirs of a Geisha based on the book by Arthur Golden and directed by Rob Marshall, starring Zhang Ziyi, Michelle Yeoh and Gong Li.

Film Review by Joe Sinclair, Feb 2006


Memoirs of a Geisha Beautiful to Look at but....

Memoirs of a Geisha based on the book by Arthur Golden and directed by Rob Marshall, starring Zhang Ziyi, Michelle Yeoh and Gong Li.

Film Review by Richard Donovan, Dec 2005


Fear And Trembling Hell is a Tokyo Office

Fear And Trembling written and directed by Alain Corneau; starring Sylvie Testud, Kaori Tsuji, Taro Suwa

Film Review by Joe Sinclair, Sept 2004


The Fog Of War Director Errol Morris Academy Award Winning Documentary

The Fog Of War 2004 Oscar winning domunentary directed by Errol Morris; based on interviews with former US Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara.

Film Review by Joe Sinclair, Sept 2004


Twilight Samurai Director Yoji Yamada's Gritty Samurai Tale

Twilight Samurai written and directed by Yoji Yamada; starring Hiroyuki Sanada, Rie Miyazawa

Film Review by Joe Sinclair, May 2004


Zatoichi Director Kitano Takeshi's Stylish Samurai Masterpiece

Zatoichi written and directed by Takeshi Kitano; starring Takeshi Kitano, Takanobu Asano

Film Review by Joe Sinclair, April 2004


Tokyo Story Director Yasujiro Ozu's Masterpiece

Tokyo Story written and directed by Ozu Yasujiro; starring Chishu Ryu; 2003 DVD re-release

Film Review by Joe Sinclair, March 2004


Lost in Translation A Humorous Look at Japan

Lost in Translation written and directed by Sofia Coppola; 2003 release

Film Review by Owen Grieb, October 2003


The Last Samurai A Tom Cruise Epic

The Last Samurai directed by Edward Zwick, produced by Tom Cruise; 2003 release

Film Review by Owen Grieb, December 2003


Kill Bill Explodes on the Screen

Kill Bill directed by Quentin Tarantino; 2003 release

Film Review by Owen Grieb, October 2003


Firefly Dreams Dreaming in Japanese

Firefly Dreams directed by John Williams; 2001 release
Prizes include: 2001 Hawaii International Film Festival, International Competition: Prize for Excellence 2001 Karlovy Vary International Film Festival, International Competition: NETPAC Prize

Film Review by Richard Donovan, October 2003


The Matrix Reloaded The Shadow of the Matrix

The Matrix Reloaded written & directed by Larry & Andy Wachowski; 2003 release

Film Review by Richard Donovan, June 2003


Books on Japanese Cinema


Goods From Japan to your home or business.