Archive for the ‘Japanese movies’ Tag

Adrift in Tokyo (a tale of The Hair)   Leave a comment

Just finished watching Adrift in Tokyo, a Japanese movie based on a book by Yoshinaga Fujita. (which I can’t find in English sadly, as I’d love to read it now that I’ve seen the film)

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The plot synopsis from Wikipedia says, “Leading a lazy life, Fumiya has been a student for 8 years and owes money to loan sharks. One day, a man named Fukuhara comes to collect the loan, which Fumiya cannot pay. So Fukuhara makes a proposition: He will cancel the debt as long as Fumiya agrees to walk with him across Tokyo to the police station of Kasumigaseki, where he intends to turn himself for a crime he deeply regrets. Not having much choice, Fumiya accepts the deal. Thus begins their journey.”

It stars Tomokazu Miura as Fukuhara, and (what really drew me in) Jo Odagiri as Fumiya, sporting a head of hair that is at first glance terrifying; at second glance, glorious. But The Hair (it should have it’s own line in the credits) grows on you, and within minutes you can’t imagine Fumiya any other way. In fact, it becomes almost attractive. Almost.

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Jo Odagiri on the left (THE HAIR RULES) and Tomokazu Miura on the right. (Don’t ask about the nose.)

There was a small side story running through of a group of three office workers who were worried about a co-worker. They decide to check up on her (it is actually relevant to the main storyline, though the two lines never cross) but never quite manage to stay on track. I found myself waiting almost impatiently to see what would cause them to veer off course every time they showed up onscreen.

It was actually a really sweet film, quietly funny in places, sad in others, heartwarming throughout. I’ve only seen Odagiri before this in Mushi-shi, but since I really liked both Mushi-shi and Adrift in Tokyo, I plan to look out for more of his stuff. Though I didn’t realize it until after, I’d seen Miura in The Taste of Tea a year or so ago. (Also recommended.)

All in all a good find, this movie. Watch it.

You won’t regret it, if only for The Hair.

mushshi Taste-of-tea

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From Up On Poppy Hill   Leave a comment

I was lucky enough to go see Studio Ghibli’s latest, From Up On Poppy Hill, last week. It’s been released to a limited amount of theaters, which generally means the closest city would be Boston or New York, but for some odd reason it showed up on the list as playing at The Moviehouse in Millerton, NY.

I had checked the theater list about a month prior, and Millerton wasn’t listed. Then I saw a post on Facebook saying they had added cities, so I checked, thinking maybe Hartford would be there. Instead I saw Millerton, which is not only near, (about 40 minutes) but a much nicer drive than into Hartford. The catch? It was only playing there for two more days. I happened to be off from my paying job that day, but had to work the next day. So it was then, or never.

I texted my daughter to see if she wanted to go. If not, I would go to an earlier show, but she did, and her best friend was able to come as well. Her best friend is a HUGE Hayao Miyazaki fan, just like me. So that afternoon, we headed out.

As I said, it’s a gorgeous drive, and it was one of the first really nice days we’ve had. The girls had been separated for a couple of weeks due to an out-of-state vacation, so they jabbered and talked non-stop the whole way while I enjoyed the scenery and kept the car window down.

I think I’ve only been to Millerton once before, a long time ago, so I had to drive up and down Main Street twice before I saw the theater. The picture on their website didn’t prepare me for how tiny the entrance once. Then I had to turn around and come back to find a parking space.

They had four movies playing, so they must have four theaters. Poppy Hill was playing in what was called The Screening Room, up this steep, wide staircase to the second floor. Outside in the hallway was a coffee bar, so the girls bought a coffee something-or-other. I sent them downstairs for popcorn, but felt guilty once we got in the theater. It’s for artsy-fartsy films, I’m guessing. It’s a small, living room-sized room with couches and chairs. Big windows, and one nice wall with speakers along the bottom. Not made for popcorn eaters.

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At first it was just the three of us, and we naturally sat on the couches. A bad choice, it turned out later, because the backs were far too low for comfort when you’re tilting your head to watch the screen. They were wide enough to slide down and get comfy, but I don’t slide well. Then we were joined by two elderly women, and I think two men came in just before it began. The manager (?) came in before the movie started and told us what would be playing next week and so on, and we felt even more out of place with our tub of popcorn.

This was not a theater made with anime fans in mind, and they might have been slightly horrified at Rachel’s pink hair and Kethry’s trans style, accompanied by my white hair, Black Butler t-shirt, and our back packs. But this was Miyazaki, and this was Studio Ghibli, and no way were we going to miss it.

If they issue it in a wider release take yourself to see it. It was just what you’d want from both Miyazaki’s and Ghibli. Not as childlike as Ponyo or Kiki, no fantasy elements like in Princess Mononoke or Spiritied Away, or my two absolute favorites, My Neighbor Totoro and Howl’s Moving Castle.

It’s described as a ‘coming of age’ story, and it is, but it is also a nice, gentle love story. It had that slice-of-life feel that so many Japanese films have, where not much really happens, but what does happen fills you up. And in Umi and Shun’s lives, the little that happened meant everything to them.

Rachel pointed something out that I hadn’t realized before. In nearly every movie from Miyazaki or Ghibli, there is always a major house cleaning scene. I have no idea what the significance of that is, but thinking back, she’s right. I wonder what it means. (I did search for that one damned piece of popcorn I know I spilled, but I couldn’t find it, I swear.)

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20th Century Boys   Leave a comment

My favorite manga by far is and has been 20th Century Boys, with the follow-up two volume 21st Century Boys, by Naoki Urasawa. I read it in its entirety one weekend about a year or so ago on one of those online scanlation sites. I couldn’t stop reading. I remember having a huge headache, and staying up far too late, reading again before work the next day, and coming home and diving right back in, until the story was finished. It was one of those stories you want to read again, but it’s so long and twisty-turvy you hesitate to begin again too soon.

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Then the movies came out. Three of them, and I bought them immediately. I wanted to wait until I had all three before watching them, but I gave in a month before the third one was released, and watched the first two. Then had to sigh and wait – and wait – and wait…until the third one came out.

On a side note, it began an obsession with the actor who played Otcho, Etsushi Toyokawa.

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(Otcho – the Shogun)

Which led to the amazing movie, Face, which starred the even-more-amazing Naomi Fujiyama. I’m still convinced that Masako swam straight into…well, never mind. You should watch it. And while you’re at it, watch The Man Behind the Scissors and Hula Girls as well.

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But back to 20th Century Boys. I began collecting the manga, and in yesterday’s mail came the final volume. My collection is complete, and now I can start reading it again. As many times as I want.

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(as you can see, the precious pile of books is being guarded by not only a band of kick-ass ninjas, but by Colonel Roy Mustang as well, and he is not going to let anyone get past him.)

Oh. Wait. Mustang is the Flame Alchemist. And the books are made out of – paper.

Maybe I should re-think my guardians. I’ll let Shikamaru think of a better strategy. Meanwhile, here’s a picture of two Kakashis with an apple. Kakashis love apples.

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(New, current Kakashi and younger, Anbu Kakashi. And an apple.)

Rurouni Kenshin   Leave a comment

I recently watched the live action movie of Rurouni Kenshin, with the extraordinarily good-looking Satō Takeru as Kenshin. As a samurai movie, and as an action movie, I thought it was fantastic. Even the you-know-they-can’t-really-be-done moves seemed, (to me, anyway) real. The anime humor was removed, but that was okay, because it left a really good story.

It was really one of the better live-action movies I’ve seen. Well worth watching if you like the anime, and well worth watching even if you’ve never seen the anime. If you like samurai films, and good fight scenes, and a really gorgeous leading man , and you don’t mind subtitles, then watch this movie. Highly recommended.

rurouni kenshindidn’t I tell you he was good-looking?