Author: Ben Dimagmaliw

Beyond the Blue Feature

Beyond the Blue

“Blue Mail” is a letter you receive from your future self. Is it a hopeful message? Or is it sad tidings of misfortune? A young man, Kagari, and a runaway girl, Yuki, meet under trivial circumstances. Both are burdened by a pain they are unable to forget but believing there must be something more ahead of them, they set out for Tokyo. Along the way their past and secrets catch up with them. Hiro Kenichiro has an interesting history. After studying abroad in Texas, he graduated from high school and entered Osaka University’s School of Dentistry. But while there, he began studying 3D graphics at Digital Hollywood and has since been involved in the production of many music and promotional videos. His filmography lists a number of independent shorts and features he’s been making since 2012, including two in English. Though he has been decorated for some, others are competent study pieces; Hiro gradually improving by consistently making movies. Beyond the Blue seems to the first fruits of such labors as evidenced by its competition …

Red Comet Club Feature Image

The Red Comet Club

Once every several decades, a red comet becomes observable from the Earth. High school student Jun hears of a curious theory that a time paradox will induced by creating a strong magnetic field when a comet passes. Together with his companions in the astronomy club, he sets about creating a “comet core” which will have the same strong magnetic field as the comets which hurtle through space. Gratifying days pass uneventfully. Jun is surrounded by companions who will immerse themselves in something so trivial; and beside him is his childhood friend, Hana. In fact, the realities of the comet really don’t matter. And there is certainly not a single thing he hopes for. It’s difficult to say if the intriguing yet deceptively simple-sounding premise of director Takei Yuri’s feature-length debut can be labeled “lo-fi sci-fi”, but the final line of the synopsis leads one to think the movie may be worth viewing to find out whether or not the statement is true. Online film site Cinefil.tokyo commented that “Takei Yuri, who timelessly succeeds the bloodline …

Call of Zon Feature

Call of Zon

20 years ago the town of Yumetoi was completely enclosed by the mysterious phenomenon known as “Zon”. There were people who impulsively went outside the Zon, but not a single one has ever returned. Now, no one in town would venture beyond the Zon. In a bar where several townspeople gather such as the bar’s proprietor Tsunemoto Michiko. waitress Karino Akira, seminar organizer Ninomiya Kenji, “post-Zon generation” youths Hazama Ippo and Ando Remi among others, the complex relationships of the townspeople unfold. Meanwhile, Hazama and Ando, who have never known the world outside of town from the day they were born, look at the Zon and ponder if anything still exists beyond it. One day, a strange VHS tape from outside the Zon reaches Nagare Kantaro who lives at the very edge of town. Hazama believes it is definitely some message from beyond the Zon and he begins to become captivated by the world beyond the Zon’s periphery. Originally shot in 2014 through the Film School of Tokyo, Suzuki Takuji’s film finally saw theatrical release …

Kuma Elohim Feature

Kuma Elohim

Married couple Ayumu (Furuya Konosuke) and Ema (Murakami Yukino) live on a planet different from Earth. Almost all of the inhabitants of this planet, including Ayumi and Ema, were sent here by the religious group Hanukka Hill from an Earth in danger of depleting its oxygen.On this planet administered by Haukka Hill, childbirth is fervently advocated as it is said to be the most precious thing. People who have grown old become “sacrifices” and are cast away. Ayumu and Ema are without children. For them, their child is an infant doll. Ayumu continues to worry and anguish their inability to conceive a child is his fault. The actions finally taken by the troubled Ayumu will raise questions about family, blood relations, and the prosperity of a species. Director Sakata Takahiro graduated from the Nihon University College of Art’s Cinema program following in the footsteps of some of Japan cinema’s leading directors such as Ishii Gakuryu, Tominaga Masanori, and Irie Yu who also were educated there. The 23-year-old “troublemaker” appears to have a penchant for tackling …

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The Manga Master

Updated 2018/10/08: Added new trailer in anticipation of its World Premiere at the Tokyo International Festival The proliferation of manga across the globe has been one of the pillars of the Japanese government’s economic soft power initiative, “Cool Japan” which also works to spread Japanese culture internationally. Many Japanese are often surprised by how knowledgeable foreigners can be regarding many popular manga titles as well as the increasing number of tourists who flock to Japan to consume and experience manga culture first hand. That being said, the roots of the medium itself is most likely unknown to both Japanese and international fans alike. Revealing the little known history of manga is the aim of The Manga Master which is directed by Oki Moe who is helming her second feature. Her debut work, Firecracker Ideals was a purely independent spin on the contemporary morose of young people as they grow to see the wide disparity between their life idealized through youthful ambitions versus unwelcome realities. It was hailed as a confident movie capturing some of the …

Eye-On-Tale-of-a-Butcher-Shop

Tale of a Butcher Shop

There is a German documentary from 2005 titled Our Daily Bread. Without narration or much in the way of music, it brought to light with mesmerizing visuals the impact convenience and modern mass-production methods have had on the food we consume. The meditative quality of the documentary left reaction solely to the viewers, be it shock, disgust, amazement, etc. On first look, Hanabusa Aya’s 2013 documentary Tale of a Butcher Shop may well be the Japanese pseudo-companion piece. The local butcher shop remains a visible and well-loved part of many communities throughput Japan. But like everywhere, these are slowly disappearing feature of the landscape due to modernization and demands for meat to be sold at volume and for low prices. The Kitades are a family who live outside Osaka. They have been raising and slaughtering the cows they sell for meat at their small butcher shop for over 100 years. As the family embark upon their decision to close shop in response to competition from corporate supermarkets, the three butcher siblings contemplate life afterwards. By …

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3ft Ball & Souls

When Harold Ramis and Danny Rubin had Bill Murray relive a single day repeatedly until he got the day right, the concept was so original and fresh the title of their movie is used to describe any story with a similar narrative device. Most recently, ‘All You Need Is Kill’ the Japanese manga and Edge of Tomorrow put a sci-fi spin on the concept by making the time loop a stratagem employed by the antagonists. However, this latest update and many others following the original were focused on the protagonist’s retries as a vehicle for personal development which ultimately breaks the cycle. The fresh and emotional spin director Kato Yoshio has put on the concept for his latest, 3ft Ball and Souls, is three characters are tasked with the maturity of another. Four troubled strangers, a fireworks craftsman, a first year residency doctor, a grief stricken mother, and a high school girl–the youngest among them–meet at online suicide club and decide to get together for the singular purpose of dying together. Fate intervenes, however, as …