All posts tagged: Drama

Eye-On-Manga-Tanjo

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 …

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Sweating the Small Stuff

It’s often said a filmmaker’s second work tends to be their most personal. For Ninomiya Ryutaro, the writer, director, editor, and star of his sophomore effort Sweating the Small Stuff this could literally be the case. Reportedly based on true events, and apparently shot in the locations those events happened, is the story of the protagonist (also named Ninomiya Ryutaro) spinning his wheels through a nihilistic life his very own? Auto mechanic Ryutaro, 27 years old, lives a fairly simple life. He seems confident, at least his swagger communicates as much, but spends much of his time reading books and drinking beers with friends. Something seems to be holding him back. One day, he receives a phone call from Yusuke, his childhood friend whose mother, Ryuko, is dying from Hepatitis C. Despite knowing for a while that Ryuko was sick, Ryutaro hasn’t visited her. And then he finally decides to go. Japanese independent cinema is populated with similar tales of characters aimlessly drifting through life but Ninomya’s movie may be able to distinguish itself from …

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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 …

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A Crimson Star

UPDATE 2 (Sep. 20, 2018) Added link to report on the press screening. UPDATE 1 (Aug. 23, 2018) Included brand new trailer released to coincide with its Raindance Film Festival competition berth. Also removed proof-of-concept short which has been taken offline now that the movie is slated for a December 2018 release. Filmmakers, particularly writer/directors, drawing on their personal lives to inform or even inspire the movies they direct is not uncommon. When leading a production crew and directing actors on one’s first few films, communicating what one wants based on one’s experiences more than likely aids in achieving the desired results. At the age of 19, director Igashi Aya directed her Toho Gakuen Film Techniques Training College graduate thesis, Tokeru. She stated the movie was the story she could make at that age as a young girl living in the Hokkaido countryside. Tokeru is an outpouring of her frustration at watching and hearing her classmates banal conversations and pointless ambitions. The emotional and adolescent confusion portrayed by the lead character as well as the …

Eye-On-Our-House

Our House

At its core Kiyohara Yui’s Our House is a story of two women. Seri is an adolescent girl living in an old house with her mother who Seri knows is planning to get remarried with her new lover. Sana is an amnesiac who is given sanctuary in the home of Toko, a woman seemingly harboring many secrets. Gradually, however, the movie begins to reveal why it won two awards at the Pia Film Festival, and earned screenings at the Berlin International Film Festival’s Forum Section and at the Lincoln Film Center in New York. With a high-concept usually found in science fiction and the forward thinking of an experimental movie, Kiyohara slowly begins overlapping these stories occurring in parallel as the boundaries between them become increasingly porous. Yet, nothing about it suggests it is a “genre” movie per se. Though there is a level of spookiness applied by Kiyohara as the occupants of the house begin to sense one another–no doubt attributable to her mentorship with Kurosawa Kiyoshi–the contrivance is primarily a form of storytelling. …

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Eriko, Pretended

Millennials and the possible Japanese counterpart “Yutori Generation” [used describe a children brought up and educated in a non-pressure system in response to the stress and overburden placed on them to achieve] have been oft maligned by their elders for poor work attitudes, a sense of entitlement, and a narcissistic streak. Whoever is to blame and the solutions which are needed are a discussion for some other blog, but key to both is how said generation views itself and filmmakers in their 20s are beginning to take a look at who they are and where they are going. Eriko, Pretended from writer/director Fujimura Akiyo a graduate of Meiji Gakuin University and the New Cinema Workshop film school, looks to be a standout entry in this sphere primarily for its set up and development. Ten years ago, Eriko left her provincial town and headed for Tokyo in pursuit of her dream of being an actress, though has nothing to show for it except a bit part in a commercial beneath a rabbit costume. Nevertheless, she tells …

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Beloved Nora: A Chance Encounter with Happiness

In terms of the role they play in the lives of humans, pets have gone from being “domesticated animals” fulfilling a function for their masters to being integral members of the family. Whether cat, dog, fish, bird, snake, or something more exotic, pets figuratively and often times literally occupy a special place in the home. For young children, they may seem like another sibling. For adults, they may be viewed like their own children; in some cases, pets take the place of children who have left they nest or had never been. This is the essential focus of Beloved Nora – A Chance Encounter with Happiness (lit. translation). The story revolves around an insignificant screenwriter, Tsukumo Sakumi and the stray cat which wanders into his life. Naming the cat Shiro, he and his wife, Hiori, decide to keep it. Without children of their own, the couple dote on Shiro like parents would a child. Then one day Shiro does not return home after going outside. Sakumi disregards his work to go in search for Shiro, …