Posted in Adaptation, Art & Animation, Festival du nouveau cinéma, Film Festivals, Manga, Nouveau cinéma 2019, Reviews

Children of the Sea – film review – Nouveau cinema 2019

Children of the Sea / 海獣の子供 [Kaijū no kodomo] (2019)
Director Ayumu Watanabe
Screenplay Daisuke Igarashi
Producer Eiko Tanaka
Cast Mana Ashida, Gorô Inagaki, Hiiro Ishibashi, Seishû Uragami


This is based on a manga. It is about a young girl with an innate connection to ocean animals. Thinking she’s alone, she meets a couple of boys who were raised in the ocean by dugongs. Besides that unconventional upbringing there is are other odd things about he boys and the mystery related to them goes far beyond their upbringing.


Visually and aurally the movie is quite amazing. With music composed by Joe Hisaishi, that also signals that the soundtrack will be excellent. Scenes of all the variety of sea creatures in the ocean to lush greenery and vibrant flower above ground, there’s no shortage of incredible art. There’s also fair amount of zoom effects and camera shifts which appear to be computer aided. The animation is very high quality overall.

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Posted in Adaptation, Fantasia 2019, Fantasia International Film Festival, Film Festivals, Manga, Reviews, Trailers, Video

Tokyo Ghoul ‘S’ – movie review – Fantasia 2019

Tokyo Ghoul ‘S’ / 東京喰種 トーキョーグール S [Tokyo Guru S ] (2019)
Director: Kazuhiko Hiramaki, Takuya Kawasaki
Writer: Chuji Mikasano
Cast: Masataka Kubota, Shota Matsuda, Maika Yamamoto


This sequel (although I doubt that’s what ‘S’ stands for) has Kaneki facing off against an uber foodie ghoul, Tsukiyama, nicknamed the “Gourmet” who becomes obsessed with Kaneki due to him being a hybrid of ghoul and human. Tsukiyama wants to eat Kaneki. Obviously Kaneki does not want to be eaten.


While I’m tempted to say the ‘S’ stands for stupid, I don’t think this sequel is all bad but it is a step backwards. Before getting to why that is, this sequel makes several references to the first movie. The main plot is simple enough that it could be understood without watching the first movie but a lot of background will be lost on those who didn’t watch the first movie or don’t remember it. I strongly suggest that you watch the first movie before this one. The first movie establishes the world and characters and the sequel assumes you’re already aware of all that.

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Posted in Adaptation, Fantasia 2019, Fantasia International Film Festival, Film Festivals, Manga, Reviews, Trailers, Video

Kingdom – movie review – Fantasia 2019

Kingdom / キングダム [Kingudamu] (2019)
Director: Shinsuke Sato
Writer: Tsutomu Kuroiwa, Shinsuke Sato, Yasuhisa Hara
Cast: Kento Yamazaki, Ryo Yoshizawa, Masami Nagasawa, Kanna Hashimoto, Kanata Hongo


Two slave orphans, Shin aka Xin (Kento Yamazaki) and Hyou aka Piao (Ryo Yoshizawa) and  grow up and practice sword fighting because they believe this will help them escape the slave class. One day a nobleman picks Hyou to work for the emperor while leaving the other one behind. But when a gravely injured Hyou comes back to Shin, he asks Shin to protect the emperor.


This live action movie is based on a manga/anime that itself takes inspiration from real Chinese history, namely the Warring States period. I am unfamiliar with the manga/anime or the real history.

Although this is a live action, the way the characters act made it quite obvious that this is a manga/anime adaptation. It’s exaggerated in a way that tells you this isn’t meant to be taken completely seriously. In this sense, those expecting a serious movie will not find it here. The king’s plan in the end is also kind of dumb and gets resolved by a deus ex machina character. The use of flashbacks is kind of annoying and I think largely unnecessary. In fact, I find the use of flashbacks to rouse or inspire a character to be a cheap trick to elicit audience feelings. The repeated talk of dreams is meant to inspire but becomes insipid after seemingly the umpteenth time it’s mentioned.

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Posted in Adaptation, Fantasia 2019, Fantasia International Film Festival, Film Festivals, Manga, Trailers, Video

Fly Me to Saitama – movie revew – Fantasia 2019

Fly Me to Saitama / 翔んで埼玉 [Tonde Saitama] (2019)
Director: Hideki Takeuchi
Writer: Yuichi Tokunaga
Cast: Fumi Nikaido, Gackt, Yusuke Iseya, Masaki Kyomoto
Producer: Hiroki Wakamatsu


Two parents are driving their daughter to her engagement ceremony. She’s looking forward to moving to Tokyo and is ashamed of growing up in Saitama. They listen to a radio drama (or urban myth as the daughter calls it) about how Tokyo oppressed and persecuted people from Saitama, who then rebelled in a revolution.


This is a tongue in cheek comedy that doesn’t merely skewer but viciously makes fun of Saitama as a place with nothing interesting. There are some jabs directed at other prefectures including their rival Chiba, Gunma and Tokyo but make no mistake target #1 is Saitama. The jokes are also varied. There are sight gags like less desirable prefectures looking like desolate areas or wild untamed jungles. The high class Tokyo people wear ridiculously garish, bourgeois outfits. They stutter out of disgust and fear when merely attempting to say the name of an undesirable prefecture. The actors completely chew the scenery and are as pompous as possible. One joke is so funny because it puts the character in the ridiculous situation of a smelling test. I won’t say more about it because it would spoil the joke but that got huge laughs from the audience.

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Posted in Adaptation, Fantasia 2019, Fantasia International Film Festival, Film Festivals, Manga, Reviews, Trailers, Video

Almost a Miracle – movie review – Fantasia 2019

Almost a Miracle / 町田くんの世界 [Machida-kun no Sekai] (2019)
Director: Yuya Ishii
Writer: Yuya Ishii, Sho Kataoka
Cast: Kanata Hosoda, Nagisa Sekimizu, Takanori Iwata, Mitsuki Takahata, Atsuko Maeda

The next screening of this film is Thurday, July 18.


Hajime Machida is a high school boy who isn’t good at studying or sports. However, he is such a good Samaritan that he’ll drop whatever he’s doing to help someone. He proclaims that he likes all people. One day he meets a girl, Nana Inohara, who hates all people. With the nurse absent, she tends to a cut that Machida sustained. Thus begins a friendship/relationship between the two opposites that baffles him and frustrates her.


This is a manga adaptation of The World of Machida-kun which is the Japanese title of the movie. Like with most live action manga adaptations, I have not read the manga so cannot comment on the movie’s faithfulness to it.

Machida (Kanata Hosoda) is obsessively selfless and puts others ahead of himself. His classmates nickname him Christ because of this. He’s seen as a weird outsider. Inohara (Nagisa Sekimizu) is pretty but also an outsider being subject to rumors due to her mother’s cheating. As a result Inohara is closed off and has no friends. Her interactions with Machida gradually make her to open up. These interactions are like a series of vignettes. They’re funny and awkward.

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Posted in Adaptation, Fantasia 2019, Fantasia International Film Festival, Film Festivals, Manga, Music, Reviews, Trailers, Video

Chiwawa – movie review – Fantasia 2019

Chiwawa / チワワちゃん [Chiwawa-chan] (2019)
Director & Writer: Ken Ninomiya
Cast: Mugi Kadowaki, Ryo Narita, Tina Tamashiro, Shiori Yoshida

Next Fantasia screening is Monday, July 15.


A young woman is found murdered and her old friend tries to find out what happened to her by talking to various mutual friends and acquaintances. In the past they partied hard using money stolen by Chiwawa but afterwards everyone went there separate ways although Chiwawa would come and go in the lives of her past friends and acquaintances.


There are quite a few music video style montages with a lot of lighting effects combined with frequent cuts. The hyperactive editing and flashing is enough to warn epileptics to stay away from watching this movie. But that may also apply to regular movie goers too. There’s a definitely an energy here that the film captures and a sense of nostalgia and youthful yearning. The music especially helps in enforcing a sense of nostalgia.

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Posted in *Recommended, Adaptation, Art & Animation, Manga, Reviews, Trailers, Video

After the Rain – live action movie review & anime comparison [Recommended]

koi_wa_ameagari_no_you_niAfter the Rain / 恋は雨上がりのように / Koi wa Ameagari no You ni (2018)
Director: Akira Nagai
Writer: Jun Mayuzuki (manga), Riko Sakaguchi
Cast: Nana Komatsu, Yo Oizumi

On a flight back home, I was surprised to see Japanese films available and this one was at the top of the list since it was in alphabetical order. I had never heard of the movie but recognized the two main actors so decided to watch it.

The story centers around a 17 year old high school girl, Akira (Nana Komatsu), who has a crush on her 45 year old manager, Kondo (Yo Oizumi), of the restaurant where she works. But what initially looks like a cringey wish fulfillment setup is actually more about two individuals who have both lost their passions and how they end up helping each other rediscover them. The original source material is a manga and an anime adaptation already exists. I ended up watching the anime later which made for an interesting comparison.

Normally my reviews are spoiler free but this one will have some mild spoilers since I’ll be comparing it to the anime.

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