Archive for the ‘Reviews’ Category

Film Review: Obon Brothers – A Film By Akira Osaki

October 23, 2015 Leave a comment

A charming and heart-warming portrayal of a man down on his luck!

Obon Brothers

Akira Osaki (read interview here) has not had an easy time in the Japanese film industry. After the failure of his debut film Catchball-Ya, Osaki struggled to secure funding for a new film. Again and again his projects were dropped in the early stages, and this made him frustrated about the film industry he was working so hard to be accepted in. This anger has been translated into his latest film, Obon Brothers, a dark comedy penned by his close-friend, and Read more…

Film Review: Ryūzō And The Seven Henchmen (Ryūzō to Shichinin no Kobuntachi)

October 12, 2015 Leave a comment

A fast paced and quick witted comedy!

Ryuzo_7_Japanese_Theatrical_Release_Poster 2Produced by Office Kitano and released in Japan on 25th April 2015 the film stars the 74 year old Tatsuya Fuji as Ryūzō, whose performance is the mainstay of the film’s success, and is directed by the critically acclaimed Beat Takeshi (aka Takeshi Kitano). The film is a delightful and, in places, very funny romp into the twilight existence of a group of Yakuza headed up by the Read more…

DVD Review: Ben-To Complete Series Collection

October 7, 2015 Leave a comment

It’s not just dinner, it’s a matter of victory!

Ben-To DVD coverBen-to is originally a Japanese light novel series written by Asaura, with illustrations by Kaito Shibano. Shueisha published 15 novels from February 2008 to February 2014. Shibano also illustrates three manga adaptations, and a fourth manga is drawn by Sankaku Head. The name literally is to mirror the word Bento box but adding that ‘-‘ makes it a lot more easier to Google against all those tasty packed lunch photos online.

After the success from the light novel it was adapted into a 12-episode anime TV series  You follow protagonist Sato Yo who is a Read more…

Film Review: Uzumasa Limelight (Uzumasa Raimuraito)

A homage to Charlie Chaplin’s LIMELIGHT!

Uzumasa limelightWinner of the Cheval Noir Award and Best Actor Award at the 2014 Fantasia International Film Festival, the Audience Award at the 2014 New York Asian Film Festival and the 2014 Camera Japan Festival, and the official selection at both the 2014 Hawaii International Film Festival and the 2014 Shanghai International Film Festival.  Read more…

Theatre Review: Ninagawa Company – ‘Hamlet’ (Hamuretto) By William Shakespeare

Yukio Ninagawa directs his best-loved play!

Ninagawa Hamlet May 2015Ninagawa Company – ‘Hamlet’ (Hamuretto) by William Shakespeare 21-24 May 2015 at the Barbican, supported by Thelma Holt Ltd., Saitama Arts Foundation and HoriPro Inc.

Inspired as a celebration and appreciation of his involvement in International Relations, Ninagawa’s 80th birthday this year is being celebrated under the banner Read more…

DVD Review: Good Luck Girl Complete Series

Breasts, ghosts and growing a conscience!

Good Luck Girl DVD coverGood Luck girl also known as Binbogami ga! translated as “This Damn God of Poverty!” based on the comedy manga series by Yoshiaki Sukeno, originally published in Jump Square magazine between July 2008 and August 2013. The anime adaptation aired in Japan from September 26, 2012 showing its popularity before the manga ended.

The first five minutes sets the scene in a land of gods who watch earth and its inhabitants. An imbalance of luck has over flowed in an area where popular, pretty, wealthy girl Ichigo Sakura is sucking the luck from Read more…

DVD/Blu-ray Review: Professor Layton And The Eternal Diva

The Professor’s first movie and his toughest puzzle yet!

Professor Layton And The Eternal Diva‘First it started with a Game’ as the intro goes it was the vast popularity of the game series following the gentleman Professor Layton on his quests to solve puzzles with his apprentice Luke. What made the game stand out against competitor titles was the slick animation between puzzles. People were so charmed by the character designs it shortly after became a movie.

The movie begins with an introduction about the series for new watchers and I know quite few people who indeed picked up this title from conventions for the art alone, not surprising as it was produced by Read more…

Film Review: Ask This Of Rikyū (Rikyū ni Tazuneyo)

What was the secret Rikyu took to the grave?

Ask this of Rikyū

‘Ask This of Rikyu’, a film directed by Mitsutoshi Tanaka and distributed by Toei, had its first World Premiere at the 37th Montreal World Film Festival in September 2013 sharing the Best Artistic Contribution Award with ‘Landes’ by François-Xavier Vives. It was nominated for the Japan Academy Prize for Picture of the Year and won the Japan Academy Prize for Outstanding Achievement in Art Direction.

The film, based on the novel of the same name by Kenichi Yamamoto which won the Naoki Literary Prize in 2009, stars the renowned Read more…

Book Review: The Cherry Blossom Murder – A Josie Clark In Japan Mystery

September 29, 2014 Leave a comment

First in a series of books set in Tokyo!

cherry-blossom-murderIn popular manga and anime Tokyo Babylon, there is a character called Seishiro Sakurazuka who is a dangerous onmyoji posing as a friendly vet. He kills his enemies and buries their bodies under a huge cherry tree; in fact it is the only cherry tree that bears deep red blossom and even redder fruit. In The Cherry Blossom Murder, Londoner, Josie discovers a body under the cherry blossom and goes in search of the killer.

Josie enjoys all the pomp and circumstance of Tammy Izumo’s Tea Party, but doesn’t quite fit into Japanese society. She is a friendly sort, but Read more…

WIN NINGYO: The Art Of The Japanese Doll By Alan Scott Pate

September 21, 2014 8 comments

Hooray! It’s competition time again!

Ningyo - The Art of the Japanese DollFamed the world over for their intricate beauty, Japanese dolls (ningyo) have played an important role in Japanese art and culture. Ningyo: The Art of the Japanese Doll (read review here) is the first comprehensive book on antique Japanese dolls and figurines published in English. The book focuses on dolls in six categories:

  • GOSHO-NINGYO: Palace Dolls and Auspicious Wishes
  • HINA-NINGYO: Dolls for the Girl’s Day Festival
  • MUSHA-NINGYO: Warrior Dolls for the Boy’s Day Festival
  • ISHO-NINGYO: Fashion Dolls and Popular Culture
  • NINGYO IN THE THEATER: Entertaining the Gods and Man
  • NINGYO AND HEALTH: Dolls as Talisman and Tool

Read more…

Book Review: NINGYO: The Art Of The Japanese Doll

September 9, 2014 1 comment

The first comprehensive book on antique Japanese dolls published in English!

Ningyo - The Art of the Japanese DollNINGYO: The Art of The Japanese Doll, written by Alan Scott Pate, the leading expert on Japanese dolls in the US, is a stunning hardback coffee-table book published by Tuttle Publishing that focuses on an area of Japanese culture little explored by westerners.

More than a plaything, the Japanese doll is a decorative object that is the central focus of many festivals like the Hina Matsuri (the Girl’s Day Festival) which takes place in Japan every year in March. To the world outside Japan, Hina dolls with their elaborate well-detailed costumes are Read more…

Book Review: The Art Of The Japanese Sword: The Craft Of Swordmaking And Its Appreciation

August 28, 2014 1 comment

Like people and snowflakes, no two Japanese swords are the same!

The Art Of The Japanese Sword - The Craft Of Swordmaking And Its AppreciationWritten by Yoshindo Yoshihara (a third generation swordsmith) with Leon and Hiroko Kapp, The Art of the Japanese Sword is a beautiful large format book (effectively printed on glossy black paper with white text) that focuses on the production and understanding of the symbolic steel weapon once used by samurai and now admired by art collectors all round the world as an object of perfection, although many people use them to practice traditional Japanese martial arts like Iaido (the art of drawing the sword). Read more…

DVD/Blu-ray Review: Fairy Tail The Movie: Phoenix Priestess

August 22, 2014 Leave a comment

The first movie from the critically acclaimed Fairy Tail anime franchise!

Fairy Tail The Movie Blu-RayFor a series that has been long running, this is the first time there has ever been a full length movie made of it. So for the fans this has been a long time coming. The many adventures and different characters are what make this series a success as well as the other lands with different guilds which are covered in the series. In Phoenix Priestess the Fairy Tail Guild have to deal with a threat to the entire world due to one man, a cruel prince who wants to get his hand on the other half of the Read more…

Book Review: Nightshade – An Only In Tokyo Mystery By Jonelle Patrick

August 22, 2014 Leave a comment

First in a series of mysteries that could happen only in Tokyo!

Nightshade By Jonelle PatrickYumi Hata has returned to Tokyo after a stint in the U.S. She works as a translator whose only friend in the whole of the city is Rika. She keeps her from the total isolation she feels during her stay, but when she is found dead, Yumi feels alone again, the isolation and loneliness creeping up on her.

For most people, knowing a friend is what can make them question why someone so dear would kill herself and Yumi does this as she remembers what kind of girl Rika was. Rika had no problems, was happy and had no suicidal tendencies as far as she was aware. She could be wrong, but Read more…

DVD/Blu-ray Review: Branded To Kill – A Film By Seijun Suzuki

August 18, 2014 Leave a comment

Packed with wild ideas incorporating some of the most imaginative killings you’ll ever see on celluloid!

Branded to Kill Arrow FilmsDelirious, violent and bizarre, the perverse 1967 cult crime thriller Branded to Kill is widely regarded as being director Seijun Suzuki’s magnum opus, influencing major filmmakers such as Quentin Tarantino, John Woo and Martin Scorsese. It stands out as being both a nonsensical and exceptional piece of film art that has to be seen to be believed.

Jo Shishido plays professional hitman Goro Hanada aka No 3 Killer, the third best killer on the best killers list, who gets sexually aroused whenever he smells and eats freshly cooked rice – a fetish hated by his Read more…

DVD/Blu-ray Review: Jormungand – The Complete First Series

August 13, 2014 Leave a comment

One of the most highly anticipated anime series of 2014!

Jormungand Complete First SeriesThe story follows the escapades of Jonah, Lehm, Valmet and Lutz who all work for Koko Hekmatyar, an arms dealer who needs someone like Jonah on her team. Koko works with the HCLI an international shipping corporation who secretly deals in the arms trade. As she works with them, she sells weapons in secret in several countries while trying to avoid the local police as her work is regarded as illegal. Her team she is always seen with are bodyguards who were found in the military, but her newest colleague has another motive for joining them. He wants to find where the Read more…

Dressed to Impress – Netsuke And Japanese Men’s Fashion

An exhibition at the British Museum in Room 3 supported by The Asahi Shimbun. 19 June – 17 August 2014

Netsuke of a Chinese boy holding a mask for a lion dance. Unsigned, Japan, early 1800sTo coincide with the publication of the British Museum’s new book, ‘Netsuke: 100 miniature masterpieces from Japan’, by Noriko Tsuchiya, the museum is hosting a small exhibition, ‘Dressed to Impress: Netsuke and Japanese men’s Fashion’ sponsored by the Japanese newspaper Asahi Shimbun.

As traditional Japanese men’s clothing had no pockets personal effects had to be carried in containers (inrō) hung from the belt (obi). To hang the inrō from the obi a long cord (himo) was threaded Read more…

Theatre Review: ‘Kaidan Chibusa no Enoki’ (The Ghost Tale Of The Wet Nurse Tree)

July 17, 2014 2 comments

The Heisei Nakamura-za company performs Kabuki at the Lincoln Centre Festival, NYC!

Heisei Nakamura-za Photo by ShochikuThe Lincoln Centre Festival performance of the Kabuki play ‘Kaidan Chibusa no Enoki’ (The Ghost Tale of the Wet Nurse Tree) took place in NYC from 7th – 12th July 2014 at the Rose Theatre. Having inherited the dream of their father Nakamura Kanzaburō XVIII, who sadly passed away in December 2012, the performance run was dedicated to him by his sons Nakamura Kankurō VI and Nakamura Shichinosuke II. Kanzaburō helped establish the Heisei Nakamuraza, a portable Read more…

DVD Review: Chrome Shelled Regios Collection 1

The world of tomorrow is an arid wasteland!

Chrome Shelled Part 1In the future we wonder what might happen if we become invaded by beings who want to ravage the world we try to live in, and Chrome Shelled Regios is one of many from anime history. The characters drive the story, and there are a good few that the viewer might care about, but others they may not as their personalities haven’t been fleshed out enough. It tells the story of several survivors of a future earth that has suffered the effects of living  with mutated beasts called Filth Monsters, (in the anime it translates as Contaminoids) and we see the story through the eyes of these survivors who have Read more…


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