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Japanese Movies

Synopsis:

Ten-year-old Chihiro Ogino and her parents are traveling to their new home when her father takes a wrong turn. They unknowingly enter a magical world that Chihiro’s father insists on exploring. While Chihiro’s parents eat like pigs at an empty restaurant stall, Chihiro finds an exquisite bathhouse and meets a young boy named Haku who warns her to return across the river before sunset. However, Chihiro discovers too late that her parents have turned into pigs and she is unable to cross the flooded river, becoming trapped in the spirit world.

Excerpted from: Wikipedia

Words From Me:

This review has been long overdue. It’s been a couple of years since I’ve watched this movie on a whim with my boyfriend (now husband), back then we didn’t have anything else to watch and didn’t expect much from it. However since this was the first Studio Ghibli movie I’ve seen in my life, I was pretty much surprised at how good the animation was. I was actually smitten. For me, what made this movie appealing were all the elements: story, characters, music, setting and the cg. The colors in this movie were so vibrant that it made the drawings come to life.

The movie had a really weird story line with crazy characters of different kinds but that was to be expected because the setting was supposed to be in the “spirit world”. This isn’t the typical animation where it is limited for children’s enjoyment, this can also be enjoyed by adults and it has a lot of significance in real life situations.

Chihiro the spunky 10 year old main character may bring you back to a time wherein childhood innocence and naivety was a common thing, but it is an asset to be precise in relation to this movie. Spirited Away has a lot of things to convey, like how adults behave despite knowing better. In this reversal of roles, it’s up to a child to save her parents from the ultimate doom of being a pig forever. Being a pig in the setting signifies a lot of things: being gluttonous, good for nothing… in other words, a loss cause. A pig served in a platter to have a better purpose than being no good at all. If we put this in real life, we do have a lot of pig adults in the world and sometimes… it’s the children who has to bear the consequences.

One of my favorite characters here aside Chihiro is No-Face. The character is such an enigmatic thing since there’s no exact explanation in the movie as how it existed or what it is. It can do peculiar things too, like eat greedy characters, give gold and can become huge. One thing for certain though, No-Face wants affection and Chihiro is the only person who was able to do that, she treated it directly without any malice or ulterior motive.

I’m recommending this to those who enjoy animation and fantasy. It’s also best enjoyed with a pizza or pop-corn.

 

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Synopsis:

Suzuran High School is also known as The School of Crows. The biggest clique, Serizawa Army and its boss Tamao Serizawa are challenged by a new student to the school, Genji Takiya. Takiya, son of a yakuza boss, wants to be the school’s ace fighter. But at the advice of Ken Katagiri, a low-ranked start-out yakuza, Takiya starts to muster together a gang of his own. And as he grows into a true leader, he must face an ultimate battle with Serizawa’s gang. ~~ Recreation of Hiroshi Takahashi’s original comic book that sold more than 32 million copies in Japan. The film presents the story that precedes the comic book. The characters have also been newly re-created.

Excerpted from: Mydramalist

Words from Me:

As I watched through the whole thing with some annoying distractions, I was able to finish it with a big fat smile and an urge to punch someone.

To be honest, the film was really violent but not in the gore kind of way. It was rather light for a supposedly hostile film and it had some comedic touches on the sidelines which wasn’t really out of place. The graphics and effects were great. The setting, music, plot…especially the cast were all perfect. I wouldn’t want anyone else to be casted on this film.

I enjoyed how Genji Takiya (Oguri Shun) was able to develop as a character in a two hour movie. Although, time didn’t actually matter as he already had the guts to set out with his goals in mind and all he had to do was punch his way into the other student’s hearts. I say HEARTS because this isn’t the typical fight in which fists are the only useful thing to win. Takiya had to be earnest in all his ways and he had to bury that deep into the heart and mind of his future friends. I really liked the fact that he was soft-hearted despite being a gang leader, he easily cried for his people and fought for them in way that was inspiring.

Definitely Oguri Shun has rocked this film! I am an Oguri Shun fan but I’m not rating this  10/10 for being biased, the rating for me fits the whole movie because it was THAT COOL. Even the sub characters in this movie was fun to watch. So I’m recommending this if you are craving to watch a gang fight with a heart.

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Synopsis:

In the darkest corners of Thailand, child prostitution and organ sales flourish. In order to save a child’s life, another life must be taken. An outraged Japanese journalist and a passionate young Japanese NGO member attempt to save “children of the dark” from being consumed by arrogance and greed. However, the harsh realities of life intervene… Adapting Yan Sogil’s book, which unflinchingly portrays the tragic realities unfolding today, filmmaker Junji Sakamoto directs a talented multinational cast to bring these stark events to life.

Excerpted from: Asianwiki

Words from Me:

This is one of those movies that gave me a perplexing vibe after I was through with it. For a film that was meant to have a collaboration of two countries namely Japan and Thailand, this was slightly controversial. First off, to show a country with its dirt about human trafficking, that’s already one serious issue to dwell on… then add the corruption of government officials at the side lines, well that’s like adding salt to the injury. Nonetheless, this was a great movie to watch, especially if you’re interested in ethical and social issues around the globe.

Eguchi Yosuke has always been a great actor and I’m glad he is able to reunite with Miyazaki Aoi on screen for yet another work or rather I should say a BETTER movie this time around. I have already expected top notch acting performance from both main actors including Tsumabaki Satoshi who is part of the supporting cast, and unbelievably they surpassed my expectation.

The plot line sound quite simple, a volunteer social worker meets with a journalist and they start working hand in hand to uncover and expose the crime behind the Human Trafficking to help the poor children who are caught in such a hideous crime. What makes this story interesting is that this event is actually happening in real life and by watching this, it raises awareness to other people in other countries. Then add to this the fact that the production setting and cinematography seemed so real in a sense that it almost looked like a documentary, that my heart broke every time I see the children being herded off to the unknown. Lastly, there is the script. The storyline is awesome that it makes the whole movie a real work of art. Music wise, I couldn’t actually remember much of it, but I would probably rewatch this in the future with some students to use as a tool for discussion on such issues.

I usually have the habit of predicting drama or movie endings, and usually I’m not mistaken, but when it comes to Yosuke’s films, I am always caught off guard but still welcome the plot twist. I had the same feeling when I watched Gimme Heaven’s ending which both main actors were previously in. It was so mind boggling and yet it did make sense big time. I’m really hoping more people will be able to watch this film and I am definitely recommending it.

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Synopsis:

A man named Gates heads a mysterious group called “Shinbunshi” who don newspaper masks and post internet videos informing the public of their crimes of justice against people they deem guilty of things not punishable by law. Meanwhile, Erika Yoshino, an elite inspector from the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department’s cyber crime division attempts to track down the members of Shinbunshi and put a stop to their crimes. However, the group gradually begins to win over the support of the public with their videos.

Based on the manga ‘Yokokuhan’ by Tsutsui Tetsuya.

Excerpted from: Mydramalist

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Words from me:

It’s been awhile since I’ve watched a Japanese movie themed with crime investigation and psychological battles but that doesn’t mean I’ve forgotten to enjoy the genre. What I specifically liked about this film even with its lack or rather non-existent action scenes was how the main character came into being. I marvel at the main lead being an antagonist and protagonist at the same time. Movies like this should be appreciated for the scriptwriter’s wit, along with the actor’s perfect role execution. Have I mentioned that the main actor Ikuta Toma who acted as Gates is one of my favorite Japanese actors? Well, it’s not that relevant but the guy certainly knows how to act all kinds of character, from a depressed artist to being a stage comedian, he does his roles extremely well. I’m not saying this because he is my bias, but because this is how his portfolio and credentials say so.

Now that being said, I’m going to dive into more details about the film without the spoilers.

The whole storyline is about one unfortunate guy who tries to make a difference with the use of the World Wide Web and the perks of anonymity that comes with it. This guy remains anonymous because he wears a newspaper to cover his face while he stirs up the police, the government and most of all the netizens. The film will show some graphic and violent things done in the internet using live streaming and might be disturbing, but don’t let this get too much inside your head because this is not about the rated PG stuff, this is about something more, it is about a message being sent and interpreted by different people. Besides the icky stuff would only last for a couple of seconds in intermittent scenes. The film may seem slow and frustrating at times but the fact that you have to watch it until the end to appreciate whatever is currently happening, makes all 1 hour and 59 minutes of screen time worth it.

Music wise, it wasn’t as memorable to me since I was too engrossed with the story and what was happening for me to mind the background music much. Cinematography wise, there’s nothing much to be appreciated since most of the scenes took place in a room or being projected via the internet. Sub characters though are worth mentioning. I give my kudos to Toda Erika for being such a hard ass detective in this film even though she didn’t do much running or fighting, I still liked her. Heh. The fact that she’s still a tough nut in the middle of a male dominated environment, this did not deter her from doing her job. Then there are these other guys, the friends of the main character. I want to pinpoint my favorite among the three, but I can’t. I liked all guys equally because they had their own charm. Suzuki Ryohei as Kansai with his tall stocky looking body but with a heart of gold, while Arakawa Yoshiyoshi named Metabo is the fat bellied guy who seems too timid when it comes to authority figures but definitely can retaliate when needed and lastly Hamada Gaku as Nobita with his eye glasses and his dream to have girlfriend. I find that dream kind of cute and yet endearing making him the most vulnerable looking guy in the bunch. But overall, I think I liked each of them on the get go.

I recommend this film to those who would want to watch something with a more interesting story line.

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Synopsis:

A 30-year-old postman learns that he doesn’t have much time left to live due to a terminal illness. He is plagued by a constant headache, visits a doctor and is told that he has a brain tumor. A devil then appears in front of him and offers to extend his life if he picks something in the world that will disappear from his life. The man thinks about his relationships with ex-friends, ex-lovers, relatives and colleagues who will be sincerely sad when he dies. As the phone disappears; so does the memory of his girlfriend, with the movie; his friend, the watch; his father… In this fantasy human drama, a man struggles with the conflict of erasing his own existence, or his love, friends and family.

Excerpted from: Mydramalist

If Cats Disappeared From the World (2016).mp4_003053314Words from Me:

Initially, this movie starts off with a slow melancholic vibe. I sort of wanted to stop watching at around 10 minutes but after that the story would pick up and things would make sense. I was in denial the whole time though, feeling that it was all unreal, but the fact that this is about life and death… I swallowed that bitter taste at the back of my tongue and bravely watched on despite knowing that I’d end up in heartbreak and tears.

What I liked about the movie is that it showed how significant a simple thing can be. Like phones, or movies… even cats. Have you ever imagined not having cats around? That being asked, this movie has a statement. It could be an eye opener or a sleep inducing kind of show. Depends on how you would perceive it as you watch. The storyline is really heartfelt and yes, sad. I would have to say it hence I put your hopes up that this is going to be a happy movie, because come on and let’s face reality! Not everything has a happy ending. However, along the journey we get bits and pieces of lessons learned and lifelong good memories.

The sub-characters are a plus point for me here even though I find the main character lacking. I have nothing against Sato Takeru as the main lead, but I find his character a bit of a pacifist. For someone who is about to die, I feel that he’s not much determined to live even at the beginning. Anyway, putting my thoughts aside, my favorite character would be the best friend. Hamada Gaku known as Tatsuya the nerdy looking guy who manages a movie rental store. I for one would love to have friend like that, someone who would think that their friendship is a never ending cycle because of a certain connection that they have. Other characters worth mentioning are: Aoi Miyazaki and Harada Mieko. I honestly watched this film because of Aoi and as usual, she never fails to trigger my heart strings whenever I see her on screen. I think her character as the girlfriend has more debt than Takeru’s. Harada on the other hand who acted as the mother portrayed a woman who cared and loved his son as much as she could.

Music wise, it was a beautiful accompaniment to the film’s sad undertone. The mood was perfectly set because of the melody and if the movie ran without the music, it would have been boring and pointless. Cinematography was also amazing, the aerial capture and the video angles gave this vibe that there is more to life than it seems. It had vibrant colors and then dull ones, which seemed to let the viewers feel what the characters on screen are actually feeling.

I rated this movie 7.5/10 due to the main character’s flaw and the melancholy feeling the film gave me all throughout. I’m a rom-com kind of girl and being unhappy isn’t my forte. All in all, I would still recommend this show even if it’s not a feel good one, but for the lessons we could learn and for the things we take for granted. It has a statement and a very lovely one at that.

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Synopsis:

Several hundred years ago, humans were nearly exterminated by titans. Titans are typically several stories tall, seem to have no intelligence, devour human beings and, worst of all, seem to do it for the pleasure rather than as a food source. A small percentage of humanity survived by walling themselves in a city protected by extremely high walls, even taller than the biggest of titans.

Flash forward to the present and the city has not seen a titan in over 100 years. Teenage boy Eren and his foster sister Mikasa witness something horrific as the city walls are destroyed by a colossal titan that appears out of thin air. As the smaller titans flood the city, the two kids watch in horror as their mother is eaten alive. Eren vows that he will murder every single titan and take revenge for all of mankind.

Excerpted from: Mydramalist

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Words From Me:

I’m having ambivalent feelings about this movie for two reasons:
I loved the gore and quite a few details in the movie but I hated the way they changed a lot of things from the original Manga.

As a fan of the manga/anime, I was definitely disappointed on how things turned out for the storyline in this live action movie. I would have understood if there were minor changes since there is so much a movie can take from a long manga series, however it wasn’t just that – there was a major character deviation which was a huge blow for me. I was really looking forward to see the live adaptation of Mikasa, Armis and Eren as how they were supposed to be and was pretty excited on how the actors are going to portray each character accordingly, but unfortunately this isn’t the case. The only perfectly retained character was Zoe Hange; her character as the crazy soldier scientist was definitely the same as the original.

The overall CGI effect was something not even worth talking about, the only highlight about it was the way they made the live titans. They were freakishly big, dumb and gruesome… which I LIKED! I also gave a small clap on how the titan Eren turned out. It was almost-almost the same as the Anime/Manga version.

Music wise, I’d have to say so-so for the entire duration of the film, up until the ending. Since the song for the credits was a bit more memorable than the rest. It was noisy and rocked so well which was the perfect ending song for a supposedly gruesome movie.

Overall the film was okay but not okay. If you’re a fan of the original, you would probably love-hate the movie just like me. There were a lot of key points to like and a lot more to hate. How I wish they just made a drama series out of this, it might have given more justice to the whole live action thing.

Setting all of these thoughts aside, I would still watch the sequel so just to say I have finished the movie and didn’t give up on it.

 

 

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Synopsis:

Set in the mid 1990’s (which means less emphasis on computers, with even – in one scene – the mobile phone seen as a new-fangled device) the film pays affectionate – and even old-fashioned – tribute to the world of words and dictionaries, while also finding space for a tender and slow-paced romance. The gently paced film – which relishes language and utilises low-key performances – shows how solitary and socially clumsy Mitsuya Majime comes to realise that even compiling a dictionary calls for teamwork. He gets the job to replace a chief editor due to his single-minded obsession with words, having been a post-graduate in linguistics, but struggling to make his way as a salesman.

Staying at the Sou-Un-Sou Rooming House, he enjoys the bluntness of his elderly landlady and the occasional company of a ginger cat named Tora-san, but finds his ordered world turned on its head by the arrival of his landlady’s granddaughter Kaguya Hayashi, whose own obsession with cooking (and super-sharp cooking knives in particular) tallies with his desire for focus and attention to detail.

The eccentric Majime eventually learns to bond with his co-workers and slowly and diligently gets to know Kaguya, eventually even learning how to win her over.

Excerpted from: MyDramaList

Words From Me:

This movie is heartwarming.

It shows how a person can change from a simpleton to someone who is respectable. Though the initial pacing of the movie was slow, Ryuhei Matsuda portrayed his character as Mitsuya Majime very well and made the movie enjoyable. I’m also very happy to see Aoi Miyazaki as a supporting actress in this film along with Joe Odagiri. I didn’t even recognize the guy until I looked up the main actors profiles. Despite being a supporting character, Odagiri had a vital role in the whole film and I liked how he was able to add a happy tone to the whole movie.

As for the story, being in a corporate setting and in a world where money runs, I love the concept that the main characters strive hard despite the fact that they are doing something which needs maximum effort but minimal financial back up and takes a LOT of time…  more like at least 15 years to be exact. Adding to it is that the start of the movie setting was in the 90’s wherein computers were still deemed as a simple tool for typing and storing devices. These were the setbacks the characters had to go through, but they were people who were looking for modern words and gave meaning to them.

Overall this movie was enjoyable because of the character development and setting. It has its own humor which catches me off guard most of the time because the movie runs in seriousness.