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Japanese Movies

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Synopsis:

Min moves to Japan following his professor father. One day at a local shrine, he meets a beautiful, long-haired Japanese girl with innocent eyes. Her name is Nanae, and she is an aspiring painter. Min falls for her at first sight. He longs for her but soon learns that Nanae attends the same school to which Min has just transferred.

Min befriends Nanae, and despite the cultural and language barriers, they become fast friends, taking in the famous sites of Kyoto. Their feelings for each other grow, and on a visit to a ceramic store, Nanae promises some day to paint Min’s portrait on the pottery that is made by him. Min continues to learn the craft from his father, and he comes to realize that he has to put all of his heart, the kind of love he feels for Nanae, into making the pottery for it not to crack.

Because of his grandmother’s sudden illness, Min has to return to Korea to be with her. He cannot get in touch with Nanae, and he becomes anxious. After his grandmother regains her health, he hurries back to Japan to look for Nanae, but she is nowhere to be found. Have his true feelings for Nanae not reached her? Why has Nanae disappeared without a word?

Excerpted from: AsianWiki

Words from Me:

I can’t say I loved it but I am not saying I hate it, it was an average kind of film for me. I was probably just expecting so much from it since both main actors are my favorite but the story line was a typical one and there wasn’t anything special or surprising about it. The fact that there was so much hype for the movie prior to it’s screening, it was a bit of let down when I finally saw it and there wasn’t much of the feels aspect in it.

Despite having Lee Jun Ki and Aoi Miyazaki who are both top a rated Korean actor and Japanese actress as the main leads, the movie still didn’t make it into my must watch and recommended movies.

The story was more in the line of innocent love, or love at first sight and has many sweet moments. A girl would love to be treated like how Jun Ki treated Aoi here. It was just so sweet… but then again the character build up was slow (although amazingly it doesn’t have too many draggy moments as I have expected it to be) and the whole story lacked heart clenching moments as it could have been. It really had so much potential, so I wonder what the writer was thinking because the directing and cinematography was beautiful and I had not thing to complain about that. Maybe because this was a Korean-Japanese collaboration, the expectations were high and the pressure was heavy for the writer and producers.

As for the music, it was well done as both Japanese and Korean musicians incorporated their musical scores through out the film and it had a great outcome. It’s one of the things that perked me up. Then add the cinematography in it, the movie became bearable. The colorful views and touches in clothes, back drops and even the things that they hold… it was a pleasure to watch. Seeing Korea and Japan in one movie was breathtaking, making me want to travel there even more.

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Synopsis:

Several months after “Crows: Episode 0” trouble brews again when thugs known as “The Army of Killers” from rival high school Hosen Academy threaten Suzuran High aka the School of Crows. The ruthless Hosen gang go after Suzuran alumni Sho Kawanishi after his release from the reformatory for killing a Hosen member two years back. Kawanishi turns to his younger Suzuran gang members for protection. The Housen gang then seeks outright revenge on the entire Suzuran school, while fighting at Suzuran High makes them even more susceptible to the Housen threat.

Excerpted from: MyDramalist

Words from Me:

The second installment was not as dramatic and action packed as the first but it definitely had substance. What got my attention during the whole movie was how the characters paved the way to make a real man out of a man. Does anyone get my drift? So who was the best example in the film to show how a real man should act? It was Genji’s father.

Darn! I so love the old man. He seems like the regular kind of yakuza-boss-gangster who only knows how to fight and spill blood, but he definitely says the right thing at the right moment.

Setting the father figure aside, rival gangs are always not my cup of tea when watching violent movies but CROW ZERO II worked on me for some reason. Of course there were still a lot of comparison from the first movie due to many differences, yet watching it still felt good. Even though it may not the best it was still worth my time.

Oguri Shun’s character as Genji-san shall never be forgotten and simply holds a special place in my heart. I’m partly thankful that most of the sub characters made him seem extraordinary. They truly were great in supporting the main character.

The soundtrack was perfect even for the fighting scenes. I love how they have incorporated the music in crucial moments. That’s one thing that I love with Japanese films, they use rock music that really pumps up the adrenaline of anyone who listens to it regardless if the lyrics are understood or not.

I’m recommending this movie even though it’s not as good as the first one, it’s still a pretty neat watch and a great reminder of how cool Genji’s character is.

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Synopsis:

Suzuko Sato (Yu Aoi) is an unremarkable young teen that has trouble fitting in. While her younger brother is often praised for his smarts, her family & neighbors have nothing to say about Suzuko.

One day at work, Suzuko’s co-worker offers to become roommates with Suzoko. Suzuko jumps at that chance to move out of her parents house and they set out to find an apartment. Unfortunately, Suzuko’s friend never mentioned her plan to have her boyfriend Takeshi live with them – until after they sign the lease on their apartment. Making matters worse, on their big moving day Suzuko finds her co-worker a no-show but her boyfriend Takeshi (Ryusei Saito) sits glumly in the apartment. It turns out that the couple recently experienced a falling out, with the boyfriend still intending to move into the apartment without his girlfriend. Things then hit the boiling point when Takeshi throws out Suzuko’s cat. Suzuko retaliates the next day by throwing away all of his belongings and then quickly moves out before Takeshi returns.

The next day at work Suzuko is visited by detectives who ask Suzuko to come in for questioning. It seems Suzuko broke the law by throwing away Takeshi’s belongings and because of this she is fined and receives a criminal record. When news of this spreads to Suzuko’s neighborhood, Suzuko suddenly feels even more alienated. She then decides to save up one million yen with the goal of moving out of town. Suzuko then plans to find another job, save one million yen, and then move on to the next town.

Excerpted from: MyDramalist

Words from Me:

It was much like an indie film, the usual feel for Aoi Yu’s movies. I wonder why she always pick weird roles? Hmmm…

The film was a bit draggy but a couple of indie film lovers would probably like this. The cinematography was quite nice for a low budget film but nonetheless the cast were big timers which was unexpected. I loved Aoi’s role here as Suzuko, she made the character much realistic. Her features would show a calm girl on the outside but could burst like a bubble any moment. The younger brother Satoru was a good supporting actor and made Suzuko’s role much stronger because of him.

The main character Suzuko, skipped from town to town, changing places as soon as she saves up 1 million yen, professing that she’s really not finding herself but instead running away from circumstances that lead from one thing to another. In the end, love crept on to her and she had no way to shrug it off.

Most of the dialogue wasn’t much memorable, except for the one where the main character had a conversation with her brother at the ending part where some sort of confusing revelation or “not?” was given. That particular conversation put my understanding for the last 1/3 of the film into shattered pieces. I think the director or script writer intended to do that so as the viewers would make their own conclusions instead. I usually tend to hate these kinds of open ended finale because it means there are loose ends which I’ll never get over with no matter what kind of conclusion I come up with.

Soundtrack wise, I liked the ending credits song for it’s cute melody. It sort of reminded me of the movie OST for film the “Synesthezia” entitled Gerbera. Over all the film give me a half-hearted impact and wasn’t as enjoyable as I thought it would be.

 

Synopsis: Spoiler!!!

This movie is extremely similar to “Ima, Ai ni Yukimasu” (Be With You) and “Tada, Kimi wo Aishiteru” (Heavenly Forest), based on a novel by the same author, Ichikawa Takuji. In fact, the stories are so similar that it’s almost self-plagiarism of past two movies, developing the story through rare and possibly imaginary illnesses. Unlike the other two movies, I felt some scenes in this film were cheesy. Why then, did I rate it 10/10? Because it follows the proved formula for a Junai (pure love) genre movie, while adding refreshing twists.

The first film of TBS Junai Trilogy: “Sekai no Chuushin…” (Crying Out Love…) started the Japanese Junai film craze in 2004, but it was the second of the trilogy: “Ima, Ai ni Yukimasu” (ImaAi) that perfected the ultimate Junai formula of an unknown girl appears before a guy, reveals a fatal illness, and most importantly: climax with a epiphany/flashback/narration sequence by the tragic heroine, and ends with a feel-good/inspirational afterthought for the dead. This formula has since been implemented in “1L no Namida” and major 2006 Junai films such as the last of the TBS Trilogy: “Taiyou no Uta”, “Nada Sou Sou”, and “Tada, Kimi wo Aishiteru” (TadaAi). What astonishes me, is how this film managed to gather a main cast made up entirely of actors who previously starred in these notable Junai films. Yamada Takayuki was in “Sekai no Chuushin” TV drama series, Nagasawa Masami of “Sekai no Chuushin” movie and “Nada Sou Sou”, Tsukamoto Takashi of “Taiyou no Uta”. Even Kohinata Fumiyo, who played a doctor in “Ima, Ai ni Yukimasu” appears as the protagonist’s father as a doctor again.

It’s impossible to watch this movie without being reminded of previous “pure love” movies. What really separates this movie from the rest though, is that a traditional Hollywood happy ending is used for the very first time. For 3 times after the 75th minute, I thought this movie would end. Each time, it would’ve ended in a tragedy, but in the very end, the two main characters got together, and damn, it works! The last 20 minutes of this movie was designed and executed exceptionally well through twists, which turned out to be practically abuse of the fact that most Japanese love stories of this kind end in tragedy. Some lines and scenes from earlier part of the movie (including the title, “When the Time Comes, Say Hello for Me”), was reused in a very refreshing manner.

Despite its shortcomings such as repetitive theme and cheesiness, which possibly resulted from limitations in acting or directing, I consider this movie to be in the same league as “ImaAi” and “TadaAi”, as it touched me the same way, and had equally impactful if not more powerful story, cinematography, and music/theme song.

Excerpted from: IMDB

Words from me:

This movie is way far from Tada Kimi wo Aishiteru’s beautiful cinematography or a Taiyou no Uta’s great sound track but it has its own unique storyline to tell.

For a non-Masami fan like me, this movie changed my whole opinion of her. I’m still not a fan, but I loved the way she acted as Suzune/Karin in here. It was a very heartfelt one and moved me to tears. Takayuki Yamada who was her co-star was a very effective character as Satoshi Toyoma, although he’s not in the top ranking good-looking-hot-Japanese-actor in the industry, he was able to compensate his looks with charisma and great acting skills, in other words you never get bored while watching him onscreen. Then there’s another actor, Takashi Tsukamoto who also showed up in this film. I was racking my brains in what movie I’ve seen him before, then it dawned on to me that it was Taiyou no Uta, a film I have yet to make a review about. His character there was a high school kid and they made him look so young, while in this movie he was so mature looking and was too different in character.

Well back to the movie, the plot line was very interesting and surprising. Even with its little flash backs which was quite necessary, it didn’t sway much from the main theme.

One glitch here was the disease that the main female protagonist had, it was all made up and didn’t really make much sense. They didn’t even name it, so it seemed so unrealistic. This didn’t make me dislike the whole movie though, it was still the writer’s creative thinking in a way. That’s why I wouldn’t take that simple observation as a count out of the rating I made. I’m giving it 9/10 for how it made me cry the whole time and how my heart felt after finishing the movie. My tears was all worth it because the ending was much to my likeness.

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Synopsis:

Adachi Momo is an ordinary high school girl who’s branded as the school slut due to nasty rumors. Regardless of this, she still has a happy disposition in life. She’s also secretly in love with Kazuya Toujigamori also known as Touji. Both of them have been classmates since middle school. Despite knowing Momo’s reputation in school, Touji still stands up against her bullies. Momo is also friends with Kashiwagi Sae, a model and a popular girl in school. However their friendship is only a façade, since Sae mainly likes to torture Momo by taking whatever Momo liked. Regardless of knowing this, Momo lied to Sae that she liked a different boy, someone named Okayasou Kairi who is very popular in school so as they could remain friends.

Some incident made these four students interact with each other, giving them the opportunity to confess their true intentions and fall in love but not without mishaps mixed with a lot of misunderstandings.

Words from Me:

I liked this movie because it is one of those films which did not make me think at all. I simply enjoyed looking at the good looking actors in front of me and laughed at the funny scenes due to silly antics of the main characters. It all seems too hilarious and yet at the same time it felt like I’m watching a bunch of airheads on screen. Watching them felt like I was reading a shoujou manga with a lot of romantic innuendo that’s too far out fetched. The story line also had those cheesy cliché parts that made me cringe and laugh all at the same time.

Another element that I enjoyed most in this movie are the character personalities. Momo is the type of girl who is too nice, dense and naïve that I don’t find it disturbing at all whenever she is being bullied. I think that makes me seem weird but still… her personality is the type that makes me want to strangle her because she’s too dumb to act on a certain situation, she could at least stand up for herself every now and then. Sae on the other hand is the devious type, I like her for her ferociousness and her comical skill of showing only the whites of her eyeballs whenever she’s annoyed. Touji is the kind of guy I would have had a crush on when I was in high school. He’s cute, charming and had those tantalizing eyes that I could stare at forever. He’s also the reason I enjoyed this show. Heh! Lastly there’s Kairi, the seemingly ditzy playboy who is completely misunderstood. I think his character is my most favorite because of his back story, even though he’s being all cutesy and happy all the time, behind all the smile is a heart that’s being torn into pieces.

The sound track gave a happy feel for the movie but not something that could live a mark in my memory. Overall it was a good watch because I wanted something light and fluffy. I somehow did end up with exactly what I wanted.

 

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Synopsis:

In this second part of the film, a year has already passed by and Kiriyama Rei is finally a professional Shogi player who got into the top rank and is hailed as one of the youngest most successful player in history. He is then scheduled for a friendly match with one of the greatest Shogi player in his time.

As soon as Rei was done with the match, his personal life became more interesting as he learns how to handle problems for other people. He also started to experience different kinds of emotions with regards to love, friendship and family ties.

Words from Me:

As the movie picks up from the first one, I wasn’t bored as I expected myself to be. I thought it will simply have the same story flow like in part 1, but somehow it still caught my interest. I liked how they added more scenes on Rei’s personal life and his interactions with the Kawamoto family. It showed how young he really was despite how adult like he tries to be.

There were several topics in this movie that really stirred my heart strings, bullying was one of them. One of the hardest thing that could happen to a person with a social life is to be bullied and isolated. Regardless of the location or environment, standing up to bullies needs a lot of courage. I really like how Hinata Kawamoto was able to surpass this trial in her life, although she was able to go through with it due to sheer luck, nonetheless she handled it head on. Rei on the other hand tried to solve Hinata’s problem for her by trying to marry her. He even listed several reasons why marriage with him would actually work out in Hinata’s favor. It seemed very funny that this is the only resolution he could think of to help Hinata. The only thing that sort of confused me with regards to his decision was whether he really liked Hinata for who she was or because she’s simply part of the family he loves, therefore marrying her technically gets him into the family legally. The portrayal of his feelings for Hinata seemed rather vague and the interpretations would probably vary depending on the person watching it. Aside that, I find the scenes referring to this part of the film really heartwarming since consoling a person who is going through some hardship is one of the things that could actually make a difference in that person’s life.

Another segment which I liked is when the father of the Kawamoto sisters came back and wanted to live with them. This is the same person who left them when Akari, the eldest amongst the sisters was only a young girl and she had to be a mother and a father at the same time for her younger sisters. The way they handled the situation was an eye opener for a parent who left their children to fend off for themselves in the harsh world. Though on Rei’s part, he tried to intervene for the sisters because he felt like he was being ripped apart from them by having the father by their side. My narration regarding these parts of the movie does not give justice on what exactly was portrayed on screen so I really hope that whoever decides to watch this will look forward to these scenes.

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Overall this movie is more dramatic than the first one. It also resolved some issues between Rei and his adopted siblings which I felt was left hanging out in the open from the previous film. This is still a good watch and would highlight Kei’s personal loss and triumphs.

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Synopsis:

Kiriyama Kei is one of the youngest Shogi player in Japan who became a professional at the age of 17.  He was orphaned at a young age when his parents and little sister died in a car accident. Adopted by his father’s best friend whose name was Kode Sachika, he was trained to play Shogi.

Kei was welcomed by his adoptive father and mother into their family, however it was not to same with his step brother and sister who aspired to be professional Shogi players like their father. Due to this, it pushed Kei to do well in Shogi too. As time went on, he surpassed both of his adoptive siblings who cannot beat him in the game even as a young child. This caused a rift in the family and eventually drove Kei to leave the house and live alone even though he was only a high school student. Despite the ordeal, he pushed through with Shogi which he thought was all he had until an incident gave him the opportunity to meet other people whom he started to care for more than Shogi.

Words from Me:

I have no idea what shogi was and how it was played until I watched this movie. For a film about a national game in Japan, this sure is a passionate one. To make Shogi seem familiar, it is the equivalent of the game “Chess” which is a known game by everyone who knows the western culture. Chess uses carved woods of knights-king-queen-pawn-etc. to play the game. In Korea the equivalent of this game is “Baduk” but with the use of black and white circular smooth stones to move around the board. In Shogi, they use small wooden tablets with character carvings on them.

In this part of the movie, back stories were shown to introduce the characters. Kirimiya Kei was acted by Kamiki Ryunosuke who is currently one of the prestigious young actors in Japan today. He’s a really good actor since childhood and I think he will get better as time goes on. In this film, he definitely nailed his character which portrayed a young man who was living in an empty shell all by himself and never felt the love of anyone until he met a family that took him in and made him a better person than he already was.

I really like how Kei’s character was such a naïve young man who was good at what he does despite not liking the thing that makes him feel alive. There are actually a lot of people who cared for him prior to meeting the Kawamoto Family, but he was too closed off to notice that. He only realized it when he started to open up his heart to the people he barely knew. There’s also that love and hate relationship he had with his step sister who hated his guts when they were kids and seem to hate him still when they became adults. Yet they have this weird bond in which they are able to comfort each other regardless of how fragile their connection with each other was. I’d like to quote Kei’s over voice regarding their situation which explains pretty much how they relate with each other:

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“Without anything changing, without being able to change anything… we are unable to become siblings or strangers…” – Kiriyama Kei