I’ve not done a post on Japanese films for a while from the looks of it. I had posted this on the SCANDAL HEAVEN forum, so it’ll be good to reproduce this on stomachofchaos.com. As usual, most of these were from inflight movies I caught on my travels last year. English-subbed options on Blu-ray or Netflix are few and far between unfortunately.

DESTINY 鎌倉ものがたり / Kamakura no monogatari
(The Tale of Kamakura)

This was a quirky fantasy about a mystery writer named Masakazu Isshiki (Masato Sakai – of Legal High fame) having to retrieve his wife, Akiko’s (Mitsuki Takahata) soul from the afterworld after she died “by mistake”, no thanks to a demon. The story was set in the coastal town of Kamakura, possibly in the 60s. Masakazu is pretty deadpan on the existence of ghouls and spirits around Kamakura, and goes around investigating his wife’s “death” and plans to get her back with some help from some unexpectedly unusual characters. This tale had a twist to it and it was really enjoyable to watch. The film was released about Christmas time in 2017 and the end credit song あなた is sung by Utada Hikaru.

花戦さ / Hana Ikusa
(Flower and Sword)

A jidaigeki (period film) about a monk named Senko (Mansai Nomura) who does flower arrangements (ikebana) in the times of Toyotomi Hideyoshi. I thought it was going to be a light hearted comedy, but it is more light-heartedly… serious? The film is based on actual history and the grim reality of the Hideyoshi’s firm rule is made known despite the comedic slant the characters are showing, including (ironically) Hideyoshi himself. The story has a poignant end but an enjoyable yarn, nonetheless. Interestingly, Nomura is a well-known kabuki actor. Apart from Nomura, the film stars a few other heavyweight actors like Ennosuke Ichikawa IV, who played Hideyoshi and is also a kabuki actor, as well as Koichi Sato.

いぬやしき / Inuyashiki

I kinda made fun of this when I read the premise of the story which was about two men, a middle-aged loser dad kind of character named Inuyashiki and a student named Shishigami Hiro being turned into cyborgs by extraterrestrials, but it was good film (I haven’t seen the anime/read the manga). The contrasting character traits of the two men/cyborgs meant different outcomes following the transformation. Inuyashiki began to use his powers for good but still is seen as a loser, whilst Hiro’s anger at the world inevitably meant the powers would manifest as malevolence on people around him. Inuyashiki then started to reach out when Hiro began to strike terror on a massive scale in central Tokyo. If you have visited Tokyo before, there are scenes in Shinjuku and Shibuya that will look right familiar. Stars Takeru Sato (Rurōni Kenshin trilogy) as Hiro and Noritake Kinashi as Inuyashiki. The film was directed by Shinsuke Sato who did the Gantz and BLEACH live action films. And check out MWAM’s Take Me Under in this.

ラプラスの魔女 / Rapurasu no Majo
(LaPlace’s Witch)

A Takeshi Miike film about Uhara Madoka (Suzu Hirose) and Amakasu Kento (Sota Fukushi, who also played Ichigo in the BLEACH live action) who had undergone experimental brain surgery to possess skills of foreknowledge – kinda reminiscent of the precogs in Spielberg’s Minority Report. Two seemingly unlinked murders occurred in two separate parts of Japan and Sho Sakurai’s (of Arashi fame) university professor character needs to put the pieces together, all the time dogged by a police detective (played by Tamaki Hiroshi – Chiaki in Nodame Cantabile!).

探偵はBARにいる 3.0 /  Tantei wa bar ni iru 3.0
(The Last Shot in the Bar)

Lastly, this was one of the first films I watched last year, of all this lot. From the title, it appears to be part of series, and on checking IMDB out it appears that is the third (and likely the last) instalment of a film that was first released in 2011. A detective (never named, played by Yo Oizumi) and his deadpan sidekick/driver, Takada (Matsuda Ryuhei) try to solve a murder that involves a hostess named Mari (Kitagawa Keiko) and the local Sapporo mob led by a man named Kitashiro (the ubiquitous Lily Franky). Lots of double-crosses in this which makes for fun viewing. Looks cold. Well it is set in Hokkaido. In the winter. Gritty crime/detective film, but with Oizumi in the lead you’ll be assured of a few laughs – worth checking this out.