This post should finish off the latest Japanese films that I had enjoyed watching of late. For the Japanese film aficionado reading this post, however, there is a glaring omission (read: wandering samurai) in the list but I hope to write something about that in the near future. Apart from L♥DK, I saw all these on my recent trips to Japan on JAL.

Kiseijū: Part 1 「寄生獣」

I don’t do horror. Period. But this film piqued my interest mainly because I was aware of its existence when it premiered at the 27th Tōkyō International Film Festival in October 2014 held at Roppongi Hills. The film directed by Yamazaki Takashi is based on an Iwāki Hitoshi manga of the same name (and there’s an anime of it, of course) where humans are slowly being infiltrated in the literal sense by worm-like aliens, taking over their minds in the process.

The film is actually pretty good from both the storytelling aspect and its special effects (there’s a lot of blood and some gore, with some of the violent scenes implied as opposed to in-your-face), and it does have its Invasion of the Body Snatchers moments. I have to admit I haven’t seen any works from the protagonist (student Izumi Shinichi) played by Sometani Shōta, who’s done mostly film as opposed to TV dramas. Shinichi’s parasite aptly named Migi (右 – transl. right) is obviously CG but voiced by Abe Sadao. I didn’t recognise Fukatsu Eri at all who plays the schoolteacher that you won’t want teaching in your class. Watch out for Asano Tadanobu in the film.

And for the delectable Hashimoto Ai. *sigh*

Stand by Me Doraemon「STAND BY ME ドラえもん」

I never had followed the Doraemon anime as by the time they were showing it belatedly on Malaysian telly, I was already studying in the UK. I was aware of this blue robot cat nonetheless, and I remembered when I first had time to sit down to watch it on telly, my late mom was telling me off for watching something that wasn’t just for any kid but for kindergarten kids. I bought my first Doraemon manga at Narita airport on the way back from Japan, which was a series translated into English and comprised selected tales worthy to be made as a primer for the Doraemon n00b. I was aware of this CG film which was touted as the best ever Doraemon feature length. And guess what? This was also directed by Yamazaki Takashi!

I was surprised to see that the film plot was ever so familiar – it actually follows some of the manga that I’ve read. Unlike other films which are stand alone stories, this was a compilation of Doraemon canon. No wonder it did pretty well in the box office! I’d say that this is the perfect film for the Doraemon n00b who wants to get into the series.

Lupin III 「ルパン三世」

Nope, I have not seen any of the anime nor had I watched the Miyazaki-helmed The Castle of Cagliostro 「ルパン三世 カリオストロの城」, but I think Oguri Shun did a great job of portraying Lupin. The trailer looked fantastic when I first learnt of this live-action rendition:

However, I have to say the film was only okay in my books. I have to admit the main attraction for me was Fujiko-chan, played by the sultry ass-kicking Kuroki Meisa. That cat fight between her and Nakayama Yuka is worthy of a thousand rewinds and repeats, but I digress.

The cast is pretty strong and apart from Oguri, Tamayama Tetsuji, Ayano Gō and Asano Tadanobu were just as spot on as Jigen Daisuke, Goemon and Zenigata Koichi, respectively. If you manage to find *koff* this film, there is the multi-lingual version (the one I saw on the plane) and there is the totally nihon-go version (where the non-nihonjin casts’ dialogues are dubbed). I prefer the former. Still worth checking out, though, despite its shortcomings.


I have to admit that the only reason I watched this was because of Gōriki Ayame, who I have to admit is just a pretty face. Heh[1]. The premise is basically based on a shōjo manga but I couldn’t help making comparisons to 今日、恋をはじめます.

Of course, the story is different (Gōriki’s Nishimori Aoi has to put up Kugayama Shūsei, a school jock of sorts who is fancied by Aoi’s best friend, in her rented room due to her inadvertently messing up his room following a mishap) but there is a strong similarity of the girl-not-liking-guy-but-guy-messes-around-with-girl-only-to-end-up-falling-heads-over-heels feel in this one. Oh, have I spoilt the plot for you now? And that Yamazaki Kento looked like Matsuzaka Tori from Koi. Just look at their hair, yo.

Watch it if you’re a Gōriki-chan fan. Apparently, this was her debut in a romantic flick.

Maiko wa Lady 「舞妓はレディ」

Now, this was a pleasant surprise, prolly because I never read film synopses properly. This is pretty much a Japanese My Fair Lady. Not really a big fan of musicals but this one was kinda cute. I guessed I’m a little bit biased as I am smitten with Kyōto. Anyways, if you know the story of Pygmalion/My Fair Lady, then I won’t need to say that much more.

Kamishiraishi Mone beaten 800 other hopefuls in the audition for the role of Haruko, the Kagoshima lass who was brought up in the northenmost parts of Hokkaido, which would explain her difficulty in learning the finer language employed by a maiko. Haruko is then brought under the wing of a linguistic professor (Hasegawa Hiroki) who tries his best to teach her – to this day, I could remember the words for thank you (ōkini – おおきに), sorry (sunmahen – すんまへん) and please (otanomōshimasu – おたのもうします) that Haruko had to learn pronounce with the correct diction. The rain in Spain falls mainly in the plain kinda rings a bell again here. Haruko slowly but surely picks up all the necessary maiko skills, but what is it that made Haruko yearn to be a maiko so much? That, you gotta watch and find out.

The film was directed by Suo Masayuki who did the memorable 1996 flick Shall We Dance?, which was remade by Hollywood in 2004 starring Richard Gere.

[1]Please don’t hate me. Hahahaha.