Ace Japanese Films

By Jade Bonus

I don’t want to preach to the converted… well actually I do because they always agree with you and sometimes they give you money so it’s kinda cool but that’s not really relevant here…what is relevant is Japanese films. I know a lot of you here are already well versed in all things Japanese cinema, and I doff my hat. You have reached actualization as a human being. I am proud. Here’s a sandwich. For the rest of you, read on. If you are not already on the bandwagon but desperately want to hop on but fear losing your footing and spectacularly ripping your face off  as you eat gravel (it happens), help is at hand!  Here are four of the little blighters that are well worth your next trip to Tsutaya.

Fish Story (2009)

So what to you do when the earth is scheduled to end in T-minus five hours thanks to an asteroid crashing the party? Head to a record store in Tokyo of course. Lucky for you it’s the only store left open and my word does the salty proprietor have an interesting story to tell. Don’t know if you’ve heard it before, but it’s about the one song that will save the world – pretty appropriate, ne? The song in question, ‘Fish Story’, recorded circa 1975 by Tokyo punks Gekirin, is the basis for the film’s intertwining narratives spanning the intervening 37 odd years. Whilst each story on its own is a satisfying enterprise, it’s when they come together at the film’s denouement that Fish Story moves beyond good to flat out awesome.

The only disappointment about Fish Story is that Gekirin is not a real band because if they were, I would own their entire back catalogue.

Watch the trailer here:

Have your face owned in song here:

Moteki (2011)

There is a theory extolled in this film, which I actually believe is true, that we all go through a moteki period. It’s a time in our lives where we become irresistible to potential romantic partners (I am still waiting for mine obviously). For better or worse, such is the case for 31 year old journalist/otaku/general social misfit Yukiyo  (played by Mirai Moriyama, who I have a bit of a crush on) whose moteki has drunkenly rocked up to punch him in the dick. Suddenly waist deep in the babes after years in the romantic wilderness, Yukiyo skins his knees a few times on the road to true love. And whilst occasionally the audience will have an overwhelming urge to slap the shit out of young Yukiyo, ultimately he’s a likable character. Cinematically, Moteki is a damn stylish piece of celluloid that plays in the space between real and unreal (ok, well it’s all unreal because it’s a film, shut up), to keep the audience’s attention piqued amid the story’s emotional lifts and drops.

Watch the trailer here:

Handsome Suit (2008)

Here’s a question. What if you had the opportunity for fame, riches and unyielding adoration from millions of people who asked nothing more than to stare at your pretty, pretty face. Would you take it?  Oh the catch? Sorry, forgot to mention that; you would have to leave everything you knew and loved behind. An easy answer for some but not so easy for the rest. Falling into the latter category is Ohki Takuro, an early thirties gentle soul with a heart of gold who runs his late mother’s diner. In the market for a makeover, Ohki comes into possession of the Handsome Suit, thanks to the good folk at Aoyama Yofuku (seriously best product placement in a film ever). With the suit Ohki can now slip in to something a little more comfortable, namely, Hikariyama Annin (played by Shosuke Tanihara of SMAP, who I also have a crush on). Suddenly flushed with the adulation that becoming Hikariyama Annin brings, Ohki sees that the grass really is greener on the other side… or is it? A comedy filled with laugh out loud moments as well as a couple that will make you cry, Handsome Suit is deservedly in my top ten list of favourite films ever…Let’s Handsome!

Watch the trailer here:

20th Century Boys (2008, 2009, 2009)

Lots of you will probably already be familiar with both the film and the manga this was based on, so you lot can skip this one. Those of you who aren’t behind that velvet rope, well do I have the perfect winter ‘It’s too cold to even think of leaving the house’ tonic. I’m cheating because 20th Century Boys isn’t one film, it’s three, and in all a bit of an epic but absolutely worth every single on of its 436 minutes.
It’s 1969 and gang of friends write the Book Of Prophesy detailing the world’s end via a series of horrific events kicking off at the turn of the millennium. Pretty harmless stuff, if not a little macabre, but they’re kids right? What could go wrong? Heh.
A couple decades on and the events foretold start playing out with catastrophic results under the auspices of charismatic cult leader, Friend. The kids who have all grown up and apart seek each other out again to form a gang of super best friends hell bent on unveiling who of their number is Friend, and more importantly given the end of the earth and all, stopping them before it’s too late.
Few stories can keep the interest at a fever pitch over three films, but 20th Century Boys does and how. Twists and turns abound and the audience is kept guessing as to just who Friend is and what their motivation is until the very last frame. The action sequences are killer and If you like your future dystopian, look no further. The soundtrack is also rather bitchin’.

Watch the trailer here:


One thought on “Ace Japanese Films

  1. Pingback: February 2014, Volume 1 | Japan life in pictures and words

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