Japanese film festival 

The 36th edition of the Japanese Film Festival will be held from Friday September 20th to Sunday September 22nd at the Cinémathèque québécoise (335 De Maisonneuve Blvd East, Montreal, QC). This annual event is presented by the Japan Foundation in collaboration with the Consulate General of Japan in Montreal. It offers four free Japanese movie screenings (in Japanese with English subtitles; Limited seating is available on a first-come, first-served basis; no reservations required).

Where I belong (しゃぼん玉 / Shabondama): Japan, 2016, 108 mins; Dir./Scr.: Shinji Azuma (based on a novel by Asa Nonami); Phot.: Wataru Miyamoto; Ed.: Shinya Tadano; Cast: Kazuyuki Aijima, Mina Fujii, Kento Hayashi.

[ AsianWikiIMDbJFDBOfficialYoutube ]

After committing robbery, Shoto’s flight from the cops takes him to the mountains of Miyazaki in southern Japan where he helps an injured elderly woman. This serendipitous encounter will softly coax him into changing and set him on the path to redemption. The Japanese countryside comes to life through beautiful cinematography in this simple and unhurried reflection on what it means to have a place where to belong.

Friday September 20 at 6:30 p.m. / 18h30

The Night I Swam (泳ぎすぎた夜 / Oyogisugita yoru): Japan/France, 2017, 79 mins; Dir.: Kohei Igarashi / Damien Manivel; Phot.: Wataru Takahashi; Ed.: William Laboury; Music: Jérôme Petit; Cast: Takara Kogawa, Keiki Kogawa, Takashi Kogawa.

[ IMDbJFDBOfficial ]

In the early hours of the morning in snowy northern Japan, a boy is woken up by the noise of his father leaving for work. Later, the boy deviates from the path to school and heads towards the fish market where his father works. This Japan-France coproduction has no dialogue, no narration, but instead captivates its audience with the power of images and everyday sounds, revealing in poetic silence the charming simplicity of a child’s world.

Saturday September 21 at 2:15 p.m. / 14h15

Drowning Love (溺れるナイフ / Oboreru naifu): Japan, 2016, 111 mins; Dir.: Yûki Yamato; Scr.: Yûki Yamato, Kishu Izuchi (based on the manga by George Asakura); Phot.: Takahide Shibanushi; Ed.: Kenichi Hirai; Cast: Nana Komatsu, Masaki Suda, Daiki Shigeoka, Mone Kamishiraishi, Nazuki Amano, Mickey Curtis, Masami Horiuchi.

[ AsianWikiIMDbJFDBOfficialWikipedia ]

Two of Japan’s rising stars take on the roles of a teenage fashion model from Tokyo and a successor to a family of Shinto priests, portraying together dreams of freedom and fragile teenage love, intense and tragic.

Saturday September 21 at 4 p.m. / 16h00

Summer Wars (サマーウォーズ / Samâ uôzu): Japan, 2009, 114 mins; Dir.: Mamoru Hosoda.

[ ANNIMDbOfficialWikipedia ]

When a timid high school math whiz unwittingly unlocks a rogue AI program able to destroy the real world, calling on the bonds of family and human compassion might be the only way to counter this menacing mayhem. A timely 10th anniversary screening of this Mamoru Hosoda and Madhouse masterpiece which seamlessly blends the beauty of traditional Japan with Superflat colorful computer graphics.

Sunday September 22 at 2 p.m. / 14h00

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Battle Angel (OVA)

BattleAngelOVABattle Angel (銃夢 / Ganmu [Gunnm] / lit. “Weapon dream”) compiles two OVAs released in Japan in June and August 1993. An English subtitled version was released by A.D. Vision on VHS in September 1993 and on DVD (with both dubbed and subtitled versions) in December 1999. The first OVA, “Rusty Angel”, introduces us to Gally and Scrapcity, and tells of the combat against Grewcica. The second OVA, “Tears Sign”, focuses on her friendship with Yugo and his dream to get to Zalem. [It was reviewed in PA #27: 37]

For the early 90s the quality of the animation was excellent, but unfortunately it looks disappointing by today’s standards. It still looks good though and offers excellent production value (nice storytelling and music soundtrack). However, one point that really bothers me is the editing which annoyingly and constantly cut the action to switch to scenes with other characters and then to cut back into the action.

The storytelling succeeds to condense the first part of the manga into two 25-minute OVAs and still manage to smooth the story so it is easier to understand. The manga had the advantage to have several graphic novels to tell the story (the first OVA covers the first volume and half, while the second tell the story up to the end of the third volume). The numerous battles  — which felt a little sketchy and tedious on paper — look much more realistic and entertaining in the animation (although the Alita live-action movies does an even better job at rendering the battle sequences). Lastly, the anime has a better success in giving life and expressing the emotions of the characters. It makes the drama much more tangible.

It is a nice anime that deserves to be seen. Unfortunately, it seems to be difficult to find now-a-day. Hopefully, with the success of the movie, it will be released again on DVD.

Battle Angel : Japan, 1993, 2 x 25 mins.; Dir.: Hiroshi Fukutomi; Scr.: Akinori Endō (based on Yukito Kishiro’s manga); Art Dir.: Hidematsu Kaneko; Char. Des.: Nobuteru Yuki; Anim. Dir.: Nobuteru Yuki & Futoshi Fujikawa; Phot.: Hitoshi Yamaguchi; Ed.: Yukiko Ito & Satoshi Terauchi; Music: Kaoru Wada; Studio: Madhouse; Jap. Cast: Kappei Yamaguchi (Yugo), Miki Itō (Gally), Shunsuke Kariya (Dr. Daisuke Ido). stars-3-0

To learn more about this title you can consult the following web sites:

[ ANNAmazonGoogleIMDbWikipedia ]

I have recently also commented on the Gunnm / Alita manga and the live-action movie.

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Fantasia 2019

Fantasia-2019-bannerThe 23rd edition of the Fantasia International Film Festival, the top genre film festival in North America, will be held (mostly) at the Concordia Théâtre Hall from July 11 to August 1st 2019. The festival will open with Hideo Nakata latest movie, Sadako. It will also showcase over an hundred feature films & shorts in horror, sci-fi or fantasy genres and many filmmakers and actors will be attending to introduce their production — including Yamamoto Kiyoshi (Director of Brave Father Online – Our Story of Final Fantasy XIV), Yaguchi Shinobu & Kanekoa Ryon (director and producer of Dance with me), Makoto Tezuka (dir. of The Legend of the Stardust Brothers), Takahiro Umehara (dir. & writer for Moon in the hidden woods), Nao Yoshighai (retrospective), Oshiyama Kiyotaka (dir. of the short Shishigari) and Keita Amemiya (dir. of Garo and speaker of the Master Class on Wed July 31, 2019 7:00 PM at the York Amphitheatre). Tickets will be available at Concordia’s box office and online starting July 6th.

Movies from all over the world will be presented (including five from China, five from Hong Kong, twenty-four from South Korea and two from Taiwan), but here we are interested mostly in the forty-five production from Japan:

Anime

Live-Action

This year there’s lots of horror and lots of shorts, many anime and a few titles to watch closely (like Human Lost, The Relative worlds, Garo, Gintama 2, and The island of cats).

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Revue de zines (02.19.167)

Encore une fois, je passe en revue quelques récents périodiques consacrés à la bande dessinée et au manga…

AnimeLand #226 (mars-mai 2019)

AL226Un autre superbe numéro de AnimeLand très riche en information. Comme le note l’éditorial, si l’on se fit aux récents titres, l’air est à la nostalgie. Ce numéro nous présente donc la couverture des films de Dragon Ball Super: Broly et de City Hunter: Shinjuku Private Eyes, de la nouvelle série de Saint Seiya: Saintia Shô, et souligne la consécration de Rumiko Takahashi à Angoulème avec un article qui analyse une scène de Maison Ikkuku! Tout cela ravive des souvenirs vieux de plusieurs décennies…

Ce qui rend ce numéro particulièrement intéressant c’est surtout l’interview avec Akemi Takada (character design de Urusei Yatsura et Kimagure Orange Road) et les articles sur le genre shôjo (“la vie quotidienne d’une héroïne de shôjo: du premier amour à la survie de l’humanité” un article de huit pages [rare dans AL] tout à fait fascinant!), sur “Comment éditer un manga part. 2: Édito, traduction et maquette” et sur le film “live” de Lady Oscar (pour souligner son quarantième anniversaire!).

Ce numéro m’a également permis de découvrir la série télé Révisions (12 eps, sur Netflix) ainsi que les mangas Félin Pour l’autre! (un shônen nekketsu par Wataru Nadatani chez Doki Doki où un garçon tente de sauver des chats errants) et Magus of the Library (par Mitsu Izumi chez Ki-oon où Shino est passionné par les livres et échappe à la réalité en se réfugiant dans leur pages!). stars-4-0

dBD #133 (mai 2019)

dBD-133En couverture, dBD nous offre un interview avec Olivier Dupont qui s’est associé au scénariste Régis Loisel pour Un putain de salopard (Rue de Sèvres), l’histoire d’un jeune homme qui part à la recherche de son père en Amazonie. On retrouve également des interviews avec Jean-Marc Rochette (Le loup, chez Casterman), François Boucq (Jérôme Moucherot t.6, chez Lombard), Philippe Richelle (Algérie, une guerre française t.1 chez Glénat), Oscar Martin & Alvaro Iglesias (Solo t.4 chez Delcourt, une histoire anthropomorphique qui met en scène des tribus de rats, chats, chiens, hyènes, etc.), et Julien Lambert (VilleVermine t.2 chez Sarbacane).

Côté manga, dans le cahier critiques, on y parle de The red rat in Hollywood t.1 (Osamu Yamamoto, chez Vega), Les liens du sang t.1 (Shuzo Oshimi chez Ki-oon), Buchimaru chaos t.1 (Tsutomu Ohno chez Doki Doki), Genocidal organ t.2 (Gatô Asô chez Pika), Le bateau de Thésée t.1 (Higashimoto Toshiya chez Vega, qui offre une sorte de Quartier lointain en thriller avec “un scénario solide à rebondissements multiples”), et Contamination t.3 (Ao Acato chez Kana, un seinen catastrophe qui “maintient le lecteur en haleine”). Intéressant mais rien de bien excitant… stars-3-0

dBD #134 (juin 2019)

dBD-134À la une, dBD nous offre une interview avec François Schuiten, Laurent Durieux, Jaco van Dormael & Thomas Gunzig qui proposent une aventure avec des Blake & Mortimer “vieillis, séparés par le temps et mis en péril” (Le dernier Pharaon, aux Éd. Blake & Mortimer). On en profite pour parler de l’exposition consacré à cette BD au musée des Arts et Métiers. On retrouve également des interviews avec Jean-Luc Istin (Mages t.1, avec K. Duarte chez Soleil), Tillie Walden (Spinning, Dans un rayon de soleil et J’adore ce passage, chez Gallimard), Inès Léraud (Algues vertes: l’histoire interdite, chez La revue dessinée/Delcourt), Gani Jakupi (Enquête sur El Comandante Yankee, chez La table ronde/Aire Libre). 

Dans les actualités, on mentionne brièvement le décès de Kazuo Koike en avril, l’adaptation cinématographique de La Quête de l’oiseau du temps (Le Tendre & Loisel) par le réalisateur Danois Anders Walter, et la tenu du 20e Japan Expo au Parc d’exposition Paris-Nord Villepinte du 4 au 7 juillet.

Côté manga, dans le cahier critiques, on y parle de Jusqu’à ce que nos os pourrissent t.7 (Yae Utsumi, chez Pika), Versailles of the dead t.1 (Rumiko Suekane, chez Kana — Marie-Antoinette contre les zombies, “tant d’incohérences et d’absurdités”), Echoes t.1 (Kei Sanbe, chez Ki-oon — “thriller plus sombre (…) l’horreur de la folie humaine”). Ce numéro m’offre peu de découvertes intéressantes mais demeure tout même assez informatif… stars-3-0

Étrangement, aucun de ces deux récents numéros de dBD ne mentionne le deuxième tome de Bug par Enki Bilal, paru chez Casterman en avril et que j’attendais avec impatience! dBD en a probablement parlé dans une numéro que je n’ai pas lu…

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Revue de ‘zines

Je prends un peu le temps de faire le tour des périodiques consacrés à la bande dessinée (principalement dBD et Animeland) pour voir si je ne peux pas y faire quelques découvertes intéressantes…

dBD132dBD #132 (Avril) nous offre principalement un entretien avec Peeters & Schuiten (sur la quatrième et dernière intégrale des Cités obscures) et un article sur la BD Turque (un pays où il ne fait pas bon être caricaturiste). Dans les actualités, je note que le 46e grand prix d’Angoulême a été décerné à Rumiko Takahashi (Urusei Yatsura, Maison Ikkoku et Ranma 1/2) pour la diversité de son oeuvre. Ce n’est que la deuxième femme à recevoir cet honneur (après Florence Cestac en 2000). Je note également le livre de cuisine graphique L’Art du sushi, par Franckie Alarcon chez Delcourt. Dans le cahier critique, on retrouve The empire of corpses t. 3 par Toh & Tomoyuki chez Pika (une suite cyberpunk décevante au roman de Frankenstein) et Akû t. 1 par Kaneshiro & Fujimura chez Ki-oon [erreur de dBD, c’est en fait chez Pika!] (un manga préhistorique plaisant à lire). Rien de bien significatif. C’est donc une récolte décevante ce mois-ci… stars-3-0

AL225J’ai eu beaucoup de peine à mettre la main sur Animeland #225 (Décembre 2018-Février 2019) car ma bibliothèque ne semble plus le tenir (ou un retard de livraison? Et je n’ai reçu aucune réponse à mes demandes de service de presse!). Le magazine est maintenant trimestriel mais offre un format plus grand (22.5 x 29.7 cm) et volumineux (148 pages). On remarque dans ce numéro à double couverture des articles sur Macross, Mirai ma petite soeur, Le château de Cagliostro, sur la postproduction d’anime, sur Gunnm (Alita: Battle Angel), Vinland Saga, et sur “Comment éditer un manga, part 1.” Dans la sélection anime (animathèque) je note la deuxième saison de Golden Kamui (chez Crunchyroll). Dans la mangathèque, je note MW d’Osamu Tezuka chez Delcourt/Tonkam. Encore une fois, un numéro plein d’information… stars-3-5

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Mirai

Mirai-jpFrom acclaimed director Mamoru Hosoda (Wolf Children) comes a daringly original story of love passed down through generations. When four-year-old Kun meets his new baby sister, his world is turned upside down. Named Mirai (meaning “future”), the baby quickly wins the hearts of Kun’s entire family. Kun becomes increasingly jealous of her, until one day he storms off into the garden, where he encounters strange guests from the past and future – including his sister Mirai, as a teenager. Together, Kun and Mirai go on a journey through time and space, uncovering their family’s incredible story, in this magical and emotionally soaring adventure about the ties that bring families together and make us who we are.” (From Universal website)

Mirai (未来のミライ / Mirai no Mirai / lit. “Mirai of the Future”) is a beautiful story about good parenting and loving our siblings or family. Kun is a young boy who is jealous of his newborn sister Mirai. However, the genealogical tree that sits in the courtyard of their small house in Yokohama shows him scene of past and future life of his family members (his teenage sister, his mother, his great-grand-father, even the family dog!) so he can relate to them and learn to appreciate them better. Or this is a boy with an extraordinary imagination!

The animation is excellent and offers very realistic background illustrations that you would think it’s CGI but they are actually hand-drawn (although there is CGI in the movie). In fact, it is so crisp that it feels a little cold. For such a story about family I would have preferred a style that evoke more warmth. I particularly like the design of the modern house, conceived by the father (who’s an architect), that takes advantage of the narrow space and the hill to build in several level, with lots of steps.

Animated by Studio Chizu and distributed by Toho (GKids in North America), Mirai was created, written and directed by Mamoru Hosoda (The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, Summer Wars and The Boy and the Beast), with character designs by Hiroyuki Aoyama, animation direction by Ayako Hata & Hiroyuki Aoyama, art direction by Takashi Omori & Yohei Takamatsu and music by Masakatsu Takagi. The voice cast includes  Haru Kuroki / Victoria Grace as Mirai, Moka Kamishiraishi / Jaden Waldman as Kun, Gen Hoshino / John Cho as Father, Kōji Yakusho / Victor Brandt as Grandfather, Kumiko Asou / Rebecca Hall as Mother, Masaharu Fukuyama / Daniel Dae Kim as great-grandfather, and Mitsuo Yoshihara / Crispin Freeman as Yukko the dog. 98 min., rated PG (for thematic elements including some scary images). It was favourably received by the audience (rating of 7.1 on IMDb and of 92% / 83% on Rotten Tomatoes). It’s a fine exemple of Japanese animation that everyone should see. stars-3-5

To learn more about this title you can consult the following web sites:

[ AmazonANNGoogleIMDbOfficialWikipediaYoutube ]

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Haikara-San: Here Comes Miss Modern

My wife read an interview of Waki Yamato in Fujin Kōron (a Japanese women’s public opinion magazine) where she was talking about a recent anime adaption of her manga Haikara-san. My wife, who enjoyed the manga when she was a teenager, told me she would like to see this animation. Therefore I obliged.

Haikara-san_ga_toru-manga

Excerpt from the manga (from Frederik L. Schodt Manga! Manga! The World of Japanese Comics, p. 90).

Haikara-San: Here Comes Miss Modern (はいからさんが通る / Haikara-san ga tōru) is one of those shōjo manga published in the 70s that I wish would be one day translated either in French or English so I could read them. This traditional shōjo style might not be very popular amongst today’s manga reader, but it was beautiful in many ways and their stories were always quite compelling. The manga was serialized in Shōjo Friend between 1975 and 1977 and compiled into 8 volumes by Kodansha. The manga was first adapted into an animated TV series (TV Asahi, 42 eps, 1978-1979), then into several live-action TV movies (on KTV in 1979, on Fuji TV in 1985, by Toei in 1987, and on TBS in 2002) and was even the subject of a Takarazuka revue in 2017. Finally, it was adapted into two anime movies: Gekijōban Haikara-san ga Tōru Zenpen – Benio, Hana no 17-sai  [劇場版 はいからさんが通る 前編 ~紅緒、花の17歳~ / lit. “Theatrical version, Here comes miss modern, first part: Benio, 17 years’ flower”] (November 2017, 97 mins, already available on Blu-ray from The Right Stuf) and Gekijōban Haikara-san ga Tōru Kōhen – Tokyo Dai Roman [劇場版 はいからさんが通る 後編 ~花の東京大ロマン~ / lit. “Theatrical version, Here comes miss modern, second part: Tokyo great romance of flower”] (October 2018, 105 mins). 

[ ¡ WARNING: The following MAY contain traces of spoilers! People allergic to the discussion of any plot’s elements before seeing/reading the story themselves are strongly advised to take the necessary precautions for their safety and should avoid reading further ! ]

Haikara-San-Movie1-bluRayIn the first movie, we follow the life of 17-year-old Benio Hanamura who was raised by her military father. She is a tomboy who likes to practise kendo with the girly neighbour Ranmaru (who was raised to become a kabuki actor). The story is set in the Taishō era, when Japan is trying to “occidentalize” itself. She wants to be “modern” and believes in a woman’s right to have a career and to marry for love. Unfortunately, her father want to arrange a marriage with one of his young subordinate, lieutenant Shinobu Ijuin, because their grand-parents were in love but could never marry and made the pact that the Hanamura and Ijuin families would be one day reunited. Benio refuses and tries to elope with Ranmaru, who is secretly in love with her. She also discovers that her best friend Tamaki is in love with Shinobu. She is nevertheless sent to Shinobu’s household to help and learn the domestic duties of a wife. As she is finally falling in love with him, she infuriates her father’s superior and Shinobu is sent to the front in Siberia. Not long after, he is reported missing in action or maybe dead…

The movie was written and directed by Kazuhiro Furuhashi, with character designs by Terumi Nishii, art direction by Kentaro Akiyama and music by Michiru Oshima. The cast includes Mamoru Miyano as Shinobu, Saori Hayami as Benio, Asami Seto as Tamaki, Yuuki Kaji as Ranmaru, and Unshō Ishizuka as Major Hanamura.

In the second movie, Benio tries to go on with her life and hopes that Shinobu might come back one day. In the meantime, she keeps taking care of his grandparents household and tries to find a job. After many unsuccessful attempts she is finally hired as reporter by a small newspaper headed by Tosei, a handsome but misogynistic editor (he’s literally allergic to women due to issues with his mother). She goes to Manchuria to investigate a band of rebels supposedly headed by a Japanese deserter. She meets with him and discovers he is Onijima, a friend of Shinobu in the army, who tells her how Shinobu got missing after saving his life. Later, back in Tokyo, she is covering the visit of a Russian noble couple in exile, Count Michaellov and countess Larisa. Benio is shocked to see that the count looks exactly like Shinobu. Actually, it’s him but he suffers from amnesia. Larisa saved and nursed him to replace her dead husband Sasha (who was in fact Shinobu’s younger half-brother, because Shinobu’s German mother left to marry a Russian noble—yes, I know, it’s complicated). When Shinobu eventually recovers his memory, he cannot marry Benio because he is now married to Larisa and feels indebted to her as she is dying of tuberculosis. Heartbroken, Benio decides to marry Tosei instead (who has discovered that he actually loves her). But on their wedding day the great Kanto earthquake occurs and Larisa finally dies of her disease. Benio and Shinobu can finally be reunited…

The second movie was directed by Toshiaki Kidokoro, with a script by Kazuhiro Furuhashi, character designs by Terumi Nishii, art direction by Kentaro Akiyama and music by Michiru Oshima. The cast includes, besides the cast from the first movie, Kazuya Nakai as Shingo Onijima, Maaya Sakamoto as Larisa, and Takahiro Sakurai as Tōsei Aoe. 

[ ¡ END of possible spoilers warning ! ]

Haikara-San movies are beautifully animated, with crisp, up-to-date quality animation (quite different from the style of late-70s anime, which tend not to age very well—although the TV series is now also available on blu-ray in Japan). The story offers typical Japanese romantic drama filled with lots of comedy. However, despite the funny antics of the characters, the story tackles very serious subjects like feminism and war. I enjoyed it a lot and I highly recommend you to, at least, have a look. If only someone would translated the manga… stars-3-5

For more information you can consult the following web sites:

[ ANNGoogleIMDbOfficialRight StufWikipediaYoutube ]

 

© 2017 Waki Yamato, Kodansha / “Haikara-san” Partners.

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