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On 27 November in his internet diary director Masato Harada confirmed the shooting of his next film, which script is based on a book by Natsuhiko Kyogoku, Moryo no Hako (A Box of Evil Spirits of the Forest). Moryo no Hako was published in 1995 and received the Mystery Writers Assotiation of Japan Award.

Last year, another work by the same author, UBUME NO NATSU, had been adapted for the big screen by the late Akio Jissoji. The cast of MORYO NO HAKO includes Shinichi Tsutsumi , Hiroshi Abe, Hiroyuki Miyasako, Masatoshi Nagase and Rena Nakata.

Masato Harada Website


KURO OBI (Black Belt) is the new film by director Shunichi Nagasaki based on a script written by the also director Joji Iida (RASEN). Shooting concluded on 31 October and it is now in the editing process. Once finished the film will be exhibited in international film festivals next year.

KURO OBI's story is set in early Showa era and has three karatekas as its main protagonists: Yoshitatsu (Akito Yagi), Taikan (Tatsuya Tsujinaka) and Chouei? (Juji Suzuki). In real life the first two actors are black belt holders. Akito Yagi is fifth Dan and Tatsuya Tsujinaka sixth Dan.

Photos of the shooting


The shooting of ASHITA NO WATASHI NO TSURIKATA (The way I will make tomorrow's me), latest film by Jun Ichikawa (OSAKA STORY), is due to conclude at the end of this year and its release it's expected to happen in spring 2007.

During her elementary school days, Kanako (Riko Narumi) was a normal girl at home, but at school she always remained very quiet and reserved to try to go unnoticed and avoid other classmates bullying her. Meanwhile, her friend Juri (Atsuko Maeda) was very popular among her classmates, but little by little she began to be the target of the bullies in her classroom. Years later, Juri, now called Kotori, returns to her hometown as a high school transfer student and meets Kanako once again. Kanako starts sending her text messages telling her the story of Hina, a fictional character, and Juri, or rather Kotori, begins play out the role of Hina.

Atsuko Maeda in

In this film of Hamletian elements about the to be or not to be, Ichikawa tells the story of two adolescents with an acute identity crisis clearly exemplified by the film's slogan: Ima no jibun wa honto no jibun no janai (Today's myself is not really myself). However, through their mobile phones messages they will be able to overcome their problems and help each other to find who they really are. The rest of the cast is Mariko Ishihara, Yoshizumi Ishihara and Hoka.



Director Ataru Oikawa, known for his terrible film adaptation of TOMIE, a masterpiece of the Japanese horror manga, has made another adaptation of another classic of the horror manga, KISSHO TENNYO (Goddess of Fortune). Written by manga-ka Akimi Yoshida, KISSHO TENNYO, one of the most representative works of the shojo manga, was published by Flower Comics between March and July of 1984. That same year KISSHO TENNYO was awarded the Shogakukan award for best manga.

KISSHO TENNYO tells the story of Sayoko Kano, a junior high school student, who is believed to be a descendent of an Indian goddess. Sayoko is a kind of femme fatale, who uses her supernatural power to control people, especially men. While in the original manga Sayoko is represented as a femme fatale always surrounded by men, the film will focus on the friendship between Sayoko (An Suzuki) and her friend Yuiko Asai (Yuika Motokariya), both now on their first year at university.

The cast is completed with Ryo Katsuji, Motoki Futami, Kanji Tsuda and Kyoko Enami. Its release is expected to be in May 2007.
KISSHO TENNYO had already been adapted as a TV series this year between 15 April and 24 July by TV Asahi. Likewise, in 2003, Ataru Oikawa had already adapted another manga by Akimi Yoshida titled LOVERS' KISS.


de Akimi Yoshida

At the end of october began the shooting in Tokyo of the sequel to Kazuyuki Izutsu's PACCHIGI! (We Shall Overcome Someday), one of most commercially successful and critically acclaimed Japanese films of the last year. Shooting will last for two months and its national release is expected to be in May 2007. Its provisional title is PACCHIGI! 2: WAR IS OVER and it's again directed by Kazuyuki Izutsu. The main difference in this sequel is the new pair of up-and-coming young actors playing the roles of the two zainichi, Koreans living in Japan, Kyuung-ja and her brother An-sung. These characters will be now played respectively by Yuri Nakamura and Shunya Isaka. The time and setting have also changed. From Kyoto 1968 the story moves forward to 1974 Tokyo. Here will be the rite of passage to adulthood to the young brothers and here they will love and they suffer. The cast is completed with Hidetoshi Nishijima (KANARIA, MAISON DE HIMIKO) and Takashi Fujii.



TOKU NO SORA NI KIETA (It disappeared far away in the sky) has been for seven years the pet project of director Isao Yukisada that has finally seen the light of the day. With a script written by Yukisada himself, TOKU NO SORA NI KIETA has been described as the Japanese answer to STAND BY ME (Rob Reiner, 1986) with some fantastic elements. Its story takes place in summer in a small village of the Japanese countryside where plans to build an airport in the area are creating conflicts among the neighbours. In the middle of this dispute three children, two brothers and a girl, would meet and witness something extraordinary.

The three main protagonists of TOKU NO SORA NI KIETA are Ryunosuke Kamiki, Suzuka Ogo (who made her debut in Japan with KITA NO ZERONEN, Year One in the North, directed by Yukisada and in Hollywood with MEMOIRS OF A GEISHA, where she plays the child version of Zhang Ziyi) and Takashi Sasano.




After his considerable success with LINDA, LINDA, LINDA in the local box office and in several foreign film festivals, Nobuhiro Yamashita is right now about to finish shooting, if he hasn't done it yet, his new film titled TENNEN KOKEKKO (All natural cock-a-doodle-doo). The story is based on a manga of the same title by popular manga-ka Fusako Kuramochi, winner with this work of the Kodansha manga award for girl's category in 1996. TENNEN KOKEKKO was published by Shueisha in the magazine Chorus between January 1994 and July 2000, and has so far sold almost 1 million and half copies. The manga has been adapted for the big screen by scriptwriter Aya Watanabe (MAISON DE HIMIKO). Thus, TENNEN KOKEKKO joins the small shojo manga boom (manga for girls or women) that Japan is seeing right now as with the cases of NANA by Ai Yazawa, which has sold 25 million copies and from which two films have already been made so far, or NODAME CANTABILE by Tomoko Ninomiya, which has sold at least 7 million copies and which adaptation for TV is being broadcast right now by Fuji TV.

In a small village in rural Japan arrives Ozawa (Masaki Okada), a new high school student from the capital, who very soon would fall in love with classmate So Migita (Kaho). Shot in Shimane prefecture and describing in a nostalgic way the first true and pure love between a couple of adolescents, TENNEN KOKEKKO seems to be following on the steps of huge box office films with the theme of jun-ai (pure love) such as SEKAI NO CHUSHIN DE, AI WO SAKEBU (Crying for Love at the Heart of the World).

Source and photos from the shooting


Shown on 21 October at the Tokatsu International Film Festival, YOKAI KIDAN (Strange Story of Monsters) is the new film director by Toru Kamei, in my honest opinion one of the most interesting directors of the current Japanese cinema. After several excellent erotic dramas (QUESTION, SHINJU ELEGY and RAKUEN:NAGASARETE), Kamei tries his hand at a tale of yokai or Japanese ghosts or monsters, paradoxically when the popularity, let's not talk about originality and quality, of the Japanese horror genre is dying out.

However, and if we keep in mind the work that the director has done so far, YOKAI KIDAN could hardly be labelled as a typical Japanese horror film. In fact, its director has commented he was not interested in making one, but to use the subject of yokai and its physical deformity to exteriorize the emotional state of the main characters and show how other people look at them.

Anri Ban

Putting aside the theories of yokai being servants or messengers of gods to admonish humans or resentful creatures taking revenge on humans, Kamei suggests, in a script written by him, how yokai are only the next stage in the evolution of humans. Their metamorphosis being brought about by their arrogance and an affliction that is consuming them inside and it's slowly coming to surface.

Once again, Kamei mixes humour, drama and, in this occasion, bits of horror to visualize the physical transformation in yôkai that the three main actresses undergo. Mihiro Iwasaki (Anri Ban) is a model extremely preoccupied by how others look at and think of her. Then, her nails start growing disproportionately until they become killing weapons. Michiko Yamane (Mariko Miyamitsu) is an unsociable university student and part-time worker in her early twenties only crazy for a hobby. At night she becomes a rokurokubi (female yokai with an extremely long and flexible neck). Finally, Mana Saeki (Haruki Ichikawa) is a last year junior high school student with a very bad character and very distrustful of all her friends, who metamorphoses into a nopperabo (yokai without face). The rest of the cast is formed by Akiko Mono, Ayano Go and Toru Teduka.

Mariko Miyamitsu

In my honest opinion the release of YOKAI KIDAN is one of the most important news of the end of the year, a release that is scheduled for January next year.


After more than thirty years since his broadcast on Japanese TV screens (26 episodes between 28th November 1971 until 21st May 1972) SILVER KAMEN is back, but this time the half human size Ultraman half Kamen Rider hero is a woman. Akio Jissoji, who had directed the first two episodes of the TV series, is the main director of the three, the other two are Mitsunori Hattori and Tsugumi Kitaura, that are in charge of having adapted the story to the big screen.

It's the 1920s and the world is in a state of chaos hit by the Spanish Flew of 1918, deploy of troops in Siberia, worker's strikes and rice riots. Meanwhile, in Tokyo a wave of murders involving beautiful young woman is taking place. An investigation is carried out by special agent Hongo (Dai Watanabe) helped by Taro Hirai (Minoru Terada), real name of writer Edogawa Rampo. Their inquiries lead them to the Dante Theatre, where they meet the young woman Zabine Nina Uchida), daughter of a Japanese father and a German mother, born in Germany and now in Japan searching for his father Ogai Mori, one of the most important writers of the Meiji period and author of Maihime (The dancing girl, 1890), a novel where he describes the love relationship between a German woman and a Japanese man, a relationship that Mori himself also had when staying in Germany. Suddedly, Hongo is attack by giant spider from outer space controlled by doctor Caligari (Renji Ishibashi).


With a visual aesthetic clearly inspired by METROPOLIS (Fritz Lang) SILVER KAMEN or DIE SILBERMASKE has an unbelievable script that contains numerous references to famous characters and elements of the Japanese culture of the Taisho period and German culture of the Weimar Republic such as zeppelins, the character of Cesare (Masayuki Yamamoto) from THE CABINET OF DOCTOR CALIGARI, the robot Maria from METROPOLIS and the ring of the nibelung from which story Fritz Lang directed two films SIGFRIED'S DEATH and KRIEMHILD'S REVENGE. Its release is scheduled for 23 December.

Página oficial de SILVER KAMEN


After 35 years of film drought Masao Adachi, director, scriptwriter, actor, collaborator in films by directors Nagisa Oshima and Koji Wakamatsu and ex-member of the Japanese Red Army will see his latest film, YUHEISHA TERRORISTO (The confined terrorist) released in the New Year's holiday (Oshogatsu).

Taken as model also the ex-member of the Japanese Red Army Kozo Okamoto, Adachi presents us with a story from a prisoner's point of view undergoing all kind of tortures. M (Tomorowo Taguchi) has failed in his suicide bombing attempt and has been arrested by the security forces. After two of his comrades have successfully committed suicide M now asks his capturers to kill him. His request will be accepted if he provides information about the next terrorist attack. Tricked by his capturers M is put on an experiment called "domestication of pigs" where he will be treated to continuous tortures. These sessions will bring back memories of his childhood and his initiation in the revolutionary movement and will make him question his life.

The cast of YUHEISHA TERRORISTO includes the actors Taka Okubo, Joji Kajiwara, ARATA, Yuichi Honda, Hiroshi Yamamoto, Tokio Emoto, Nao Okabe, Yutaka Hiramatsu, Manami Higa, Genpei Akasegawa and Koji Wakamatsu among others.

YUHEISHA TERRORISTO's official website


It's not a secret that Japanese film producers rely on the popularity of local pop idols as the main advertising appeal for the films and sometimes as the only reason why these are made in their first place. In the last two weeks I have already written about coming films starring these so-called J-pop "artists", for example SHABEREDOMO SHABEREDOMO, new film by Hideyuki Hirayama with Taichi Kokubun, band member of TOKIO, in his first starring role, KIIROI KAMIDA by Isshin Inudo, that has all the members of the band Arashi as its protagonists or BOKU WA IMOTO NI KOI NO SURU directed by Hiroshi Ando and starred by Jun Matsumoto, band member of Arashi. The next in the list is Eiji Wentz, of the duo WaT, who will be the main actor in two new movies the next year: GEGEGE NO KITARO and CAPTAIN TOKIO.

CAPTAIN TOKIO's story takes place in a near future Japan destroyed by an earthquake where anarchy reigns. In Tokyo its despotic governor (folk singer Shigeru Izumiya) has forbidding the showing of films. He will be soon confronted by the young cinema lover Furuta (Eiji Wentz).

CAPTAIN TOKIO is written, interpreted and directed by Kazushi Watanabe, better known for his appearance in Takashi Miike's VISITOR Q, where he plays the role of the visitor of the film title. The rest of the cast features Akiyoshi Nakamura, Issei Ishida, Ayako Fujitani, Yumi Yamaoka, Dankichi Kuruma, Tetsudo Ishidate, Banana Man and Fooh Murabayashiha. The narration is provided by Shigeru Chiba. Its release will take place next spring.

CAPTAIN TOKIO's official website
GEGEGE NO KITARO's official website (japonés)


Director Shinji Aoyama is right now shooting, shooting which began on October 26 and will continue until December, in his native region of Kyushu, more precisely in Fukuoka, his latest film titled SAD VACATION. The script of SAD VACATION is based on his own book and its title is taken from a song by Johnny Thunders.

Taking as a narrative starting point his previous films HELPLESS and, above all, EUREKA, SAD VACATION follows its protagonist Kenji's reencounter with his mother mother Chiyoko, now married to Mamiya with whom she has borne a son, Yusuke. Kenji now plans to take revenge on his mother for having abandoned him when he was a child.

SAD VACATION features, once again, the ubiquitous Tadanobu Asano, accompanied by Eri Ishida (FEMALE), Jo Odagiri, Kyusaku Shimada (SHINJU ELEGY) and Aoi Miyazaki, who again takes the role that she had interpreted in EUREKA.

More information about SAD VACATION's story


Having written its film script, adapted from a novel of the same title by 2001 Aoki's prize winner Ichiriki Yamamoto, AKANE ZORA (Glowing Skies) would have been the return behind the camera of veteran director Masahiro Shinoda since his self-imposed retirement after filming SPY SORGE. Nevertheless, he decided to hand over the project to his assistant director in SPY SORGE, Masaki Hamamoto, who has also collaborated in the writing of the script.

AKANE ZORA tells the tribulations of a pair of tofu artesans Ofumi (Miki Nakatani, CHAOS, RING 2) and Eikichi (Makaki Uchino), in the Edo neighbourhood of Fukagawa en Edo. The rest of the cast features Baijaku Nakamura, Renji Ishibashi (AUDITION) and Shima Iwashita (RED LION). Its release date is expected to be in the spring of 2007.

AKANE ZORA's official website


FUDEKO: SONO AI - TENSHI NO PIANO (Fudeko: That Love - The Angel's Piano) is a biopic about the famous Meiji Period educator Fudeko Ishii (1865-1944). Ishii was the first woman to study abroad and the first to found a school for the mentally disabled. In his visit to Japan in 1879 Ulysses S. Grant described her as the most intelligent woman in the country.

The film shooting took place in Okayama prefecture between July and August of this year and its release will be for the New Year's holiday. Taking the role of Fudeko Ishii is Takako Tokiwa. The film is also starred by Go Kato, Asuza Watanabe, Sei Hiraizumi, Ichiro Okura and Akira Ishihama. Female director Hisako Yamada was behind the camera helped by art director Takeo Kimura, a regular collaborator in Seijun Suzuki's films, to recreate mid-19th century Japan. The film is narrated by the actress Etsuko Ichihara.

Previously, a documentary also centred on the life and work of this pioneer woman had been released about the middle of the year. Titled MUMEI NO HITO- ISHII FUDEKO NO SHOUGAI (An Unknown Woman:the Life of Ishii Fudeko), it was also directed by another woman, Nobue Miyazaki.

FUDEKO: SONO AI - TENSHI NO PIANO's official website


It is always great news to hear about a new film by the interesting director Hideyuki Hirayama (LADY JOKER, LAUGHING FROG, OUT, TURN). SHABEREDOMO SHABEREDOMO (The More I Talk, The More I Talk ...) is his new project, written by Satoko Okudera, also the scriptwriter in the GAKKO NO KAIDAN episodes directed by Hirayama and MAKAI TENSHO , and adapted from a story by Takako Sato.

SHABEREDOMO SHABEREDOMO stars Taichi Kokubun (member of the J-pop band TOKIO and presenter, along with Hiroyuki Ehara and Akihiro Miwa (HOWL'S MOVING CASTLE), of the popular mystical and spiritual TV programme Aura No Izumi o Spring of Aura), in his first major role, who plays a raguko artist or rakugo-ka unable to improve his art. He is joined by another three characters who also aspire to become rakugo-ka.

The rest of cast is starred by Karina, Kaoru Yachigusu, Shiro Ito and Matsushige Yutaga. Before the shooting, which began in May this year, Kokubun learned the art of rakugo from professional rakugo-ka Sanza Yanagiya. The release of SHABEREDOMO SHABEREDOMO is scheduled for summer next year.


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©Joaquín da Silva Eiga , 2006
Last Update 25/12/2006