Love blooms like incendiary bombs in 'Kono Kuni no Sora'

Aug 12, 2015

Love blooms like incendiary bombs in 'Kono Kuni no Sora'

Veteran scriptwriter Haruhiko Arai spent three decades trying to adapt Yuichi Takai’s 1983 novel “Kono Kuni no Sora” (“This Country’s Sky”) for the screen — and the wait was worth it. The film, about a 19-year-old girl’s awakening to love and life in the ...

A more complex portrayal of Emperor Hirohito

Aug 5, 2015

A more complex portrayal of Emperor Hirohito

Emperor Hirohito, who is posthumously known as Emperor Showa, had a procession of public images during his long reign from 1926 to 1989 — though none were quite accurate. There was the pre-1945 Emperor — stern and remote on his white horse — who ...

Cannibalism and confusion in live-action 'Attack on Titan'

Aug 5, 2015

Cannibalism and confusion in live-action 'Attack on Titan'

Stories about giants are ancient and universal. It isn’t hard to understand why: Children are born into a world populated by big, lurching terrors with bad breath and enormous teeth — or is that Uncle Frank just trying to be chummy? In Shinji Higuchi’s ...

War in the jungle and war in Japan

Jul 22, 2015

War in the jungle and war in Japan

Actor and director Shinya Tsukamoto often takes violence to strange extremes. In his first film, the 1989 horror “Tetsuo” (“Tetsuo: The Iron Man”), a businessman accidentally kills a crazed metal fetishist (played by Tsukamoto himself) with his car and, becoming “infected” by his victim, ...

A second look at bloody WWII novel 'Fires on the Plain'

Jul 22, 2015

A second look at bloody WWII novel 'Fires on the Plain'

Japanese war films typically frame themselves as anti-war, even when they glorify the sacrifices made by brave Japanese boys in defense of the homeland, as in the 2013 hit “Eien no Zero” (“The Eternal Zero”). Kon Ichikawa’s 1959 war film “Nobi” (“Fires on the ...

Hayao Miyazaki cleans up Japan

| Jul 15, 2015

Hayao Miyazaki cleans up Japan

Rich, famous, semi-retired people commonly take up good causes (based on whatever they define as “good”), but animation maestro Hayao Miyazaki does things differently. Instead of penning an op-ed or speaking at a rally, he recently invited members of the The Foreign Correspondents’ Club ...

Mass murder and Sion Sono

Jul 8, 2015

Mass murder and Sion Sono

A disturbed individual kills, and the media searches for reasons why. Sometimes, the killer obligingly cites a pop culture phenomenon as inspiration. Mark David Chapman, the man who shot John Lennon, saw himself as the living embodiment of Holden Caulfield, the hero of J.D. ...