'Bakuman' depicts a life-or-death quest for manga success

Oct 7, 2015

'Bakuman' depicts a life-or-death quest for manga success

High school kids dream big dreams, and in Japan one of the biggest is to be a successful manga artist. The financial rewards for a hit manga published in a national magazine and sold in paperback editions are substantial. And the accompanying recognition and ...

Quadruple amputee yakuza raises hell in 'Daruma'

Sep 30, 2015

Quadruple amputee yakuza raises hell in 'Daruma'

Yakuza are not usually thought of as disabled, but more than a few have had their pinky fingers, or a section thereof, sliced off with a blade. Traditionally, this disabling is punishment for violating the gang code. In Hideo Sakaki’s yakuza shocker “Kiyamachi Daruma” ...

Japan through the lens of its film genres

Sep 16, 2015

Japan through the lens of its film genres

As a new reporter for a movie trade magazine, I quickly learned that every film has its genre — even ones that don’t play by genre rules. The industry slices genre-straddling films into discrete categories: action, comedy, sci-fi, etc. Call it crude, but this ...

Girls take charge of their love lives in 'Chigasaki Story'

Sep 16, 2015

Girls take charge of their love lives in 'Chigasaki Story'

Koji Fukada’s 2013 beach film “Hotori no Sakuko” (“Au Revoir l’Ete”) was a loving homage to French master Eric Rohmer, with lengthy European-style vacations bestowed on Fukada’s Japanese protagonists. The film’s production company, Wa Entertainment, has now made another Rohmer-esque ensemble drama, “San-paku Yokka ...

Will another Miyazaki save Japanese cinema from Hollywood?

| Aug 26, 2015

Will another Miyazaki save Japanese cinema from Hollywood?

In the 1990s, when I was reporting on the Japanese film business for a British trade magazine, big-budget Hollywood movies with splashy special effects dominated the local box office. And the industry consensus was that resistance — in the form of made-in-Japan effects extravaganzas ...