Live-action Ghibli remake delivers a new Kiki

Mar 6, 2014

Live-action Ghibli remake delivers a new Kiki

by Mark Schilling

When is a remake not a remake? Arguably, Takashi Shimizu’s “Majo no Takkyubin (Kiki’s Delivery Service)” is less a reworking of the Hayao Miyazaki animation classic (which this reviewer praised on this page in 1989) than his own interpretation of the 1985 Eiko Kadono ...

Debate still rages over Abe-endorsed WWII drama

Feb 20, 2014

Debate still rages over Abe-endorsed WWII drama

by Mark Schilling

Takashi Yamazaki’s World War II drama “Eien no Zero (The Eternal Zero),” whose pilot hero joins the tokkōtai (kamikaze) suicide squadron in the closing days of the war, has soared to the box office heights since its Dec. 21 release. After ranking No. 1 ...

Actress Nikaido sets her own agenda

Jan 23, 2014

Actress Nikaido sets her own agenda

by Mark Schilling

Many young Japanese film actors start as models or pop stars and then, as they accumulate magazine covers or CD sales, move into TV and films. Many also play versions of themselves again and again on screen, which may suit their fans just fine, ...

Anime/manga experts hopeful for year ahead

| Jan 9, 2014

Anime/manga experts hopeful for year ahead

by Roland Kelts

Aside from Hayao Miyazaki’s sudden departure from filmmaking in September, the anime world saw some potentially hopeful developments in 2013. As I reported here, the government’s multibillion-yen Cool Japan Fund was launched last summer, after years of empty promises. Following the lead of Crunchyroll, ...

Will Cool Japan finally heat up in 2014?

Jan 9, 2014

Will Cool Japan finally heat up in 2014?

by Matt Alt

After years of talk, 2013 marked a watershed moment in the government’s Cool Japan campaign. Which begs the question: Is Japan cool? As a robot-obsessed kid growing up in the 1970s and ’80s, I always thought so. But for years, the anime and manga ...

Fukada's young castaways on adulthood's shores

Jan 9, 2014

Fukada's young castaways on adulthood's shores

by Mark Schilling

Born in Tokyo in 1980, Koji Fukada released his first film in 2004, but his breakthrough was 2010′s “Kantai (Hospitalité),” a witty black comedy about a mysterious stranger who talks his way into a job at a small Tokyo printing shop and is soon ...

Young, dead and dealing with the consequences

Dec 12, 2013

Young, dead and dealing with the consequences

by Mark Schilling

A veteran director of feature episodes in the classic “Ultraman” tokusatsu (special effects) series, Kazuya Konaka may not be the most obvious choice for a drama about teen suicide, but a look at his filmography, including 1998′s “Nazo no Tenkosei (The Dimension Travelers)” and ...

'Iconography of Yasujiro Ozu'

Dec 11, 2013

'Iconography of Yasujiro Ozu'

by Jordan Sievers

Yasujiro Ozu (1903-1963) is one of Japan’s most influential filmmakers, internationally renowned for his realistic and sensitive portrayals of relationships and family drama in Japan. In celebration of the 110th anniversary since his birth and the 50th anniversary of his death, this exhibition sheds ...

Yamashita and Maeda reunite for slacker dramedy

Nov 28, 2013

Yamashita and Maeda reunite for slacker dramedy

by Mark Schilling

Nobuhiro Yamashita has used a variety of sources for his films since his 1999 feature debut “Donten Seikatasu (Hazy Life),” including his own experiences as a struggling indie director. But the inspiration for his latest, “Moratorium Tamako (Tamako in Moratorium),” is out of the ...

'Kaguya-hime no Monogatari (The Tale of Princess Kaguya)'

Nov 21, 2013

'Kaguya-hime no Monogatari (The Tale of Princess Kaguya)'

by Mark Schilling

Isao Takahata has long been overshadowed by longtime colleague and Studio Ghibli cofounder Hayao Miyazaki. The younger man (Takahata is 78, Miyazaki 72) has had more and bigger hits, including his latest, the World War II-themed “Kaze Tachinu (The Wind Rises),” while Takahata’s last ...