Japan, 2007, 120 min
I’ve written about this movie a few times previously, in my initial review in ACF 103 and in announcing its theatrical release in several cities. Recently it came out on DVD and that’s occasion enough to take another look at this delightful comedy.
The film stars Sadawo Abe (Kamikaze Girls) as Kimihiko Onizuka, a geeky salaryman who looks like a Japanese version of Moe Howard of The Three Stooges. During a school trip to Kyoto several years earlier, he became obsessed with maiko, apprentice geisha between the ages of 15 and 20. As an “adult” he manages, through a combination of personal drive and bizarre luck, to succeed against all odds in achieving success in a number of ventures and realizing his dream of gaining entry into the world of maiko and geisha.
Lovely Kou Shibasaki (Memories of Matsuko) plays his girlfriend Fujio. When Kimihiko learns that he has been reassigned to the dead-end Kyoto branch of his Tokyo based company, he drops her like a hot potato, thrilled that the relocation will put him in proximity of his beloved maiko. Not one to give up easily, Fujio follows him to Kyoto, determined to become a maiko herself and to win her fellow back.
Actor Shinichi Tsutsumi is Kiichiro Naito. He’s a rich, handsome athlete and Kimihiko’s rival and nemesis.
This colorful comic confection was written by the talented Kankuro Kudo (Ping Pong) and ably directed by Nobuo Mizuta. This is Mizuta’s second film, his first being Hanada Shonen-Shi.
The single disc DVD is distributed by VIZ Pictures. Special features include The Making of Maiko Haaaan!!! featurette, Japanese trailers of the film, and some samples of other VIZ offerings.
There’s an a single page insert on laminated stock that’s folded in half. The front page has pictures of maiko and definitions of several terms relating to their appearance and clothing. The centerfold is a map with information about 14 sites in Kyoto that were used in the movie. The back page has pictures and brief bios of the cast. A nice, thoughtful touch.
Maiko Haaaan!!! is a hilarious, mad-cap comedy that I really enjoyed. It’s a skewed look at a world that few of us will ever experience in any way, shape or form, a very funny two hour laugh-fest. The DVD package from VIZ is a really solid offering and is highly recommended.