With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013

With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013
With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013

Saturday, October 31, 2015

VIZ offering two free manga samplers for Halloween Comicfest 2015

Fragments of Horror © Junji Ito 2014/Asahi Shimbun Publications Inc
 VIZ MEDIA ANNOUNCES TWO FREE MANGA
SAMPLERS FOR HALLOWEEN COMICFEST 2015

Fans Are Invited To Visit Their Local Participating Comic
Shop For Special Samplers Featuring Excerpts From
FRAGMENTS OF HORROR And YO-KAI WATCH Manga

VIZ Media invites readers to celebrate Halloween – manga style – as the company announces its participation in Halloween ComicFest 2015 with two special FREE samplers featuring an excerpt from Junji Ito’s critically acclaimed manga short story anthology, FRAGMENTS OF HORROR, and a preview of the just-released new All-Ages supernatural adventure series, YO-KAI WATCH.

Held each year, Halloween ComicFest is celebrated at scores of comic shops and retailers nationwide on Halloween or the Saturday before Halloween. On this day, participating shops offer fans and visitors FREE Halloween ComicFest samplers filled with previews of exciting upcoming titles. For additional information and a list of participating retailers, please visit: www.halloweencomicfest.com.

FRAGMENTS OF HORROR (rated ‘T+’ for Older Teens) contains a unique collection of delightfully macabre tales from the master of horror manga. An old wooden mansion that turns on its inhabitants. A dissection class with a most unusual subject. A funeral where the dead are definitely not laid to rest. Ranging from the terrifying to the comedic, from the erotic to the loathsome, these stories showcase Junji Ito’s long-awaited return to the world of horror.

YO-KAI WATCH © 2013 Noriyuki KONISHI/SHOGAKUKAN ©LEVEL-5 Inc. 

YO-KAI WATCH (rated ‘A’ for All Ages) is a supernatural comedy adventure series is inspired by the explosively popular YOKAI WATCH video game created by LEVEL-5 for the Nintendo 3DS. The YO-KAI WATCH manga is published under the company’s Perfect Square imprint, written and drawn by Noriyuki Konishi under the guidance of the LEVEL-5 team. In the series, Nate Adams is just an average kid until the mysterious Whisper gives him a device that allows him to see what others cannot, Yo-kai of all shapes and forms! Now, armed with the Yo-kai Watch, Nate, Whisper and their new invisible friends embark on an all new supernatural adventure.

For more information on FRAGMENTS OF HORROR, YO-KAI WATCH, or other manga and/or anime titles published by VIZ Media, visit www.VIZ.com.

Nobuhiko Obayashi: A Retrospective coming to Japan Society NY

Nobuhiko Obayashi: A Retrospective
When: November 20-December 6, 2015
Where: Japan Society

Celebrated Japanese Film Auteur Receives Largest U.S. Retrospective,
Introduces Cult Hit House and Takes Part in Career-Spanning Conversation

Japanese filmmaker Nobuhiko Obayashi (b. 1938) began his career as a pioneer of Japanese experimental cinema in the 1960s, going on to create a number of innovative and popular commercials afterwards, then moving to feature films in the late 70s and establishing himself with a string of cult and mainstream successes.

House © Courtesy of Janus Films

Obayashi remained virtually unknown in the U.S. until he burst into the consciousness of many American film fans with his hit studio debut House (1977), which made a splash upon its rediscovery in 2009 when it screened at the New York Asian Film Festival and was subsequently run at IFC Center and released on DVD by the Criterion Collection. But House was only the beginning.

From November 20 through December 6, Japan Society presents the largest ever retrospective on Obayashi organized in the U.S., with 10 feature films and a short spanning 50 years of his career, from 1964 through 2014. Launching with House and concluding with his most recent feature Seven Weeks, and featuring several appearances by Obayashi himself, Nobuhiko Obayashi: A Retrospective provides a thorough introduction (or reintroduction) to this endlessly innovative, singular film artist, highlighting a number of commercial and personal films, most of which are unknown outside of Japan.

Guest curated by Dr. Aaron Gerow, Professor of Film Studies and East Asian Languages and Literatures at Yale University, who made the selection in conversation with Obayashi himself, the series offers a deeper understanding and appreciation of Obayashi’s major themes and considers Obayashi’s entire career beyond cult favorites, presenting him as an established auteur with a coherent vision. "One of the last major Japanese directors active since the 1960s, Nobuhiko Obayashi is a wonderful study in contrasts," writes Gerow.

The Rocking Horsemen © PSC.

These rich contrasts are reflected in the impressive range of films in Obayashi’s oeuvre – from early avant-garde work such as his seminal short Complexe (screening in advance of House on Nov. 20), which Gerow calls a "monument" of Japanese experimental film, to popular genre films such as the rock-n-roll coming of age film The Rocking Horsemen (Nov. 22) and the murder mystery Reason (Dec. 6) – each film “an exploration of cinematic form.”

Obayashi’s sense of exploration is further evidenced by his willingness to use the latest technologies (continually reaffirming his status as a stylistic innovator) while simultaneously looking back on the history of Japanese cinema, by honoring past masters such as Yasujiro Ozu in Bound for the Fields, the Mountains, and the Seacoast (Nov. 21), and Japan itself, evoking the nightmare of war and atomic holocaust in his most recent tour de force Seven Weeks (Dec. 6).

Gerow notes that Obayashi's worldview is often defined by nostalgia, particularly for a lost love, such as in Haruka, Nostalgia (Nov. 22) or The Discarnates (Dec. 5). Yet his interest in the past is also expressed through a self-conscious understanding of the limits of its depiction, perhaps most significantly in Sada (Nov. 22), his hyper-stylized, purposefully artificial take on the famous story of Sada Abe, whose brutal crime of passion took on mythic overtones in Japan. And while Obayashi’s interest in the past might be firmly rooted in the local, particularly his hometown of Onomichi, as used in I Are You, You Am Me (Nov. 21), “his adventure in cinema is universal and still very contemporary,” says Gerow. “Such contrasts have made him both fascinating and complex – one of the most bountiful of Japanese filmmakers.”

A Dialogue: Living Harmony, directed by Chigumi Obayashi

In addition to introducing House and taking part in a Q&A following the screening, Obayashi will appear in an intimate, in-depth public conversation prior to the screenings taking place on Saturday, November 21. For this U.S. visit, Obayashi will be accompanied by his daughter, Chigumi Obayashi, also a filmmaker, who will present her own documentary film A Dialogue: Living Harmony on November 18 before the retrospective starts, co-presented with Japan Society's U.S.-Japan Innovators Network. (Chigumi is also credited as providing Obayashi with the story for House at the age of 7.)

Admission: $12/$9 Japan Society members, seniors and students, except for the opening night screening of House, $15/$12, including after party. Tickets can be purchased online at www.japansociety.org, by calling the Japan Society Box Office at 212-715-1258, or in person during regular business hours. Ticket buyers who purchase tickets for at least three films/events in the same transaction receive $2 off each ticket; offer available only through purchases made in-person by calling the Box Office.

SCREENING SCHEDULE (for descriptions of the films, dates, & times, and to order tickets)

Friday, October 30, 2015

JOJO’S BIZARRE ADVENTURE: PART 2 — BATTLE TENDENCY, Vol. 1 coming November 3rd from VIZ

JOJO'S BIZARRE ADVENTURE © 1986 by Hirohiko Araki/SHUEISHA Inc.
VIZ MEDIA ANNOUNCES PRINT LAUNCH OF
JOJO’S BIZARRE ADVENTURE: PART 2 — BATTLE TENDENCY

Second Story Arc Of Celebrated Shonen Jump Advanced Manga
Series In Hardcover 2-In-1 Deluxe Print Editions; Complete
BATTLE TENDENCY Story Arc Also Available Digitally

VIZ Media announces the release of the electrifying next chapter of the acclaimed multi-generational paranormal action manga (graphic novel) series – JOJO’S BIZARRE ADVENTURE – with the release of JOJO’S BIZARRE ADVENTURE: PART 2 — BATTLE TENDENCY, Vol. 1 on November 3rd.

The opening volume of the second story arc of the long-running series, JOJO’S BIZARRE ADVENTURE: PART 2 —¬¬¬ BATTLE TENDENCY is rated ‘T+’ for Older Teens and will be published in print with an MSRP of $19.99 U.S. / $22.99 CAN. The series is presented in lavish 2-in-1 hardbound deluxe collector’s editions.

Digital versions of the complete 3-volume JOJO'S BIZARRE ADVENTURE: PART 2 – BATTLE TENDENCY story arc are available now for $10.99 each (US/CAN) across all platforms serviced by VIZManga.com and the VIZ Manga App, as well as from the Nook, Kobo, Kindle, iBooks, comiXology, and GooglePlay stores.

As the BATTLE TENDENCY story arc opens, the Joestar family is called upon to do battle against evil again! This time, it’s Joseph Joestar, the grandson of Jonathan Joestar! And his enemies are more powerful and diabolical than ever! Behold! The terror of the Pillar Men!

"With its hyper-stylized art work and mind-melting action sequences, wonderfully outlandish characters and sprawling storyline, JOJO'S BIZARRE ADVENTURE is a series as unique as it is compelling," says Urian Brown, Editor. "This new story arc, BATTLE TENDENCY, comes in gorgeous hardcover editions that old school fans will be proud to display on their bookshelves."

Also catch JOJO'S BIZARRE ADVENTURE: PART 1 — PHANTOM BLOOD, Vols. 1-3 available now in print and digitally from VIZ Media and its Shonen Jump Advanced imprint.

JOJO'S BIZARRE ADVENTURE creator Hirohiko Araki made his manga debut in 1981 with the Wild West story, Busô Poker. He experimented with several genres, including mystery (Mashonen B.T.) and action-horror (Baoh), before beginning JOJO'S BIZARRE ADVENTURE in 1986. Propelled by imaginative storylines, weird imagery and individualistic artwork, JOJO'S BIZARRE ADVENTURE is one of the longest-running and most popular shonen manga in Japan. Araki’s current works also include a new series set in the JOJO’s universe, JoJolion.

Additional information on JOJO'S BIZARRE ADVENTURE and other manga series from VIZ Media is available at www.VIZ.com.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Home Video release of Choi Dong-hoon's ASSASSINATION set for December 1st from Well Go USA

Well Go USA
presents
Assassination
Directed by CHOI Dong-hoon
South Korea, 2015, 139 minutes

South Korean blockbuster filmmaker CHOI Dong-hoon (The Big Swindle, Tazza: The High Rollers, The Thieves) reunites with Gianna JUNG (The Berlin File) and LEE Jung-jae (New World), his stars from The Thieves, for the action epic Assassination, debuting on Blu-ray™, DVD and Digital HD on December 1st from Well Go USA Entertainment.

The colonial-era espionage drama follows a group of exiled rebels, who in order to assassinate on an enemy army commander, must break a killer out of prison, all while trying to discover who amongst their midst is a traitor. Assassination also stars HA Jung-woo (Kundo: Age of the Rampant), OH Dal-soo (Oldboy, The Host), CHO Jin-woong (The Admiral) and CHOI Deok-moon (The Admiral).

Synopsis: Snipers. Marksmen. Hired Guns. Double Agents. A group of exiled rebels are planning a hit on an Army Commander in Japanese-occupied Korea, but the only killer for the job is in prison. Now, the Resistance must devise a jailbreak, escape a hitman... and discover which of them is a traitor.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Shojo manga IDOL DREAMS coming November 3rd from VIZ Media

Thirty One Idream © Arina Tanemura 2014/HAKUSENSHA, Inc.
 VIZ MEDIA LAUNCHES FAMED SHOJO MANGA CREATOR
ARINA TANEMURA’S NEW SERIES IDOL DREAMS

An Ordinary Office Worker Gets A Shot At Stardom In An
Unexpected Way In The New Manga Series By The Creator
Of FULL MOON And THE GENTLEMEN’S ALLIANCE †

VIZ Media brings Arina Tanemura’s newest manga (graphic novel) series to fans and readers with the launch of IDOL DREAMS on November 3rd.

IDOL DREAMS is rated ‘T’ for Teens and will be published in print under the Shojo Beat imprint with an MSRP of $9.99 U.S. / $12.99 CAN. The series also launches digitally on November 3rd via VIZManga.com and the VIZ Manga App, as well as from the Nook, Kobo, Kindle, iBooks, comiXology, and GooglePlay stores.

Shojo manga creator Arina Tanemura has drawn wide acclaim for her prior works, which include FULL MOON, THE GENTLEMEN’S ALLIANCE †, and SAKURA HIME: THE LEGEND OF PRINCESS SAKURA (all available from VIZ Media). In IDOL DREAMS, a career woman radically transforms her physical appearance into her teenage self with the aid of an experimental drug to seize the missed chances of her youth. VIZ Media will publish future volumes of the series, which is continuing in Japan, on a quarterly basis.

At age 31, office worker Chikage Deguchi feels she missed her chances at love and success. When word gets out that she’s a virgin, Chikage is humiliated and wishes she could turn back time to when she was still young and popular. She takes an experimental drug that changes her appearance back to when she was 15. Now Chikage is determined to pursue everything she missed out on all those years ago – including becoming a star!

“Arina Tanemura has enthralled manga readers across North America with her unique stories, memorable characters and beautiful artwork. IDOL DREAMS is sure to delight new and existing fans alike,” says Nancy Thistlethwaite, Senior Editor. “This is Tanemura’s first series featuring an adult heroine. Will Chikage choose youth and stardom, or will she embark on a romance as her 31-year-old self with an old friend? Find out in Idol Dreams!”

Manga creator Arina Tanemura began her manga career in 1996 when her short stories debuted in Ribon magazine. She gained fame with the 1997 publication of I•O•N, and ever since her debut Tanemura has been a major force in shojo manga with popular series such as PHANTOM THIEF JEANNE, TIME STRANGER KYOKO, FULL MOON, SAKURA HIME: THE LEGEND OF PRINCESS SAKURA and THE GENTLEMEN’S ALLIANCE †. Both PHANTOM THIEF JEANNE and FULL MOON were adapted into popular anime TV series. I•O•N, TIME STRANGER KYOKO, FULL MOON, SAKURA HIME: THE LEGEND OF PRINCESS SAKURA, PHANTOM THIEF JEANNE and THE GENTLEMEN’S ALLIANCE † are published in English by VIZ Media.

For more information on IDOL DREAMS or other manga titles published by VIZ Media, visit www.VIZ.com.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

ACTION AND ANARCHY: THE FILMS OF SEIJUN SUZUKI - a 21 film retrospective coming to Lincoln Center

ACTION AND ANARCHY: THE FILMS OF SEIJUN SUZUKI
When: November 6-17, 2015
Where: Walter Reade Theater
West 65th Street, NYC
Map

“To experience a film by Japanese B-movie visionary Seijun Suzuki is to
experience Japanese cinema in all its frenzied, voluptuous excess.
—Manohla Dargis

In a career spanning nearly five decades, Seijun Suzuki amassed a body of work ranging from B-movie potboilers to beguiling metaphysical mysteries. On the occasion of the publication of Tom Vick’s new book Time and Place Are Nonsense: The Films of Seijun Suzuki, the Film Society will present a retrospective of twenty-one of Suzuki’s films, ranging from his greatest hits to a selection of seldom-seen rarities.

Suzuki first became famous when he was fired by Nikkatsu Studios for making films that, as he put it, “made no sense and made no money.” But it was his freewheeling approach and audacious experimentation that gained Suzuki a cult following in Japan and abroad. Suzuki’s job at Nikkatsu was to make B movies out of scripts that were assigned to him. In the mid-1960s, with dozens such films under his belt, Suzuki’s restlessness began to come through as he and his collaborators, art director Takeo Kimura and cinematographers Shigeyoshi Mine and Kazue Nagatsuka, began experimenting with the assigned material. These films established Suzuki as a stylistic innovator working within—and rebelling against—the commercial constraints of B-movie studio work.

In the 1980s, Suzuki reinvented himself as an independent filmmaker. Freed from the commercial obligations of studio work, he elected to indulge his passion for the Taisho era (1912–26), a brief period of Japanese history that has been likened to Europe’s Belle Époque and America’s Roaring Twenties. Though not linked by plot, these three films—Zigeunerweisen, Kagero-za, and Yumeji—embody the hedonistic cultural atmosphere, blend of Eastern and Western art and fashion, and political extremes of the 1920s, infused with Suzuki’s own eccentric vision of the time.

In the 1990s, a traveling retrospective brought long-overdue attention to Suzuki’s films in the United States and Europe. A new generation of devotees, most notably Jim Jarmusch and Quentin Tarantino, praised Suzuki in the press and referenced his work in their films. Perhaps inspired by this newfound attention, Suzuki returned to filmmaking after another decade-long absence, making two films—Pistol Opera and Princess Raccoon—that look back on his career while advancing it with new technology.

Programmed by Tom Vick, Curator of Film, Freer and Sackler Galleries, Smithsonian Institution, and co-organized with the Japan Foundation.

Tickets are on sale and are $14; $11 for students and seniors (62+); and $9 for Film Society members. See more and save with the All Access Pass or 3+ film discount package.

Click here for descriptions of the films, showtimes, and to order tickets.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Ken Takakura remembered; Yoji Yamada's THE YELLOW HANDKERCHIEF to screen at Japan Society on November 6th, 2015

Japan Society NY
presents
The Yellow Handkerchief © 1977/2010 Shochiku Co., Ltd.
The Yellow Handkerchief / Shiawase no Kiiroi Hankachi
Directed by Yoji Yamada
With Ken Takakura, Kaori Momoi, Chieko Baisho,
Tetsuya Takeda, and Kiyoshi Atsumi
Japan, 1977, 108 minutes
35mm, color, in Japanese with live English subtitles

When: Friday, November 6, 2015 at 7:00 pm
Where: Japan Society
333 East 47th Street, NYC

Japan Society NY remembers the legendary Ken Takakura (1931-2014) a year after his passing with a screening of this cherished classic from award-winning director Yoji Yamada.

Synopsis: After being released from prison on parole, a soft-spoken coal miner makes his way towards Hokkaido and the small town where his wife may or may not be waiting for him. He is picked up along the way by two young people – each with their own reasons for hitting the road – and the three strangers undertake a journey of self-discovery as they travel the Japanese countryside.

This touching and sweetly comic film swept the first Japan Academy Prize ceremony with wins in nearly every category.

Tickets: $12/$9 seniors & students/$5 Japan Society members

Part of Monthly Classics, year-round screenings of beloved classics, hidden gems and recent discoveries of Japanese cinema on the first Friday of every month.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Digital art anthology ART FOR HOPE: NEPAL to benefit earthquake victims

VIZ MEDIA AND AUTODESK ANNOUNCE
ART FOR HOPE: NEPAL
TO BENEFIT VICTIMS OF THE
DEVASTATING HIMALAYAN EARTHQUAKE

Digital Art Anthology Features Works By 54 Renowned Pop, Comic
And Graphic Novel Artists; A Portion Of The Proceeds Will Be
Donated To Build Change’s Reconstruction Efforts In Nepal

VIZ Media has announced a special collaboration with leading design software company, Autodesk, Inc. (NASDAQ: ADSK), to release ART FOR HOPE: NEPAL, a poignant digital art anthology to benefit the victims of the devastating earthquakes that ravaged Nepal on April 25th 2015.

ART FOR HOPE: NEPAL features vivid original works by 54 renowned pop, comic and graphic novel artists that were created using the Autodesk SketchBook digital painting and drawing App. Among those featured in the anthology are Dan Parent (Archie), David Horvath and Sun-Min Kim (Uglydoll), Ian McGinty (Bravest Warriors), along with Lark Pien, Martin Hsu and Rashad Doucet.

ART FOR HOPE: NEPAL is available now for $4.99 from VIZ.com, VIZManga.com and all of VIZ Media’s digital partner platforms including ComiXology, NOOK, Kindle Fire, as well as in the iBooks and Google Play Stores.

VIZ Media’s proceeds from ART FOR HOPE: NEPAL will be donated to Build Change (www.buildchange.org), an internationally recognized NGO with teams on the ground in the affected areas in Nepal to work on rebuilding the country. Build Change empowers local communities to make their homes and schools safer by supporting local skills and stimulating local demand for better buildings. The organization’s efforts in Nepal will be crucial in restoring damaged structures and preventing loss of life for future generations.

“Our previous ART FOR HOPE collaboration with Autodesk helped to raise awareness and proceeds for the recovery efforts in Japan following the earthquake of 2011, and we are privileged to work with Autodesk once again for a new illustrated tribute to the endless potential of art and the global outpouring of compassion toward the victims of the terrible disaster that hit Nepal,” says Beth Kawasaki, VIZ Media’s Senior Editorial Director. “We look forward to these special digital tributes delivering a sense of wonder and peace to provide a measure of relief and hope to those so terribly affected by this tragic calamity.”

”Autodesk has deep roots in using the power of design to create a better world,” said Thomas Heermann, director, Digital Arts, Autodesk Consumer and 3D Printing. “We’re very honored to once again partner with VIZ Media to use the power of creativity in our SketchBook users to help benefit victims of the Nepal disaster.”

For more information on manga and anime titles published by VIZ Media, visit www.viz.com.

Autodesk, the Autodesk logo, and SketchBook are registered trademarks or trademarks of Autodesk, Inc., and/or its subsidiaries and/or affiliates in the USA and/or other countries.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Kon Ichikawa's 1968 documentary KYOTO is now available on DVD

Kyoto
Directed by Kon Ichikawa
Japan, 1968, 37 minutes

Marty Gross Film Productions Inc. has announced the DVD release of Kon Ichikawa's masterful documentary Kyoto.

This stunningly beautiful meditation on the history and culture of Kyoto includes scenes at the Ryoanji Temple Stone Garden, the Meditation Hall of Tenryuji Temple, a Geisha residence, the Moss Garden of Saihoji Temple, the Katsura Imperial Villa and the Gion Festival.

Ichikawa’s collaborators on Kyoto were among the most important Japanese artists of the period. The music is by Toru Takemitsu, cinematography by Naoyuki Sumitani, and design by Kenzo Tange and Yusaku Kamekura. Poet Shuntaro Tanikawa wrote the script.

Kyoto was filmed over 18 months in 1968, and produced by Olivetti, Japan. It is 37 minutes long.

The film has been restored to 2.3K, from a new 35mm colour print, in collaboration with the Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia Archivio Nazionale del Cinema Impresa, Italy, and the National Film Center, Tokyo.

The DVD includes:
- Narration in English by Michael Redgrave, in Japanese by Hiroshi Akutagawa and in Italian by Giancarlo Sbragia
- Full colour booklet with short essays by the participants
- 17 minute short film on the opening night presentations of the film in Tokyo and Kyoto

Kon Ichikawa's Kyoto can be ordered here.

Friday, October 23, 2015

THE ADVOCATE: A MISSING BODY opens today

CJ Entertainment
presents
The Advocate: A Missing Body / Seong-nan Byeon-ho-sa
Directed by HEO Jong-ho
South Korea, 2015, 117 minutes

CJ Entertainment will be releasing South Korean legal crime comedy, The Advocate: A Missing Body in North American theaters today, Friday, October 23. The film stars LEE Sun-kyun from the critically acclaimed movie, A Hard Day, where LEE made his theatrical debut. The dark comedic twists in this sensational crime thriller are sure to take North American audiences on a wild ride.

Byun Ho-sung (LEE Sun-kyun, A Hard Day) is a stylish lawyer with a penchant for “creatively” winning cases for his wealthy clients. His latest case is defending a corporate employee accused of murdering his girlfriend, but of course there is a catch - There’s no body to be found. Intent on besting former flame Prosecutor Jin Sun-mi (KIM Go Eun, A Muse) in the courtroom, Byun will do anything to prove his, likely guilty, client innocent. But, as Byun and Jin’s investigations intertwine, they begin to unravel a case fraught with political intrigue and revenge. Will Byun and loyal sidekick Mr. Park (IM Won-hee, Crying Fist) be able to crack the case before they themselves are wrongly implicated for the crime?


The Advocate: A Missing Body is directed by HEO Jong-ho, who made his directorial debut with 2011’s Countdown, which gained acclaim at the 2011 Toronto International Film Festival. Director HEO brings his sophomore film to life with an incredibly talented cast and intriguing plot turns, promising to be his most ambitious and memorable film to date.

The Advocate: A Missing Body is presented, distributed, and produced by CJ Entertainment. For more information, including a full list of theaters where the film will be playing, visit: www.cj-entertainment.com.

AsianCineFest Rating: 4 out of 4 stars; highest recommendation. The Advocate: A Missing Body is a terrific film.

Addendum: I recently came across this interesting article entitled Korean Films Go to the Courtroom. It makes reference not only to The Advocate: A Missing Body but also The Attorney, Silenced, and other fine Korean films in this genre.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

SAILOR MOON CRYSTAL anime series to debut in November

VIZ MEDIA AND HULU ANNOUNCE NOVEMBER
PREMIERE OF SAILOR MOON CRYSTAL,
FEATURING A BRAND NEW ENGLISH DUB

Hulu Will Be the Exclusive Streaming Destination for the New English
Dubbed Episodes For The Reboot Of The Legendary Anime Series

VIZ Media and Hulu have announced that the SAILOR MOON CRYSTAL anime series featuring an all new English dub will premiere exclusively on Hulu this November.

All episodes will be available to stream with a Hulu subscription for $7.99 per month with limited commercials or $11.99 per month with no commercials on all Hulu-enabled devices. Episodes will also be made available to stream on laptops and PCs on the free Hulu.com.

Based on Naoko Takeuchi’s legendary manga (graphic novel) series, the SAILOR MOON CRYSTAL (rated ‘TV-PG’) anime saga, retells the story of Sailor Moon as she searches for her fellow Sailor Guardians and the Legendary Silver Crystal to stop the dark forces of Queen Beryl. VIZ Media has given the 26-episode sci-fi action series a fresh English dialogue track featuring a cast of some of the most talented anime voice actors in the business.

The SAILOR MOON CRYSTAL English Cast Includes:
Usagi Tsukino / Sailor Moon – Stephanie Sheh
Ami Mizuno / Sailor Mercury – Kate Higgins
Rei Hino / Sailor Mars – Christina Vee
Makoto Kino / Sailor Jupiter – Amanda Miller
Minako Aino / Sailor Venus – Cherami Leigh
Mamoru Chiba / Tuxedo Mask – Robbie Daymond

The SAILOR MOON CRYSTAL Supporting Cast Includes:
Luna – Michelle Ruff
Artemis – Johnny Yong Bosch
Naru Osaka – Danielle Nicole
Gurio Umino – Ben Diskin
Ikuku Tsukino – Tara Platt
Kenji Tsukino – Keith Silverstein
Shingo Tsukino – Nicolas Roye
Queen Beryl – Cindy Robinson
Jadite – Todd Haberkom
Nephrite – Liam O’Brien
Zoicite – Lucien Dodge
Kunzite – Patrick Seitz

Fans can also catch newly subtitled and English dubbed episodes of the original SAILOR MOON anime series that are available now on Hulu and also on NeonAlley.com, VIZ Media’s consolidated online destination for FREE streaming anime content in the U.S. that is embedded within the Hulu player.

The original smash hit SAILOR MOON anime series was inspired by the bestselling manga (graphic novel) series created by Naoko Takeuchi (published in North America by Kodansha). In the series, Usagi Tsukino is a clumsy but kindhearted teenage girl who transforms into the powerful guardian of love and justice, Sailor Moon. Meeting allies along the way who share similar fates, Usagi and her team of planetary Sailor Guardians fight to protect the universe from forces of evil and total annihilation!

Additional information on Neon Alley is available at www.NeonAlley.com.

For more information on SAILOR MOON CRYSTAL, visit www.VIZ.com or Hulu.com/sailor-moon-crystal.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

13th Annual New York Korean Film Festival to run November 6-11, 2015

The 13th Annual New York Korean Film Festival Announces Upcoming Program
for November 6th to November 11th, 2015 at the Museum of the Moving Image

Festival highlights award-winning films of love, crime, and erotica.

More premieres, filmmakers, and celebrity guests than ever

The 13th Annual New York Korean Film Festival showcases Korea doing what it does best: the crime thriller, the romantic fantasy, and feverish erotica. The Peninsula’s filmmakers bend genre cinema to a uniquely Korean pulse and purpose, making the country’s national film industry the most vibrant in East Asia. The thrilling complications of love and crime steal the show in this year’s lineup, as partnerships go south and fickle passions lead to betrayal. Resistance fighters navigate the intrigue of colonial-era Korea, love affairs are smothered as quickly as they are kindled, and hard-boiled cops dig at the ugly truth in a collection of both massive blockbusters and favorites from the international festival circuit, with five New York premieres and one international premiere.

The 13th Annual New York Korean Festival will run from November 6-November 11, 2015, at the Museum of the Moving Image. This will be the first year Museum of the Moving Image will serve as a partner and the venue for the New York Korean Film Festival, building on past collaborations with the Korea Society and Subway Cinema.

The Korea Society has also invited an exceptional group of Korean guests, including star director Ryoo Seung-Wan and producers Kang Hye-jung and Park Jung (Veteran); directors Shin Suwon (Madonna), Lee Do-yun (Confession), Kang Hyo-jin (Wonderful Nightmare), Oh Seung-uk (The Shameless), and Hong Won-chan (Office); and actress Koh Ah-Sung. The New York Korean Film Festival is a program of The Korea Society, the Museum of the Moving Image, and Subway Cinema. Major support is provided by the Korea Foundation.

Read about the nine film lineup here.

All screenings will be held at the Museum of the Moving Image (MoMI), which is located at 36-01 35 Ave, Astoria, Queens, NY, 11106. Map

Opening Night tickets: $20 ($12 for TKS members, MOMI Film Lover and Dual members / free for Silver Screen members and above).

All other NYKFF tickets are $12 ($7 for TKS members, MOMI Film Lover and Dual members / free for Silver Screen members and above).

Advance tickets will be available online at movingimage.us beginning today, October 21.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

NORTHERN LIMIT LINE reviewed; available today from Well Go USA

Well Go USA Entertainment
presents
Northern Limit Line / N.L.L: Yeonpyeong Haejeon
 Directed by KIM Hak-soon
South Korea, 2015, 130 minutes

Northern Limit Line, a contemporary film based on an actual confrontation between North and South Korean naval forces, debuts on Blu-ray™, DVD and Digital HD today, Tuesday, October 20 from Well Go USA Entertainment.

The title refers to the demarcation line in the Yellow Sea below which North Korean vessels were not allowed; in other words it was the northern limit of South Korean control in that area. On June 29, 2002, vessels of the North Korea navy crossed the line and attacked Chamsuri 357, a South Korean naval vessel, resulting in deaths of six South Korean sailors, with numerous others wounded. (No figures are given about North Korean casualties, but that's hardly surprising or significant.)

The clash took place during the 2002 FIFA World Cup, which was of great interest to Chamsuri's crew members and to South Koreans in general. The competition took place in South Korea and Japan, and the South Korean soccer team managed to reach the semi-finals.

PARK Dong-hyuk, played by LEE Hyun-woo

The film, which marks the directorial debut of KIM Hak-soon, uses the popular "bookend" structure. It begins in the immediate aftermath of the confrontation, as the South Korean wounded are being rescued, and concludes with events that followed, including memorial services and burials.

The dramatic narrative that makes up the bulk of the film centers on three characters. The main protagonist is Petty Officer 2nd Class PARK Dong-hyuk, played by LEE Hyun-woo (The Con Artists). We meet him as he is transferred to Chamsuri 357 where he will serve as medic and will be known as "First Aid." He's greeted by KWON Ki-hyung, a buddy from boot camp who is alraeady serving on 357.

Lt. Commander YOON Young-ha (KIM Mu-yeol salutes his father

The second significant character is Lt. Commander YOON Young-ha (KIM Mu-yeol, War of the Arrows). The son of a retired high ranking naval officer, he is the ship's new commander. Because he is such a "by the rules" officer, he is nick-named "The Poisoner" by his crew.

Finally there is Staff Sergeant HAN Sang-guk (JIN Goo, The Admiral), the helmsmen. In the course of events, he is to receive a transfer because of a hand problem (most definitely not a good thing for a helmsman), but the clash occurs before he is reassigned.

Their intertwining stories and those of some secondary characters nicely flesh out the large middle section of the film. The extensive combat scene, which occurs near the film's end, is extremely well done and practically puts the viewer in the midst of the battle. Don't be surprised if you find yourself ducking and weaving, trying to avoid enemy fire.

HAN Sang-guk (JIN Goo), the ship's helmsman

Some of the final scenes are extremely touching without being melodramatic. I'm referring to the recovery of the body of one of the crew members from the sunken ship and of the documentary footage of the services for the deceased.

Be sure to stick around during the film's end credits: as they roll on one side of the screen, several survivors from the incident (seen in windows on the other side) speak about the incident and their departed crew mates.

The film offers two Korean soundtracks: one is 5.1 DTS HDMA, the other 2.0 stereo. The English subtitles are removable.  Sadly the only "extras" are the film's trailer and preview trailers of three other Well Go USA offerings (Assassination, Wolf Warrior, and The Front Line).

AsianCineFest Rating: 3 out of 4 stars; recommended. The release would have merited an even higher rating if some substantive extras, such as a "Making Of" featurette and perhaps a short documentary about the incident, had been included.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Free screening of SECRETLY, GREATLY tomorrow evening

Korean Cultural Service NY
and
Asia Society NY
co-present
Korean Movie Night New York
 Secretly Greatly / Eun-mil-ha-gae eui-dae-ha-gae
Directed by JANG Cheo-soo
Starring: Kim Soo-hyun, Park Gi-woong, and Lee Hyun-woo
South Korea, 2013, 127 minutes, Digital
In Korean with English subtitles

When: Tuesday, October 20, 2015 at 6:30 PM
Where: Asia Society 725 Park Avenue at 70th Street, NYC
Map

Free Admission; all seating is first come, first served
Doors open @ 6 pm


The Centerpiece Presentation of the 12th New York Asian Film Festival in July 2013 and one of the most popular Korean Movie Night New York films, Secretly, Greatly is based on artist Hun’s widely popular webtoon Covertness. This film broke several box office records and is the most successful Korean webtoon adaptation to date with 7 million movie theater admissions.

This action comedy-drama follows the fortunes of a group of elite North Korean spies, trained since youth, who have been dispatched to South Korea. They assume various undercover identities, including a village idiot, an aspiring singer, and a high school student. Heartthrob Kim So-hyun plays Won Ryu-hwan, a highly accomplished North Korean agent, whose cover is that of the village idiot. A sequel to the original Covertness webtoon is currently running on the Daum porta.

I saw Secretly, Greatly at a special screening of Korean Movie Night in September 2103. I found it quite enjoyable, warranting a 3 out of 4 star AsianCineFest Rating; solidly recommended.

Tuesday's screening of Secretly, Greatly is part of Korean Movie Night New York’s Webtoon Comes to the Big Screen series (Sep. 9 - Oct. 20, 2015)

Sentai Filmworks announces acquisition of UTAWARERUMONO THE FALSE FACES


Sentai Filmworks has announced its latest acquisition, Utawarerumono The False Faces, as part of the Fall 2015 anime season lineup. Based on the second visual novel in the Utawarerumono series, this anime follows an amnesiac protagonist who wakes up in a snowy field remembering neither who he is nor how he got there. After being saved by a beautiful girl named Kuon, he is given the name Haku, and his journey to rediscover his identity begins.

Keitaro Motonaga is directing the series, and Takamitsu Kouno is handling series composition. Music for the series will be composed by Naoya Shimokawa, Masahiko Nakata is providing character designs, and WHITE FOX (Akame ga Kill!, the Devil is a Part-Timer!) will animate the series.

Utawarerumono The False Faces is scheduled for an October 2015 broadcast in Japan and will be available through select digital outlets with a home video release to follow

Sunday, October 18, 2015

THE ADVOCATE: A MISSING BODY coming to North American theaters on Friday, October 23rd

CJ Entertainment
presents
The Advocate: A Missing Body / Seong-nan Byeon-ho-sa
Directed by HEO Jong-ho
South Korea, 2015, 117 minutes

CJ Entertainment will be releasing South Korean legal crime comedy, The Advocate: A Missing Body in North American theaters this coming Friday, October 23. The film stars LEE Sun-kyun from the critically acclaimed movie, A Hard Day, where LEE made his theatrical debut. The dark comedic twists in this sensational crime thriller are sure to take North American audiences on a wild ride.

Byun Ho-sung (LEE Sun-kyun, A Hard Day) is a stylish lawyer with a penchant for “creatively” winning cases for his wealthy clients. His latest case is defending a corporate employee accused of murdering his girlfriend, but of course there is a catch - There’s no body to be found. Intent on besting former flame Prosecutor Jin Sun-mi (KIM Go Eun, A Muse) in the courtroom, Byun will do anything to prove his, likely guilty, client innocent. But, as Byun and Jin’s investigations intertwine, they begin to unravel a case fraught with political intrigue and revenge. Will Byun and loyal sidekick Mr. Park (IM Won-hee, Crying Fist) be able to crack the case before they themselves are wrongly implicated for the crime?


The Advocate: A Missing Body is directed by HEO Jong-ho, who made his directorial debut with 2011’s Countdown, which gained acclaim at the 2011 Toronto International Film Festival. Director HEO brings his sophomore film to life with an incredibly talented cast and intriguing plot turns, promising to be his most ambitious and memorable film to date.

The Advocate: A Missing Body is presented, distributed, and produced by CJ Entertainment. For more information, including a full list of theaters where the film will be playing, visit: www.cj-entertainment.com.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Sentai Filmworks has acquired THE PERFECT INSIDER


Sentai Filmworks has announced its latest acquisition, The Perfect Insider, as part of the Fall 2015 anime season lineup. This anime action series is adapted from the 1996 novel by original creator, MORI Hiroshi. The story revolves around SAIKAWA Sohei, a member of the SAIKAWA Research Lab, as he and a mysterious young woman named NISHINOSONO Moe end up working together to solve strange incidents surrounding a serial murder case.

Mamoru Kanbe will be directing the series. Inio Asano, known for his work in Solanin and Hikari no Machi, will be in charge of original character design. Toshiya Ono will be responsible for series composition, and Kenji Kawai will be managing music. Animation production will be handled by A-1 Pictures, known for their work with tsuritama, Sword Art Online, and GATE.

The Perfect Insider is scheduled for an October 2015 broadcast in Japan and will be available through select digital outlets with a home video release to follow.

Friday, October 16, 2015

AN ACTOR'S REVENGE reviewed; showing this Saturday evening at Japan Society NY

Japan Society NY
presents
Kon Ichikawa Restorations
An Actor's Revenge © Kadokawa Corporation.
An Actor's Revenge / Yukinojô henge
Directed by Kon Ichikawa
With Kazuo Hasegawa, Fujiko Yamamoto, Wakao Ayako,
Ganjiro Nakamura, and Raizo Ichikawa.
Japan, 1963, 114 minutes, 35mm, color

When: Saturday, October 17, 2015 at 7:00 pm
Where: Japan Society
333 East 47th Street, NYC

Synopsis (courtesy Japan Society):

Ichikawa was assigned to remake Teinosuke Kinugasa's 1935 melodrama An Actor's Revenge, and enormously popular film in its day, after Daiei studios' dissatisfaction with the returns on the director's previous films. Seeing potential in the material, Ichikawa worked with his wife, Natto Wada, to transform the pulpy source material into a spectacular visual masterpiece. Veteran film actor Kazuo Hasegawa reprises his original role as Yukinojo, an onnagata (a kabuki actor who specializes in women's roles) during the Tokugawa period who seeks revenge on the men responsible for the ruin and suicide of his parents. Ingeniously conceived and executed as a mix of hyper-stylized kabuki theater and Western cinematic realism, An Actor's Revenge features some of Ichikawa's most elaborate use of the widescreen frame, spotlighting Yoshinobu Nishioka's breathtaking production design and Setsuo Kobayashi's vivid Cinemascope photography.

Review:

This remake of An Actor's Revenge was touted by Daiei as Kazuo Hasegawa's 300th film. In both versions he plays not only the main character, the actor Yukinojo Nakamura, but also Yamitaro, a chivalrous thief who helps the poor and befriends Yukinojo. (According to IMDb, in the original version, Hasegawa, billed as Chôjirô Hayashi, also played Yokinojo's mother!)

Namiji (Ayako Wakao, right) watches Yukinojo perform

Ayako Wakao, who is now over 80 years old and still appears on Japanese television shows, is absolutely stunning as Namiji, the daughter of one of the three men against whom Yukinojo seeks revenge.  She falls in love with Yukinojo, which, given his avocation, makes for an interesting relationship.

Raizo Ichikawa, who starred in Ichikawa's Conflagration, here has a small role as Hirutaro, a thief known as the "Noon Kid," as opposed to the more famous Yamitaro, who is called the "Dark Kid."

While, like Her Brother, An Actor's Revenge is largely a melodrama, it's pace is much more varied than that of the former. There are some lively action scenes involving swordplay between Yukinojo and  Heima Kadokura ( Eji Funakoshi, Fires on the Plain). Years earlier the two had been fellow favoring Yukinojo.

AsianCineFest Rating: 3.5 out of 4 stars, highly recommended.

This screening of An Actor's Revenge is part of the three film mini-series Kon Ichikawa Restorations.

VIZ announces acquisition of new manga series for 2016 release

 Seven Exciting New Series Join VIZ Media’s Manga Roster For 2016
Including New Fantasy/Action, Sports And Shojo Manga Titles

VIZ Media delivered a special sneak preview of forthcoming manga (graphic novel) titles as it announced the acquisition of several notable new series during its official panel held this pas weekend at the 2015 New York Comic Con.

VIZ Media delighted a packed audience at New York Comic Con, the East Coast’s largest pop culture event, as it detailed 7 newly acquired series for the company’s popular Shonen Jump, Shonen Jump Advanced, VIZ Media, and Shojo Beat imprints. The new titles will launch during the Spring and Summer of 2016 and will include the supernatural/fantasy/action series 7TH GARDEN, BLACK CLOVER and MONSTER HUNTER, the sports series HAIKYU!! and KUROKO’S BASKETBALL, and a pair of shojo series, EVERYONE’S GETTING MARRIED and YONA OF THE DAWN.

“We are super excited to expand our shonen and shojo publishing catalogs next year with these new titles. Manga readers will want to jump into the assortment of fantasy, action/adventure, shojo romance and sports-themed releases we have planned for 2016,” says Hope Donovan, Managing Editor. “Stay tuned as we release additional information on each of these new series as the respective launch dates draw closer.”

New VIZ Media Manga Acquisitions:

7TH GARDEN • Rated ‘T+’ for Older Teens • Debuting Summer 2016
In this series by Mitsu Izumi, Awyn Gardner will do anything to protect the beautiful mistress of the equally beautiful estate gardens he lovingly tends...even enslave himself to an also beautiful demon bent on world domination! The fight is on between angels and demons and humans for the world…and Awyn’s heart!

BLACK CLOVER • Rated ‘T’ for Teens • Debuting Summer 2016
SHONEN JUMP's breakaway hit of 2015, a fantasy action-adventure about mastering magical powers. Asta is a young boy who dreams of becoming the greatest mage in the kingdom. Only one problem – he can't use any magic! Luckily for Asta, he receives the incredibly rare five-leaf clover grimoire that gives him the power of anti-magic. Can someone who can't use magic really become the Wizard King? One thing's for sure – Asta will never give up! The series is also currently featured in WEEKLY SHONEN JUMP magazine.

EVERYONE’S GETTING MARRIED • Rated ‘M’ for Mature Readers
• Debuting Summer 2016
In this new Shojo Beat manga series by Izumi Miyazono, successful career woman Asuka Takanashi has an old-fashioned dream of getting married and becoming a housewife. After her long-term boyfriend breaks up with her to pursue his own career goals, she encounters Ryu Nanami, a popular newscaster at PTV. Asuka and Ryu get along well, but the last thing he wants is to ever get married. This level-headed pair who want the opposite things in life should never get involved, except...

HAIKYU!! • Rated ‘T’ for Teens
• Debuting Summer 2016
Ever since he saw the legendary player known as the "Little Giant" compete at the national volleyball finals, Shoyo Hinata has aimed to be the best volleyball player ever! He decides to join the team at the high school the Little Giant went to – and then surpass him. Who says you need to be tall to play volleyball when you can jump higher than anyone else?

KUROKO’S BASKETBALL: 2-IN-1 EDITION • Rated ‘T’ for Teens
• Debuting Summer 2016
Kuroko Tetsuya doesn't stand out much. In fact, he's so plain that people hardly ever notice when he's around. Though he’s just as unremarkable on the basketball court, that’s where his plainness gives him an unexpected edge – one that lets him execute awesome moves without others noticing! And now that he's a high school student, he's on a mission to defeat each member of his legendary middle school team, known as the Miracle Generation.

MONSTER HUNTER • Rated ‘T’ for Teens
• Debuting Spring 2016
In this new series based off the popular Monster Hunter video games, our heroes live in an age when monsters rule the world: soaring through the sky, treading the earth and filling the seas. Humanity survives on the fringes, relying on a special kind of hero to defend the people from danger – the Monster Hunter!

YONA OF THE DAWN • Rated ‘T’ for Teens
• Debuting Summer 2016
The fantasy adventure shojo manga series that also inspired the fan favorite anime about a princess who’s on a quest to reclaim her throne! Princess Yona lives an ideal life as the only princess of her kingdom. Doted on by her father, the king, and protected by her faithful guard Hak, she cherishes the time spent with the man she loves, Soo-won. But everything changes on her 16th birthday when she witnesses her father’s murder.

For more information on manga titles distributed and published by VIZ Media, visit www.VIZ.com.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

HER BROTHER reviewed; screening at Japan Society this Saturday afternoon, October 17th

Japan Society NY
presents
Kon Ichikawa Restorations
Her Brother © Kadokawa Corporation.
Her Brother / Otôto
Directed by Kon Ichikawa
With Keiko Kishi, Hiroshi Kawaguchi,
Kinuyo Tanaka, and Masayuki Mori
Japan, 1960, 98 minutes, 35mm, color

When: Saturday, October 17, 2015 at 4:00 pm
Where: Japan Society
333 East 47th Street, NYC

Synopsis (courtesy Japan Society):

In writing about Her Brother, Ichikawa asks "...if one starts with the premise that everyone is essentially alone, then what follows?" Based on the autobiographical novel by Aya Koda, Ichikawa's film is a moving, restrained family melodrama told from the viewpoint of Gen (Keiko Kishi), a lonely yet resilient young woman obligated to her distant writer father (Masayuki Mori) and invalid, devoutly Christian stepmother (Kinuyo Tanaka). Unable to make a life for herself in such a cold and oppressive household, Gen is left to serve as a surrogate mother for her over-indulged, delinquent younger brother Hekiro (Hiroshi Kawaguchi), to whom she remains lovingly devoted. Her Brother was recognized at the Cannes Film Festival with a Special Distinction by the C.S.T. Ex-aequo and given the Kinema Junpo Award for Best Film and Best Director in 1961.

Gen (Keiko Kishi, left) and her brother Hekiro (Hiroshi Kawaguchi)

Review:

Of the three Ichikawa films being shown by Japan Society this weekend, Her Brother is my least favorite. This has more to do with how outstanding the other two offerings are than any faults of Her Brother, although it is somewhat of a one note melodrama. Keiko Kishi (Kwaidan and The Makioka Sisters) gives a fine performance as the long-suffering older sibling, and the others in the cast are also good in their roles.

AsianCineFest Rating: 3 out of 4 stars; recommended. Unless you are totally turned off by melodramas, Her Brother (also known as Younger Brother or simply Brother) is certainly worth seeing.

This screening of Her Brother is part of the three film series Kon Ichikawa Restorations

Sentai Filmworks announces acquisition of Haikyu!! SEASON 2


The hit sports anime HAIKYU!! continues as Sentai Filmworks proudly announces the acquisition of Haikyu!! Season 2, as part of the Fall 2015 anime season lineup.

Based on the manga sensation by Haruichi Furudate, the new series picks up the drama, both on and off the volleyball court, as the relationship/rivalry between teammates Shoyo Hinata and Tobio Kageyama heats up. Throwing even more gasoline on the fire is the introduction of a new female character, Hitoka Yachi, who joins Kiyoko Shimizu as a manager for the Karasuno High volleyball club.

Haikyu!! Season 2 is scheduled for an October 2015 broadcast in Japan and will be available through select digital outlets with a home video release to follow.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

CONFLAGRATION reviewed; screening at Japan Society on Friday

Japan Society NY
presents
Kon Ichikawa Restorations
Conflagration © Kadokawa Corporation.
Conflagration / Enjô
Directed by Kon Ichikawa
Starring Raizo Ichikawa, Tatsuya Nakadai, Ganjiro Nakamura
Japan, 1958, 99 minutes, 35mm, b/w

When: Friday, October 16, 2015 at 7:00 om
Where: Japan Society
333 East 47th Street, NYC

Synopsis (courtesy Japan Society):

Known as Ichikawa's favorite of his own films, Conflagration is the pinnacle of the many acclaimed literary adaptations he and his wife Natto Wada worked on together. Loosely based on true events that also inspired Yukio Mishima's novel The Temple of the Golden Pavilion, the story involves the spiritual and psychological breakdown of an introverted, troubled youth named Goichi (Raizo Ichikawa), whose desire for pure beauty leads him to Kyoto's Shukaku temple, where he becomes an apprentice to the priest. Haunted by the trauma of his father's death, Goichi is unable to reconcile the sacred beauty of the temple with postwar reality, and his absolutist ideals become increasingly distorted until they lead to destruction. Ichikawa's stark, poignant film is unforgettably rendered in stunning black and white by cinematographer Kazuo Miyagawa (Akira Kurosawa's Rashomon and numerous other highly regarded films).


Review:

It's not difficult to understand why Ichikawa was so pleased with this film, as it's a superb piece of story-telling. And, as previously mentioned, Miyagawa's cinematography is outstanding.

Raizo Ichikawa, perhaps best known to Westerners for his portrayal of Nemuri Kyoshiro in the Sleepy Eyes of Death swordplay series, gives a superb performance as Goichi. So too does Tatsuya Nakadai as Togari, Goichi's lame and dissolute fellow student. It's a revelation seeing the two of them so early in their careers.

Kudos must also be mentioned for the 4k restoration of the film by the Kadokawa Corporation. The movie looked wonderful on the DVD screener I watched, so I'm sure it will be magnificent in the 35mm print being shown at Japan Society on Friday evening.

AsianCineFest Rating: 4 out of 4 stars, most highly recommended. In other words, it's a "must-see" if at all possible.

This screening of Conflagration is part of the three film mini-series Kon Ichikawa Restorations

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Sentai Filmworks acquires DIABOLIK LOVERS Ⅱ : MORE,BLOOD


Sentai Filmworks has announced its latest acquisition, DIABOLIK LOVERS Ⅱ : MORE,BLOOD, as part of the Fall 2015 anime season lineup. The story continues where the first season of Diabolik Lovers left off, and the heroine, Yui Komori, is once again the object of desire of four dashing new vampires. Soon, the Sakamaki brothers from the show’s first season clash with the Mukami tribe in this supernatural dark romance’s second chapter.

The series will be directed by Risako Yoshida, who served as assistant director for the first season, while Hiroko Kanasugi (My mental choices are completely interfering with my school romantic comedy) will handle series composition. Storied production studio ZEXCS (The Comic Artist and His Assistants, Say “I Love You”) is once again providing animation production.

DIABOLIK LOVERS Ⅱ : MORE,BLOOD is scheduled for an October 2015 broadcast in Japan and will soon be available domestically through select digital outlets with a home video release to follow.

Monday, October 12, 2015

VIZ Media is offering a brand new digital manga update for October 2015

NARUTO Vol. 72:
NARUTO © 1999 by Masashi Kishimoto/SHUEISHA Inc.
VIZ MEDIA STARTS OCTOBER WITH
A BRAND NEW DIGITAL MANGA UPDATE

Celebrate The Series Finale Of NARUTO With Special
Digital Bundles And Exclusive One-Shots; Catch The
Digital Launch Of 4 New Series And Latest
Additions To More Than 30 Other Titles!!

VIZ Media begins October with a brand new digital manga update. Manga fans and readers can look forward to the launch of 4 notable new manga titles that include NARUTO: THE SEVENTH HOKAGE AND THE SCARLET SPRING, a digital first one-shot featuring a riveting adventure with the world’s most popular ninja, the new supernatural shojo series, QQ SWEEPER, as well as the digital exclusive debuts for HIBIKI’S MAGIC and HANAKO AND THE TERROR OF ALLEGORY.

During October, VIZ Media marks the conclusion of Masashi Kishimoto’s celebrated manga series NARUTO with a selection of special manga bundles. The final installment of the series, Vol. 72, debuts digitally on October 6th. Fans are also invited to browse NARUTO manga bundles that chronologically present the entire groundbreaking series. A complete NARUTO manga bundle containing all 72 volumes is also available and features 2 free additional one-shot manga titles by Masashi Kishimoto – MARIO and BENCH. NARUTO digital manga bundles are available exclusively from VIZManga.com and ComiXology.

Other manga bundles available this month include BLUE EXORCIST, CASE CLOSED, A DEVIL AND HER LOVE SONG, TOKYO GHOUL and ONE-PUNCH MAN are also available to readers for a limited time exclusively from VIZManga.com and comiXology

Additional October digital manga updates also include new volumes for more than 30 continuing VIZ Media series. Included in the latest update are not-to-be-missed volumes for ASSASSINATION CLASSROOM (Vol. 6), FOOD WARS! (Vol. 8), ONE-PUNCH MAN (Vol. 8), DEADMAN WONDERLAND (Vol. 11) LIBRARY WARS (Vol. 14), SGT FROG (Vol. 18), WELCOME TO THE NHK (Vol. 6) and continuing shojo series such as THE DEMON PRINCE OF MOMOCHI HOUSE (Vol. 2), MY LOVE STORY (Vol. 6) along with many more! Also catch the exciting series finales for CLAYMORE (Vol. 27) and EUREKA SEVEN (Vol. 6).

New October 2015 Digital Manga Series Debuts:

NARUTO: THE SEVENTH HOKAGE AND THE SCARLET SPRING:
NARUTO GAIDEN © 2015 by Masashi Kishimoto/SHUEISHA Inc.

NARUTO: THE SEVENTH HOKAGE AND THE SCARLET SPRING (One-Shot)
• Rated ‘T’ for Teens • DIGITAL MSRP: $6.99 (U.S. / CAN) • Available Now
A digital first release! Naruto was a young shinobi with an incorrigible knack for mischief. Then he channeled that energy into learning amazing ninja techniques and saving the world! Now Naruto has achieved his dream of becoming the greatest ninja in the village, and his face sits atop the Hokage monument. But new troubles are bubbling up in the shinobi world…

QQ SWEEPER, Vol. 1 • Rated ‘T’ for Teens
• DIGITAL MSRP: $6.99 (U.S. / CAN) • Available Now
Kyutaro Horikita, the tall, dark and handsome cleaning expert of Kurokado High, is about to meet a sleeping maiden at the school: transfer student Fumi Nishioka! Fumi’s going to learn how to rid the school of nasty spirits with Kyutaro’s help, and her heart will surprisingly be “cleansed” too…!

HIBIKI’S MAGIC, Vol. 1 • Rated ‘T’ for Teens
• DIGITAL MSRP: $4.99 (U.S. / CAN) • Available Oct. 20th
A new digital exclusive! From the artist behind the .hack manga comes an inspiring tale about a young magician's assistant named Hibiki who's only magical talent seems to be making a perfect pot of tea...

HANAKO AND THE TERROR OF ALLEGORY, Vol. 1 • Rated ‘T+’ for Teens
• DIGITAL MSRP: $4.99 (U.S. / CAN) • Available Oct. 20th
A new digital exclusive just in time for Halloween! From Sakae Esuno, creator of Future Diary, comes a look into Japanese Horror that takes readers on a journey into the terror that lurks inside us all.

VIZ Media marks the conclusion of Masashi Kishimoto’s NARUTO manga series with a special selection of manga bundles.

The Following Digital Bundles Are Available Now Through October 31th

• NARUTO Vols. 1-16 $56.00
• NARUTO Vols. 17-27 $37.99
• NARUTO Vols. 28-44 $59.99
• NARUTO Vols. 45-61 $59.99
• NARUTO Vols. 62-72 $37.99
• NARUTO Complete Series (72 Vols.): $229.99 and includes 2 additional one-shot manga by creator Masashi Kishimoto – MARIO and BENCH (**Note – these titles are not available in-print and offered only via VIZManga.com and Comixology.) 

BENCH: Transfer student Yamaguchi Tsutomu has just joined the baseball team. Yamaguchi is overweight and can't run very fast, so the coach places him on the "D" team. Unlike the "A" team which is has nothing but aces, the "D" team is filled with baseball misfits who don't expect to see any playing time. Despite this setback, Yamaguchi is determined not to give up his dream of someday becoming a pro second baseman!

MARIO: Mario, half-Japanese and half-Italian born in the US, works as a hit man. One day he meets a female colleague, Saori, who does not talk to men and is asked to work together with her.

The free VIZ Manga App continues to be the top application for reading digital manga and features a massive library of the most popular series in the world. Through the innovative VIZ Manga digital platform registered users are able to use one account to view their purchased manga across more devices than ever. New series and volumes are added every Tuesday. Fans can also find these titles and more for the NOOK, Kindle Fire, and Kobo eReaders, as well as in the comiXology, iBooks and Google Play Stores.

Most manga volumes are available for purchase and download in the U.S. and Canada within the VIZ Manga application starting from only $4.99 (U.S. / CAN) each. Readers can also explore free Chapter 1 previews of every series. For more information, please visit VIZManga.com or www.VIZ.com/apps.

To learn more about VIZ Manga, visit www.vizmanga.com.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Ringo Lam's WILD CITY coming November 10th from Well Go USa

Well Go USA Entertainment
presents
Wild City / Bou Chau Mai Sing
Directed by Ringo Lam
Hong Kong, 2015, 120 minutes

Legendary Hong Kong Writer/Director Ringo LAM returns to filmmaking after seven years with the neo-noir action thriller WILD CITY, debuting on Blu-ray™, DVD and Digital HD November 10 from Well Go USA Entertainment. The acclaimed filmmaker sets his sights once again on Hong Kong’s seedy underbelly. In the spirit of City on Fire and Full Alert, Lam’s latest Canto-noir finds unsuspecting bystanders caught in a tangled web of greed and betrayal, their growing anxieties punctuated with sudden bursts of violence. WILD CITY stars Louis KOO (Drug War, Z Storm), Shawn YUE (The Guillotines), TONG Liya (The Taking of Tiger Mountain), CHANG Hsiao-Chuan (The Laundryman) and Michael TSE (Millennium Mambo).

Synopsis: When former cop-turned-bar owner T-man Kwok (Louis KOO) befriends a drunken woman at closing hours (TONG Liya), they soon find themselves targeted both by her former lover—a high-powered Hong Kong attorney—and the thugs (CHANG Hsiao-Chuan) he employs. Once Kwok’s underachieving half-brother (Shawn YUE) and a suitcase full of tainted cash enter the picture, the chase turns deadly, with the brothers’ tense family history coming to the surface as Kwok finds himself torn between the triads and his former police colleagues.

Bonus Materials Include:
-- Making of
  -- The Cast and Crew
  -- The Risk of Filming
  -- The Director
-- Behind the Scenes

My request for a review copy has been submitted, so look for the AsianCineFest review on or shortly before the November 10th release date.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Sentai Filmworks acquires IS THE ORDER A RABBIT?? SEASON 2


Sentai Filmworks has announced its latest acquisition, Is the Order a Rabbit?? Season 2, as part of the Fall 2015 anime season lineup. Based on the manga from original creator Koi, this comedic slice of life continues the lighthearted fun established in the first season. Join Cocoa and all of her friends at Rabbit House for another round of feel-good teatime goodness.

Hiroyuki Hashimoto reprises his role as director, as does Kazuyuki Fudeyasu with series composition. Also returning are the character designs of Yousuke Okude and musical compositions by Ruka Kawada. White Fox, the studio behind Akame ga Kill! and Steins;Gate, will again be providing animation production.

Is the Order a Rabbit?? Season 2 is scheduled for an October 2015 broadcast in Japan and will be available through select digital outlets with a home video release to follow.

Friday, October 09, 2015

Japan Society NY to present three recently restored Kon Ichikawa films

Japan Society NY
presents
Kon Ichikawa Restorations
When: Friday, October 16 and
Saturday, October 17, 2015
Where: Japan Society
333 East 47th Street, NYC

Commemorating Kon Ichikawa's 100th Birthday,
Japan Society Screens the U.S. Premieres of 3
Newly Restored Cinematic Masterpieces

Kon Ichikawa (1915-2008) ranks as one of the most significant and prolific filmmakers in the history of Japanese cinema, having directed over 80 films during his long career. Known for his eclecticism and technical brilliance, Ichikawa was able to work masterfully across a wide range of genres, moods and styles, led by his strong eye for composition and deep understanding of cinematic language.

In anticipation of his 100th birthday in November, Japan Society presents Kon Ichikawa Restorations, featuring the U.S. premiere of 4k restorations of three Ichikawa masterpieces in 35mm. The series begins Friday, October 16, with Ichikawa’s personal favorite Conflagration (1958) and continues Friday, October 17, with the award winning Her Brother (1960) and An Actor’s Revenge (1963), his spectacular remake of the 1935 classic. Both Conflagration and Her Brother are unavailable on DVD in the U.S., and all three films are not often screened in repertory circuits.

"Ichikawa is regarded as one of the greats of Japanese cinema, but doesn’t often get the same attention and praise as Kurosawa, Ozu or Mizoguchi," says Aiko Masubuchi, Japan Society Film Program Officer. "These restorations shed new light onto lesser-seen yet significant Ichikawa films, allowing cinema lovers an opportunity to re-evaluate his greatness and newly appreciate his masterworks in the 21st Century."

Undertaken by Kadokawa Corporation, the recently struck 35 mm prints of these restorations had their World Premiere at the 65th Berlinale in February 2015. "We are happy to highlight the efforts being made to preserve Japanese cinema history by studios, archives and production companies. These restorations from Kadokawa Corp. are a prime example," says Masubuchi.

Ichikawa’s last major retrospective was in 2001, organized by James Quandt of Cinematheque Ontario, who wrote: "Ichikawa is an artist with an astounding command of many genres, forms and tones, from ferociously humanist war films to sophisticated social satires, formalist documentaries (the acclaimed Tokyo Olympiad) to extravagant period pieces (An Actor’s Revenge). He is both the 'deadpan sophisticate' whom Pauline Kael prized, with his elegant compositional style, venomous wit, and tonal daring, and a crafty master of populist entertainments." In 2014, Ichikawa made headlines when one of his early animations was discovered, becoming Japan's oldest surviving animation.

I've watched DVD screeners graciously provided by Japan Society of the three 4k restorations and they looked very, very good. At this time, I can only imagine how magnificent the films will be in 35mm. Look for reviews here at AsianCineFest next week.

Admission: $12/$9 Japan Society members, seniors and students. General admission tickets may be purchased in person at Japan Society, by calling the box office at 212-715-1258, or at www.japansociety.org. Purchase tickets to all three films in the same transaction and receive $2 off each ticket--special offer available only for in-person purchases or by calling the box office (offer not available for online purchases).

For further information about the three Ichikawa films that will be shown and to order tickets, click here.