With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013

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

Thursday, June 22, 2017

THE ART OF MAGIC: THE GATHERING – IXALAN coming in January 2018

Magic: The Gathering, Wizards of the Coast, and their respective logos are trademarks of Wizards of the Coast LLC in the USA and other countries. ©2017 Wizards.
WIZARDS OF THE COAST AND VIZ MEDIA ANNOUNCE
THE ART OF MAGIC: THE GATHERING – IXALAN

Pre-Orders Also Open For
THE ART OF MAGIC: THE GATHERING – AMONKHET
Set For Retail Release In July

Wizards of the Coast and VIZ Media have jointly announced the latest edition of THE ART OF MAGIC: THE GATHERING collection with the release in January 2018 of THE ART OF MAGIC: THE GATHERING – IXALAN. The fifth release in VIZ Media’s ongoing series of impressive hardcover art books presents the incredible illustrations of Magic: The Gathering™.

The substantial 240-page tome will feature dozens of full-color works by an impressive array of talented artists, including Christine Choi, Daarken and Titus Lunter, and will be complemented with additional in-depth lore by bestselling author and Magic: The Gathering Senior Game Designer James Wyatt.

THE ART OF MAGIC: THE GATHERING – IXALAN invites fans to set sail for the uncharted jungles of Ixalan, where dangerous beasts, magnificent ruins, and lost treasures lie waiting to be discovered. Saddle up your dinosaur mount and brave the unknown as you search the plane for a prize forgotten by history… until now!

VIZ Media also announces the opening of pre-orders for THE ART OF MAGIC: THE GATHERING – AMONKHET. Scheduled for retail release on July 4th, THE ART OF MAGIC: THE GATHERING – AMONKHET will present scores of full-color illustrations from artists such as Cliff Childs, Winona Wilson, Christine Choi and Adam Paquette. Additional insights and lore on the dangerous and beautiful world of Amonkhet are provided by James Wyatt. Amonkhet is the latest expansion game for Magic: The Gathering and is set for release by Wizards of the Coast this month.

Throughout its 22-year history, Magic: The Gathering has visited many richly imaginative worlds through card sets and stories. Developed by Wizards of the Coast, Magic: The Gathering has more than 20 million fans, is played in more than 70 countries, and is available in 11 languages. Magic: The Gathering has won numerous notable awards, including a Mensa Award and multiple Origins Awards, the Hobby Game industry’s annual top award.

“Magic’s newest plane explores untamed jungles teaming with dinosaurs that come to life in THE ART OF MAGIC: THE GATHERING – IXALAN,” says Elaine Chase, Vice President of Global Brand Strategy and Marketing for Magic: The Gathering. “We are excited to continue working with VIZ Media to provide our fans and players a deeper dive into Magic’s art and detailed lore.”

“Our unique catalog of THE ART OF MAGIC: THE GATHERING books has delighted fans and players, and we are very excited to announce the addition in early 2018 of THE ART OF MAGIC: THE GATHERING – IXALAN,” says Joel Enos, Editor, VIZ Media. “The stunning artwork depicting these imaginative realms combines with intriguing lore and extensive background to make each book an ideal complement to Wizards of the Coast’s iconic strategy card game.”

THE ART OF MAGIC: THE GATHERING: AMONKHET and THE ART OF MAGIC: THE GATHERING – IXALAN join THE ART OF MAGIC: THE GATHERING – KALADESH, THE ART OF MAGIC: THE GATHERING – INNISTRAD and THE ART OF MAGIC: THE GATHERING – ZENDIKAR, which are available now from VIZ Media.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Yaoi manga series FINDER returns

© 2017 Ayano Yamane/libre
GLOBAL YAOI MANGA PUBLISHER SUBLIME ANNOUNCES
THE RETURN OF THE FINDER MANGA SERIES

The Acclaimed Erotic Crime Thriller Makes A Fresh
Debut In Deluxe Print And Digital Editions

SuBLime, the leading global English-language yaoi manga publisher, has announced a special re-release of internationally bestselling creator Ayano Yamane’s erotic underworld thriller FINDER.

FINDER is rated ‘M’ for Mature Readers and is releasing in print and digital formats. Volume 1 of the series was released on June 13th, with each subsequent volume releasing every other month until caught up with current volumes. The latest never-before-published volume of the series (Vol. 8) is already available for purchase through SuBLime. Each volume of this series is a deluxe edition containing a double-sided foldout color poster, a bonus manga story never before published in English, a special cover treatment, and a brand-new translation.

Print editions will carry an MSRP of $14.99 U.S. / $19.99 CAN each. The digital versions will carry an MSRP of $6.99 U.S. Readers have two methods of digital access to the volumes on SuBLimeManga.com – via a DRM-free downloadable PDF, viewable on any enabled eReader device and computer, as well as via the online manga viewer. Readers can also purchase a digital version through the NOOK, Kindle and Kobo eReaders.

In FINDER, freelance photographer Akihito Takaba takes on a risky assignment trying to document the illegal activities of the Japanese underworld. When he captures its leader – the handsome, enigmatic crime lord Ryuichi Asami – in the crosshairs of his viewfinder, Takaba’s world is changed forever. The older man ravages him, both body and mind. Does this mean the end for the naive photographer, or will he live to shoot another day?

“SuBLime’s re-release of FINDER presents the series in a fresh new way to fans, with brand-new translations and the addition of beautiful, full-color foldout double-sided posters and special bonus manga content,” says SuBLime Editor, Jennifer LeBlanc. “We look forward to publishing all of the earlier volumes of FINDER as well as future volumes of the series for the enjoyment of both new and veteran readers alike!”

Ayano Yamane is one of Japan’s most popular boys’ love manga creators and also created the notable series, A Foreign Love Affair and CRIMSON SPELL (published in English by SuBLime). She has also published several doujinshi (independent comics) under the circle name, GUN MANIA.

Visit SuBLimeManga.com for a complete array of additional yaoi manga titles that are available digitally in a download-to-own format for $5.99 (U.S. / CAN) each and are viewable as a PDF on any enabled eReader device or computer or accessed via the online manga viewer found on the web site.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

SAILOR MOON S PART 2 available on home video starting today

©Naoko Takeuchi/PNP, Toei Animation
VIZ MEDIA ANNOUNCES HOME MEDIA RELEASE OF
SAILOR MOON S PART 2

Season 3 Of The Popular Anime Adventure Series Continues
This Summer With This All New Release!

VIZ Media invites SAILOR MOON and anime fans to dive into the latest episodes available on home media with the release of SAILOR MOON S Part 2 today, Tuesday, June 20th.

This set features the much anticipated second-half of Season 3, Episodes 109-127, of the beloved, classic anime series based on Naoko Takeuchi's original Sailor Moon manga series. SAILOR MOON S Part 2 will be available as a Blu-ray/DVD combo pack as well as a Standard Edition DVD only set.

Fans that order SAILOR MOON S Part 2 from RightStufAnime.com will receive a special set of ten art cards while supplies last.

In the latest episodes, Sailor Uranus and Neptune’s search for the three talismans has led them to become targets of the Witches 5, the Death Busters’ beautiful and deadly agents, who also seeks the talismans to summon the powerful Holy Grail! Now, Sailor Moon and the other Sailor Guardians are on a race against time to save their friends’ lives, and to prevent the power of the Holy Grail from falling into the wrong hands. Meanwhile, Chibi-Usa befriends a young girl named Hotaru, whose mysterious power quickly attracts the attention from both friend and foe. Is there a connection between Hotaru and the enemy? And who is the Messiah of Silence that is said to bring destruction? Will Sailor Moon’s new power be enough to protect the world from the coming Apocalypse?

The SAILOR MOON S Part 2 Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack will carry an MSRP of $69.99 U.S. / $81.99 CAN; the Standard Edition DVD set will carry an MSRP of $39.99 U.S. / $52.99 CAN.

The Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack features three Blu-ray discs, three DVDs and special features including clean opening and closing segments, a digital art gallery, English voice cast interviews and official series trailers.

The Standard Edition DVD Set features three discs, clean opening and closing segments and official series trailers.

Fans are also invited to enjoy the classic SAILOR MOON and the all-new SAILOR MOON CRYSTAL anime series, which are available from VIZ Media on Blu-ray/DVD Combo Packs as well as multi-disc Standard Edition DVD sets. VIZ Media also recently released the home media edition of SAILOR MOON R: THE MOVIE.

For more information on SAILOR MOON or other award-winning anime titles from VIZ Media, visit VIZ.com.

RAILROAD TIGERS reviewed; debuts in a Blu-ray+DVD combo pack and on DVD today, June 20th

Well Go USA
Entertainment
Presents
Railroad Tigers
Directed by Ding Sheng
Starring Jackie Chan, Huang Zitao, Wang Kai, Darren Wang 
China, 2016, 125 minutes

Railroad Tigers is an action-comedy set in China during World War II. Today, Tuesday, May 20th, it becomes available as Blu-ray™/DVD Combo Pack and as DVD only, from Well Go USA Entertainment. (It's been available on digital since Tuesday, May 9th.)

Ma Yuan (Jackie Chan) is the head porter at a railroad station in part of China occupied by the Japanese. He and several cohorts  (the titular "Railroad Tigers") are just a bunch of regular guys who really want to do something great for their country. Thus far they've engaged in various small-time action against the Japanese, but nothing of any real consequence.

They have an opportunity to change that when they learn that the Hanzhuang Bridge, along a major route vital to the Japanese for bringing supplies to their front line, must be destroyed. Although the Chinese Eighth Army Route soldiers have been unsuccessful in accomplishing this, Jackie and his rag-tag compatriots take on what looks to be a suicide mission.

Japanese aggression during WWII has been the subject of numerous Chinese (as well as Korean) films. Such movies seem find a receptive audience in these two countries, but they can seem like a worn out trope to North American audiences. Sad to say, such is the case here, because the film is weak in almost every regard. The story line is simple (as opposed, say, to the psychological complexities in the somewhat similarly themed The Bridge on the River Kwai). There's nothing particularly compelling about the characters, and the action (choreographed by He Jun) and stunts (performed by the Jackie Chan Stunt Team and involving lots of wire-work) are not top drawer, and the CGI often is not very good.

That the film has problems becomes evident in the first few minutes. As each character is introduced, the frame freezes and text, in Chinese and English, gives the character's name and occupation. In the case of several of the "Railroad Tigers", their catchphrase is also indicated. Do we really need to be told that Jackie's character's catchphrase is "Shut up!" when we will hear him say it several times in the course of the movie? Or that "Let's go!" is the catchphrase of Xiaohun, a railroad porter? This freeze frame introduction -- which visually brings the film to a screeching halt -- is employed for seventeen characters! Not good cinema technique at all.

No one should begrudge the fact that Jackie, who became 62 years old this past April, can't handle the kind of stunts and action sequences that he performed so brilliantly in years gone by. With his terrific sense of timing and ability to poke fun at himself, he's better served at this stage of his career with  comedic fare that includes some action, rather than an action-drama with some comic touches, as is the case in Railroad Tigers. Thus, Kung Fu Yoga, which opened in North American theaters on January 27th and will soon be offered by Well Go, showcases him to much better advantage.

Disc Specs:
-- Audio
    -- Mandarin DTS:X
    -- Mandarin 2.0 Stereo
    -- DTS Headp;hone X
    -- English 5.1 DTS HDMA
    -- English 2.0 Stereo
-- Subtitles
    -- English
    -- Off
-- Bonus
    -- “Director’s Featurette”
    -- “The Dangers of Shooting”
    -- “The Making of ”
    -- “VFX Featurette”
    -- “The Characters”
    -- Trailer
    -- International Trailer
-- Previews
    -- Kung Fu Yoga
    -- Operation Mekong
    -- Cold War 2

Die-hard Jackie fans will probably enjoy Railroad Tigers well enough, but for the rest of us it's just an almost pleasant watch.

AsianCineFest Rating: 2.5 out of 4 stars; fair, but shy of being a truly good film.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Maiden Japan licenses anime "reality" series HINAKO


It’s been said that if a film or television genre exists, someone in Japan has probably made an anime about it. As proof of this theorem, MAIDEN JAPAN submits HINAKO, Japan’s first interactive anime reality and exercise video series! Which may sound strange at first, but transforming robots, collecting virtual pets and dancing with video games were once all considered odd ideas as well, and look how that turned out.

Beginning with TRAINING WITH HINAKO, the surprise hit that topped Amazon Japan’s and other internet retail sales charts for two consecutive weeks, HINAKO’s videos focus on a ‘self aware’ anime heroine who constantly stops to chat about her feelings with the audience. Of course, the fact that Hinako tends to be continuously bouncing up and down exercising or stretching, and that her videos’ scene order can be rearranged to create different scenarios, might be as responsible for her success in Japan as the innovative format. But whatever the case, HINAKO’s producers were quick to serve Hinako’s legion of fans with two more interactive video experiences, SLEEPING WITH HINAKO and BATHING WITH HINAKO, all three of which will be packaged together for Maiden Japan’s U.S. home video release.

Hinako used to be a normal girl, but then she became an anime character! Now she does things like play the heroine’s best friend, but unlike most people in anime, Hinako is completely aware that she’s being watched by an unseen audience! So, if she’s doing something and thinks of something to say, she’ll just say it to the people she can’t see. Or CAN she see them? The most self-aware anime character ever invites you to peek behind the screen and experience Training, Bathing and even Sleeping in the intimate interactive life of HINAKO!

Sunday, June 18, 2017

VIZ digital manga updates for June

ARAKI HIROHIKO NO MANGAJYUTSU ©2015 LUCKY LAND COMMUNICATIONS/SHUEISHA Inc.
VIZ MEDIA DETAILS NEW DIGITAL
MANGA UPDATES FOR JUNE

Catch This Month’s Exciting New Releases Of
MANGA IN THEORY AND PRACTICE: THE CRAFT OF CREATING MANGA,
AFTER HOURS, GOLDEN KAMUY And THE EMPEROR AND I

VIZ Media has announced digital manga updates for June highlighted by several notable new series.

Readers will not want to miss June’s selection of new titles that includes MANGA IN THEORY AND PRACTICE: THE CRAFT OF CREATING MANGA by the famed creator of JOJO’S BIZARRE ADVENTURE, as well as the first volume of the coming-of-age urban drama, AFTER HOURS. The historical action-packed adventure series, GOLDEN KAMUY, and an endearing tale about a high school girl and her pet penguin in THE EMPEROR AND I also debut this month.

Readers are also invited to take advantage of special digital pricing on a variety of manga series from celebrated creators. Each week throughout the month, the entire series run of a creator’s works will be available for discounted prices.

Creator Spotlight Sale

Celebrate a variety of classic and fan-loved manga titles from your favorite creators all month!

• Inio Asano Spotlight Sale: All volumes of Ono’s series, GOODNIGHT PUNPUN, SOLANIN, and WHAT A WONDERFUL WORLD are on sale for $2 off per volume. Available June 13th-19th across all digital platforms.

Check VIZ.com each week throughout the rest of June for additional creators’ titles to be featured in this month’s digital sales!

WEEKLY SHONEN JUMP Updates

Check out SHONEN JUMP’s free section for the latest new additions including DEATH NOTE, BAKUMAN 。and HIKARU NO GO. Read Free Chapters of popular WEEKLY SHONEN JUMP series at: www.viz.com/shonenjump/chapters/all.

Free chapters are available now for the following series:

• ASTRA LOST IN SPACE
• BORUTO: NARUTO NEXT GENERATIONS
• DRAGON BALL SUPER
• HUNTER X HUNTER
• MY HERO ACADEMIA
• ROBOTXLASERBEAM
• And More!!

Digital manga updates for June also include new volumes for 18 continuing VIZ Media series. Notable new additions include ASSASSINATION CLASSROOM (Vol. 16), BLACK CLOVER (Vol. 7), DOROHEDORO (Vol. 21), FOOD WARS! (Vol. 18), GOODNIGHT PUNPUN (Vol. 6), SERAPH OF THE END (Vol. 12), and a special digital first release of PLATINUM END (Vol. 3). New shojo manga updates include BLOODY MARY (Vol. 7), EVERYONE’S GETTING MARRIED (Vol. 5), KAMISAMA KISS (Vol. 24), SO CUTE IT HURTS!! (Vol. 13) and YONA OF THE DAWN (Vol. 6).

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 most series.

For more information, visit VIZ.com.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

FOOD WARS! creator Yuto Tsukuda to appear at Anime Expo 2017

FOOD WARS! Vol. 1: 
SHOKUGEKI NO SOMA © 2012 by Yuto Tsukuda, Shun Saeki /SHUEISHA Inc.
VIZ MEDIA ANNOUNCES EXCITING EVENTS FOR
FOOD WARS! MANGA CO-CREATOR YUTO TSUKUDA
AT ANIME EXPO 2017

Writer Of The Smash Hit Culinary Battle Series Attends
As An Official Guest Of Honor At North America’s
Largest Anime/Manga Convention

VIZ Media has announced that Yuto Tsukuda will be an official Guest of Honor at Anime Expo 2017. In addition, there will be special panel and signing events throughout the convention.

Yuto Tsukuda is the writer and co-creator of the bestselling Weekly Shonen Jump manga series FOOD WARS!: SHOKUGEKI NO SOMA. This saucy, action-packed food comedy is Tsukuda Sensei’s first work to be released in English and is published in digital and print editions by VIZ Media (rated ‘T+’ for Older Teens).

The writer will make his first North American professional appearance in a pair of panel discussions taking place during Anime Expo. Tsukuda Sensei will also appear for several autograph sessions both on-site during the convention as well as at the Barnes & Noble located at The Grove in Los Angeles.

Anime Expo is the largest dedicated anime/manga fan convention in North America and takes place July 1st–4th at the Los Angeles Convention Center in Los Angeles, CA. Tickets and full details are available at: Anime-Expo.org. VIZ Media will be located on the main convention floor in Booth #2206.

Yuto Tsukuda VIZ Media/Anime Expo Panels & Special Events Include:

Saturday, July 1st

6:30pm – 7:30pm
WEEKLY SHONEN JUMP Official Panel
LACC Room 408AB / Room LP-3

Hang out with the English-language editors of the world's most popular manga! We've got exciting news about the LATEST developments on new series, all-time fan favorites, and what we're doing to bring you the world's best manga! We'll also have amazing prizes up for grabs. Plus special guest, Yuto Tsukuda, co-creator of FOOD WARS! Don't miss it!

TBD Time
Yuto Tsukuda Autograph Session
Anime Expo Autograph Signing Area

Don’t miss the chance to meet FOOD WARS! co-creator Yuto Tsukuda and receive a personally signed shikishi art board. Attendees must pick up an autograph ticket prior to the session at the Anime Expo Autograph Ticket Booth on the day of the appearance. For more information, please visit: Anime-Expo.org/how-to-get-an-autograph.

Sunday, July 2nd

2:30pm – 4pm
FOOD WARS! Panel
LACC Room 408AB / Room LP-3

Join Warner Bros. Japan and VIZ Media in welcoming the co-creator of the saucy culinary manga FOOD WARS! Tsukuda Sensei, along with his Japanese and English editors, will discuss the creative process behind the hit series. This is a special opportunity to get a taste of what goes into creating the spiciness that is FOOD WARS!

TBD Time
Yuto Tsukuda Autograph Session
Anime Expo Autograph Signing Area

Fans will have an encore opportunity to meet Yuto Tsukuda and receive a personalized shikishi art board! Attendees must pick up an autograph ticket prior to the session at the Anime Expo Autograph Ticket Booth on the day of the appearance. For more information, please visit: Anime-Expo.org/how-to-get-an-autograph.

Additional Yuto Tsukuda Special Events Include:

Monday, July 3rd

11:30am
Yuto Tsukuda Autograph Session
Kinokuniya Anime Expo Booth #3700

This signing event will be limited to the first 100 customers that purchase a VIZ Media FOOD WARS! manga at the Kinokuniya booth during Anime Expo. Qualified purchasers will receive a ticket for a guaranteed spot to meet the author at his Kinokuniya autograph session. Signing session attendees may choose either to have their purchased manga signed by Yuto Tsukuda, or have a shikishi art board (provided by VIZ Media) signed.

5:30pm
Yuto Tsukuda Autograph Session
Barnes & Noble at The Grove
189 The Grove Drive, Los Angeles, CA 90036

This off-site signing will be limited to the first 100 customers that purchase a FOOD WARS! manga volume at the Grove location on July 3rd. Qualified purchasers will receive a wristband for a guaranteed spot to meet the author at the Barnes & Noble autograph session. Signing session attendees may choose either to have their purchased manga signed by Yuto Tsukuda, or have a shikishi art board (provided by VIZ Media) signed. **Note – this appearance is not affiliated with Anime Expo.

Stop by the VIZ Media booth (#2206), located in the Anime Expo Main Hall, to browse FOOD WARS! manga including:

FOOD WARS! Vols. 1-2 Bundle – $15
  Snap up the first two volumes of the series in a specially priced bundle!
FOOD WARS! Vol. 19 - $10
  Get a taste the series’ latest volume ahead of its street date!

Also stop by the VIZ Media booth for giveaways of special FOOD WARS!-themed chopsticks.

Yuto Tsukuda won the 34th Jump Juniketsu Newcomers' Manga Award for his one-shot story Kiba ni Naru. He made his Weekly Shonen Jump debut in 2010 with the series, Shonen Shikku. His follow-up series, FOOD WARS!: SHOKUGEKI NO SOMA, is his first title with an English-language release.

For additional information on FOOD WARS! and other anime and manga titles distributed and published by VIZ Media, visit VIZ.com.

NO GAME, NO LIFE ZERO set for theatrical release in Japan on July 15th


Sentai Filmworks Returns to Disboard in No Game, No Life Zero

Fans can finally get a glimpse of the story behind the world of Disboard in No Game, No Life Zero, the prequel movie to the hit series No Game, No Life. This theatrical release, which premieres in Japan on July 15, 2017, follows the story of the sixth entry in creator Yuu Kamiya’s beloved light novel series.

Six thousand years before Sora and Shiro were even a blink in the history of Disboard, war consumed the land, tearing apart the heavens, destroying stars, and even threatening to wipe out the human race. Amid the chaos and destruction, a young man named Riku leads humanity toward the tomorrow his heart believed in. One day, in the ruins of an Elf city, he meets Shuvi, a female exiled "Ex-machina" android who asks him to teach her what it means to have a human heart.

Atsuko Ishizuka, director of the original 2014 anime, returns to helm the movie, with a script by series writer Jukki Hanada.

Friday, June 16, 2017

HARMONIUM reviewed; opens today at Lincoln Center in New York

Toshio, Yasaka, Akié, and Hotaru dining together
Harmonium / Fuchi ni tatsu
Directed by Kôji Fukada
Japan/France, 2016, 118 minutes
Japanese with English subtitles

When: Opens today, Friday, June 16, 2017
Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center
Film Society of Lincoln Center
144 West 65th Street, NYC


Harmonium, which won the Un Certain Regard Jury Prize at Cannes in 2016, opens today in New York. It is a powerful drama about a Japanese family, with strong elements of the mystery-thriller genre.

Toshio (Kanji Furutachi) has a metal workshop in the garage attached to the home where he lives with his wife Akié (Mariko Tsutsui) and their adorable daughter Hotaru (Momone Shinokawa), who plays the harmonium. One day, Yasaka (Tadanobu Asano), a friend of Toshio's, unexpectedly shows up. He has just been released after serving a substantial prison sentence.

Toshio hires him to work as an assistant for what is to be a relatively short period of time. Clearly there is some mystery not only about why Yasaka was imprisoned, but also just what history he and Toshio share. The upshot -- not to give anything away, which would be a crime in its own right -- is that strange and weird elements creep into the relationships within the family and between them and Yasaka.

When I finished watching the film, I let out a soft, quiet "whoa" because I was so stunned. Harmonium is a masterful tale that is sure to grip you and not let go, even after it is over.

AsianCineFest Rating: 4 out of 4 stars; very highly recommended

On May 22, 2016, after Harmonium had won its prize at Cannes, Film Comment ran Nicholas Rapold's interview with director Kôji Fukada. It's available to be read online here.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Section23 Films has announced its July 2017 slate of releases


Home video distributor Section23 Films has announced its July slate of releases, including two Limited Edition Premium Box Sets from Sentai Filmworks, Gate and Monster Musume: Everyday Life with Monster Girls.

Product details follow, in order of release.

Title: GATCHAMAN FIGHTER COMPLETE COLLECTION
Published by: Sentai Filmworks
Distributed by: Section23 Films
Run Time: 1200 min.
Street Date: 7/4/2017
Format: DVD
Language: Japanese with English Subtitles
SRP: $79.98

SYNOPSIS: The fight against Leader X was finally over, but a small portion of his evil remained and regenerated into Leader Z! Now, with the aid of the monstrous Count Egobossler, the Gatchaman team's arch-foe is out to destroy the world again, and even though their ranks have been decimated, the Gatchaman force has no choice but to keep fighting. To combat their new foes, they'll need new weapons and new allies, but their mission remains the same: protect the Earth and Mankind, no matter the cost. And that cost may prove to be the ultimate one when the new Gatchafencer blade wielded by Ken turns out to be a double-edged sword. Find out who will live, who will die, and who will triumph as Japan's most famous sci-fi fighter team takes on their greatest challenge in GATCHAMAN FIGHTER!


Title: THE DEVIL'S VIRGINS BLU-RAY
Published by: SoftCel Pictures
Distributed by: Section23 Films
Run Time: 50 min.
Street Date: 7/11/2017
Format: BD
Language: Japanese with English Subtitles
SRP: $19.98

SYNOPSIS: Mikoto and Takeru love their friend Tachibana, but Tachibana has a terrifying secret hidden inside him: a demon of monstrous evil waiting to be set free! That's not the sort of thing that can be cured with an over-the-counter medication, but Hatsune, the girls' mother, has a plan that might be able to trap the demon forever. The catch is that Hatsune must have sex with Tachibana, and then one of her daughters must sleep with him as well, thereby conceiving a new demon to counter the first. Fortunately for their demonically infested friend, Mikoto and Takeru are more than willing to do the dirty deed, as well as quite a few other things that normally wouldn't be approved of between sisters! The 3-way sex-orcism only gets wilder and more devilishly complicated when yet another girl is pulled into the act of sating Tachibana's inner demon in THE DEVIL'S VIRGINS!


Title: GATE COMPLETE COLLECTION
Published by: Sentai Filmworks
Distributed by: Section23 Films
Run Time: 600 min.
Street Date: 7/11/2017
Format: BD, DVD COMBO
Language: English & Japanese with English Subtitles
SRP: $99.98, $79.98, $199.98

SYNOPSIS: When a mysterious gate suddenly appears in Tokyo's Ginza district and begins spewing armed warriors and flying monsters, the world is thrown into turmoil. Although the deadly attack is thrown back by Japan's Self Defense Force, there's now a new and entirely unknown land on the other side of the portal, and Japan is effectively at war with a nation on the other side. Determined to secure peace, the JSDF must send an armed force into the Gate, but ogres, dragons and a ruthless Empire populated by elves, humans, and half-animal warriors aren't the only dangers they'll face. With the resources of two worlds at stake, the balance of power on both sides of the Gate is destabilizing, and betrayal can come at any time, from any quarter. There, trapped right in the middle of the ensuing firestorm, stands officer Yoji Itami and the JSDF's Third Reconnaissance Team as they plunge into the GATE.


Title: TIME JAM: VALERIAN & LAURELINE COMPLETE COLLECTION
Published by: Sentai Filmworks
Distributed by: Section23 Films
Run Time: 1000 min.
Street Date: 7/18/2017
Format: DVD
Language: English
SRP: $69.98

SYNOPSIS: The first rule of time travel is to never change anything. Otherwise, the resulting “butterfly effects” can ripple through time and wreak untold havoc on the unwritten future. But on his last test as a Space Time Agent, Valerian messes up. Not only does he save someone who would have been killed, but he’d have died himself if Laureline hadn’t rescued him! As a result, nothing in the future is where he left it, including the Earth! Now he and Laureline, his accidental passenger from 10th century France, have to put the universe back in order without writing themselves out of existence! Across a million worlds and an infinite number of possibilities, it’s the ultimate adventure in time and space as the multi-verse from the groundbreaking graphic novels by Pierre Christin and THE FIFTH ELEMENT designer Jean-Claude Mézières becomes the stage for TIME JAM: VALERIAN & LAURELINE!


Title: MONSTER MUSUME: EVERYDAY LIFE WITH MONTER GIRLS COMPLETE COLLECTION
Published by: Sentai Filmworks
Distributed by: Section23 Films
Run Time: 350 min.
Street Date: 7/25/2017
Format: BD, DVD, COMBO
Language: English & Japanese with English Subtitles
SRP: $69.98, $59.98, $149.98

SYNOPSIS: No one expected the government to suddenly acknowledge the existence of demi-human species like harpies and centaurs, but when a careless Integration Agent shows up on Kimihito Kurusu's doorstep with an attractive Lamia in tow, he suddenly finds himself designated as a "Host Family". This might not be so bad, except that while Miia's top half is all girl and quickly develops a crush on her new human host, her snakelike bottom half makes that crush literal with a tendency to squeeze the life out of him! Plus, there's also the little problem that it's illegal for humans and non-humans to have THOSE kinds of relationships. With woman-in-black Agent Smith always sniffing about for improprieties, things only get more hectic in the Kurusu household when bird-brained Papi the harpy and master-seeking centaur Centorea need places to roost and stable. As the house gets crowded with even more captivating cuties, can any human male survive under such tempestuous and tempting conditions? Find out in MONSTER MUSUME: EVERYDAY LIFE WITH MONSTER GIRLS!


Title: RIN-NE SEASON 2 COMPLETE COLLECTION
Published by: Sentai Filmworks
Distributed by: Section23 Films
Run Time: 625 min.
Street Date: 7/25/2017
Format: BD, DVD
Language: Japanese with English Subtitles
SRP: $89.98 $69.98

SYNOPSIS: Black cats might be bad luck, but did you ever think that the cat might have a reason for causing trouble? Rinne Rokudo quickly finds out that it's more than possible, especially when the "cat" is the mostly humanoid Oboro who's stuck in a contract with spoiled Shinigami Ageha… so now Rinne's derelict house is suddenly filled with snake spirits! That's just the slinky start of the latest set of missions for perennially broke half-human, half-Shinigami exorcist Rinne; his contracted black cat/demon Rokumon; and Rinne's human classmate, partner in paranormal activities, and possible paramour Sakura "I see dead people" Mamiya. From ghostly class reunions to a flu so bad that you get it AFTER you die, the only thing you can be sure to expect is the unexpected in the second season of Rumiko Takahashi's RIN-NE!

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

VIZ to publish manga series based on Nintendo's hit video game SPLATOON

Note: the cover for VIZ's release has not been finalized at this time. This image is of the Japanese cover.
VIZ MEDIA ANNOUNCES PLANS TO PUBLISH
NEW MANGA SERIES BASED ON NINTENDO’S
HIT VIDEO GAME SPLATOON

Forthcoming Title For Readers Of All Ages Adapts
The Colorful Shooter Game Into An Action/Adventure
Manga Series Set To Launch Later This Year

VIZ Media thrills manga and gaming fans with the announcement of the acquisition of the publishing rights for a new manga series based on Nintendo’s hit game title SPLATOON.

The SPLATOON manga series, created by Hinodeya Sankichi, is scheduled to launch exclusively in print in late 2017 and will be rated ‘A’ for All Ages.

Splatoon is a third-person shooter video game developed and published by Nintendo for the Wii UTM and was released worldwide in 2015. The game was co-created by Shintaro Sato, a member of the Animal Crossing team, and centers around characters known as Inklings, which can transform between humanoid and squid-like forms, and hide or swim through colored ink sprayed on surfaces using shooters, blasters, or chargers and slosher, or brush-based weaponry. Splatoon has won multiple awards including a 2015 British Academy Children’s Award, IGN’s Best of 2015, and a SXSW Gaming Award in 2016. A sequel game title, SplatoonTM 2, will be released this year for the Nintendo SwitchTM platform.

In the SPLATOON manga series, four Inklings that can switch between human and squid forms get caught up in a Splatoon Turf War that launches them into all-new adventures inspired by the hit Nintendo video game!

Manga creator and artist Sankichi Hinodeya first appeared in a bonus issue of Square Enix’s Gangan Powered magazine with the series Maho Bozu Sankyu (Magical Monk Sankyu). In 2015, Hinodeya created the manga adaptation of SPLATOON, which is currently serialized in Japan in Corocoro Comic Magazine.

For additional information on SPLATOON and/or other manga titles published by VIZ Media, visit VIZ.com.

Monday, June 12, 2017

THE ART OF MAGIC: THE GATHERING—AMONKHET set to debut on July 4th

Magic: The Gathering, Wizards of the Coast, and their respective logos are trademarks of Wizards of the Coast LLC in the USA and other countries. ©2017 Wizards.
VIZ MEDIA ANNOUNCES THE RELEASE OF
THE ART OF MAGIC: THE GATHERING—AMONKHET

Explore The World Of Magic: The Gathering® In New
Hardcover Art Book Edition Debuting This Summer

VIZ Media has announced a fantastic new collection of artwork and lore with the debut of THE ART OF MAGIC: THE GATHERING—AMONKHET, the fourth title in the publisher’s ongoing series of hardcover editions celebrating the artwork from Magic: The Gathering™.

Scheduled for retail release on July 4th, THE ART OF MAGIC: THE GATHERING—AMONKHET will present scores of full-color illustrations from an array of talented artists including Cliff Childs, Winona Nelson, Christine Choi, and Adam Paquette. Additional insights and lore on the dangerous and beautiful world of Amonkhet are provided by bestselling author and Magic: The Gathering Senior Game Designer James Wyatt. Amonkhet is the latest plane and card set for Magic: The Gathering and was recently released by Wizards of the Coast in April.

In THE ART OF MAGIC: THE GATHERING—AMONKHET, the Second Sun creeps across the sky, growing ever closer to the horns of the God-Pharaoh. These pages, lavishly illustrated with the award-winning art of Magic: The Gathering™, will introduce readers to the people of Amonkhet, whose life is a series of trials meant to prepare them for the great God-Pharaoh’s return. The glorious hope and desolate despair of Amonkhet awaits readers as the final hours draw near!

Throughout its 24-year history, Magic: The Gathering has visited many richly imaginative worlds through card sets and stories. Developed by Wizards of the Coast, Magic: The Gathering has more than 20 million fans, is played in more than 70 countries, and is available in 11 languages. Magic: The Gathering has won numerous notable awards, including a Mensa Award and multiple Origins Awards, the Hobby Game industry’s annual top award.

“THE ART OF MAGIC: THE GATHERING – AMONKHET is an ideal complement to the new Amonkhet plane and card set, offering players and fans a detailed look at this sun-soaked world of worship,” says Joel Enos, Senior Editor. “We look forward to fans adding this latest book to their The Art of Magic: The Gathering collections.”

THE ART OF MAGIC: THE GATHERING—AMONKHET joins THE ART OF MAGIC: THE GATHERING—KALADESH, THE ART OF MAGIC: THE GATHERING— INNISTRAD and THE ART OF MAGIC: THE GATHERING—ZENDIKAR, which are available now from VIZ Media. Each contains specially curated collections of plane-specific illustrations from Wizards of the Coast’s popular strategy card game, Magic: The Gathering.

For additional information on THE ART OF MAGIC: THE GATHERING titles distributed and published by VIZ Media, visit VIZ.com.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

VIZ Media launches award winning manga series GOLDEN KAMUY

GOLDEN KAMUY © 2014 by Satoru Noda/SHUEISHA Inc.
New VIZ Signature Series Depicting A War Veteran’s
Quest For Hidden Gold In Japan’s Wild Northern
Frontier Launches This Summer

VIZ Media has announced the forthcoming launch of the acclaimed manga series GOLDEN KAMUY on June 20th.

The series debuts in print under the VIZ Signature imprint, is rated ‘M’ for Mature Readers and will carry an MSRP of $12.99 U.S. / $17.99 CAN. Future volumes of GOLDEN KAMUY, which is ongoing in Japan, will be published in English by VIZ Media on a quarterly basis.

In the early twentieth century, Russo-Japanese War veteran Saichi Sugimoto searches the wilderness of the Japanese frontier of Hokkaido for a hoard of hidden gold. With only a cryptic map and a native Ainu girl to help him, Saichi must also deal with every murderous cutthroat, bandit and rogue who knows about the treasure!

GOLDEN KAMUY was the winner of the 2016 Manga Taisho Award and was nominated for the 40th Annual Kodansha Manga Award.

“Manga fans and history buffs will appreciate the historical aspects of GOLDEN KAMUY. Set in Japan’s wild and dangerous northern frontier in the early 20th century, the series also integrates an accurate portrayal of the lives and culture of the Ainu, the indigenous people of the region,” says Michael Montesa, Editor. “Don’t miss the launch of this extraordinary new series this summer!”

For additional information on GOLDEN KAMUY or other manga titles available from VIZ Media, visit VIZ.com.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

VIZ Media launches new manga series AFTER HOURS on June 13th

AFTER HOURS  © 2015 Yuhta NISHIO/SHOGAKUKAN

Love Between Two Young Women Blooms
In Tokyo’s Lively Club Scene
In New Yuri Release

VIZ Media presents a refreshing modern romance between two women that defy stereotypes and clichés of the “yuri,” or “girls’ love,” genre with the launch of AFTER HOURS on June 13th.

The manga series, created by Yuhta Nishio, is rated ‘T+’ for Older Teens and will carry a print MSRP of $9.99 U.S. / $12.99 CAN. The series also launches digitally on June 13th via VIZ.com and the VIZ Manga App, as well as from the Nook, Kobo, Kindle, iBooks, comiXology and Google Play stores.

In AFTER HOURS, Emi Ashiana is 24, unemployed and not really sure what she wants do with her life. When a friend invites her to a dance club, Emi doesn’t expect much. But when she meets vivacious DJ Kei, whole new avenues of passion and purpose open up to her.

AFTER HOURS is a lively, heartfelt story set amidst Tokyo’s club scene about queer young women coming into their own,” says Pancha Diaz, Editor. “The series presents a wonderful entry point for Western readers as well as veteran manga fans to explore ‘yuri’ or ‘girls love’ manga with relatable characters and a very socially relevant storyline.”

Yuhta Nishio is a manga creator, illustrator and sometimes painter. His debut manga, Irikachi, started in IKKI magazine in 2014. His other manga series include Diorama Crew and Domuun. His artwork has appeared in the gallery shows KAI-YOU Presents Sekai to Asobu!, Hyakaten and A Nightmare Is a Dream Come True: Anime Expressionist Painting.

For additional information on AFTER HOURS and other manga titles available from VIZ Media, visit VIZ.com.

Friday, June 09, 2017

Japan Society's annual JAPAN CUTS film festival to run July 13 - 23, 2017

JAPAN CUTS: Festival of New Japanese Film
When: July 13—23, 2017
Where: Japan Society NY
333 East 47th Street, NYC

Now in its 11th year, JAPAN CUTS: Festival of New Japanese Film, North America’s largest festival of contemporary Japanese cinema, returns for 10 days of impossible-to-see-anywhere-else screenings with special guest filmmakers and stars, parties, giveaways and much more!

Tickets are on sale exclusively for Japan Society members now, and go on sale to the General Public on Monday, June 12, 12 PM.

View Full Schedule

Thursday, June 08, 2017

Kôji Fukada's award winning HARMONIUM opens at Lincoln Center next Friday, June 16th

Harmonium / Fuchi ni tatsu
Directed by Kôji Fukada
Japan/France, 2016, 118 minutes
Japanese with English subtitles

When: Opens June 16, 2017
Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center
Film Society of Lincoln Center
144 West 65th Street, NYC


“Winner of the Prix du Jury in Un Certain Regard at Cannes, Harmonium observes a family as it’s dealt a tragic blow and then no less shaken by the process of recovery. Toshio (Kanji Furutachi) runs a garage workshop that opens right into the home he shares with his wife, Akié (Mariko Tsutsui), and their cute-as-a-button daughter, Hotaru (Momone Shinokawa). Trouble arrives when Toshio hires Yasaka (Tadanobu Asano), a friend with an unsavory past who’s in need of a break—though the complicated effects of his arrival on the close-knit family are best left unrevealed.” (Nicolas Rapold, Film Comment)

A Film Movement release.

Tuesday, June 06, 2017

Dante Lam's OPERATION MEKONG reviewed; available on Blu-ray and DVD today, Tuesday, June 6th

Well Go USA
Entertainment
Presents
Operation Mekong / Mei Gong he xing dong
Directed by Dante Lam
China/Hong Kong, 2016, 124 minutes

Dante Lam's high octane, action packed Operation Mekong becomes available today, Tuesday, June 6th, in a Blu-ray™/DVD Combo Pack and on DVD from Well Go USA Entertainment. (It's been available on digital since Tuesday, May 2nd.)

The film, based on actual events, concerns a task force of elite Chinese narcotics officers who hunt the leader of a drug cartel in the famed Golden Triangle, the infamous opium producing area of Thailand, Myanmar and Laos. The Mekong River is the prime smuggling route for smuggling drugs into China.

The film stars Zhang Hanyu (The Taking of Tiger Mountain), Eddie Peng (Tai Chi Hero), Chen Baoguo (Moment in Peking), Sun Chun (1911), Feng Wenjuan (Helios), Wu Xudong (The Taking of Tiger Mountain) and Carl Ng (The Viral Factor).

One might wonder how closely the film hews to the actual events, but why bother. Lam (Stool Pigeon, Unbeatable) here displays incredible mastery in a variety of action set pieces that are sure to please.

Disc Specs:
-- Audio:
  -- Mandarin DTS:X
  -- Mandarin 2.0 Stereo
  --Mandarin DSS Headphone: X
-- Subtitles:
  -- English
  -- Off
-- Bonus:
  -- 6-Part “Making of” Featurette:
    -- Uncovering the Truth
    -- The Team
    -- The Secret Mission
    -- The Journey
    -- Two Heroes
    -- A Force of Nature
  -- Trailer
-- Previews
  -- The Prison
  -- Mine
  -- Cold War 2

AsianCineFest Rating: 3.5 out of 4 stars; highly recommended

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

TATARA SAMURAI to open theatrically this Friday, June 2nd

Eleven Arts
Presents
Tatara Samurai
Directed by Yoshinari Nishikori
Japan, 2016, 120 minutes

Following a massively successful festival circuit, ELEVEN ARTS has licensed North American distribution rights to Yoshinari Nishikori’s award-winning period action-drama TATARA SAMURAI. The Los Angeles-based distribution company, whose recent titles include THE LEGEND IS BORN: IP MAN, UZUMASA LIMELIGHT, and SAILOR MOON R: THE MOVIE, has set June 2nd for the theatrical release of the film in the U.S., which is produced by EXILE HIRO.

TATARA SAMURAI is the latest feature from director Yoshinari Nishikori, whose films, KONSHIN and RAILWAYS were box office smashes in their native Japan. His latest historic epic stars Sho Aoyagi (YAKUZA APOCALYPSE), pop star Naoki Kobayashi, Tomoko Tabata, and Anna Ishii.

Synopsis:
Gosuke (Aoyagi), a young villager in Sengoku Period Japan, is trained to be a blacksmith, but seeks to become a warrior. After joining the army of Oda Nobunaga, he begins to question whether swords are a viable defense against the new technology of firearms - but soon discovers that his skill as a blacksmith might very well be the most powerful weapon he has to protect his home.

For a list of the cities and theaters where Tatara Samurai will be playing, click here.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

SEOUL STATION is now available in U.S. exclusively on iTunes

FilmRise
Presents
Seoul Station
Directed by Yeon Sang-ho
South Korea, 2016, 92 minutes

Seoul Station, the animated prequel to the live-action hit Train to Busan arrives on iTunes exclusively in the U.S. today, Tuesday, May 30th. Both films are from visionary director Yeon Sang-ho, who also directed The King of Pigs (2011) and The Fake (2013).

Synopsis:
A man sleeping in Seoul Station becomes a catalyst for the pandemonium in downtown Seoul; a zombie apocalypse. The rapidly spreading infection propels an authentic family drama, drawing mordant parallels to real-world social horrors.


Seoul Station is a fresh and terrifying take on the modern zombie film. Lots of thrills, chills and surprises.

AsianCineFest Rating: 3.5 out of 4 stars; highly recommended

Friday, May 26, 2017

FLYING COLORS will return to Japan Society next Friday, June 2nd

Japan Society NY
Presents
A JAPAN CUTS Classic
Flying Colors / Eiga Birigyaru
Directed by Nobuhiro Doi
With Kasumi Arimura, Atsushi Ito, Shuhei Nomura,
Tetsushi Tanaka, and Yo Yoshida
Japan, 2015, 117 minutes
DCP, color, in Japanese with English subtitles

When: Friday, June 2nd at 7:00 PM
Where: Japan Society NY
333 East 47th Street, NYC

Winner of the inaugural JAPAN CUTS Audience Award in July 2016, the irresistible crowd-pleaser Flying Colors returns to Japan Society for an encore screening in anticipation of the upcoming 11th edition of JAPAN CUTS. Based on an inspiring true story, this smash-hit comedic drama stars Kasumi Arimura as a ditzy high school material girl who is unexpectedly encouraged by an overly-optimistic and unconventional cram school teacher to apply for admission to one of the toughest universities in Japan. Full of heart and big laughs, Flying Colors could easily be considered Japan's winking response to Legally Blonde.

Tuesday, May 09, 2017

RAILROAD TIGERS debuts on digital today; will be coming to Blu-ray & DVD on June 20th

Well Go USA
Entertainment
Presents
Railroad Tigers
Directed by Ding Sheng
China, 2016, 125 minutes

Hong Kong’s cheeky, lovable and best-known film star Jackie Chan (Rush Hour franchise) reunites with Director Ding Sheng (Little Big Soldier) for a third time with Railroad Tigers, debuting on digital today, Tuesday, May 9th and on Blu-ray™/DVD Combo Pack and DVD June 20th from Well Go USA Entertainment.

With his patented blend of martial arts action and comedy, Chan plays a railroad worker in 1941 China who leads a team of freedom fighters against the Japanese in order to get food for the poor. The action-packed Railroad Tigers also stars Huang Zitao (Edge of Innocence), Jackie Chan’s son Jaycee Chan (1911), Wang Kai (The Golden Era), Hiroyuki Ikeuchi (Ip Man), Ping Sang (Saving Mr. Wu), Alan Ng (Young Bruce Lee) and Darren Wang (Our Times).

Synopsis:
In this action-comedy caper hearkening back to Jackie Chan’s classic Hong Kong films, a railroad worker (Chan) and his ragtag group of freedom fighters find themselves on the wrong side of the tracks when they decide to ambush a heavily armed military train filled with desperately needed provisions. Unarmed and outnumbered, they must fight back against an entire army using only their wits, in a series of dazzling set pieces and action scenes rivaling anything seen on the big screen.

Bonus Materials Include:
-- Five Featurettes:
    -- “Director’s Featurette”
    -- “The Dangers of Shooting”
    -- “The Making of ”
    -- “VFX Featurette”
    -- “The Characters”
-- Trailers

Friday, May 05, 2017

Godzilla Legend - Music of Akira Ifukube - live performance at Japan Society NY reviewed


Special guests Charan-Po-Rantan and Makigami Koichi (center) performed in Godzilla Legend—Music of Akira Ifukube at Japan Society on April 28, 2017. The concert was conceived and arranged by Inoue Makoto (far left) and performed by the band Hikashu and other special guest musicians. Photo by Ayumi Sakamoto. 

Last Friday, April 28th, I had the extremely good fortune of having a press seat at Japan Society's presentation of Godzilla Legend - Music of Akira Ifukube, a live performance by the innovative and talented Japanese band Hikashu, which was founded in 1978, and several guest artists.

The Godzilla Legend project leader was Inoue Makoto, a founding member of Hikashu, who plays synthesizer. Although he left the group in 1991 to pursue other projects, he still performs with them for the Godzilla Legend concerts. He arranged several Ifukube compositions for Hikashu's debut concert and has been involved in several other Ifukube-related projects, as well as serving as score manager on the Shin Godzilla film (2016). At Friday night's performance, he also provided brief introductions to the event's six sections.

The current members of Hikashu include:

- Makigami Koichi (vocals, theremin, gong); a co-founder and now the current leader of Hikashu
- Mita Freeman (lead guitar)
- Sakaide Masami (bass guitar)
- Shimizu Kazuto (piano, synthesizer)
- Sato Masaharu (drums)

Appearing as guest artists were:

- Tatsumi Kogoro (trumpet)
- Goto Atsushi (trombone)
- Yoshida Ryuichi (baritone sax)
- Charan-Po-Rantan, a sister duo comprising vocalists Momo and her older sister Koharu, the latter who also plays accordion

If you are familiar with Frank Zappa and his group the Mothers of Invention, and can imagine him as a Japanese musician in love with Ifukube's Godzilla music, you'll have some idea of what the performance was like. If I had to use one word to describe the evening, it would be "spectacular."

After performing the planned program of music from various Godzilla movies, including the 1954 original, Rodan (1956), Mothra (1961), and others, the band came back onstage for  two-number encore. A vocal number was followed by an incredible version of the original Godzilla theme that built to a rousing crescendo.

I didn't see anyone still in their seat after this final number ended, but if anyone was, I'm sure it must have been due to a medical infirmity.

It was one of the best concert's I've ever attended, and I've seen Bob Dylan, the Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin and other great musicians perform live.

Tuesday, May 02, 2017

Dante Lam's OPERATION MEKONG available on digital today; coming to Blu-ray and DVD on June 6th

Well Go USA
Entertainment
Presents
Operation Mekong / Mei Gong he xing dong
Directed by Dante Lam
China/Hong Kong, 2016, 124 minutes

Members of an international task force seek justice against the leader of an Asian drug cartel and his murderous henchmen in the action-packed thriller Operation Mekong. Inspired by a true story, acclaimed Hong Kong filmmaker Dante Lam (Stool Pigeon, Unbeatable) brings his “shoot first, ask questions later” cinematic approach to this violent crime thriller, which stars Zhang Hanyu (The Taking of Tiger Mountain), Eddie Peng (Tai Chi Hero), Chen Baoguo (Moment in Peking), Sun Chun (1911), Feng Wenjuan (Helios), Wu Xudong (The Taking of Tiger Mountain) and Carl Ng (The Viral Factor).

Operation Mekong blasts onto digital today, Tuesday, May 2 and explodes in a Blu-ray™/DVD Combo Pack and on DVD on June 6th from Well Go USA Entertainment.

Synopsis:
A band of elite narcotics officers are sent by the Chinese government to uncover the truth behind the ambush of two Chinese commercial vessels traveling down the Mekong River. When it’s discovered the drugs seized from the ships had been planted by a notorious drug cartel, a multi-country joint task force is assembled to stop the criminals. The road to justice is, however, paved with dangerous and deadly obstacles.

Bonus Materials Include a 6-Part “Making of” Featurette:
-- Uncovering the Truth
-- The Team
-- The Secret Mission
-- The Journey
-- Two Heroes
-- A Force of Nature

Ringo Lam's SKY ON FIRE available on digital today, Tuesday, May 2nd; coming to Blu-ray & DVD on June 13th

Well Go USA
Entertainment
Presents
Sky on Fire / Chongtian huo
Directed by Ringo Lam
China/Hong Kong, 2016, 100 minutes

Legendary filmmaker Ringo Lam (City on Fire, Full Alert) returns to his Hong Kong roots with Sky on Fire, the explosive crime drama packed with high-speed car chases, dramatic plot twists and fiery gunfights. The film also marks Daniel Wu’s return to Asian cinema following his stateside success on the TV series “Into the Badlands” and the international blockbuster Warcraft: The Beginning.

Wu plays a security officer who becomes embroiled in an epic battle to protect stem cell research, which can potentially cure cancer, from falling into the wrong hands. The film also stars Zhang Ruoyun in his feature film debut, Zhang Jingchu (Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation), Chang Hsiao Chuan (Wild City) and Amber Kuo (Lord of Shanghai).

Sky on Fire blasts onto digital today, Tuesday, May 2nd and on Blu-ray™ and DVD June 13th from Well Go USA Entertainment.

Synopsis:
In this driving, non-stop action thriller, the chief security officer at a top-secret medical facility (Daniel Wu) finds himself caught in an explosive battle when a young thief and his accomplices steal a groundbreaking curative medicine. After discovering the true origins of the medicine, the officer must decide whom he can trust to protect the cure from falling into the wrong hands and prevent an all-out war from bringing the city to its knees.

Korean disaster thriller TUNNEL is available on DVD today, May 2nd

Well Go USA
Entertainment
Presents
Tunnel / Teo-neol
Directed by Kim Seong-hun
Starring Ha Jung-woo, Doona Bae & Oh Dal-su
South Korea, 2016, 127 minutes

Korean disaster thriller Tunnel debuts on DVD today, May 2nd from Well Go USA Entertainment. (It's been available on digital since Tuesday, April 4th.)

South Korean superstar Ha Jung-woo (The Handmaiden) plays a car salesman fighting for survival inside a collapsed tunnel while rescue workers race against time to free him in the tense, taunt thriller Tunnel, from internationally-acclaimed director Kim Seong-hun (A Hard Day).

With draining cell phone battery power and a rescue effort that might end before they locate him, days pass by without success, and people start to lose hope as the rescue operation becomes an ordeal when incompetence, the media and government interference slow down the process.

The film also starring Doona Bae (Netflix’s “Sense8”) and Oh Dal-su (Oldboy).

Synopsis:

When a tunnel collapses on Jung-soo (Ha Jung-woo), the ensuing rescue operation becomes the subject of widespread media coverage and frenzy. But days go by, nerves stretch thin, and Jung-soo must struggle for his life in the suffocating darkness alone.

AsianCineFest Rating: 3 out of 4 stars; a good thriller

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

SWORD MASTER debuts on Blu-ray & DVD today

Well Go USA
Entertainment
Presents
 Sword Master / San shao ye de jian
Directed by Derek Yee
Hong Kong/China. 2016, 105 minutes

Hong Kong cinema giants Derek Yee (Triple Tap) and Tsui Hark (Flying Swords of Dragon Gate) join forces for an epic remake of 1977’s Death Duel, when the wuxia martial arts extravaganza Sword Master debuts on Blu-ray™ and DVD today, Tuesday, April 11th from Well Go USA Entertainment. (It's been available on digital since March 7th.)

Visually opulent, the film follows a master swordsman who must once again wield his weapon against those who threaten his desire to live in peace. Sword Master stars Kenny Lin (The Taking of Tiger Mountain), Peter Ho (The Monkey King), Yiyan Jiang (Reign of Assassins) and Mengjie Jiangin (Kung Fu Hero). Bonus materials include the featurette “Mastering the Sword.”

Synopsis:
A powerful swordsman is haunted by the destructive impact his deadly talents have on others. Weary of the bloodshed and violence from the martial arts world, he banishes himself to the humble life of a vagrant, wandering the fringes of society. But his violent past refuses to let him go quietly. The master swordsman must regain the ability to wield his sword and fight those disrupting the peace he so desperately craves.

Bonus Materials Include:
-- “Mastering the Sword” featurette

AsianCineFest Rating: 3 out of 4 stars; a good martial arts action flick.

Friday, April 07, 2017

ZATOICHI THE FUGITIVE at Japan Society NY tonight, April 7th

Japan Society NY
presents
Zatoichi the Fugitive © 1966 Kadokawa Pictures, Inc.
Zatoichi the Fugitive / Zatoichi Kyojo Tabi
Directed by Tokuzo Tanaka
With Shintaro Katsu, Miwa Takada, and Masayo Banri
Japan, 1963, 86 minutes
35mm, color, in Japanese with English subtitles

When: Friday, April 7th, 7:00 PM
Where: Japan Society NY
333 East 47th Street, NYC

The fourth episode in the immensely popular 25-film action series features iconic blind swordsman Zatoichi (Shintaro Katsu) going up against a legion of local yakuza henchmen who target him after he defeats them in a wrestling tournament and then kills one of their own in self-defense. To complicate things, a former romantic interest reenters Zatoichi's life and a hot-tempered ronin, to whom she is married, seeks to end it for a reward. Composer Akira Ifukube, most famous for his work on the Godzilla film series, provides a characteristically spare and artful score.

Tickets: $13/$10 seniors & students/$5 Japan Society members

Part of Monthly Classics
Year-round screenings of beloved classics, hidden gems and recent discoveries of Japanese cinema. Only $5 for Japan society members

Wednesday, April 05, 2017

SWORD MASTER coming to Blu-ray & DVD on April 11th from Well Go USA

Well Go USA
Entertainment
presents
Sword Master / San shao ye de jian
Directed by Derek Yee
Hong Kong/China. 2016, 105 minutes

Hong Kong cinema giants Derek Yee (Triple Tap) and Tsui Hark (Flying Swords of Dragon Gate) join forces for an epic remake of 1977’s Death Duel, when the wuxia martial arts extravaganza Sword Master debuts on Blu-ray™ and DVD April 11th from Well Go USA Entertainment. (It's been available on digital since March 7th.)

Visually opulent, the film follows a master swordsman who must once again wield his weapon against those who threaten his desire to live in peace. Sword Master stars Kenny Lin (The Taking of Tiger Mountain), Peter Ho (The Monkey King), Yiyan Jiang (Reign of Assassins) and Mengjie Jiangin (Kung Fu Hero). Bonus materials include the featurette “Mastering the Sword.”

Synopsis:
A powerful swordsman is haunted by the destructive impact his deadly talents have on others. Weary of the bloodshed and violence from the martial arts world, he banishes himself to the humble life of a vagrant, wandering the fringes of society. But his violent past refuses to let him go quietly. The master swordsman must regain the ability to wield his sword and fight those disrupting the peace he so desperately craves.

Bonus Materials Include:
-- “Mastering the Sword” featurette

Tuesday, April 04, 2017

Johnny To's THREE is available today on Blu-ray and DVD

Well Go USA
Entertainment
presents
Three / San ren xing
Directed by Johnnie To
Starring Louis Koo, Vicki Zhao, and Wallace Chung
Hong Kong/China, 2016, 89 minutes

Tensions mounts and bullets fly in master filmmaker Johnnie To’s (Drug War, Exiled, Election) Three, his latest showdown between cops, robbers and everyone else caught in the crossfire. The action-packed thriller will become available on Blu-ray™ and DVD on April 4th from Well Go USA Entertainment. (It's been available on digital since March 7th.) My review is based on watching the Blu-ray version.

When a police sting goes bad, a cornered criminal (Wallace Chung, Drug War) makes a desperate choice: he shoots himself, forcing the officers to cease fire and rush him to the hospital. Once there, he refuses treatment, waiting for his cohorts to break him out. Caught between an obsessed cop (Louis Koo, Triad Election) and the dedicated surgeon assigned to save his life (Zhao Wei, Red Cliff), the hospital is now a battleground of deception, double-crosses and a coming onslaught of violence.

Synopsis:
When three disparate souls—a doctor desperate to redeem her reputation (Vicki Zhao), a policeman who will go to any length to seek out justice (Louis Koo), and a criminal with a gunshot wound to the head (Wallace Chung)—are thrown together in the hustle and bustle of an emergency room, a hospital descends from a pristine sanctuary to an explosive battleground.

Disc Specs:
-- Audio:
   -- Cantonese DTS:x
   -- Cantonese 2.0 Stereo
-- Subtitles:
   -- English / Chinese / Off
-- Bonus Materials:
   -- Making of featurettes
      -- “Master Director Johnnie To”
      -- “Three Complex Characters"
   -- Trailer
-- Previews:
   -- Sky on Fire
   -- Cold War 2
   -- Operation Mekong

AsianCineFest Rating: 2.5 out of 4 stars; a fairly decent action film from To, but not one of his best.

Korean disaster thriller TUNNEL is available on digital today; will be coming to DVD on May 2nd

Well Go USA
Entertainment
Presents
Tunnel / Teo-neol
Directed by Kim Seong-hun
Starring Ha Jung-woo, Doona Bae & Oh Dal-su
South Korea, 2016, 127 minutes

South Korean superstar Ha Jung-woo (The Handmaiden) plays a car salesman fighting for survival inside a collapsed tunnel while rescue workers race against time to free him in the tense, taunt thriller Tunnel, from internationally-acclaimed director Kim Seong-hun (A Hard Day).

With draining cell phone battery power and a rescue effort that might end before they locate him, days pass by without success, and people start to lose hope as the rescue operation becomes an ordeal when incompetence, the media and government interference slow down the process.

Also starring Doona Bae (Netflix’s “Sense8”) and Oh Dal-su (Oldboy), Tunnel debuts on digital today, Tuesday, April 4th, and on DVD May 2nd from Well Go USA Entertainment.

Synopsis:

When a tunnel collapses on Jung-soo (Ha Jung-woo), the ensuing rescue operation becomes the subject of widespread media coverage and frenzy. But days go by, nerves stretch thin, and Jung-soo must struggle for his life in the suffocating darkness alone.

LEGEND OF BRUCE LEE: Vol. 2 available on DVD today, April 4th


10 episodes in a three-disc DVD only collection

Danny Chan (Ip Man 3, Kung Fu Hustle) is back as legendary martial arts icon Bruce Lee in LEGEND OF BRUCE LEE: VOLUME TWO, which debuts today, Tuesday, April 4th, from Well Go USA Entertainment. The collection features 10 action-packed episodes on three-discs and follows Lee as he comes to America and begins a revolution in the world of martial arts. LEGEND OF BRUCE LEE: VOLUME TWO also stars Michelle Lang, Mark Dacascos, Wang Luoyang, Tim Storms, Ray Park and Michael Jai White.

Synopsis:
Determined to promote Chinese martial arts in America, Bruce Lee establishes a small but popular kung fu school. As he encounters different opponents and their various fighting styles, Bruce envisions a new way of kung fu capable of revolutionizing the world of martial arts forever.

LEGEND OF BRUCE LEE: VOLUME TWO has a runtime of approximately 456 minutes and is not rated.

AsianCineFest Rating: half-a-star out of four stars; worthwhile only if you're a fanatic about watching or owning anything that has Bruce Lee's name in it, or if you're curious about terrible mainland Chinese television.

For some unfathomable reason, the episodes are only available with dubbed English audio, even though option English subtitles are available. The horrible "acting" might have been a tiny bit more bearable if the dialogue -- such as it is -- was in Chinese.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Johnnie To's THREE coming to Blu-ray & DVD on April 4th

Well Go USA
Entertainment
presents
Three / San ren xing
Directed by Johnnie To
With  Louis Koo, Wei Zhao, and Wallace Chung
Hong Kong/China, 2016, 89 minutes

Tensions mounts and bullets fly in master filmmaker Johnnie To’s (Drug War, Exiled, Election) Three, his latest showdown between cops, robbers and everyone else caught in the crossfire. The action-packed thriller will become available on Blu-ray™ and DVD on April 4th from Well Go USA Entertainment. (It's been available on digital since March 7th.)

When a police sting goes bad, a cornered criminal (Wallace Chung, Drug War) makes a desperate choice: he shoots himself, forcing the officers to cease fire and rush him to the hospital. Once there, he refuses treatment, waiting for his cohorts to break him out. Caught between an obsessed cop (Louis Koo, Triad Election) and the dedicated surgeon assigned to save his life (Zhao Wei, Red Cliff), the hospital is now a battleground of deception, double-crosses and a coming onslaught of violence.

Synopsis:
When three disparate souls—a doctor desperate to redeem her reputation (Vicki Zhao), a policeman who will go to any length to seek out justice (Louis Koo), and a criminal with a gunshot wound to the head (Wallace Chung)—are thrown together in the hustle and bustle of an emergency room, a hospital descends from a pristine sanctuary to an explosive battleground.

Bonus Materials Include:
-- “Master Director Johnnie To” featurette
-- “Three Complex Characters” featurette