Old Fart Who Loves Japanese Pop Culture 日本の大衆文化を愛する中年

Japanese Dramas, Manga, Anime and Japanese Movies, Jpop, and anything else about Japanese pop culture that I find interesting.

日本のドラマ、マンガ、アニメ、J-POP、その他私がおもしろいと思った日本の大衆文化について

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Thursday, September 22, 2005

Sky High A Review

This is a very cool movie which switches between the real world of Tokyo cops chasing a serial killer with the world of the newly dead. The story nominally about the cops out to stop the killing is revealed to be a much larger slaughter if the serial killer gets his sixth victim and concludes a satanic rite.

I love action fantasy films and there are never enough of them to satisfy me and while this movie is listed under the horror genre by most reviews I would argue that it is more fantasy then horror as there is no attempt on the director's part to instill a feeling of dread or fear toward any of the characters with the exception of the serial killer who is a mortal man. The fantasy aspect is shown as demons fight guardians in an epic battle to stop an invasion of Earth from hell. There are many great Japanese and Asian action fantasy films. Why can't Hollywood catch on to this great sub genre?

The world of the dead is depicted as solid and real as the living world of Tokyo, the dead can have an impact on the living. The deceased bride screams to prevent the attempted suicide of her fiancé; her scream shatters glass and startles him, foiling his attempt. She does this because she is told that anyone who kills or suicides will suffer eternal torment.

The mythology is explained early on in the film and is another reason that I think this is action fantasy rather then horror genre. If you die a violent death after you die you appear at the Gates of Rage and are presented with three choices.
1) Go Through The Gate To Be Reborn
2) Go Back To Earth As A Ghost For Eternity
3) Curse Someone To Cause Their Death
If you choose the third choice you will suffer eternal torment as someone who has killed. This mythology is explained by the Guardian of the Gate to the deceased when the Guardian offers the choices.

The Gate is a beautiful set and my favorite location in the film, here the mythology of the film is explained and the coolest fight scene also occurs here as the final battle decides the fate of the Earth. The Gate itself is a massive pair of engraved doors, a raised flagstone landing stands before them, with stone pillars at the corners of the landing with rectangular pools in-between.

Rychei Kitamaura is a powerful director directing such stylish action movies as "Verus", "Alive", "Azumi" and "Aragami: The Raging God of Battle" continues his success with "Sky High".

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Thursday, September 15, 2005

Forbidden Love/Majo no jouken Thoughts And Spoilers


aka Witch's Requirement
A Japanese Drama/dorama

Some Thoughts And Spoilers!!!

The Ending!! Please do not read this if you have not finished watching the entire series! Spoilers directly ahead.

I am a big fan of ambiguous endings, films or TV shows that don’t spell out exactly what has happened have more impact because I’m thinking about what happened at the end and how I’m supposed to interpret it. My first reaction to this ending was, what just happened! I expected that Michi played by Nanako Matsushima, was going to awaken from her coma and when she opened her eyes and ran her fingers through Hikaru’s hair I had the happy ending that I fully expected, until Hikaru portrayed by Hideaki Takizawa, opened his eyes and then went back sleep. So her awaking from the coma was only a dream. Throughout the series the couple would talk about running away to somewhere that they could be together and free a happy land, the only happy land that the two of them could share together was a dream.

The drama at times I believe had the characters doing some very stupid things. I thought that Michi jumping right from her near marriage, to a love affair with a student rather too quick. Michi declaring her love in front of the assembly was a very bad idea, the only excuse I can conceive is that she was in shock from her fathers betrayal and decided to lash back but obliviously ruins Hikaru’s chance for happiness at the school and thereby her own. The other motivation I question is that if Michi truly loved Hikaru couldn’t she have waited until he finished school, he would be of age and also a much brighter future then the gas station attendant he eventually becomes. Why couldn’t she wait or was her emotional state just so agitated that she couldn’t.

The drama reminded me a lot of Aoi tori aka Bluebird which is about an illicit love affair between a station master and a married woman. In fact the protagonists of both dramas lose jobs they love and take employment as manual laborers at a fish market as they are forced to flee there homes under the pressure of society.

People speak of the disturbing factor of this drama as the student / teacher love affair but what I find more disturbing is Hikaru’s mother played by Kuroki Hitomi. At times the jealously that motivated her appeared driven more by lust then by motherly concern. I would consider incest to be more taboo then a twenty six year old woman having an affair with a seventeen year old male.

I’ve had this drama for a while but finally watched it this past weekend as this ongoing case in Albany New York, sparked my interest and I wanted to see a different cultural perception on this issue.

This is from the Times Union Website
Former teacher pleads not guilty in rape case
Sandra Beth Geisel faces trial in Christian Brothers Academy case
By MICHELE MORGAN BOLTON, Staff writer Albany Times Union
First published: Wednesday, September 14, 2005
ALBANY -- Sandra Beth Geisel cradled her head in shackled hands and cried Tuesday after she pleaded not guilty to raping a 16-year-old boy.
Geisel, 42, a former teacher at Christian Brothers Academy, was indicted Friday on charges that also include engaging in a criminal sexual act with her former student.
In New York, it is illegal to have sexual contact with anyone under 17.
The student was three months from his 17th birthday when the incidents allegedly occurred.

So in the circumstances presented by this drama it would not be illegal for Hikaru and Michi to have sex in my home state, I don’t know what laws would be broken if they had runaway together as they did this drama.

My biggest objection with the situation as presented is the student/teacher relationship. Because Hikaru and Michi are so close in age and because Hikaru is so close to legal age, I do not have a strong objection to their relationship, quite the contrary I was rooting for them.

The other thing I question is if the roles had been reversed would my attitude be different. If it was a male teacher and a seventeen year old girl, or if the teacher had been older or the student younger; I would be more apt to be against it.

Society although touted as being free has many rules and customs that it imposes on individuals, rightfully so in many cases, no one condones murder or theft, but rules and customs do change over time, the hateful practice of slavery has been outlawed for a far shorter period of time less then a few hundred years. It was considered the norm in many societies for the prior four thousand years.

I enjoyed the drama very much it had a superior ending and gave me much to ponder. I would highly recommend it no matter what your feelings are on the subject matter itself. The acting was first rate from all of the principal actresses and actors.

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Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Japanese Drama "Pride" A Review


Pride is about a semi-pro hockey team and it’s star player. The first episode sets the stage for the rest of this 11 episode Japanese drama/dorama. The show starts with a great opening theme “I Was Born To Love You” by Queen in arena rock style that is very well suited to a sports themed drama many other Queen songs are played throughout the series including "Bohemian Rhapsody", " We Will Rock You", "We Are the Champions", " Radio Ga-Ga", "Too Much Love Will Kill You" and "Let Me Live".

The star center Halu pronounced Haru is portrayed by Takuya Kimura a very popular Japanese drama star and member of the group SMAP. In the first episode, we are introduced to Halu’s coach Anzai, played by Saburo Tokito, who is in the hospital dying, Anzai has always been Halu’s idol and his first coach. Halu has tried to live up to his coach’s hockey career achievements and as we find out in later episodes that he has actually surpassed them. The coach has advised Halu that an iceman should not fall in love while playing hockey because a man who is in love cannot devote everything that is necessary to the game, he can’t play fearlessly if he has a wife and child to support. The coach loves Halu, so much so that instead of spending his last hours with his wife and son, he leaves the hospital with Halu and goalkeeper Hotta portrayed nicely by Kenji Sakaguchi, to train Halu one last time. Halu for his part loves and idolizes the coach and gives his own money to the coach’s wife advising her to tell the coach that it came from the team.

After a winning game the entire team is in a bar their team hangout, Halu, Hotta and Ikegami protrayed by Ichikawa Somegoro, talk about their philosophy of dating, and Halu as his coach advised states that for icemen love must be kept a game. They spot three girls sitting at the bar and a bet is raised to see if Halu can truly keep it just a game. Halu refuses until he sees the Aki Murase, played by Yuko Takeuchi and states “She looks like a woman from the last century” a repeated theme through the series. Old fashioned values are important to Halu we find out why as the series progresses. Halu stages a fight to get Aki’s attention and email address.

Aki has waited for two years for a boyfriend she hasn’t heard from on the strength of a promise that she made. Halu considers her perfect for a game of love so that neither will get too serious and proposes a contract that if Aki’s boyfriend reappears then “Game Over” he will walk away. The theme of waiting is repeated throughout the series in a number of different ways. Halu is waiting for a relationship after hockey, Aki for her boyfriend, the coach’s wife was to wait for a previous lover who is now back as the new coach Yuichiro Hyodo but she tells Halu she didn’t have the strength to wait for Hyodo and then married Anzai. Hydo is waiting for Halu to take his game to the next level.

I’ve seen Takuya Kimura in a Beautiful Life as a hairdresser, Love Generation as an ad man, Hero as a prosecutor, Good Luck as a pilot, his character’s change jobs but his personality remains the same for all of these drama’s, he stars as a strong loner willing to sacrifice for his co-workers and do anything for the woman he loves.

I watched the Fan-subbed version by J-TV. They did a beautiful job on the widescreen Region 2 DVD release converting to a hard subbed XviD file that looks beautiful on my 46” HDTV. Audio is dolby prologic and sounds wonderful. The subs are easy to read and quite good, sometimes extra Japanese cultural information is included in subtitle format across the top of the screen. A great release from in my opinion the best quality fan-sub release group.

The Official Website in Japanese

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Friday, September 09, 2005

Poppoya: Railroad Man (1999) A Review

The film opens as a black steam locomotive explodes across a snowy white landscape, black smoke billowing from the engine. The scene shifts to the interior of the locomotive and we see two grimy railroad men, a fireman and an engineer. The only color shown so far in this stark beginning is the locomotive's boiler burning with a bright orange yellow flame as the coal is shovelled in. The scene shifts to color and a ready to retire but much more modern diesel locomotive and we are in present time, the train ploughing through the snow covered tracks to a small station. The stationmaster stands with flag and whistle on the platform awaiting its arrival. Yasuo Furuhata directs this film, which is gorgeous from the bleak snow covered landscape of the train tracks where all is white and clean and fresh, to the homey interior of the old station with the pot bellied stove heating drinks for the engineers and conductors to the living quarters of the station master with his museum like display of old locomotive and train lanterns, whistles, name tags and other memorabilia.

The story uses a series of flashbacks to tell the story of the Railroad Man Sato Otomatsu in an amazing performance by Ken Takaura, Sato is a man who is defined by his job. At one point when asked why he couldn't do something that was important to his family he explains he was on duty, "I'm a railroad man what else could I do". He tells his friend he can do no other work, that he doesn't know how and that he is stubborn like his father before him. The friend replies "You are an engineer, you can do anything."

The plot revolves around the upcoming forced retirement Sato will be faced with. His friend Sugiura Hideo portrayed by Hidetaka Yosioka, who is a railroader himself faced with mandatory retirement is urging his friend to come work at a newly developed resort. Through flashbacks it is revealed that Sato saved Sugiura when they worked together as engineer and fireman. Sugiura's son works in management for the train company and delivers the news that the train line that ends at Sato's station is to be closed down even earlier then expected.

Shinobu Ootake plays the quiet, vibrant Sato Shizue seen only in flashbacks. She is wonderful in her role as the wife, a women in love with a man, in love his work, she doesn't seem to mind that the railroad is always put before the family, and even apologizes that she gave birth to a girl, knowing her husband wanted a boy, someone to step into his footsteps as a railroad man.

The sparse DVD has animated menus with a slide show of images from the film on the main menu. It has no other extras except for a chapter selection menu and audio and subtitle options.

This film is on my top twenty five list. I am a huge fan of director Frank Capra and this film reminded me of his style. I won't say why as I truly believe that this film needs to be experienced. One of my favourite ways to see a film is without knowing anything about it. I find that once I find a director that I like or an actor or actress I'll try to rent or buy DVD's that they are involved in. I've stumbled upon many fine movies this way that I'd never have seen, of course I sat through some stinkers too but for the most part I like picking movies this way. My reason for renting this DVD and eventually buying a copy was Hirosue Ryoko is a particular favourite actress. She doesn't have a large part but she is truly magical.

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Thursday, September 08, 2005

Ryoko Hirosue


Ryoko Hirosue
Birthday 18 July 1980

Hirosue is one of my favorite actresses, I just loved her as the granddaughter in Beach Boys, she was so good in the part I wished that I had little sister.

Hirosue was born in Kochi, Kochi Prefecture, Japan. Hirosue joined the "P&G" cosmetic model competition at 14 and made her television debut the following year singing on the program TK Music Camp. She made her television drama debut in 1995 with Fuji TV's Heart ni S and is well known for her work as a spokesmodel for NTT DoCoMo. (from Wikipedia)

Actress Hirosue Ryoko (24) made her first public appearance in 18 months yesterday. The last time she appeared before the media was to announced her wedding to designer-model Okazawa Takahiro (29) in December 2003. She was also several months pregnant at the time. (from Japan Today) June 24 2005



Doramas

This is the list of doramas Hirosue acted in:

1. Miracle World - 10th Anniversary
2. Heart ni S (1995)
3. Sashow taeko saigo no jiken (1995)
4. Maho no kimochi / Mokuyou no kaidan (1996)
5. Long Vacation (1996)
6. Shota no sushi (1996)
7. Konna watashi ni dare ga shita (1996)
8. Boku ga boku de aru tame ni (1997)
9. Beach boys (1997)
10. Seija no koushin (1998)
11. Sekai de ichiban papa ga suki (1998)
12. Seikimatsu no uta (1998)
13. Lipstick (1999)
14. Summer snow (2000)
15. Oyaji (2000)
16. Dekichatta Kekkon / Shotgun Marriage (2001)
17. Ai Nante Irane Yo, Natsu (2002)
18. Otousan (2002)
19. Moto Kare (2003)
20. Ushinawareta Yakusoku (2003)
21. Slow Dance (2005)

Filmography

1. Collage of Our Life (2003)
2. "Arita" from Jam Films (2002)
3. Wasabi (2001)
4. Poppoya (1999)
5. Himitsu (1999)
6. 20th Century Nostalgia (1997)


Discography

1. Hirosue Ryoko Perfect Collection (2/27/2002)
2. RH Remix (8/29/2001)
3. Kajitsu (11/1/2000)
4. Super Idol Series (Fukada Kyoko vs Hirosue Ryoko) (6/1/2000)
5. Winter Gift 98 (9/1/1999)
6. Private (2/1/1999)
7. Arigatou
8. RH Singles &... (11/1/1999)
9. Wind Prism (7/1/1999)
10. Summer Sunset (7/1/1999)
11. RH Debut Tour 1999 (7/1/1999)
12. Tomorrow (2/1/1999)

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Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Hana To Alice


From director Shunji Iwai (All About Lily Chou-Chou, April Story) a coming of age comedy about two childhood girlfriends who both fall in love with the same boy. While on a train Alice (Aoi Yu) points out two boys to her best friend Hana (Suzuki Anne), telling Hana she can have the younger one. Nothing happens between Alice and her pick, a westerner named David whom we later learn reminds both girls them of Hanibal Lecter, the girls agreeing people are scarier than zombies or ghosts. However Hana becomes secretly obsessed with Miyamoto (Kaku Tomohiro), covertly following and photographing him. Until one day Miyamoto bumps his head while being stalked and Hana convinces him that he is her boyfriend and has amnesia. More lies are required as Miyamoto begins to ask questions. When Miyamoto discovers old photos of himself on Hana's computer, Alice is drawn into the lie as Hana informs Miyamoto that Alice was his previous girlfriend and she gave Hana the pictures.
Visually it is a beautiful film as are all the movies I have seen that were directed by Iwai, from the opening scene as they stomp through the almost black and white landscape of the snowy field, to the bright colors of the temple festival and the school fair with the kimonos and costumes. The scene that the girls meet in the park in a pouring rain is very well done, the director seems to have an affinity for rainy scenes as this reminds be of a shot from April's Story although the tone of the two scenes are completely different.
This movie falls between two other of his films 'April Story' and 'All About Lily Chou-Chou' all three films dealing with young adults with this one right in the middle of adolescence, 'April Story' about slightly older and 'All About Lily Chou-Chou' being about slightly younger characters. The substance varies from light in 'April Story' to much grimmer 'All About Lily Chou-Chou' again 'Hana To Alice' falls in the middle. The serious questions posed are will competition between the girls ruin their friendship and what price will Hana have to pay for her lie? There are many light-hearted and funny scenes but my particular favourite is when Hana's mother clad in panties and bra walks into the living room and unexpectedly finds Miyamoto, whom she has never met, lying on her couch. He tells her Hana went shopping, to which she replies to make himself at home and nonchalantly walks from the room. Another great scene is when Miyamoto knocks himself out and Hana rushes over to him to make sure he is alright, then rushes back to hiding as he gets up.
I really like Suzuki Anne's portrayal of Hana she has been a favourite of mine since I first saw her in 'L'oiseau bleu / Blue bird' a just average drama but I was impressed with her performance at age 10. She was great in "Stand Up" a Japanese dorama and also the science fiction movie 'Returner'. Aoi Yu was very good as Alice the outgoing girl who pulled shy Hana into the world. Kaku Tomohiro played Miyamoto perfectly as a boy so wrapped up in books, he knocks himself out.
My favourite Japanese actress Hirosue Ryoko plays a magazine representative in an all too brief role, she is concerned that the magazine photographer will draw complaints from Alice's agent for letting Alice dance a ballet in a miniskirt. I wish she had more screen time but as always she doesn't disappoint.
The films genesis was a series of popular candy commercials which were expanded into a series of short pieces online and finally adapted by Iwai into this film.
The DVD has animated menus with a slide show, non animated chapter selection menu, both of these in English and a Cast and Crew guide but this is in Japanese. Standard Audio and Subtitle menus complete the DVD.
I would highly recommend this film as well as the other two Iwai films I have seen, the fluffy romantic comedy 'April Story' and the darker teen cyber drama 'All About Lily Chou-Chou'. I will be on the lookout for more from Iwai in the future but right now this is all that Netflix stocks, looks like I'll have to purchase his other releases which is alright because the three I've seen have great replay value.

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Director Shunji Iwai

Director Shunji Iwai
Born: January 24, 1963

Filmography
Hana to Alice (2004)
Jam Films (2002) (segment 'Arita')
All About Lily Chou-Chou (2001)
Shigatsu monogatari aka April Story (1998)
Swallowtail (1996)
Acri (1996) (story)
Pikunikku aka Picnic (1996)
Love Letter (1995)
Undo (1994)
Fried Dragon Fish (1993) (TV)
Uchiage hanabi, shita kara Miruka? Yoko kara Miruka? (1993) (TV)
Ghost Soup (1992) (TV)

In 1988, Shunji Iwai started his career by directing music videos and music-oriented cable television programs.

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Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Aoi Yu

Aoi Yu
Birthday 17 August 1985

Filmography
Hoshi ni natta shonen (2005)
Kame wa igai to hayaku oyogu (2005)
Tetsujin niju-hachigo (2005)
Umineko (2004)
Mask de 41 (2004)
Hana to Alice (2004)
1980 (2003)
Guuzen nimo saiaku na shounen (2003)
"Kôkô kyôshi 2003" (2003) TV Dorama
All About Lily Chou-Chou (2001)
Gaichu (2001)

I have only seen her in two films All About Lily Chou Chou and Hana to Alice and she was quite good in each, with a much larger part in Hana she really shows a lot of talent.

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Suzuki Anne

Suzuki Anne from "Hana To Alice"

Birthday 27 April 1987

Filmography

Initial D (2005

KÃuchÃu teien (2005)

Steamboy (2004)

Hana to Alice (2004)

9 Souls (2003)

"Stand Up!!" (2003) TV Drama

Moon Child (2003)

Ao no hono-o (2003) aka The Blue Light

Returner (2002)

Pokemon (2001)

Juvenile (2000)

Snow Falling on Cedars (1999)

"Aoi tori" aka Blue Bird (1997) TV Drama

I've seen two of her TV Dorama's and 3 of her movies and I really thought that she gave excellent performances in all of them, even though she was only ten in the first drama "Aoi tori" she was quite believable.

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Sunday, September 04, 2005

Shigatsu monogatari (1998) AKA April Story


Yesterday I watched Shigatsu monogatari (1998) AKA April Story which features the actress Takako Matsu who stared in Love Generation. If you liked Love Generation I highly recommend it. Matsu is sweet in this short 67 minute drama about a girl Nireno Uzuki who heads to Tokyo for college and once she gets there she is asked why she wanted to be there. That's all I'll say about the plot as it is integral to the film, I'll just mention a few of the scenes that struck me.

The film starts as Uzuki leaves her family their goodbyes are interrupted by the station master on the train platform in her home town of Hokkaido. You never see her, while at the station, her father proudly explaining to the station master that is daughter is setting off for Tokyo as the train pulls away, the camera reveals her slowly waving mitten. Her family looking excitedly on yelling last minute goodbyes which are inaudible.

In Tokyo a chauffeur, holding an umbrella is brushing a limousine, I thought it was snow at first but then I realized that it was really flower petals, I do not know if they were apple or cherry blossoms or even if that makes a difference. A van pulls up and a workmen hops out asking for directions, the chauffeur explains and the van pulls away as a family all carrying umbrellas to protect from the blossoms shower, herd a bride in traditional dress into the back of the limo.

A favorite scene of mine is photographed in a downfall, with the rain striking a battered borrowed red umbrella it is just beautiful, time seems to slow to the point of almost non-existence.

My reason for watching April Story was the day before I had watched All About Lily Chou-Chou and I wanted to see more by the director Shunji Iwai this film is very different, the actors are older college age adults, and the tone is much lighter, as set by the moving men in the early part of the film. I wish it was longer, I had more I wanted to know about. Like. What was the story with her neighbor? What about her friend from school Kitao Teruko?

Then I have questions about the Japanese culture, Uzuki rides a bike around Tokyo but never locks it, is this normal. Won't it be stolen? The petal storm in the beginning of the film is this true is it widespread through out the city? In college does every student join a club? Do new tenants bring presents to the residents of buildings that they are moving into?

Now it's time to watch the third of Shunji Iwai films I'll have seen this weekend. Hana to Alice (2004) which I saw for the first time last fall and liked very much.

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Saturday, September 03, 2005

Japanese Drama Beach Boys


My favorite Japanese drama series is Beach Boys. This show has every one of my favorite actors and actresses. The story is compelling, heartbreaking and uplifting. I laughed, cried, and was inspired.

Takenouchi Yutaka as Suzuki Kaito
I first saw him in Long Vacation and thought that he did a terrific job as the bad boy brother.

Sorimachi Takashi as Sakurai Hiromi
I first saw him in GTO, my second favorite series. I loved it as did almost everyone else, still #1 by a long shot.

Hirosue Ryoko as Izumi Makoto
What a great actress, I first saw her in Long Vacation, she must be either great or magical as she stars in the top 3 dramas I think she is at her best in this one.

Inamori Izumi as Maeda Haruko
My very reason for watching Japanese dramas, she starred in the first drama that I every watched I downloaded it from Usenet one episode a week Pretty Girls If she hadn't been so captivating I might never have checked out more dramas

My only complaint about Beach Boys is that I can't seem to find a decent copy of it. I would gladly buy an English subbed version if the company that owns it ever releases it. As for now I'll squint and watch my avi files a couple of times a year, its like a trip to the ocean for me.

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All About Lily Chou-Chou (2002)


She was born at the exact moment that Mark David Chapman killed John Lennon Her name Lily Chou Chou. Genius or rather genesis. The Ether personified. This is the first line of the movie typed on screen as the main character Yuichi Hasumi aka philia posts to a fan site bulletin board. Is Lily the reincarnated John Lennon? Posters at the BBS think both are of the Ether.

Lily Chou Chou is a fictitious Japanese pop star that the writer/director Shunji Iwai envisioned after attending a Faye Wong concert in Hong Kong and witnessing the spiritual like devotion of her fans (yes, the existence of "fayenatics"--the ever zealous Faye Wong fans roaming the Internet and taking over cyberspace is not just a folklore). Iwai was having trouble writing a novel so he uploaded it as a series of BBS posts as an experiment, and invited people to post comments on the meanings behind Lily's music.

The plot is quite simple it is about a group of 14 year old kids with a large part of the action taking place at school, Yuichi Hasumi has a friend Shusuke Hoshino who becomes a bully, forcing Yuichi to steal giving the proceeds to him. Meanwhile Hoshino is pimping Shiori Tsuda to businessmen keeping most of the money. Yuichi is looking after Shiori per Hshino's orders. Shiori likes Yuichi who in turn has a crush on Yoko Kuno who is being bullied and later raped.

The movie itself is a meditation and moves through the Japanese countryside slowly at times, at one point Yuichi squats in the road and contemplates a poster of his idol slowly taking sip after sip from a water bottle. Almost always the haunting soundtrack plays in the background. At other times the actors themselves are the cameramen with tiny hand held DV cameras and the results are bouncy and frenetic movements you would expect from a 14 year old boy who's on vacation alone with his friends. If you do not like being confused by a film then this is not the film for you, because at times it jumps around and more then once I was completely lost but careful attention will be rewarded. It seems to be a film that you either love or hate, I for one loved it. The more that you know about Japanese youth culture going into the film the more you will walk away with in the end.

For example in the lines of dialog between Yuichi and his friends concerning Hoshino's mother.

You should see his mother. she's a babe.

His mother?

She's really hot.

How old is she?

Who cares? Pretty is pretty.

She looks like...

Who?

Inamori Izumi.

She's like her clone.

The mother is indeed played by Inamori in a very small role. She happens to be one of my favorite Japanese actresses. My point is to get the most out of any foreign film the more you know about the culture the more you will see, if in fact the director put anything there for you to see. I believe that Iwai packed this film with imagery, music and meaning that's waiting to be discovered on many subsequent viewings.

Lily Chou Chou Triva

Ayumi Ito really shaved her hair for the movie.

Lily chou-chou is a fiction singer. The songs in the movie is sang by a great Japanese singer, Salyu.

Kill Bill Volume 1 Triva:What was the song when Uma first enters the sword room? "Kaifuku Suru Kizu" by Lily Chou-Chou (actually composer Takeshi Kobayashi and singer Salyu, as Lily Chou-Chou is a fictional artist), lifted from the soundtrack to Shunji Iwai's “All About Lily Chou-Chou”

The DVD release has a nice fifty five minute making of documentary that will help clear up some of the confusion a first time viewer may feel and also explains the process that the author/director followed in posting his book to the Internet. There is also a music video:”Wings That Can't Fly” and a director credits page.

The movie runs 146 minutes. 709 users gave it a 7.5 rating at IMDB while reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes rated it 66% Fresh

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