Category Archives: Japanese Film

Podcast #21 – Fist of the North Star (1986 Movie)

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Download Link – Episode 21: Fist of the North Star (1986 Film)

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Show Notes

What We’ve Been Watching + News (0:00):

Review (36:02):

Fist of the North Star (movie), a remake of the first arc of the TV show (itself a remake of the famous manga by Tetsuo Hara and Buronson), released to Japanese movie-goers in 1986 with greatly improved art and animation over the TV series but also, like almost all anime movie remakes, a heavily cut down plot.  General TV Series director Toyoo Ashida returned to helm the film along with character designer & animation director Masami Suda and many other Toei Animation staff; but, for my money, it’s the soundtrack by classical composer Katsuhisa Hattori and rock group Kodomo Band (“Heart of Darkness”, “Purple Eyes”) that provides the real emotional punch making this absurdly macho, apocalyptic splatter-fest seem almost poignant.  Tune in for the full review!

Twitter Questions (1:57:50)

Podcast #20 – Takashi Miike’s Gozu

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Download Link – Episode 20: Takashi Miike’s Gozu

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Show Notes

What We’ve Been Watching + News (0:00):

We catch up on Gintama, Dairanger, Mobile Suit Gundam: Movie Trilogy, Mobile Suit Gundam Thunderbolt, Rage of Bahamut: Virgin Soul, Jungle Emperor Leo, and Berserk Season 2 among other things.

Review (51:08):

Today, the thieves take a wrong turn and end up in the incredibly bizarre and unsettling world of Gozu, a film directed by Takashi Miike, who, though, he has since gained a measure of respectability, was once known in the West for his anything goes, flyby night films set predominately in the horror and yakuza genres (of which Gozu, from 2003, is no exception).  The film stars Sho Aikawa and Yuta Sone as two yakuza brothers, Ozaki and Minami that head off from Tokyo towards a small town on some unknown business; however, soon after arriving, Ozaki goes missing, setting Minami off on a quest to find his friend amidst a backdrop freakish residents, bizarre happenings, and even stranger secrets.  This is one weird film.  Tune in, as we unravel the mysteries of Gozu!

Podcast #19 – Samurai Fiction

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Download Link – Episode 19: Samurai Fiction

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Show Notes

Hiroyuki Nakano’s Samurai Fiction (1998) is a zany samurai comedy about Peace pretending to be a jidai-geki tale of revenge.  After a skilled swordsman named Kazamatsuri (Japanese rocker and composer for the film, Tomoyasu Hotei) waltzes off with the clan treasure, the rambunctious and young Heishiro (Mitsuru Fukikoshi) sets off in pursuit, hoping to restore his clan’s honor by retrieving the treasure and slaying the thief; however, Heishiro soon finds that revenge is not so easy and requires the help of Hanbei, a master swordsman played by Morio Kazama, and the affection of his lovely young daughter (Tamaki Ogawa), which ultimately forces Heishiro to make a choice between Honor and Pride or Love and Peace!  Review starts at 1:09:47.

Podcast #16 – Paprika

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Download Link – Episode 16: Paprika

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Show Notes

Intro, What We’ve Been Watching, and News (00:00)

Review (53:04):

2006 saw the release of Satoshi Kon’s final film, Paprika, about a group of scientists slash psychotherapists that use an experimental device called the DC Mini to enter into the dreams of their patients in order to solve their problems; however, when several of the the devices are stolen, the dreams of multiple individuals begin to merge, and the fantastic becomes all too real as the barrier between dreams and the real world begins to crumble. Tune in for the full review.

Podcast #15 – REDLINE

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Download Link – Episode 14: REDLINE

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Show Notes

Intro and News (00:00):

It’s the 30th Anniversary of Bubblegum Crisis so of course we had to talk about it (just a little); also, check out Grant’s article Neon Never Fades: 30 Years of Bubblegum Crisis over at Zimmerit for why the show struck such a chord with older fans like ourselves.  Zen gives a follow up to last episode’s review of Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection ‘F’. Grant elaborates once again on the madness of super sentai. And because suffering is an activity best shared with friends, Heat took it upon himself to watch Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid and shares his thoughts.

Review (1:05:55):

Seven years in the making, REDLINE (2009) marks the third collaboration from two of Japan’s best, yet largely underappreciated talents: producer Katsuhito Ishii, known for his quirky, weird, and Tarantino-esque live action films, and director Takeshi Koike, known for his extraordinary animation chops.  Their talents combined with the staff of Studio Madhouse result in a film that, while admittedly a little shallow, accomplishes exactly what it sets out to do: BLOW YOU AWAY.  Yes, friends, Production IG can keep their shitty CG cars for themselves because REDLINE is all about doing the things the hard way: traditional animation done completely by hand with blood, sweat, and tears — just as god intended!  Oh yeah, there’s also enough space aliens to make a Star Wars film blush, cool mechanical designs, off-beat humor, giant-sized pompadours, robo space fascists, kaiju, and a killer soundtrack to go with the oh-so-incredible animation.  Did I just give away the tenor of our review?  Very likely.  Tune in for more slavish REDLINE worship!

Podcast #14 – Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection ‘F’

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Download Link – Episode 14: Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection of ‘F’

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Show Notes

Intro and News (00:00):

Voltron Season 2 has Heat excited.  Grant catches us up on the latest Power Rangers shenanigans.  And Zen remarks on Moyocco Anno’s comedy manga, Insufficient Direction about her strange marriage to director Hideaki Anno.

Review (1:04:15):

After his minions gather the titular wishing stones, everyone’s favorite baddie that won’t stay down is resurrected to enact his revenge upon Goku and friends; surely, this time, he will prevail!  As fan fiction as that sounds, Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection of ‘F’ also marks the return of series creator Akira Toriyama to the franchise (following 2013’s Battle of the Gods) making this 2015 entry only the 2nd film to earn its place in official Dragon Ball canon. As might be imagined, the story penned by Toriyama, blends equal parts comedy and action, making for a solid outing that neither breaks new ground or seriously offends but is sure to please long time fans.

 

Podcast #13 – Godzilla vs. Biollante

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Download Link – Episode 13: Godzilla vs Biollante

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Show Notes

Intro and News (00:00):

Lamentations on the Winter 2017 anime season, Netflix, and Amazon’s Anime Strike.

Review (34:00):

Two monsters, created by science gone awry, go head to head in the second Godzilla film of the Heisei era: Godzilla vs Biolante.  This follow up to Return of Godzilla or Godzilla 1984, which we reviewed in episode 7, arrived five years after the release of the previous film had under-performed at the box office.  Looking for fresh ideas to revitalize the somewhat moribund franchise, producers at Toho held a public contest in search of a script.  The winning entry, written by a dentist named Shinichiro Kobayashi with a script that largely sidelined the franchise’s typical anti-nuclear bent in favor of a new focus on the emerging threat posed from bio-technology, was heavily rewritten by Director Kazuki Omori to include spies, assassins, and corporate espionage.  The resulting film is a truly a bizarre mishmash of ideas: espionage, deadly assassins, fictional middle eastern countries, mad science, ESPers, military super weapons, and, of course, awesome Kaiju action — it’s a hell of a ride!