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  1. Anime Supremacy! (Blu-ray) (Japan Version) Anime Supremacy! (Blu-ray) (Japan Version) Tsujimura Mizuki | Yoshioka Riho | Nakamura Tomoya | Ono Karin
    How to Anime
    September 28, 2022 Picked By Sanwei See all this editor's picks
    Is there an anime that changed your life? Or maybe just made you believe a bit in magic? Anime Supremacy is about the blood, sweat and tears that go into making that anime. Based on the novel by Tsujimura Mizuki, Anime Supremacy dives headfirst into the comings and goings of the anime industry. While the original novel follows three female protagonists – director Saito Hitomi, producer Arishina Kayako and animator Namisawa Kazuna – the film adaptation concentrates primarily on rookie director Saito Hitomi played by Yoshioka Riho. As a child, Hitomi didn't watch anime and couldn't understand the imaginative play of other kids. It was not until she watched the anime Hikari no Yosuga as an... [read more]
  2. We Made a Beautiful Bouquet (2021) (Blu-ray) (English Subtitled) (Hong Kong Version) We Made a Beautiful Bouquet (2021) (Blu-ray) (English Subtitled) (Hong Kong Version) Suda Masaki (Actor) | Arimura Kasumi (Actor) | Sakamoto Yuji | Furukawa Kotone (Actor)
    Love blooms and love withers
    April 30, 2022 Picked By Sanwei See all this editor's picks
    Screenwriter Sakamoto Yuji has spearheaded a long list of hits and classics for Japanese television over the years, from Last Christmas to Mother to his most recent My Dear Exes. He's not the most prolific of TV writers, but basically every drama he touches is guaranteed quality. Sakamoto, however, rarely writes for the silver screen. His last film outing before 2021's We Made a Beautiful Bouquet was the 2007 film extension of the hit Saiyuki series, and his most representative film remains 2004's Crying Out Love, in the Center of the World. We Made a Beautiful Bouquet reteams Sakamoto Yuji with director Doi Nobuhiro after the excellent 2017 series Quartet. Encapsulating the different... [read more]
  3. Gintama: The Final (2021) (DVD) (English Subtitled) (Hong Kong Version) Gintama: The Final (2021) (DVD) (English Subtitled) (Hong Kong Version) Miyawaki Chizuru (Director)
    A very Gintama finale
    November 29, 2021 Picked By Sanwei See all this editor's picks
    Fans: How many Gintama endings will there be? Gintama animators: Yes. In 2018, the Gintama TV anime notoriously ended with a cliffhanger and a long gag about the series finally coming to an end after many fake-out endings. Over two years later, the Gintama anime returns with a feature film of The Very Final ending. Gintama: The Final starts with an extended Dragon Ball Z parody, in-jokes about the animators being free to do whatever they want since they're not locked down by the grind of a TV anime, and a long narration summarizing the events leading up to the feature film. Before you can gripe about the recap being long and confusing, rest assured, the characters do it for you. Gintama:... [read more]
  4. Words Bubble Up Like Soda Pop (Blu-ray) (Special Edition) (Japan Version) Words Bubble Up Like Soda Pop (Blu-ray) (Special Edition) (Japan Version) Sugisaki Hana | Ichikawa Somegoro | Hanae Natsuki | Ushio Kensuke
    Boy meets girl, poetry meets pop
    September 29, 2021 Picked By Sanwei See all this editor's picks
    Poetry, music and anime come together in delightfully fizzy fashion in the youth romance Words Bubble Up Like Soda Pop, which was produced to commemorate the tenth anniversary of Victor Entertainment's anime-related music label FlyingDog. Directed by Ishiguro Kyohei, this original animated film is a simple yet fanciful boy-meets-girl summer story set in a suburban town. Bubbly and popular live-streaming influencer Smile (voiced by Sugisaki Hana) feels painfully insecure about her buck teeth and braces, which she hides under a face mask. Painfully shy haiku enthusiast Cherry (voiced by kabuki actor Somegoro Ichikawa VIII) works at an elderly day center and hides under headphones to avoid... [read more]
  5. Cherry Magic! Thirty Years of Virginity Can Make You a Wizard?! (Blu-ray Box) (English Subtitled) (Japan Version) Cherry Magic! Thirty Years of Virginity Can Make You a Wizard?! (Blu-ray Box) (English Subtitled) (Japan Version) Machida Keita | Akaso Eiji | Asaka Kodai | YUTARO
    The cherry on top
    March 31, 2021 Picked By Sanwei See all this editor's picks
    There is no shortage of live-action BL dramas lately, but the winner of most amusing title has to go to Cherry Magic! Thirty Years of Virginity Can Make You a Wizard?! Just for that curious title alone, I had to watch this 2020 TV Tokyo series based on Toyota Yuu's same-titled manga. As signaled in the title, urban legend says that 30 years of virginity will bestow one with "magic." The magical power that protagonist Adachi Kiyoshi (Akaso Eiji) reluctantly gains on his 30th birthday is mind reading. The timid, everyday office worker can suddenly read the minds of anyone he touches, but this special power is bothersome more than anything for him. One day, while squeezed into a packed... [read more]
  6. HiGH & LOW THE WORST (Blu-ray) (Japan Version) HiGH & LOW THE WORST (Blu-ray) (Japan Version) Kubo Shigeaki (Director) | Nakano Yuta | Kawamura Kazuma | Yoshino Hokuto
    Oya High vs. Housen Academy
    October 30, 2020 Picked By Sanwei See all this editor's picks
    Created by LDH in 2015 as an entertainment franchise revolving around EXILE TRIBE, the HiGH & LOW series has taken on a life of its own. Beyond providing a reason for EXILE TRIBE members to expand into acting and LDH artists to drop some tie-in jams, the gangster action series has been a surprisingly viable original film and TV franchise, spawning over ten productions in five years. In the world of HiGH & LOW, the gritty town known as S.W.O.R.D. takes its moniker from the five gangs that control the area – Sannoh Rengokai, White Rascals, Oya High School, Rude Boys and Daruma Ikka. Each differently themed gang controls a different part of town, maintaining a tense balance of power against... [read more]
  7. Miyamoto (2019) (DVD) (English Subtitled) (Hong Kong Version) Miyamoto (2019) (DVD) (English Subtitled) (Hong Kong Version) Ikematsu Sosuke (Actor) | Aoi Yu (Actor) | Matsuyama Kenichi (Actor) | Furutachi Kanji (Actor)
    The volatile world of Miyamoto
    July 31, 2020 Picked By Sanwei See all this editor's picks
    Oftentimes when TV dramas get a feature film sequel, the film starts out with some kind of recap or introductory context for viewers who don't know or don't remember the events of the TV drama. Mariko Tetsuya's Miyamoto does no such favors for its audience. Based on Arai Hideki's 90s seinen manga about a stationery salesman, the film plops audiences right into the midst of the eponymous hero's seemingly mundane yet overwhelmingly messy life. A roughed-up-looking Miyamoto (Ikematsu Sosuke, at his jittery best) is going through the ritual of visiting the parents to inform them of his planned marriage with girlfriend Yasuko (Aoi Yu), who is expecting. This disorienting feeling of being dropped... [read more]
  8. Children of the Sea (2019) (DVD) (English Subtitled) (Hong Kong Version) Children of the Sea (2019) (DVD) (English Subtitled) (Hong Kong Version) Morisaki Win | Aoi Yu | Inagaki Goro | Hisaishi Joe
    A beautiful and confounding aquatic odyssey
    June 30, 2020 Picked By Sanwei See all this editor's picks
    Despite the title, the young protagonists and the pretty animation of sea animals, Watanabe Ayumu's Children of the Sea is probably not something you'd show your children. Based on Igarashi Daisuke's manga Kaiji no Kodomo, the confounding animated fantasy feature is from Studio 4°C, the makers of Tekkon Kinkreet, Mind Game and Harmony. The film starts out like a sensitive story about discovering friendship and the wonders of the ocean – and gradually morphs into a mind-blowing meditation on the meaning and mysteries of life itself. Children of the Sea begins with protagonist Ruka getting into a fight at soccer practice and being forced out of her summer club activity. The moody girl then... [read more]
  9. Bento Harassment (2019) (Blu-ray) (English Subtitled) (Hong Kong Version) Bento Harassment (2019) (Blu-ray) (English Subtitled) (Hong Kong Version) Shinohara Ryoko (Actor) | Matsui Rena (Actor) | Yoshine Kyoko (Actor) | Sato Kanta (Actor)
    I want to be harassed with bentos.
    March 30, 2020 Picked By Sanwei See all this editor's picks
    Nobody wants to be harassed, unless it's with meticulous homemade bento lunchboxes – in which case, bring it on! Like When I Get Home, My Wife Always Pretends to be Dead, Tsukamoto Renpei's amusingly titled Bento Harassment is a slice-of-life family comedy-drama based on a true story shared online in Japan. Shinohara Ryoko is single mom Kaori whose once precious little girl, Futaba (Yoshine Kyoko), is now a rude, disgruntled teen going through the "do not enter room" stage of adolescence. Since Futaba can't even be bothered to speak to her, Kaori decides to combine communication and retaliation through her daughter's daily packed lunches. Every day, she puts extra time and effort into... [read more]
  10. Fly Me to the Saitama (Blu-ray) (Normal Edition)  (Japan Version) Fly Me to the Saitama (Blu-ray) (Normal Edition) (Japan Version) Nikaido Fumi | Iseya Yusuke | Aso Kumiko | Takeuchi Hideki (Director)
    Saitama forever!
    March 18, 2020 Picked By Sanwei See all this editor's picks
    Somehow, this happened: Fly Me to the Saitama won Best Director and Best Screenplay at the 43rd Japan Academy Prize. Some may want to point out that last year was a particularly weak year for Japanese cinema, and that this is the kind of stuff that happens when Kore-eda Hirokazu uses his one-film-a-year output on a French co-production instead of a Japanese film that everyone can safely award. But I'd like to think that it's all part of the Saitama Liberation Front's master plan to spread the influence of the suburban prefecture. Directed by Takeuchi Hideki, Fly Me to the Saitama is the kind of crazy Japanese film that you would show your friends to perpetuate the stereotype of Japanese... [read more]
  11. Mori, The Artist's Habitat (2018) (DVD) (English Subtitled) (Hong Kong Version) Mori, The Artist's Habitat (2018) (DVD) (English Subtitled) (Hong Kong Version) Okita Shuichi (Actor, Director) | Yamazaki Tsutomu (Actor) | Kase Ryo (Actor) | Kiki Kirin (Actor)
    Living the hermit life
    January 29, 2020 Picked By Sanwei See all this editor's picks
    What would it be like to not step out of your home for three decades? Okita Shuichi's charmingly simple drama Mori, The Artist's Habitat imagines a day in the latter life of Kumagai Morikazu, who was famous for his distinctly stylized and colorful paintings of plants, animals and everyday scenery. He was also famous for being a recluse who never left his home for the last few decades of his long life. It would be tempting to call the artist a hikikomori – his name is even Mori – but Okita's wonderful little film provides a gentle, whimsical look into the rich world of a happy hermit who rightfully has no need to step outside. As portrayed by the great Yamazaki Tsutomu, the nonagenarian... [read more]
  12. 12 Suicidal Teens (2019) (Blu-ray) (English Subtitled) (Hong Kong Version) 12 Suicidal Teens (2019) (Blu-ray) (English Subtitled) (Hong Kong Version) Arata Mackenyu (Actor) | Kuroshima Yuina (Actor) | Hashimoto Kanna (Actor) | Sugisaki Hana (Actor)
    12 Angry Teens
    October 31, 2019 Picked By Sanwei See all this editor's picks
    Even without knowing anything about 12 Suicidal Teens, the film grabs attention right away with its alarming title. Once you know more, the film only gets more interesting. Adapted from Ubakata Tow's 2016 novel, the teen mystery has a clear and intriguing construct that sets up the puzzle. One sunny morning, 12 teens gather at an abandoned hospital to die together. The teens, who don't know each other, arrive one by one and follow instructions provided by the organizer to enter the hospital, retrieve a number tag, and find a designated room. However, they realize there's an extra person in the room, a lifeless body already lying on a 13th bed. One of the teens notices that this 13th person... [read more]
  13. Modest Heroes (Blu-ray) (English Subtitled & Audio) (Japan Version) Modest Heroes (Blu-ray) (English Subtitled & Audio) (Japan Version) Momose Yoshiyuki (Director) | Yamashita Akihiko (Director) | Odagiri Joe | Kimura Fumino
    Heroes come in small sizes
    October 17, 2019 Picked By Sanwei See all this editor's picks
    Studio Ponoc continues down the Studio Ghibli path with a collection of whimsical, lovingly animated short films, and you don't have to go to a museum in Tokyo to watch them like the Ghibli shorts. The anthology Modest Heroes features original shorts written and directed by three former Ghibli animators, including Yonebayashi Hiromasa. The three charming shorts are very different in story but carry the common theme of small heroes. In the case of Yonebayashi's Kanini & Kanino, the heroes are quite literally small. Yonebayashi created a beautiful yet perilous countryside world for thimble-sized people in 2010's The Borrower Arrietty. Kanini & Kanino creates a beautiful yet perilous... [read more]
  14. Radiation House (DVD Box) (Japan Version) Radiation House (DVD Box) (Japan Version) Hirose Alice | Honda Tsubasa | Kubota Masataka | Yamaguchi Sayaka
    Hurrah for radiology
    September 30, 2019 Picked By Sanwei See all this editor's picks
    There's a new medical drama or two just about every season in Japan, but Fuji TV's spring 2019 drama Radiation House particularly caught my interest for its focus on radiology. Earlier this year, a sudden illness landed me in the hospital. Prior to this, I hadn't thought too much about radiology, but my bout with a unicorn infection made me realize just how much rides on radiology. I was seen by specialists of different departments with various conjectures about what might be wrong with me, but the diagnosis depended on the radiology results. After each inconclusive report, I got booked for another type of radiology test. The last test, a PET scan, ultimately provided the needed answer.... [read more]
  15. I Will Not Work Overtime, Period (DVD Box) (Japan Version) I Will Not Work Overtime, Period (DVD Box) (Japan Version) Hirano Yoshihisa | Yoshitaka Yuriko | Yusuke Santamaria | Sakai Toshiya
    Lessons in overtime
    August 29, 2019 Picked By Sanwei See all this editor's picks
    I Will Not Work Overtime, Period... is what I wish I could say about myself while I write this well past office hours. As that familiar feeling of staying late in a mostly empty office settles in, I am particularly inspired to talk about TBS's spring 2019 drama starring Yoshitaka Yuriko. In recent years, greater awareness has been raised about Japan's unhealthy overwork culture and "black companies" that force long hours on employees. Pointedly, this workplace series is not set at one of those black companies. Instead, heroine Higashiyama Yui works at a website design company whose CEO's stated policy encourages staff to leave on time. But few people do besides Yui, who sets herself the... [read more]
  16. Every Day A Good Day (Blu-ray) (Normal Edition) (Japan Version) Every Day A Good Day (Blu-ray) (Normal Edition) (Japan Version) Kuroki Haru (Actor) | Yamashita Mizuki (Actor) | Kiki Kirin (Actor) | Tabe Mikako (Actor)
    Tea for the soul
    July 31, 2019 Picked By Sanwei See all this editor's picks
    The tea ceremony has a long history and esteemed status in Japanese culture. Besides being a refined art and ritual for the preparation and enjoyment of tea, the Way of Tea embodies zen principles of harmony, purity and tranquility. One particularly famous saying that is associated with the tea ceremony is ichi-go ichi-e, or "one time one meeting"; each tea ceremony is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. While such poetic pursuits and principles may seem rather abstract and far off, Omori Tatsushi's gentle drama Every Day A Good Day brings the meaning and beauty of the tea ceremony into ordinary life through the growth and experiences of an everyday woman. We first meet heroine Noriko (Kuroki... [read more]
  17. When I Get Home, My Wife Always Pretends to Be Dead (2018) (Blu-ray) (English Subtitled) (Hong Kong Version) When I Get Home, My Wife Always Pretends to Be Dead (2018) (Blu-ray) (English Subtitled) (Hong Kong Version) Eikura Nana (Actor) | Yasuda Ken (Actor) | Asano Kazuyuki (Actor) | Otani Ryohei (Actor)
    Much ado about something
    May 6, 2019 Picked By Sanwei See all this editor's picks
    With a strange and straightforward title like When I Get Home, My Wife Always Pretends to Be Dead, it's hard to not take notice of Toshio Lee's comedy-drama. I'm happy to report that the title is absolutely representative of the film's content. Yasuda Ken plays typical salaryman Jun who is suddenly faced with an atypical conundrum: his wife (Eikura Nana) of three years keeps pretending to be dead. When he comes home from work, he's greeted with ridiculous props and fake death scenarios. Chie surprises him with her latest creative death, and then nonchalantly serves dinner. After the initial shock, Jun tries to play along and support his wife through whatever mysterious tough patch she must... [read more]
  18. Code Blue: The Movie (2018) (Blu-ray) (English Subtitled) (Hong Kong Version) Code Blue: The Movie (2018) (Blu-ray) (English Subtitled) (Hong Kong Version) Aragaki Yui (Actor) | Yamashita Tomohisa (Actor) | Katsumura Masanobu (Actor) | Araki Yuko (Actor)
    Ten years of Code Blue
    April 28, 2019 Picked By Sanwei See all this editor's picks
    As I've followed the Code Blue series since the start, the movie was pretty much a must-watch for me. Apparently I wasn't alone as Code Blue: The Movie was the biggest Japanese film of 2018. Code Blue started on Fuji TV in 2008 with Yamashita Tomohisa, Aragaki Yui, Toda Erika and Asari Yosuke playing flight doctors-in-training and Higa Manami playing a nurse for a hospital's helicopter dispatch emergency medical team. The hit medical series was followed by an equally popular second season in 2010, and then finally returned for a third season in 2017. The 2018 movie picks up from the third season with the original protagonists continuing to deal with career and life decisions while holding... [read more]
  19. Ossan's Love (Blu-ray Box) (Japan Version) Ossan's Love (Blu-ray Box) (Japan Version) Tanaka Kei | Uchida Rio | Yoshida Kotaro | Hayashi Kento
    Men's Love
    November 30, 2018 Picked By Sanwei See all this editor's picks
    There may be plenty of releases in the boys love genre in Japan, but gay romance stories rarely emerge so prominently from the mainstream realm of network television like the way Ossan's Love did this year. The workplace romantic comedy about a 30-something real estate agent who suddenly receives love confessions from two male colleagues – his middle-aged boss and a younger colleague – first appeared on TV Asahi in December 2016 as a one-episode special. The late-night broadcast earned decent response, enough so that TV Asahi brought it back in spring 2018 as a seven-episode series that turned into a surprise hit. Tanaka Kei and Yoshida Kotaro returned to play the hapless protagonist Haruta... [read more]
  20. Gintama 2: Rules Are Made To Be Broken (Blu-ray) (Normal Edition) (Japan Version) Gintama 2: Rules Are Made To Be Broken (Blu-ray) (Normal Edition) (Japan Version) Oguri Shun | Yoshizawa Ryo | Miura Haruma | Yagira Yuya
    More gags, more Gintama
    November 30, 2018 Picked By Sanwei See all this editor's picks
    In the "Countdown" introduction at the start of the first Gintama, Oguri Shun referred to the film as "the one-time-only Gintama live-action adaptation." But when a manga adaptation makes over three billion yen at the Japanese box office, you can bet there's a sequel coming, and fast! Hence, a mere year later, we have Gintama 2 and even more of the giddy gags, insider jokes and manga-mined stories that made the first film such a crowd-pleasing hit. When I wrote about Gintama last year, I noted that the Shinsengumi were well cast but underused. Well, they take front and center this time! For most of the film's first half, the Yorozuya trio of Sakata Gintoki (Oguri Shun), Shimura Shinpachi... [read more]
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