The Japanese Film Festival is winding down in Australia for another year and you absolutely need to go and see what's on offer. To help you out, here's my top picks from the festival. It's a varied list with something, I hope, for everyone.
Because I don't have a type.
Rudolf The Black Cat
Rudolf gets lost, far from home, and makes friends.
Who will like this: Anyone who loves animation, especially Pixar. Fans of Chi's Sweet Home.
Expect feels. So many feels. I know it's a kid's film, but it's a Japanese animation and that means that you will be getting bitter tears in with your cute sweetness. It's brilliantly animated and the voice acting is superb. It's probably more of a kid's film than anything else, but if it says ages 5 and UP it means you're allowed to go to it.
Wolf Girl and Black Prince
A girl tells a lie to fit in with her classmates, and a jerk - who happens to be the best looking guy in school - agrees to pretend to be her boyfriend.
Who will like this: K and J drama addicts. Anyone who enjoyed the anime. Fans of Beauty and the Beast. Those who enjoyed My Korean Teacher.
It's hard to watch some of the scenes in this movie (and in the anime) and be okay with what you're seeing. The "Black Prince" Kyouya (Kento Yamazaki) can be a real jerk to the misguided but sweet "Wolf Girl" Erika (Fumi Nikaido). While it definitely should not be a model for your ideal relationship, there is strong character development. You don't need to have seen the anime ahead of time, but I definitely recommend checking it out once you've seen this film.
Seto and Utsumi
Two schoolboys meet each day on the steps by the river.
Who will like this: Those who enjoy dry humour. Drama students studying 'Waiting for Godot'.
If ever there was a Slice of Life movie, this one is it. It really is just two guys, sitting together, discussing their lives. But it works. It's also a little strange to see Masaki Suda and Sosuke Ikematsu acting beside one another in this way, after watching Death Note: Light Up A New World. Seto and Utsumi is just like it's characters, a mixture of dry humour and outrageous antics. It won't be for everyone, but if you feel like everything is just a bit too heavy in the world, then check this out.
Assassination Classroom 2
Who will like this: Fans of the anime and manga, who didn't mind the pace of the first live-action. Johnny's fans. I mean seriously, 'Hey! Say! Jump!' and 'Arashi' members starring in the SAME film. Yes!
It has it's drawbacks. I wasn't a huge fan of the first movie, but it does set you up for what to expect in this second one. There are scenes that get cut from the anime, which does (I think) hurt the gravity of the story. But it's what you can expect when condensing a long, complex story line, into a few hours. All the more reason for you to check out the anime after seeing this film. There's so much more narrative to discover.
People are injected with bug DNA and then sent to Mars to fight bugs.
Who will like this: Fans of mech anime and manga, Super Troopers and Total Recall.
This is a film that tries to balance comedy with heartbreaking moments. For me, it got there but for many it might not. The character designs and world-building are top notch. If nothing else, it's good incentive to read the manga.
The Mohican Comes Home
Eikichi, a heavy metal rocker, comes home to introduce his girlfriend to his baseball fan mother and school orchestra instructor father. High tensions are snapped when it's revealed Eikichi's father is dying of cancer.
Who will like this: People who like to say, "it was an emotional roller coaster." Slice of Life addicts.
The film offers you funny and then punches you in the feels. There's the novelty of seeing Ryuhei Matsuda with a mohawk (especially if you caught him as a much more uptight character in Magnificent 9). But beyond that, you'll have the chance to see some very fine acting from all involved, especially the actors who play Eikichi's parents. His mother, Haruko (played by Masako Motai) and Osaumu (played by Akira Emoto, from Shin Godzilla) are the embodiment of the film, warm, harsh, funny and painful.
Pink and Gray
Two high school friends set out to be famous, only one gets to be famous. Then things take a turn for the strange.
Who will like this: People who enjoy gritty, 'makes you think' style movies.
This movie is one of the best executions of a story I've ever seen. It's gritty and dark. Masaki Suda, who you'll recognise from Assassination Classroom and Seto and Utsumi, plays a very different type of guy this time around. Yuto Nakajima (from 'Hey! Say! Jump!') does more than fulfill the role of 'Idol in a movie acting as an Idol.'
There are plenty of familiar faces in this movie, but don't be fooled. If you want to see your favourite idols in a movie, go and see Wolf Girl and Black Prince, My Korean Teacher, or Assassination Classroom. If you want to see a feat of creative genius, then this could be what you're looking for.
The Magnificent Nine
A historical tale of people coming together to save their village.
Who will like this: I hope everyone.
This was my favourite film of the entire festival. It's described as a comedy, which it is, but maybe that's why the thoughtful, multilayered tale of class struggle and perseverance caught me off guard. Wonderful acting and clever storytelling top off what is just a delight to watch.
These are my picks, what are yours?