Japan Now: Muses of Japanese Cinema 30th TIFF to Celebrate Four Iconic Actresses: Sakura ANDO, Yu AOI, Hikari MITSUSHIMA, Aoi MIYAZAKI

May 18, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Japan Now: Muses of Japanese Cinema

30th TIFF to Celebrate Four Iconic Actresses: 
Also: Artist and Director Mika NINAGAWA Creates 30th TIFF Visuals

The Tokyo International Film Festival (TIFF) is pleased to announce that we will be highlighting the work of four iconic actresses in this year’s Japan Now section. This is one of the special programs planned to celebrate our 30th anniversary.  Sakura ANDO, Yu AOI, Hikari MITSUSHIMA and Aoi MIYAZAKI have been chosen as the Muses of Japanese Cinema in honor of the powerful sparks they generate on screen, their collaborations with renowned directors and their increasing international stature.In addition to the Muses of Japanese Cinema screenings, panel sessions with special guests will also be held.

TIFF is also pleased to unveil striking anniversary visuals by creative director Hiroshi SASAKI and art director Akihiro HAMABE — who served as the creative supervisor and chief art director, respectively, of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics performance at the Rio closing ceremony — in collaboration with acclaimed photographer and film director Mika NINAGAWA, known for her brightly colored photographs.

TIFF is dedicated to discovering and cultivating new filmmakers from around the world, whose work is highlighted in our Competition section, as well as to presenting internationally acclaimed titles during our 10-day festival.The 30th TIFF will take place from October 25 – November 3, 2017 at Roppongi Hills and other venues in Tokyo.

Harlock: Space Pirate (a J!-ENT DVD Review)

April 4, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 


“Harlock: Space Pirate” is a stylishly, cool looking CG animated film based on one of Japan’s popular anti-hero characters. The problem lies within the viewer who is familiar with the previous stories of Captain Harlock and can watch this film as a different story. While the film compliments the characters, the storyline has no connection to Leiji Matsumo’s original storyline. Still, the film is smartly written, the CG animation looks wonderful and “Harlock: Space Pirate” is a film worth watching!

Image courtesy of © 2013 Leiji Matsumoto/Captain Harlock Film Partners. All Rights Reserved.

DVD TITLE:  Harlock: Space Pirate


DURATION: 111 Minutes

DVD INFORMATION: Widescreen, English and Japanese Dolby Digital 5.1

COMPANY:  Ketchup Entertainment


Release Date: March 31, 2015

Based on the manga by Leiji Matsumoto

Directed by Shinji Aramaki

Screenplay by Harutoshi Fukui, Kiyoto Takeuchi

Produced by Joseph Chou, Yoshi Ikezawa, Rei Kudo

Music by Tetsuya Takahashi

Featuring the following voice talent:

Shun Oguri/David Matranga as Captain Harlock

Harama Miura/Adam Gibbs as Yama/Logan

Yu Aoi/Emily Neves as Miime

Miyuki Sawashiro/Jessica Boone as Kei Yuki

Ayano Fukuda as Tori-san

Arata Furuta as Yattaran

Kiyoshi Kobayashi as Roujin

Rob Mungle as Yulian

Toshiyuki Morikawa as Isora

Chikao Ohtsuka as Soukan

Maaya Sakamoto/Rebekah Stevens as Nami

Mike Yager as Ezra

Captain Harlock is the one man standing between the Gaia Coalition and their quest for complete intergalactic rule. Seeking revenge against those who wronged both mankind and himself, the mysterious space pirate roams the universe in his battle-cruiser, the Arcadia, defiantly attacking and pillaging enemy ships. Gaia Fleet leader Ezra sends his younger brother, Logan, to infiltrate the Arcadia and assassinate Harlock. But Logan will soon discover that things are not always what they seem and that legends are born for a reason.

Harlock pushes his loyal crew forward in his death-defying mission to undo the “Nodes of Time” and reverse the Earth to an age when still inhabited by humans. It is the year 2977 and 500 billion displaced humans long to return to the planet they still refer to as home. The rebellious Captain Harlock and his trusted crew are mankind’s only hope of one day righting the Coalition’s wrongs.


Back in 1977, manga artist Leiji Matsumoto would create the manga series, “Captain Harlock”.

While the storyline of Captain Harlock has changed from the original “Space Pirate Captain Harlock” to the 1982 “The Arcadia of My Youth”.  While there have been numerous Harlock releases, Toei Animation announced a new Harlock movie in 2010 that would feature a CG-remake of Matsumoto’s manga and anime franchise.

The CG animated film would be directed by Shinji Aramaki, best known for his work on series such as “Megazone 23”, “Metal Skin Panic MADOX-01”, “Genesis Survivor Gaiarth”, “Appleseed”, “Appleseed Ex Machina” and many more.

Considered as one of Toei’s second most expensive film, the story would feature a story that reflected themes of modern society written by Harutoshi Fukui.

And in 2013, “Harlock: Space Pirate” premiered in Japan and in April 2015, the DVD release of the film will be available in stores on April 2015 courtesy of Ketchup Entertainment.

The film begins with the explanation that the human race spread across the galaxy establish colonies but the population exploded and resources were exhausted.  Birthrates plummeted and the human race was in decline.

As humans went back to return to Earth, a bloody conflict of who would return to Earth would lead to the “Homecoming War” as the Earth was too small to hold all humans.  Thus a governing body known as “The Gaia Communion” would bring the war to a close and the Earth was made to an “eternal sanctuary” which no one was granted passage.

There was one man who resisted, an immortal space pirate that plundered Federation starships, the most wanted man named Captain Harlock.

As the film would explain why Captain Harlock is the most wanted man, the current story would be about Harlock and his crew taking 100 detonators from the Gaia Community to start over.  But among the crew is Yama (Logan in the English dub), a young man who is working with the Gaia Community who has worked to infiltrate Harlock’s crew trying to helping his older brother Isola (name is Ezra in English dub) of the Gaia fleet in order to take down and assassinate Harlock.

But will Yama want to assassinate Harlock when he learns the truth about why Harlock wants to return to Earth?



“Harlock Space Pirate” is presented in widescreen.  As this film would look magnificent in HD, the best we are going to get of this film is on DVD.  So, while the film was released on Blu-ray in Asia, the best we are going to get in terms of picture quality is the best one can expect to see on DVD.


“Harlock Space Pirate” comes with an English and Japanese 5.1 soundtrack.  Both soundtracks are well-done and features crystal clear dialogue and music and actions sequences from space battles to weaponry being shot, utilizes the surround channels and LFE.

Subtitles are in English.


“Harlock Space Pirate” comes with no special features.


As a fan of the Captain Harlock anime and also a fan of Leiji Matsumoto’s work, “Arcadia of My Youth” continues to be my favorite Harlock film.

The story of aliens enslaving humanity while Captain Harlock and crew fight back has always been an exciting and fascinating film.  So, in many ways, I was highly anticipating the release of the CG version of “Harlock: Space Pirate”.

Having watched the film twice now, similar to how Captain Harlock’s story has continued to change from series to series, the CG film may share similar characters but the story is quite different.

The story takes a look at not the enslaving of humanity but the threat of humanity growing at an alarming rate, colonizing other planets that are dying and for many, the result is to return back to planet Earth, but realizing that the planet is not big enough to host so many humans and thus led to a war.

Captain Harlock’s character will always be seen as a rogue pirate but in the case of this movie, humanity’s hatred towards Harlock is because his decision to save the planet, he released dark matter in a gamble which did not protect the Earth, it decimated it and killed all life on the planet.

While I don’t want to spoil details of the film, the film would go into how the Arcadia would have some artificial intelligence, it would explain how Harlock would become “immortal” but the film would go into details of why Harlock is returning to the Earth and his true mission.

Standing in his way is a young man who sort of looks like Harlock but his goal is to infiltrate the crew on behalf of his brother and the Gaia Community and assassinate Captain Harlock.

While the film features cool CG and a complex, smartly written storyline, the film maybe of the dismay of long time fans who expected the classic story by Leiji Matsumoto.  And “Harlock Space Pirate”, is not that film.

While those who haven’t watched a Harlock anime series or film or have never read the manga series may enjoy the film much more.  The character design and the way Harlock was created no doubt looks awesome in the film, as with characters such as the alien Nibelung known as Miime and Kei, the overall look and feel of the film is its strongpoint.

The film’s story did not win me over despite enjoying it for its smart writing, I still feel that “Arcadia of My Youth” remains to be the best Captain Harlock film ever made.

While I wish the film was also released on Blu-ray and special features were included, the film looks and sounds good as one can expect on DVD.

Overall, “Harlock: Space Pirate” is a stylishly, cool looking CG animated film based on one of Japan’s popular anti-hero characters.  The problem lies within the viewer who is familiar with the previous stories of Captain Harlock and can watch this film as a different story.  While the film compliments the characters, the storyline has no connection to Leiji Matsumo’s original storyline.

Still, the film is smartly written, the CG animation looks wonderful and “Harlock: Space Pirate” is a film worth watching!



August 19, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

“The award winning manga series ‘MUSHI-SHI THE MOVIE’ gets its live film adaptation directed by “AKIRA” and “STEAMBOY” creator Katsuhiro Otomo!  Visually, the film is absolutely beautiful and also at times eery, but its also one of those films that requires your full attention because you can easily get lost.  If you are fan of the manga or anime series, definitely give this film a try!”

Images courtesy of © 2006 MUSHI-SHI FILM PROJECT. All Rights Reserved.


DURATION: 131 Minutes

DVD INFORMATION: 16:9, Dolby Digital, Japanese 5.1 Dolby Surround, English 5.1 Dolby Surround

COMPANY: FUNimation Entertainment


RELEASE DATE:  August 18, 2009

Directed by Katsuhiro Otomo

Screenplay by Sadayuki Murai, Katsuhiro Otomo

Executive Produced by Sunmin Park

Co-Produced by Kiyoshi Inoue

Music by Kuniaki Haishima

Cinematography by Takahide Shibanushi

Edited by Soichi Ueno

Art Direction by Noriyoshi Ikeya

Costume Design by Keisuke Chiyoda

Sound Department – Yoshiya Obara

Special Effects – Nobuaki Koga


Jo Odagiri as Ginko

Makiko Esumi as Nui

Nao Omori as Nijirou

Yu Aoi as Tanyu

Lily – Inn Owner (Riri)

Makiko Kuno – Maho’s mother

Reia Moriyama as Maho

Hideyuki Inada as Yoki

Baku Numata as Nui’s Husband

Set in turn-of-the-century Japan, the film tells the story of Gunko, a Mushi Master who studies strange strange, tridescent creatures called “Mushi” that can’t be seen by ordinary men.  Having lost his memory in a childhood incident he wanders the countryside protecting humans from the illnesses Mushi inflict.  He’s summoned to the bedside of a dear friend, who became infected by a Mushi called “Tokoyama”, which lived at the bottom of a pond, and an eyeless fish which lived at the bottom of the Tokoyama called “Ginko”.

Magical, whimsical and eery…  the award winning manga series “MUSHI-SHI” gets its live film adaptation!

For a decade, manga writer/artist Yuki Urusihibara is known for the award winning series “Mushishi” which was publicized in Kodansha’s “Afternoon” magazine (1999-2008).  The manga was eventually adapted into a Japanese animated series and later adapted to a live film by “AKIRA” and “STEAMBOY” creator Katsuhiro Otomo.

The film would star Jo Odagiri (“Shinobi”, “Azumi” and “Kamen Rider Cougar”), Makiko Esumi (“Shomuni” series, “Over Time” and “Love Revolution”), Yu Aoi (“Tokyo!”, “Hachimitsu to Clover” and “Tekkon Kinkreet”) and Nao Omori (“Tokyo!”, “Tekkon Kinkreet” and “Prisoner”).

The film revolves a man named Ginko (Joe Odagiri) who is a Mushi Master (aka Mushi-shi).  He goes around villages and helping cure people who have illnesses caused by “mushi”.  Mushi’s aren’t ghosts but are insect-like creatures that can’t be seen by human eye and are are pure creatures that are part of human life but happen to feed on humans and thus humans unfortunately, are inflicted by blindness, hearing loss and other things that may seem as if the person is possessed. And for Ginko, his job is to protect the people and eliminate their inflictions of mushi.

But Ginko is unusual in terms of a young person’s typical look.  He has white hair and he happens to attract mushi.  But each time he visits a village, those who are skeptical are shocked by how he is able to heal people.

So, throughout the film we see Gingko helping a household that has lost their hearing in one ear to a girl who has been haunted by noises that won’t stop and has horns that have grown on her forehead.  But this is the duty of the mushi-shi and as we get to see Gingko helping various people, we also get to see a bit about his past.

In his past, Ginko was a young boy named Yoki (Hideyuki Inada) and after a tragic incident killed his mother, he is left alone and somewhat raised by a woman named Nui (Makiko Esumi), who is seen as a young woman with white hair and lives in the middle of nowhere by a pond.  Since Yoki was born with the ability to see mushi, Nui explains to Yoki about the concept of mushi and also Tokoyami.  Explaining to him of why he should not be around and should leave.  But Yoki, decides that he wants to be with Nui.  We are then given many flashbacks which helps give us an understanding of how Yoki became Ginko.

We also get to meet other characters such as Koro (Nao Omori) who is a bridge carpenter that Ginko meets.  Ginko goal is to find a rainbow that moves around and figuring that they are going towards the same direction, Koro eventually aids Ginko who is planning to visit fellow Mushi-shi named Tanyu (Yu Aoi), who is somehow being weakened by the mushi.

Tanyu is known for her abilities to document via a scroll of how generations of mushi-shi were able to classify various types of mushi and how to eliminated them.  Tanyu also uses the mushi as the ink for the scrolls (she has the ability to generate mushi as ink) and sealing them and sealing them in the scroll.

But for both men who are going to visit her, what lies ahead is a powerful mushi known as Tokoyami that is so dangerous that it can possibly kill both Ginko and Tanyu.


“MUSHI-SHI THE MOVIE” definitely deserves high marks for its visual appeal.  The positive aspects of the film are its breathtaking locations and just overall look.  Traditional Japan is captured with its lush greenery and its hills along the countryside.  The DVD captures the film’s grainy appearance at times but the negative aspect is the amount of dust, scratches and film warping.  There was not a tremendous amount of it but it was visible throughout the film.

The film tends to use lighting effectively.  From the darkness of its deep blacks and blues to the aged and sometimes burned-like hues, the film seems to have its beautiful and incredible moments, its eery and dark moments and also its vibrant and colorful moments.  Also, seasons are captured…with Ginko walking through the snow or through a village full of grass.  But the cinematography by Takahide Shibanushi is absolutely beautiful.

As for audio, the film is presented in Japanese 5.1 Dolby Surround and English 5.1 Dolby Surround.  I primarily watched the film in Japanese and for the most part, the film is a dialogue-driven film.  Front and center channel speakers play the dominant role.  There are some scenes that utilize some bit of action and of course the music by Kuniaki Haishima definitely sets the tone for the film.  Surround is best utilized during the scenes that feature mushi and are effectively used during the eery scenes.  As for the English 5.1 Dolby Surround dub, personally it’s more of a preference to watch Japanese live action films in Japanese but I did watch some of the film in English dub and for the most part, FUNimation Entertainment has been good by casting quality voice talent for their anime and the same for their live action films but personally, Its just my preference to watch this film in Japanese.


“MUSHI-SHI THE MOVIE” comes with the following special features:

  • Deleted/Extended Scenes – (9:45) The following deleted and extended scenes are played with the original scenes and those that were removed is featured with the time stamp.  In Japanese with English subtitles.
  • Mushi-Shi Premiere – (5:03) Interviews with the cast and clips of the cast at the premiere of the film.  In Japanese with English subtitles.
  • Original Trailer – (1:50) The theatrical trailer in Japanese with English subtitles.
  • Coming Attractions – FUNimation Entertainment trailers

There are major positives and major negatives about “MUSHI-SHI THE MOVIE”.

First, the negatives.  One of the problems that a film like “MUSHI-SHI” would have  is that the film is adapted from a lengthy manga series.  There is a lot of story to tell.  At least with the anime series, there are 26 episodes that can help introduce the various characters and through the many storylines, you can see how those characters are developed.  With the live-film adaption, “MUSHI-SHI THE MOVIE” requires your full attention.  It’s a 131-minute film that is easy for your mind to stray, because for the first hour, you watch this mysterious character named Ginko helping villagers with their problems.

Many Japanese fans of the manga and anime series were quick to post on the Internet that if you know the backstory of “MUSHI-SHI” you would be fine but if you didn’t, you’re going to be lost or even bored.  I absolutely agree.  There’s only so much you can do in trying to get so much story into a 131-minute film and there were times during the film that I’m waiting for Ginko to help more villagers but it doesn’t happen.  We are treated with flashbacks and dialogue about mushi and tokoyami and it is easy to get lost.

As for the positives, the film looks absolutely beautiful.   The scenery is absolutely breathtaking, the CG is not overdone and works quite well with this film.  Also, the costume department deserves recognition in order to create that old Japanese style (despite not knowing what time period of Japan the film takes place), everything seems to work just right in terms of achieving the look and feel of “MUSHI-SHI”.

“MUSHI-SHI THE MOVIE” is absolutely breathtaking in visuals and there are moments that may be near borderline horror or too eery for some people.  As one scene depicts a knife going through a person’s arm in order to use the blood of a person to drive away mushi.  It’s a very bloody scene.  And in one scene, for one consumed by mushi, seeing their bodies so black that you feel they are covered in tar.  Very eery !  So, I wouldn’t necessarily watch this film with young children.

But another positive that one can find in the film is the amount of talent that are in the movie and those behind-the-scenes of the film.  Joe Odagi, Yu Aoi, Makiko Esumi and Nao Omori are just awesome talents that are quite common to see in Japanese films and dramas and personally, it was great to see “Shomuni” actress Makiko Esumi in such a role.  And of course, knowing that Katsuhiro Otomo is directing is another major plus for the film.

“MUSHI-SHI THE MOVIE” is one of those films that you want to recommend but at the same time, it all depends on the viewer and if they are the type that can put their entire focus into the intricate details of the film for 131-minutes.  In fact, it’s a film that can easily lose people right at the end.  Even for myself, as I paid close attention to the film, the final 15 minutes of the film, I felt it went over my head and I realized, maybe if I read the manga series or watched the entire anime series, it would all make sense to me or I have to watch it all over again.  I guess you can say that at the end of the film,  I felt may I have missed something inportant.

“MUSHI-SHI THE MOVIE” does have its share of cool and eery moments (and I emphasize this film does feature beautiful cinematography throughout the film) but I think that “MUSHI-SHI” is a storyline that is best suited for a manga or anime series or even a live action television drama series in which its intricate storyline is deserving of stories that emphasize on the character’s development and could be told in many hours than just 131-minutes.  There’s too much storyline involved with “MUSHI-SHI THE MOVIE” that 131-minutes is clearly, not enough (although I also felt the film was a bit too long) to effectively showcase the storyline and explanation of mushi, tokoyami and even Ginko’s role as  Mushi-shi.

Overall, “MUSHI-SHI THE MOVIE” was entertaining and visually wonderful but unfortunately, the storyline may be too difficult for some viewers to comprehend.  If you were a big fan of the anime series or the manga series, then “MUSHI-SHI” will definitely worth checking out but for those not familiar with the storyline, it’s a film that will require your full attention.

honey and clover (a J!-ENT DVD Review)

December 21, 2008 by · Leave a Comment 

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“The Kodansha Award winning manga and popular anime/drama series gets adapted for the big screen in an endearing story about the life of college students preparing for the next stage in their lives, preparing for their careers and also finding themselves in love.  A charming and endearing film.”

Images courtesy of (C)2006  Honey and Clover Film Partners

TITLE: honey and clover (Hachimitsu to Clover)

DURATION: 116 Minutes

DVD INFORMATION: NTSC, Region 1, 16×9 Anamorphic Widescreen, Japanese Language with English Subtitles

COMPANY: VIZ Pictures, Inc.

Directed by Masahiro Takata

Based on a manga series by Chika Umino

Screenplay by Masahiko Kawahara, Masahiro Takata

Produced by Shinji Ogawa, Takako Imamura, Maho Tada

Director of Photography: Keiji Hasegawa

Music by Yoko Kanno

Executive Producers: Yasushi Shiina, Noritaka Yamaji, Juli K. Fujishima, Yuji Shimamoto


Sho Sakurai as Takemoto

Yu Aoi as Hagu

Yusuke Iseya as Morita

Ryo Kase as Mayama

Megumi Seki as Ayumi

Based on the popular manga series by Chica Umino which has sold over 10 million copies in Japan, HONEY AND CLOVER is a romantic comedy about a group of art school students who try to find their way.  But when an innocent and talented 19-year-old girl enters their lives, things get a lot more complicated as love triangles result.  Starring Yu Aoi (HULA GIRLS) and J-pop star Sho Sakurai.  Directed by Masahiro Takata.

When I first saw the Japanese trailer for “honey and clover” (Hachimitsu to Clover), I definitely was excited to see this film.

Based on a popular manga and anime series, 10 million copies of the manga sold in Japan and also an award winner, stars such as the popular Yu Aoi and Sho Sakurai (of the popular Johnny’s Jimusho pop group ARASHI) and music by Yoko Kanno,  an awesome theme song from both Spitz and Arashi.  The trailer definitely gave me images of popular youth-based dramas such as “Hakusen Nagashi” and “Asunaro Hakusho”.

The film revolves around five characters, thee guys who live in an apartment complex and all attend an art college in Tokyo.  The group gets together for parties and hang out but the film focuses on five primary characters:

Hagumi (Yu Aoi): A shy, gifted 18-year-old artist.  Very shy, hardly talks but her expression in her artwork is incredible.   She lives with Professor Hanamoto and two guys, Yuta Takemoto and Shinobu Morita both fall for her.

Yuta Takemoto (Sho Sakurai): One of the primary characters in the film.  Takemoto falls for Hagumi and wants to do what he can to make her happy.  Although part of the art school, he is trying to find out what he really wants to do in life and somehow Hagumi has helped him see life differently.

Shinobu Morita (Yusuke Iseya): A carefree, cool artist.  He travels the world, hasn’t graduated from college because he’s always absent but also a gifted artist and an amazing sculptor.  After seeing Hagumi’s art, he falls for her and unlike Takemoto, more forthright in letting her know about his feelings.

Takumi Mayama (Ryo Kase): Mayama is the quiet type.  A senpai for Takemoto and works at a design firm in which he likes the owner Rika (more like stalks her).  Mayama is fired from his job because Rika doesn’t like him getting to close to her because it affects business.  This leads to Mayama being lost and looking for work.  Meanwhile, his friend Ayumi is in love with him but he doesn’t feel the same for her.

Ayumi Yamada (Megumi Seki): Yamada is a sculptor and also teaches children artwork.  She is madly in love with Mayama and is always hurt when he doesn’t reciprocate her feelings.

The storyline is pretty much a realistic portrayal of life among young adults and friends among the circle of friends who fall for each other and you have your love triangle or two and the young adult angst of what will one do after they finish school.

Having not watched the anime series before, my impression of the live film and it’s cast was pretty good.  I felt that the characters were well-casted and of course, any film starring a Johnny’s Jimusho talent is definitely going to bring many women/girls to the theater especially with Sho Sakurai and one of the most popular actresses today in Japan, Yu Aoi.

Each actor portrays their character quite well.  Aoi’s Sagumi is definitely shy, few words are spoken but it’s about facial expressions and smiles.  Sakurai’s Takemoto is a character that is happy, reserved and overall a good man.

And the other three are well-cast as well.  Yusuke Iseya’s Morita is well done and in the featurette, you learn that Iseya is very much like the character Morita.


What I enjoyed about the film are the various locations. May the characters be at the school, walking through the street, overlooking the beach, there are just subtle locations but I guess from being here in America (and have gone to Japan several times), there is an enjoyment for me of locations and for me, the locations really enhanced the film’s overall enjoyment together with the beautiful music composed by Yoko Kanno.

But as far as video is concern, the film is featured in anamorphic 16×9.  There is quite a bit of noise in low light situations but in well-lit areas, colors really do stand out.


The DVD has a few special features:

  • Hanamoto Study Group – This feature actually has the cast passing a digital video camera around and each interviewing Yusuke Iseya.  Each person asks Yusuke a question in regards to his character and most of all, the group is more or less just having sitting down and having fun talking with each other about certain scenes.  I wished that everyone can be asked a question about their character but for some reason, the focus was more on Iseya and his character of Morita.
  • Director and Cast – This feature is a text-based feature with a short bio of the actors and actresses from the film.
  • Original Japanese Trailers – Two trailers of the film.  One about a minute long, the other is over two minutes long.
  • Viz Picture Presents – Trailers for films available now such as “Densha Otoko”, “Ping Pong”, “Linda Linda Linda”, etc.

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I really enjoyed “honey and clover” because of it’s characters and it’s charming storyline.  It’s one of those sincere and endearing storylines that is innocent and charming.

The characters were enjoyable and the various locations of where the film was shot and the beautiful music really enhanced the film for me.

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Also, another plus was the fact that the film revolves around art.  As a person who is passionate about artwork, the whole art student storyline was quite enjoyable.  But most of all, how art plays a part in the actual film.   In one scene, watching Hagumi and Morita taking their paint brushes and just spatting paint all over the canvas and having fun and in the end, the two creating something quite beautiful.  These type of scenes are just memorable and beautiful.

But one of the problems that you get by trying to condense a long manga or even an anime series to a two-hour film, it’s not an easy task.  In a manga and an anime series, you have that extra time for character development and thus, you get emotionally attached to those characters.

But for those who have not seen the manga or anime series, we take these group of individuals from what we seen on film and with not too much focused on character development, you are given five characters right off the bat which you will either love them or you don’t.

Fortunately, Masahiko Kawahara and Masahiro Takata wrote a screenplay that simplifies the characters but from the first half hour, you pretty much know what kind of characters that they are.  You know that Takemoto is a good guy, you know that Sagumi is very quiet and shy, you know that Morita is very cool and expressive, Mayama is stalkerish and quiet and Yamada is a woman that has a one-sided love towards Mayama.  Each involved in their own love triangle but each dealing with life and how to move on with their own personal careers and not knowing where it will take them.

Having not read the manga series and not watched any of the anime or live drama series, I watched this film with an open mind not knowing anything about the series and thus felt content with the overall film.

Realistic, charming and at times, quite humorous, “honey and clover” is at best a film that doesn’t go dark, doesn’t go twisted, pretty much stays within a safe boundary of five students trying to figure out their own lives after college and moving on forward.