• 夜間中学校に通う大人たちの人間模様を描く

    [From August Issue 2012]


    Gakko (Directed by YAMADA Yoji)

    Released in 1993, “Gakko” (School) is a human interest drama, directed by YAMADA Yoji, who is known for his “Otoko wa Tsurai yo” (It’s Tough Being a Man) series and “Kofuku no Kiiroi Hankachi” (The Yellow Handkerchief). Set in a night school that allows students who, for various reasons, were not able to graduate from high school, to complete their high school education, it depicts the personal growth of these students and their teacher.

    KUROI has been teaching evening classes in a downtown district of Tokyo, which is tightly packed with small factories and houses. On a winter’s day, with that year’s graduation ceremony drawing near, he is called up by the principal and is told: “It’s about time you transferred to another school.” However, Kuroi declines the job offer, saying, “I would like to stay here so that students can drop in and visit us any time after graduation.”

    That day during the lesson he gets the students to compose an essay about what they want to do after they graduate. As he watches them write, he recalls his first encounter with each student.

    Among the students, there is Midori whose father is addicted to alcohol and has dabbled in drugs herself; there is Kazu, a young guy, who is managing to hold down both a manual labor job along with doing evening class; there is Chinese student Chou who, despite having a Japanese mother, is having trouble fitting into Japanese society; Omoni, a Korean living in Japan, who is a mother and owner of a yakiniku (Korean barbeque) restaurant; and there is Inoda, who loves horse racing, but has grown up without learning how to read or write.

    Kuroi, not only teaches these “socially disadvantaged people,” but also treats them as a parent or friend would: he lets Midori into his house for a bowl of ramen when she is roaming the streets weak from hunger, and when he sees how Kazu often dozes off during class, he helps him out with his day job to find out just how physically punishing it is. The students in turn become deeply attached to Kuroi, as if he were a parent or friend.

    After the essay class, when all the students are having supper in the cafeteria, a call comes through to Kuroi informing him of the death of Inoda, who has been in hospital. Having received a letter from Inoda which expressed his wish to return to school for his graduation ceremony, Kuroi had just conveyed this news to the students. Kuroi changes the next class to a homeroom session to tell the students about Inoda’s death.

    After this movie, sequels were produced under the supervision of Yamada. “Gakko II” (1996) is set in a special school that helps students with disabilities. In “Gakko III” (1998) students, such as single mothers with disabled children, are depicted attending a vocational school. “Age 15 – Gakko IV” (2000), depicts a bunch of students who skip school to go on a hitchhiking trip. Various forms of school education and interactions between teachers and students are depicted in these movies.










    この映画はその後シリーズ化され、山田監督の下、障害をもつ生徒たちが通う特別支援学校を舞台にした「学校II」(1996年公開)、障害児をもつシングルマザーなどが再就職を目指す職業訓練学校を描いた「学校III」(1998年公開)、不登校の生徒がヒッチハイクの旅に出る「十五才 学校IV」(2000年公開)と、いろいろな学校教育とそこに集う先生や生徒との交流が描かれている。

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  • 大人気ブログから生まれた青春コメディー

    [From July Issue 2012]


    700 Days of Battle: Us vs. the Police (Director: TSUKAMOTO Renpei)

    Based on an extremely popular “blog novel,” this story is partly true and partly fictional. It was subsequently adapted into a comic book, and translations have been published overseas. The movie was released in Japan in April 2008 and was later shown in Taiwan and Korea. The original story was set in Yamagata Prefecture in 1975, but in the movie version, this became Tochigi Prefecture, 1979.

    In a certain rural town, seven high school friends generally make a nuisance of themselves in their school and town. Their ring leader is nicknamed “Mamachari,” because he rides around on a type of bicycle commonly used by housewives that has a basket in front. One day, one of the gang, Saijo is arrested by a policeman for breaking the speed limit on his moped.

    Looking to get even with the police and believing that they won’t get arrested on their bicycles, the seven friends ride their bikes at great speeds in front of the device used for recording speed violations. However, a policeman who is at first convinced that the speed infractions were caused by an automobile, finds out that this is a prank carried out by the bicycle-riding kids and catches them in the act. He summons one of their high school teachers and orders him to strictly discipline the boys.

    But even after this incident, the high school kids wage war by playing one prank after another on the police officer. In response, playing fast and loose with the letter of the law, the officer gets his revenge. On one occasion, saying that he’d like to make peace with the boys, he invites them out for a drive to the neighboring town. He takes them to a scenic spot deep in the mountains and lets them out of the car to watch the sunset. Then he seizes the opportunity to leave the boys stranded. This is just one example of his behavior.

    During the summer holidays, Saijo is involved in a traffic accident on his moped and is hospitalized. When his friends visit him in hospital, he asks them to steal the fireworks that were going to be used at a display in a neighboring town and begs them to set them off in a dry riverbed near the hospital. He insists that this is part of their campaign against the police officer. However, regardless of whether the plan is successful or not, if they get caught by the police officer, they’ll be expelled from school.

    While everyone is half-hearted about carrying out this plan, Mamachari realizes why Saijo thought up the scheme. Mamachari understands the tender side to Saijo’s personality and explains the reason to his pals. Resigned to being expelled, the friends decide to steal the fireworks. However, when they set off towards the neighboring town, the officer, who has been informed of their plans, stands in the way.

    This movie is set in 1979. In that year young people all over Japan were caught up in the “Space Invaders” craze, but it was also the year in which standardized entrance exams for national universities were introduced. This movie draws a partly humorous, partly heart-rending portrait of the war between a group of rural high school students overwhelmed by the upcoming challenge of these fiercely competitive high school entrance exams, and a police officer who seriously tackles them head on and tries to teach them how to live correctly.










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  • 激動の時代で愛と忠誠に生きた者達を描く

    [From June Issue 2012]


    TV Series 40 episodes. 968 minutes. 18,900 yen
    販売元:バンダイビジュアル © 池田理代子・TMS


    Berusaiyu no Bara (The Rose of Versailles)
    Directed by NAGAHAMA Tadao, Chief Director: DEZAKI Osamu

    This movie is based on a girls’ comic of the same title by IKEDA Riyoko. Since it was first serialized in a girls’ manga magazine in 1972, it has been affectionately nicknamed “Beru Bara.” A portrayal of Marie ANTOINETTE (executed during the French revolution) in an Australian novel was the inspiration for this comic, which charts the dramatic life of the fictional character, Oscar.

    The comic’s popularity is such that it has been adapted into musicals by the Takarazuka Revue Company, into an animated TV series, an animated film, and a live-action movie. Overseas there are quite a few fans of the comic who became familiar with the work through translations of the original. The animated TV series, which first broadcast in 1979 and ran for one year, was also favorably received in France and Italy.

    The story is set in France in the 1770s. A sixth child is born to aristocrat, General Jarjayes. However, the general is disappointed when he discovers that the child is a girl. He longs for a son to succeed him and doesn’t need a sixth daughter. The general names the child Oscar and declares that he will raise her as a man.

    In the spring, 20 years before the outbreak of the French Revolution, Marie Antoinette arrives in France from Austria – a country allied with France – and is welcomed as the dauphine of Louis XVI. Fourteen-year-old Oscar is appointed as the commander of the Royal Guard responsible for the dauphine. Oscar swears loyalty to the future queen.

    Before long, Louis XVI is crowned king, and Antoinette, at the age of 18, becomes queen. Oscar understands the loneliness of Antoinette who is far from home and hasn’t gotten used to life in the Palace of Versailles. Although Oscar advises her to become a better queen, Antoinette gradually begins to indulge in extravagant pleasures and falls in love with Swedish aristocrat Fersen.

    Meanwhile, Oscar witnesses the deprived conditions of the populace and begins to have doubts about her political allegiances. Unable to endure the unreasonable oppression any longer, people start to riot all over the place. Amid the turmoil, Oscar learns that her childhood friend Andre is deeply in love with her, and she decides to rebel against the government herself. Thus, the country enters into the era of the French Revolution.

    The story features some fictitious characters like Oscar, but it also depicts historical figures that actually existed, like General Jarjayes and Marie Antoinette, lending a touch of realism to the tale. Oscar is killed at war later on in the series and there’s an anecdote amongst fans about an actual funeral that was held in her honor.




    販売元:バンダイビジュアル © 池田理代子・TMS










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  • 女性の闘病生活と彼女を支えた男性の純愛物語

    [From May Issue 2012]


    DVD cover. 117 minutes. 1,890 yen
    「愛と死をみつめて <HDリマスター版>」
    発売:日活 販売:ハピネット


    Gazing at Love and Death (Directed by SAITO Buichi)

    Released in 1964, this movie portrays the pure love between KOJIMA Michiko, who suffers from a terminal cancer called chondrosarcoma, and her contemporary, TAKANO Makoto. It is based on the true story of OSHIMA Michiko and KOUNO Makoto, whose collected correspondence was published as a book of the same title.

    Michiko and Makoto get to know each other when they are both admitted to an Osaka hospital. Since they are both 18 years old and are both fans of the pro baseball team Hanshin Tigers, they soon become close. Before long they are discharged from hospital and are parted as they begin university life, with Michiko going to Kyoto and Makato to Tokyo. Despite this, they continue to write letters to each other. Unfortunately Michiko is readmitted to the hospital in Osaka as a tumor on her face reappears.

    With the money he makes from part time jobs and by pawning his camera and watch, Makoto manages to visit Michiko in the hospital in Osaka many times. They make a pact to visit Makoto’s native Nagano Prefecture to go mountain climbing when Michiko recovers, but Michiko is forced to leave her university in order to fight her illness. Being unsure of her future and taking into account the future of her friend, Michiko bids farewell to Makoto in a letter. However, Makoto is unable to accept this.

    The doctor in charge of Michiko’s case recommends that she undergoes an operation to remove tissue from half of her face. The operation is a success. With the left side of her face covered with gauze, Michiko maintains a cheerful disposition, becomes close with the other patients and soon becomes popular. While waiting for cosmetic surgery, she begins studying to become a medical welfare activist. Just then, Michiko discovers a tumor on the right side of her face.

    Michiko is once again put on the operating table, but her condition is so severe that the doctor halts the operation. Makato hears about this over the phone and yells at Michiko, “What are the doctors doing? What about the scientists? We can make A-bombs, but cannot even cure such a simple illness?” However, after regaining his composure, he gives encouragement to Michiko, as he used to.

    Putting on a brave face for Makoto, Michiko is inwardly preparing herself for death. One day, she cleans her bedside and takes a doll and other things that she has treasured to the incinerator. When asked by the manager whether the items are the belongings of somebody who has died, she quietly answers, “The person is about to die.” Looking up at the smoke coming out of the chimney, she mutters, “We all go up in smoke, don’t we?”

    The book this movie was based on was published in 1963 and became a best seller, selling 1.6 million copies. It was not only adapted into a movie but also into several TV dramas as well as a song and, after all these years, still has the power to deeply move audiences. Similar dramas that depict young people caught between life and death have been released in recent years and include: “Sekai no Chuushin de Ai wo Sakebu” (Crying out Love, in the Centre of the World – a story of true love and a fight against illness – and “Ichi Rittoru no Namida” (One Liter of Tears) – a series based on the diary of a woman who died at the age of 25 after struggling with an incurable disease. These two titles also became big hits.



    「愛と死をみつめて <HDリマスター版>」
    発売:日活 販売:ハピネット


    愛と死をみつめて(斎藤武市 監督)








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  • 冷静な警部と熱血刑事コンビが難事件に挑む

    [From April Issue 2012]


    Partners – The Movie –
    Desperate Situation! Tokyo Big City Marathon 42.195km
    DVD cover. 117 minutes. 3,990 yen
    © 2008「相棒-劇場版-」パートナーズ


    Partners – The Movie –
    Desperate Situation! Tokyo Big City Marathon 42.195km (Directed by IZUMI Seiji)

    “Aibo” (partners), an extremely popular police drama was originally made and broadcast as a one-off show for TV in 2000, then subsequently made into a series in 2002 and released as a movie in 2008. In 2010, a second movie was made while the TV series went into its 10th season.

    “Aibo” refers to the duo of Police Inspector SUGISHITA and his subordinate, Police Sergeant KAMEYAMA. The Special Mission Task Force, which they belong to, is a section designed to make officers, who are not suited for working in organizations, quit the police. Sugishita is quite smart but has a slightly unusual character. As a result of restructuring, Kameyama is transferred to the section.

    The movie begins with an attempt on the life of Katayama, a member of the House of Representatives, and daughter of a high-profile politician who formerly served as foreign minister. Sugishita and Kameyama, who had been ordered to guard Katayama, save her but find a mysterious sign “d4” at the scene. Sugishita finds out that similar signs such as “f6” and “e4” had been left at the crime scenes of a serial killing case.

    Later, Sugishita realizes that those signs are a record of a game of chess. Also, it is discovered that Katayama, who was almost killed, and the victims of the serial killings were all included on an execution list that appeared on a malicious website. While they investigate, Sugishita and Kameyama meet KISAHARA and his daughter. Wataru, the son of Kisahara, had been working as a volunteer in South America a few years prior to these events.

    During that time, Wataru was kidnapped and killed by guerillas. But since the Ministry of Foreign Affairs had advised citizens to leave the country, many people in Japan decided that what happened to Wataru was his own fault. Sugishita suspects that SHIOTANI, who had worked with Wataru as a volunteer, is seeking revenge on the politicians and Japanese people for having left Wataru to his fate. He comes to the conclusion that Shiotani is the administrator of the malicious Internet site.

    Sugishita finds the e-mail address of the site administrator and begins a game of chess online with the culprit. Sugishita checkmates his opponent. He realizes that the arrangement of the pieces resembles the course of the Tokyo Big City Marathon. From this he guesses where bombs have been placed by the culprit.

    Although it is a police drama, there are not many flashy car chases or shoot-out scenes. One of the distinctive features is how difficult cases are solved by Sugishita, a man who takes care to speak politely and is always properly attired in a suit. Sugishita’s catchphrase, “Don’t you understand yet?” which he uses when he arrests the culprit, has become well-known and was even printed on an anti-drink driving poster made by the Metropolitan Police Department. 



    相棒-劇場版-絶体絶命! 42.195km
    東京ビッグシティマラソン <通常版>
    DVD 3,990円(税込)
    © 2008「相棒-劇場版-」パートナーズ


    相棒 -劇場版- 絶体絶命! 42.195km東京ビッグシティマラソン(和泉聖治 監督)








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  • 激動の時代をコミカルに描く人情物語

    [From March Issue 2012]


    Sun in the Last Days of the Shogunate © 日活


    Sun in the Last Days of the Shogunate (Directed by KAWASHIMA Yuzo)

    This movie was originally released in 1957. Nikkatsu movie studios, which produced and distributed this work, is now celebrating its 100th anniversary. To mark the occasion, since May last year, this film has been screened as part of a tour of America, Asia and Europe. It was re-released in Japan in late December. More than 50 years have now passed since the movie was made, but it is still quite popular; in 2009 it was ranked fourth by a movie magazine in a list of “all-time best” movies.

    Set 150 years ago in 1862, the Edo era – which had lasted for 265 years – is about to end. The location is Sagamiya, an inn in Shinagawa which actually existed. Sagamiya was the first stop for travelers on the Tokaido Road that linked Nihonbashi in Edo to Sanjo-Ohashi in Kyoto. The plot, which mixes in historical fact and fiction, is a fast-paced comedy based on several classic rakugo (comic stories).

    Even though he’s broke, our hero, the merchant Saheiji visits Sagamiya. Ignoring his friend’s concerns, he orders lots of alcohol and delicious treats, and encourages his pals to fool around with prostitutes. That night, he lets all his friends return home. The next day, Saheiji honestly confesses that he does not have any money. Angered by Saheiji’s attitude, which is not at all contrite, the owner throws him into a small room full of spider webs.

    However, Saheiji slips out of the room and, by doing things like serving customers and solving problems involving prostitutes, manages on each occasion to make some cash. Although some employees consider Saheiji to be a threat to their livelihood, nobody can match his sharp tongue and quick wit. After some time, the owner, prostitutes, and customers of the inn start to ask him for advice.

    In this milieu, Saheiji hears about two big plots. One is cooked up by the samurai TAKASUGI Shinsaku and his followers, who have been staying at the inn for a long time. Aiming to prevent the country from opening up to the West by any means necessary, the group plots to set fire to the British legation. This part of the drama is based on historical fact: on December 12, 1862, Takasugi and his men did actually leave Sagamiya in order to set fire to the British legation.

    Another plot involves a girl who plans to elope. To pay off her father’s debts, the girl has been sold into a life of prostitution at Sagamiya. In order to save herself from such an intolerable fate, she encourages the owner’s son, a notorious playboy, to elope with her, despite the fact that she does not really like him. When the girl asks him for help, Saheiji gets the girl’s father, who works at the British legation, to draw a plan of the building. In exchange for the plan, Saheiji gets the samurai group to help the couple run away.

    One of the attractions of this movie is that the cast features many stars of that period. Though many big stars, like ISHIHARA Yujiro (who plays Takasugi) had supporting roles, in contrast, the lead part of Saheiji was played by Frankie SAKAI, an actor who despite being popular as a comic actor, was not considered to be particularly handsome. This creative casting is one of the factors that continues to attract movie fans of today. 


    幕末太陽傳(川島雄三 監督)










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  • いたずら好きな男の子が戦国時代で大暴れ

    [From February Issue 2012]


    Crayon Shin-chan:
    The Storm Called: The Battle of the Warring States (Directed by HARA Keiichi)

    This film is based on a cartoon series depicting the everyday life of NOHARA Shinnosuke, a cheeky and naughty five-year-old kindergartener, involving his parents and others. While his way of mimicking adult speech and teasing habit of showing his butt are disapproved of by some parents as being a bad influence on children, the cartoon is also highly regarded for its heart-warming episodes that occur in the midst of the laughter.

    After it was released in 2002, this tenth Crayon Shin-chan movie won numerous awards. USUI Yoshito, the original writer of the cartoon, has passed away, but his long-serving staff continues on with the “New Crayon Shin-chan” series. TV anime series and movie versions of Crayon Shin-chan have also been made. Even in other countries, translations of the manga are published and anime are broadcast.

    The story of this movie begins one morning when Shinnosuke and his parents have the exact same dream. Shinnosuke becomes entranced with the “pretty lady” from that dream. His dog also seems to have had the same dream and begins digging a hole in the yard. Shinnosuke discovers a wooden box in the hole. There’s a letter inside written in his own handwriting that says he’s in the second year of the Tensho era (1574).

    Even though he has no recollection of the letter, while standing at the bottom of the hole, he unwittingly travels through time to an unfamiliar place. Now he’s in the second year of the Tensho era, in the middle of the Warring States period. Stumbling into the middle of a battle, he saves the life of a young samurai called Matabe. That leads to an invitation to the castle of Kasuga where the lord takes a liking to “the boy from the future.”

    There Shinnosuke meets the lord’s daughter, Princess Ren. He’s convinced she’s the “pretty lady” from his dream. However, Shinnosuke gets frustrated by the fact that, held back by the difference in their class status, Matabe and Princess Ren don’t declare their mutual feelings of love. Matabe, who’s a warrior, tells Shinnosuke not to tell Princess Ren about his feelings for her. Declining a political marriage proposal with OKURAI Takatora of a neighboring state, Princess Ren instead yearns to live in the world Shinnosuke describes: a peaceful world where people can love freely.

    Meanwhile, Shinnosuke’s parents, who had been looking for him, travel through time themselves. The Nohara family is happy to be reunited. Staying at Matabe’s house, they struggle to return to the present day. Because Princess Ren has refused his marriage proposal, Takatora’s army invades the castle. Prepared for death, Matabe’s army fights back desperately and, after a difficult battle, defeats Takatora’s army, thanks partly to the support of Shinnosuke and others.

    The story is set in Kasukabe, Saitama Prefecture, and in 2004, Shinnosuke was chosen to be the city’s official mascot. To mark the occasion, the Nohara family was issued with special resident cards. Their fictional registered address was 904, Futaba-cho, Kasukabe City. “Futaba-cho” comes from Futabasha, the name of the publisher of the original cartoon, and 904 – pronounced in Japanese as crayon “ku”, “re”, “yon” (9,0,4) – is a play on words.


    映画クレヨンしんちゃん 嵐を呼ぶアッパレ!戦国大合戦(原恵一 監督)








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  • 日本映画と私

    [From January Issue 2012]

    I first became interested in Japanese films in 1971 when I was living in Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA. I had the good luck to see KUROSAWA Akira’s “Shichinin no Samurai (Seven Samurai)” and OZU Yasujiro’s “Tokyo Monogatari (Tokyo Story),” which made me aware that Japan made extraordinary films with extraordinary directors and actors.

    MIFUNE Toshiro, SHIMURA Takashi, HARA Setsuko and RYU Chishu so perfectly embodied certain human ideals in their performances (Mifune’s boldness, Shimura’s wisdom, Hara’s selflessness, Ryu’s tolerance) that, from this limited acquaintance, I started to idealize the nation that had produced them.

    When I came to Japan in 1975 I was still a great fan of Kurosawa and Ozu, but I soon realized that Shimura’s samurai leader and Hara’s war widow, who so nobly sacrificed themselves for others, were creations of another era. The young Japanese I met had more in common with their individualistic American counterparts. Many wanted to taste the pleasures of the big city or to see something of the world beyond Japan. They were willing (or resigned) to becoming the students or salarymen or housewives that society expected, but they also wanted to live for themselves, in ways an older generation might have considered selfish.

    I studied Japanese for five years, but understanding Japanese films without subtitles, especially those set in earlier eras, was hard. I studied the script of Kurosawa’s “Kagemusha” with my teacher, looking up unfamiliar words, but when I saw it in the theater its feudal-era language placed a veil between me and the characters.

    The film that finally tore away that veil was ITAMI Juzo’s “Ososhiki” (The Funeral, 1984). This smartly observed but gentle-spirited black comedy was in a Japanese I could understand, about the sort of people I saw around me, who were humanly fallible creatures of modern society, with all its temptations and freedoms. Watching the middle-aged hero anxiously study an instructional video on proper funeral etiquette or the mourners twitch in pain from sitting too long in seiza, I not only laughed but sympathized. They were not ideals, but instead true to the Japan I had come to know.

    After that I watched not only every new Itami film, but those by other directors who were saying something interestingly real (or surreal) about contemporary Japanese life, such as MORITA Yoshimitsu (“Kazoku Ge-mu/The Family Game,” 1983), OBAYASHI Nobuhiko (“Pekin Teki Suika/Beijing Watermelon,” 1989), SOMAI Shinji (“Taifu Kurabu/Typhoon Club,” 1985), TSUKAMOTO Shinya (“Tetsuo/The Iron Man,” 1989) and TAKITA Yojiro (“Kimurake no Hitobito/The Yen Family,” 1988). Kurosawa and Ozu made me fall in love with Japanese films; Itami and his contemporaries made me think they still might be worth seeing.

    That was not a common view among writers about Japanese films in the English-language media in the 1980s. The consensus of these critics was that Japanese cinema was in sharp decline. Reactions to new films usually ranged from anger to mockery. I could understand the bad reviews for the latest idol film, but I also thought these critics were blinkered by their nostalgia for a Golden Age. In my opinion Kurosawa was a better director than Itami, but Itami’s better films had more to say about the realities – and absurdities – of the bubble era. That was worth celebrating.

    So when I was finally given a chance to review Japanese films by “The Japan Times,” my first choice was “Bakayaro! 2: Shiawase ni Naritai/Damn! 2 I Want to be Happy” (1989), a three-part comedy anthology supervised by MORITA Yoshimitsu. Though not a great film, it had something funny and true to say about present-day Japanese, especially their frustrations, loudly expressed by the characters with the title epithet.

    And by this time I better understood what they were saying and feeling, thanks to Itami and company. Classic Japanese films were my timeless inspiration, but contemporary films were – and continue to be – my education about Japan in the here-and-now.

    Text: Mark SCHILLING









    そこで、「ジャパン・タイムズ」で日本映画の批評をするチャンスをようやく手に入れたとき、最初に選んだのは「バカヤロー!2 幸せになりたい」(1989年)という、森田芳光監督の3部作のコメディーでした。大作ではありませんが、現代日本人について、真実をおもしろく表していました。特に登場人物がストレスからタイトルの言葉を大声で叫ぶシーンです。



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  • 核実験の恐ろしさと人間のおろかさを描く

    [From January Issue 2012]

    DVD cover. 97 minutes. 4,725 yen
    DVD発売中 ¥4,725(税込) 発売・販売元:東宝


    Godzilla (Directed by HONDA Ishiro)

    Produced and released in 1954, “Godzilla” is now the most well-known monster movie in the world. When it was released in the U.S.A., France, Italy and other countries, it became a huge hit. Up until now 30 Godzilla movies have been produced. In 1988 a Hollywood remake of “Godzilla” was made and another U.S. version is currently being made.

    The year the movie was released is also known as the fateful year in which U.S. forces carried out nuclear testing on Bikini Atoll; during that time the crew of a Japanese fishing boat was exposed to radiation. With this news in the public consciousness, the movie contained a strong message against H-bomb testing. One of the other notable features of the movie is the hand-made feel of the pre-CGI production techniques which utilized an actor wearing a Godzilla suit, model buildings and vehicles.

    The movie begins by showing ships sinking one after another out on the open sea in the Pacific. At first the cause of these incidents is unknown. A survivor, who manages to return home to his island, speaks of being exposed to flames from a gigantic fire-breathing monster. Except for an old man who feels that this might be the legendary sea monster Godzilla, people do not believe the survivor’s story. The old man warns that the monster sometimes comes on shore to feed on livestock and people.

    Just after this, Godzilla, standing more than 50 meters tall, arrives on the shores of the island and begins destroying homes and attacking people. The government promptly sends a team to the island to investigate. Right after biologist YAMANE Kyouhei and his staff detect radiation coming from a giant footprint, Godzilla again rises out of the sea. When the press corps, which has accompanied the team to the island, report back on these events, people are terrified to hear of the existence of Godzilla.

    Yamane speculates that this is a monster from the age of dinosaurs that has been living at the bottom of the sea and that the repeated H-bomb tests have expelled it from its lair. He insists that they should study the monster without killing it. Just then, Godzilla arrives in Tokyo. When the giant beast walks, the earth rumbles. Buildings and railroads are stomped on and crushed. Many human lives are lost. Godzilla swings his tail and continues his path of destruction. He breathes fire and reduces large areas to burnt out ruins.

    While depth charges and guns are no match for Godzilla, the final weapon they try is the “oxygen destroyer.” This was accidentally invented by SERIZAWA Daisuke, Yamane’s assistant. The weapon releases a chemical in the water which de-oxidizes the water, thus killing marine life. Serizawa, who is worried about the weapon being misused in the same way as nuclear power, burns the blueprints. To make sure he kills Godzilla, he dons a diving suit and goes underwater with the chemical weapon himself.

    Affected by the chemical, Godzilla howls and sinks to the bottom of the sea. In order to erase the blueprints from his mind, Serizawa cuts the umbilical cord and the oxygen tube of his diving suit. Though they’ve seen the last of Godzilla, people can’t rejoice. They say a silent prayer for Serizawa, who sacrificed his life. 


    DVD発売中 ¥4,725(税込) 発売・販売元:東宝


    ゴジラ(本多猪四郎 監督)








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  • ある父と子の「宿命」を描いたサスペンス・ドラマ

    [From December Issue 2011]

    Blu ray cover. 143 minutes. 4,935 yen
    発売・ 販売元:松竹
    © 1974・2005 松竹株式会社/橋本プロダクション


    The Castle of Sand (Directed by NOMURA Yoshitaro)

    This film is an adaptation of the original novel of the same name written by mystery writer MATSUMOTO Seicho. The novel has been translated into English, French, Italian, Chinese and Korean. Released in 1974, this film won various awards including the Mainichi Award for Best Film and the Golden Arrow Award. Its humanist story, which uncovers the fate of a father and son who had been separated for about 30 years, received rave reviews. This story has also been dramatized on TV over and over again, each time set in different periods.

    The story opens with a murder that occurs in a Tokyo train yard in the wee hours of June 24, 1971. The investigation falters because there are no clues as to the victim’s identity. However, once a man searching for his missing father comes forward, they are able to identify the victim as 65-year-old MIKI Kenichi. Gradually the truth is unraveled, as Detective IMANISHI and his team investigate.

    Miki, the murder victim, had been a police officer in a village in Shimane Prefecture. Dearly loved by the local villagers, he was even compassionate when delivering sermons to criminals. One day, a roaming father and son arrive in the village. The father, Chiyokichi is suffering from leprosy, a condition which was thought to be incurable in those days, fleeing from society’s prejudice, he has constantly been on the road with his son, Hideo.

    Miki admits Chiyokichi to a hospital and takes in the unwanted Hideo. But, because of his sadness caused by the absense of his father, Hideo soon runs away. He ends up in Osaka, and finds work as a live-in employee with the Wagas, a couple who own a bicycle shop. After the couple passes away, Hideo changes his name to WAGA Eiryo, and grows into manhood. Soon, Waga starts his life as a talented young musician.

    Just around that time, Miki finds out that Waga is actually Hideo. Miki who has continued to communicate by letter with the hospitalized Chiyokichi, is aware that Chiyokichi had been praying for his son’s happiness. Miki visits Hideo, who is now known as Waga Eiryo, numerous times and tries to persuade him to visit his father in the hospital. But the prejudice against leprosy at that time was still strong and Hideo, who has become a famous musician, is afraid that a meeting would adversely affect his public image.

    Some months later, Waga is performing his new song “Shukumei” (fate) at a concert hall. Waga has managed to overcome his isolation and achieved success, but he has never been able to discard his complex feelings toward his father, and he is frantic in front of his keyboard. For awhile images of Waga and his father suffering from discrimination as they continue their journey are shown on the screen. It’s as if the beautiful Japanese scenery and melody flow alongside the fate of this man.

    The story includes a vital key – the word “Kameda” -which connects criminal and victim. Detective Imanishi and his team try to figure out whether the word refers to a person or a place. This film is not just an attention-grabbing human drama, but is also an intricate mystery-suspense movie.


    『砂の器 デジタルリマスター2005』
    DVD ¥3,990(税込)/ブルーレイ ¥4,935(税込)
    発売・ 販売元:松竹
    © 1974・2005 松竹株式会社/橋本プロダクション


    砂の器(野村芳太郎 監督)








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