Sep 08 2016

Hanzawa Naoki – Episode 2 (Review)

Hanzawa Naoki
Episode 2

Review by David Cirone

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In the aftermath of Hanzawa’s face-off with the bank’s disciplinary committee, his superiors scramble to do damage control and put a swift end to Hanzawa’s unpredictable plan. Moreover, the longer they wait to put Hanzawa in his place, the more they’ll risk damage to their own fragile reputations.

Hanzawa (Masato Sakai) finds an unlikely ally in the bank’s Executive Director Owada (Teruyuki Kagawa), who’s watching Hanzawa’s actions from headquarters with wariness and amusement (and also, from a strategically safe distance). He’s intrigued by Hanzawa’s spirit and ability to one-up his superiors, and he refuses to step in, urging branch director Asano and his comrades to clean up their own mess.

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Sep 03 2016

Hibana (Spark) (Series Review)

Hibana (Spark)
Series Review by David Cirone

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Netflix’s latest Japanese series Hibana (Spark) is a deeply-felt, intelligent character drama about the highs and lows of the “manzai” comedy world, viewed through the complex friendship of its two lead characters, the shy but driven Tokunaga (Kento Hayashi) and the abrasive wild man Kamiya (Kazuki Namioka).

Based on Naoki Matayoshi’s award winning novel, the story spans 10 years, beginning with a bombed performance by Sparks, the young comedy duo of Tokunaga and his schoolboy partner Yamashita (Masao Yoshii). The newbie Sparks is bumped for time at a low-paying beach summer festival and forced to deliver their cerebral act against the tide of crowd noise and loudspeaker announcements. Feeling sympathy for their plight, Kamiya, the leader of the following act, Ahondara (or “airheads”), swears he’ll get revenge, and launches a fierce tirade against the exiting audience, condemning them one-by-one to go to hell.

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Aug 28 2016

University of Miami to screen Enoshima Prism and Wonderful World End

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The University of Miami will present free screenings of 2 Japanese films on September 16th and 23rd, 2016.

September 16 – The time-travel friendship drama Enoshima Prism, directed by Yasuhiro Yoshida, stars Sota Fukushi (Kamen Rider film series, Bleach), Shuhei Nomura (Litchi Hikari Club, Flying Colors), and Tsubasa Honda (GTO: Great Teacher Onizuka, Full Metal Alchemist) as high school friends bound by tragedy, and their journey to change to the past.

September 23 – Wonderful World End, directed by Daigo Matsui, is a teenage friendship drama rooted in modern-day digital communication, starring Ai Hashimoto and Jun Aonami and based on pop singer Seiko Oomori’s music videos.

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The film screenings are free and open to the public. Information at the Consulate General of Japan in Miami’s official Facebook page:
https://www.facebook.com/events/1189104714484968

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Aug 25 2016

Death Note – Light up the NEW world (trailer)

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The trailer for Death Note Light up the NEW world, the sequel to the immensely popular manga, anime, and film series, features the return of Erika Toda as Misa Amane, along with newcomers Masahiro Higashide, Sosuke Ikematsu, Masaki Suda, and Rina Kawaei.

Aug 20 2016

Hanzawa Naoki – Episode 1 (Review)

Hanzawa Naoki
Episode 1

Review by David Cirone

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Hanzawa Naoki‘s opening shot, a slowly-zooming close-up of the title character’s confession of beliefs, instantly brings to mind comparisons to The Godfather. Like Michael Corleone, mild-mannered banker Hanzawa is a man who transforms because of a duty to family, a dedication to his father, and ultimately, a singular focus to right the wrongs that have been done to him. Like Michael, Hanzawa is also capable of lying to those closest to him, even to himself, and his desire for revenge brings out his strength at the same time it brings out darker sides of his nature.

We’re rooting for Hanzawa from the start because he’s a little man who’s underestimated — we can all identify with that — but we’re accomplices, too, because right from this opening scene, Hanzawa Naoki is lying, and we know it.

Starting with the 1991 flashback to Hanzawa’s job interview, we see his determination to do things his way. “Surely there are other banks,” his interviewer prods, but Hanzawa insists. “It has to be this bank.” At the new hire orientation, he makes a veiled statement to the two men who will become his lifelong friends, Kondo (Kenichi Takito), his university kendo partner, and the management-minded Tomari (Mitsuhiro Oikawa): “I’m going to make it to the top,” Hanzawa proclaims, “and then there’s something I have to do.”

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Jul 23 2016

FUNimation reveals trailer for Rurouni Kenshin Trilogy

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FUNimation has revealed the trailer for the U.S. release of the popular Rurouni Kenshin film trilogy starring Takeru Sato, Emi Takei, Munetaka Aoki, and Yu Aoi. The films will screen in select theaters nationwide with a home video release to follow.

Rurouni Kenshin: Origins – August 8, 9 & 10
Rurouni Kenshin: Kyoto Inferno – September 12, 13 & 14
Rurouni Kenshin: The Legend Ends – October 3, 4 & 5

Info:
http://www.funimationfilms.com/movie/rurouni-kenshin

Apr 22 2016

Sadako vs. Kayako (Trailer)

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Kadokawa Films has revealed the trailer for the upcoming ghost-on-ghost-battle, Sadako vs. Kayako.

Japanese horror buffs are bound to lose their minds just hearing the concept alone: the ghost of The Ring (Ringu) vs. the ghost of The Grudge (Ju-on). The modern geek equivalent of Godzilla vs King Kong…? Maybe.

The film’s producers are encouraging everyone to have fun with this concept, with special novelty goods (like cup decorations), goofy Instagram shots, and even a special introduction video from Sekima II, who provides appropriately evil-ish music for the film, due for release in June.

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Apr 12 2016

Hibana (Spark) (trailer)

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Preview trailer for the upcoming Netflix / Yoshimoto Kogyo series Hibana (Spark), based on the Akutagawa Prize-winning novel by comedian Naoki Matayoshi. The series stars Kento Hayashi and Kazuki Namioka.

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