Tadanobu Asano to star with Jared Leto in Netflix film The Outsider


Netflix has released the trailer for their latest original film The Outsider, starring Jared Leto as an American ex-soldier in post-WWII Japan looking to earn a place in the yakuza underworld. Tadanobu Asano (know to Western audiences for his roles in Thor and 47 Ronin, but unforgettable in classics like Ichi The Killer and Zatoichi) co-stars as Leto’s link to the underworld after they form a friendship in prison.

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Fullmetal Alchemist (Film Review)

Fullmetal Alchemist
Film Review by David Cirone


The feature film adaptation of Fullmetal Alchemist has just dropped on Netflix. It packs some cool visuals, brings an impressive list of Japanese actors to project, and carries a knockout theme song by J-Pop songstress Misia. But for a story with the central theme of uniting a soul with a shiny, hollow shell, you’d think the producers would be wary enough to sidestep the predictable irony of delivering a surface-only adaptation.

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2018 Berlin International Film Festival will feature 13 films from Japan


13 Japanese films have been invited to the 68th Berlin International Film Festival, including Ryuichi Sakamoto’s concert film async At The Park Avenue Armory, Kiyohara Yui’s Our House, Isao Yukisada’s River’s Edge, and a tribute to pink eiga producer Keiko Sato.

The Berlin International Film Festival runs February 15-25, 2018.
More info: https://www.berlinale.de (Japan)

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Midnight Diner: Tokyo Stories (Series Review)

Midnight Diner: Tokyo Stories
Series Review by David Cirone


Midnight Diner: Tokyo Stories, based on the popular manga Shinya Shokudo, stands out as arguably the best original Japanese-language series Netflix has produced yet. Excellent writing, superb acting, and subtle direction combine in the 10-part anthology where the lives of Tokyo’s late-night citizens intersect at a hidden Shinjuku diner that’s only open after midnight.

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dLibrary Japan launches Japanese drama streaming service in North America


When dLibrary Japan’s ad showed up in my Facebook feed boasting legal streams of Doctor X, Sanada Maru, and Matsuko no Shiranai Sekai, I was on their website signing up for the free one-week trial faster than you could say “Shippai shinai no de!

dLibary’s lineup might look familiar to cable subscribers who’ve used the TVJapan service (dLibrary is also managed by NHK), but the perks are better and the price is much cheaper: $9.99/month with access by PC, smartphones, and tablets.

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Tokyo Idols (Film Review)

Tokyo Idols
Film Review by David Cirone


Tokyo Idols has an agenda, and that’s no spoiler. Starting with its slanted description on Netflix, filmmaker Kyoko Miyake uses the documentary platform to selectively focus on fringe, negative aspects of idol fandom. For the millions of Japanese and international fans who have actually seen or participated in an idol concert, it’s clear that the film stops way short of presenting the whole truth.

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35-sai no Koukousei (Series Review)

35-sai no Koukousei
Series Review by David Cirone


No Dropping Out -Back to School at 35- (35-sai no Koukousei) aims for shock value and social relevance, framing the struggles of modern high school students inside an outrageous premise — what if a beautiful, smart, world-experienced 35-year-old woman put on a school uniform and came to class with these impressionable teenagers?

The result is a flat, predictable, and meandering middle-school play, the kind where every kid gets one line to justify their presence on stage and make their parents happy. Each episode focuses on a different member of the senior class at Kunikida High who reveals his or her secret troubles (bullying, self-esteem, academic pressure) to the mysterious new student Ayako Baba (Ryoko Yonekura). By the end of each episode, somebody cries, Baba gives some inspirational advice, and then smiles come back again.

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My Teacher (film trailer)


Warner Brothers Japan has released the English-subtitled trailer for the upcoming film adaptation My Teacher, based on the Sensei! …Suki ni Natte mo ii Desuka? manga series by Kazune Kawahara.

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