Bloody Monday – Episode 3 (Review)

BLOODY MONDAY
Episode 3

Review by David Cirone

SUMMARY
Maya doesn’t buy Falcon’s story, and she pulls a gun on him. Before she can pull the trigger, she’s shot through the open window by a nearby THIRD-i sniper. Seems like Falcon pulled some cell-phone trickery to bring THIRD-i to the scene, and they take the wounded Maya into custody.

Senior THIRD-i operative Ikuma Kano (Yutaka Matsushige) doesn’t waste any time. He gets Maya bandaged up and straps her in for some shock therapy interrogation. She doesn’t give in easily, and Kano keeps up the pressure. Maya agrees to reveal the location of Takagi Sr. if Falcon accompanies them on the drive.



Kano gets ready to bring the pain.

Kano and Hoshou are assigned to handle the mission, and they pack Maya and Falcon into the van. THIRD-i director Kirishima keeps tabs on them from central command, and it isn’t long before they realize they’re being tailed by a suspicious car.

Maya asserts that someone in the van must be a traitor, and she takes the opportunity to play some head games with the crew to raise the tension. Is the traitor Hoshou or Kano?



Kirishima handles the operation from THIRD-i’s command center.

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Bloody Monday – Episode 2 (Review)

BLOODY MONDAY
Episode 2

Review by David Cirone

SUMMARY
The shopping mall gas bomb is revealed to be a fake, used to measure Third-i’s response tactics. To tighten the screws on Falcon even more, the terrorists kidnap Haruka (again), this time attaching her to another gas bomb. Could this one be the real thing? THIRD-i operative Hoshou (Nana Katase) jumps in against orders to disarm it.


Haruka-bomb

Religious cult leader Kamishima (Kyusaku Shimada) is in prison, tempting his way into the mind of cuckolded guard. “If there’s someone you want dead, I’ll do it for you.” We get clued in on the guard’s wife’s cheating ways, and yeah, she’s got it coming.


Kamishima (Kyusakau Shimada) plays with a guard’s head

Falcon’s father Takagi Sr. (Tetsushi Tanaka) is on the run, framed for the murder of a government official. He manages a quick phone call to his son, issuing a single warning: (you guessed it…) “Bloody Monday”. The cops stake out the family home, but Fujimaru doesn’t mind the surveillance. He knocks on their car window and simply requests, “Protect Haruka.”

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Bloody Monday – Episode 1 (Review)

BLOODY MONDAY
Episode 1

Review by David Cirone

SUMMARY
Bloody Monday wants to be 24 really, really badly. Fans of the Kiefer Sutherland’s thriller series will instantly recognize counter-terrorism unit THIRD-i’s split-level concrete and glass command center, the series’ slick production design, and yes– even a Janeane Garofalo look-alike.

Just like 24, the plot is set in motion by a double-cross in an exotic locale, introducing the deadly and beautiful Maya (Michiko Kichise). Her terrorist group is starting the countdown to drop a virus on Tokyo.


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Haruma Miura as Fujimaru Takagi aka Falcon

Frightened by early threat warnings, THIRD-i pulls 17-year-old master-hacker Fujimaru Takagi (Haruma Miura) out of retirement to help track down the terrorists. Fujimaru’s known in secret circles as “Falcon,” and at 17, he’s old enough to (a) be a master hacker and (b) already retired due to his father’s high-level position at THIRD-i, his younger sister’s Haruka’s dialysis treatments, and a previous run-in with the government 2 years ago.


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Tetsushi Tanaka as Ryonosuke Takagi


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Michiko Kichise as Maya

All is forgiven, though, if Falcon agrees to help THIRD-i. But the terrorists also want Falcon’s help, and they kidnap Haruka to help make their case. Falcon plays both sides against each other and manages to rescue her, but the terrorists are just getting started (10 more episodes to go…!).

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Haruka Ayase – Nintendo 3DS (CM)

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Top Japan actress Haruka Ayase in new commercial for Nintendo 3DS game system.

SHUFFLE (trailer)

Trailer for the DVD / BD release of SHUFFLE / シャッフル :

Drama / thriller starring:
Nobuaki Kaneko, from Buzzer Beat, Samurai High School, Risou no Musuko (Perfect Son), Hard Romanticker.
Kento Kaku, from Paradise Kiss, Samurai High School, Young Black Jack
Kenta Kamakari, from Prince of Tennis, Princess Princess D

SHUFFLE Official Website

Japanese Salaryman NEO (trailer)

New trailer for Japanese Salaryman NEO (movie):

Asian Wiki page for Japanese Salaryman NEO
JETRO page for Japanese Salaryman NEO
Japanese Salaryman NEO Official website (Japanese)

BLOOD The Last Vampire (live action) (Review)

BLOOD The Last Vampire
Review by David Cirone

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All the live-action, none of the cool.
Sloppy adaptation of a revered anime classic.

The great thing about Production I.G.’s original is that it celebrated the “blood” of the title — even in 2D, the anime version’s blood had texture, and there were buckets of it. This film holds back, as if measuring out a pre-determined limit. Maybe that was a budget problem, or maybe the producers were wary of freaking out the moms who brought their target teenage audience into the R-rated flick.

The production designers quickly drop the 70’s Kodak filters, shifting to Matrix-wannabe crisp lighting and over-saturated colors. All the better to show off the bad CG and rubber suits. There are some moments where the cinematography and action scenes look really good, and the film’s third-act showdown finally strikes the perfect balance in visual style.

Cardboard acting across the board in the supporting cast (I’ve seen anime-convention masquerade skits with more feeling). The gymnasium duel scene early in the film is nearly comical. GIANNA does her best in the lead role of Saya, but her stiff acting and troubled English cause the editor to cut away from her as quickly as possible, in an obvious attempt to keep us from feeling the emptiness of her performance. Model KOYUKI as the villainess Onigen fares much better, and her scenes at the film’s climax are a treat. She combines style and power so believably, I wish there was a whole film about her character.

Recommendation:
Watch the anime first, then fast-forward the film version to the exceptional final chapters.

Life is Dead – new zombie comedy

Japanese zombie comedy “Life is Dead” (ライフ・イズ・デッド)

The film stars Arai Atshushi and Higa Rino as two teens dealing with the outbreak of UDV (UnDead Virus).