“Those who are able to visually scrutinize the (…) detailed historical narrative space will (…) enjoy the narrative’s atmosphere and appreciate the pacifistic message about tradition and craftsmanship that this atmospheric narrative formulates.”
Despite having made nine full-length feature films, Yoshinari Nishikori still remains a rather unknown director internationally. Without a doubt his latest narrative TataraSamurai, a movie about traditions that seemingly capitalizes on the western need for more jidai-geki, has changed that.
“Igarashi Akiko does prove herself to be a new fresh voice in the Japanese sci-fi genre and a director to watch.”
From 2012 onward, the Osaka Asian Film Festival has provided a platform named ‘The Indie Forum’ where spectators can see the projects of new and upcoming talent. This year, amazing indies like ‘Love and Goodbye and Hawaii’ ‘Swaying Mariko’ and ‘Bamy’ were screened at the festival. And while most upcoming talent is male, there were also some female directors showing of their work. One of these female directors was Igarashi Akiko, who debuted with her first full-length feature film, ‘Visualized hearts’.
“One of the most creative and figurative ghost narratives ever made [that also] turns out to be one of the most pure and disturbing confrontations with the uncanny (…). A classic that will long linger in one’s mind.”
When Toho studios asked Nobuhiko Obayashi, an experimental short film director, to come up with a narrative like Jaws, they never imagined that he, inspired by his daughter’s fantasy and fears, and screenwriter Chiho Katsura would craft such a crazy narrative.
“Sometimes disturbing and confronting, sometimes fun, but ever engaging, the narrative underlines the influence society, (…) has on the subject, and how the collapse of a symbolic structure opens up the possibility to rewrite one’s coming-into-being.”
As zombies have become part of pop culture, it should not come as surprise that zombies or zombie-like creatures have come to be represented in Japanese cinema as well. As narratives like Zombie Ass: Toilet of the Dead (2011), Big Tits Zombie (2010) and the interesting Miss Zombie (2013) imply, the concept of zombies is often given an unique (‘Japanese’) twist.
“Pleasure (…) is to be extracted from the visuals (…) so beautifully framed by the cinematography, and from the way Meiko Kaji with her mesmerizing performance synthesizes the narrative’s mix of genres.”
The King of Cult: Teruo Ishii. With such a prolific and eclectic career, it is no wonder that Ishii is called this way in Japan. And while his oeuvre is eclectic, a certain attraction to the more darker and the more weirder side of humanity has always guided him. This is for instance apparent in his choice to direct the 8 entries of ‘Joys of Torture’ series (1968–1973), a series investigating torture in Japan in a historical context.
“A confronting narrative (…), [exploring] the power of the imaginary and the destructive effects this imaginary can have on the position of the subject within society (…), that is now needed more than ever. “
If there is one contemporary Japanese director that is socially engaged, it is Ogata Takaomi. He proved this engagement with his first feature film Never Ending Blue (2009), which explored abuse and self-mutilation, and confirmed it with his third feature film Sunk in the Womb (2013), which was based on an incident in Osaka where two children were murdered after being abused.
“A [tense] (…) voyeuristic trip through the private spaces of the gokudōsha [that unfortunately is not able] to underline the futility of violence [in the same palpable way as its predecessor].”
When Takeshi Beat released Outrage (2010), it was clear that he personally wanted to try something different with the Yakuza genre he was already so well acquainted with, e.g. Sonatine (1993) and Hanabi (1997). Takeshi Kitano introduced more dialogue, changed the narrative into an ensemble piece, and aimed to create a documentary-like narrative of characters killing each other.