Archive for the ‘JP YEAR OF PRODUCTION 2008’ Category



JAPAN 2008  Directed by: Akira Hirose Cast: Yoichi Matsuda, Sasa Handa, Ryo Akanishi, Lulu Anoa, Mina Asa

Originally released in Japan as OPPAI CHANBARA (“Breast Chanbara”) the movie recently found its way to the western hemisphere, relabeled as CHANBARA STRIPTEASE.

I didn’t expect too much from “the makers of CHANBARA BEAUTY”, but CHANBARA STRIPTEASE is underwhelming even by their standards. The plot, dealing with a young woman inheriting mystical martial arts techniques from her family and being sent back in time to ancient Japan does its job to deliver an excuse for what’s supposed to follow, the issue is that nothing’s following, at least not what most fans out there would expect from a questionable masterpiece like this.

Apart from the key characters flashing their breasts now and then CHANBARA STRIPTEASE lacks the ingredients most Japanese slam-bang genre flicks are famous for. There is little to zero violence (and if, then it’s mostly happening off-screen), almost no noticeable special effects, a very rudimental cast dressed in ridiculous costumes and an enormous absence of choreography. CHANBARA STRIPTEASE is free of cinematic qualities, instead it’s borderline amateurish.

What once was supposed to be action, gore and black humor is now replaced by silliness. CHANBARA STRIPTEASE may very well be one of the silliest flicks of its kind, but that doesn’t mean it’s funny, or entertaining. Quite the opposite: despite its 60 something minutes it’s a drag to watch, no breast in the universe can compensate you for the tedious script, acting and direction.

So whatever you expect from a movie like this, the “creators of whatsoever” or a title like CHANBARA STRIPTEASE, you’re not going to find it here. CHANBARA STRIPTEASE is not a film, it’s a vacuum. Go and look elsewhere.





Japan 2008   Directed by: Yukihiko Tsutsumi  Production: Morio Amagi, Ryuuji Ichiyama, Hideyuki Sakurai, Nobuyuki Iinuma  Manga: Naoki Urasawa  Script: Yasushi Fukuda, Takashi Nagasaki, Naoki Urasawa, Yusuke Watanabe  Cinematography: Satoru Karasawa  Music: Ryomei Shirai  Editing: Nobuyuki Ito  Cast: Toshiaki Karasawa, Etsushi Toyokawa, Takako Tokiwa, Teruyuki Kagawa, Kuranosuke Sasaki

A manga artist is thrown into jail for criticizing the regime. There he meets a mysterious prisoner who tells him a tale of true heroes and very dark powers: at the end of the previous century a group of young boys creates the somewhat ultimate villain, a dictator who terrorizes the world with biological weapons and downtown Tokyo with a giant combat robot.

The children compile these and other fictitious scenarios of destruction in a sketchbook and bury it somewhere close to their playground. Many years later however the prophecies come true, and a new mysterious sect and its leader named „Friend“ take control of large parts of Japan before turning into a political party that is aiming for world domination.

Surprisingly Friend’s party logo resembles the very same symbol the boys had invented years ago for their villain – a coincidence that brings the boys who are already thirtysomethings now back together decades later. They need to find out who’s behind the recent events – because it must be one of them, or at least someone they know. But that’s only the beginning and very soon they’ll find out how much involved into the events they really are.

20TH CENTURY BOYS, an adaptation of Naoki Urasawa’s epic manga, is revealing the early years of the main characters and follows their journey into the 20th century. For a large part 20TH CENTURY BOYS is an intelligent coming-of-age drama with interesting, multidimensional characters. At the same time the film documents how society changes over the decades and furthermore until the arrival of the new century. Even if the film doesn’t provide detailed evidence for the profound changes it nevertheless succeeds to capture the feeling of a society that develops from a warm and caring organism into a place of technocracy, isolation and depression. Everybody seeks redemption. Nobody is innocent. Friend, this highly symbolic icon and self-proclaimed world president faces little resistance in a society that has no more dreams, values or goals left to fight for. So it’s up to our (anti-) heroes to save Japan as they seem to be the only ones who can see right through Friend and his motifs and know better than anyone else what he might be up to in the near future.

With 20TH CENTURY BOYS Yukihiko Tsutsumi proves once more that he’s the right man for odd stuff, and this time he has chosen a story of truly encyclopedic proportions to show his sense for the unconventional. The characters are quirky, the storyline is an unpredictable rollercoaster ride and the attention to often strange details is outstanding. Even though Tsutsumi sticks very close to the original manga he has managed to separate the relevant from the not-so-relevant despite the enormous variety of events and characters. Furthermore is 20TH CENTURY BOYS yet another proof for the Japanese obsession with the fictional destruction of their own country in all possible forms of popular culture, and Tsutsumi is a specially talented and playful master of destruction who finds just the right balance between shock and laughter.

20TH CENTURY BOYS is indeed a fantastic film with many reference points to reality. The outstanding cast as well as Tsutsumi’s regular film team manage the complex plot, the numerous twists and of course the great finale with ease, putting the film in a class of its own. 20TH CENTURY BOYS is uncompromising entertainment while elegantly placing a serious message about totalitarian regimes and the recent history of Japan itself within a mainstream audience.

Those who think they might just want to try out this first part of the 20TH CENTURY BOYS trilogy beware: this one and the second part do not have an actual ending, nor do they have a partial answer to the question who Friend is and why he’s doing what he’s doing. Once you start you’ll have to watch the next two parts as well. No problem though: 20TH CENTURY BOYS leaves us craving for more. Much more.