Posts Tagged ‘Etsushi Toyokawa’



Part drama, part swordsplay movie SWORD OF DESPERATION tells the story of a swordsman who is being punished for killing an evil mistress and later must battle with powerful enemies.

The movie is directed by Hideyuki Hirayama and based on the novel by  Shohei Fujisawa. Starring are Etsushi Toyokawa, Chizuru Ikewaki, Koji Kikkawa, Naho Toda, Jun Murakami, Megumi Seki, Fumiyo Kohinata and Ittoku Kishibe. Out now.




JAPAN 2009  Directed by: Isao Yukisada  Novel by: Mayumi Nakatani  Written by: Chihiro Itou  Cinematography: Jun Fukumoto  Editing: Tsuyoshi Imai  Music: Yoko Kumagai, Hidehiko Urayama Cast: Etsushi Toyokawa, Hiroko Yakushimaru, Asami Mizukawa, Gaku Hamada, Yuu Shirota, haruka Igawa, Renji Ishibashi, Kaoru Okuniki, Kanji Tsuda

Released only shortly before his stellar PARADE (PAREDO), director Isao Yukisada’s A GOOD HUSBAND tells the story of a thirtysomething couple and their struggle to keep up their marriage. Once a star photographer Shunsuke now prefers staying in bed all day long, a student-like slacker life and betraying his wife with other women. His wife Sakura on the other hand is very anxious to get him back on his feet and working. But he insists that he’s got no inspiration to start working again after a one-year hiatus and rather lets his young assistant do some minor assignments on his behalf. As much as things seem to not go anywhere with Shunsuke and Sakura, their past involving a trip to Okinawa to conceive a baby and the next events slowly start a reflection on what has happened between them and why. And very soon a very special kind of divorce will be taking place.

If PARADE was blurred albeit in an odd way, then A GOOD HUSBAND, based on Mayumi Nakatani’s novel, is dreamy. For a good reason, that is. Yukisada once more displays his talent for nuances and the intimacy of the relationships between his characters. On the surface these relationships seem hollow, sometimes cold, often aimless, but Yukisada is a master of reading in between the lines and he reveals a very different side of these relationships if we are just paying close attention. It is likely that many viewers will disregard Yukisada’s films as superficial or trivial. Well they aren’t. They are subtle and in a way as sophisticated as the human psyche.

What makes A GOOD HUSBAND particularly interesting is its form that follows function in a very conceptual way. That is not a bad thing: Yukisada is timing his movie almost entirely like a stage play. Enter, dialogue, exit, next. Maybe halfway into the movie most buffs will have figured out why that is, yet A GOOD HUSBAND remains fascinating until the (more or less) predictable end. The movie certainly takes its time to get to the point and to show most of its characters’ reasons and emotions, but is beautifully photographed and gracefully paced, and rewards the viewer with a liberating finale.

A GOOD HUSBAND, despite not necessarily featuring the most original of stories, is a unique portrait of a failed professional and husband. Equally it’s the touching story of a love lost and found. A GOOD HUSBAND quintessentially transforms the idea of a picture being worth a thousand words into a cinematic concept.

What’s left to say is that A GOOD HUSBAND may not instantly work for everyone and may feel inaccessible at first, but it grows on you if you let it. Let it.


20th CENTURY BOYS 3 – REDEMPTION a.k.a. 20th CENTURY BOYS 3 – THE LAST CHAPTER: OUR FLAG [20-seiki Shônen: Saishushô – Bokura no Hata | 20世紀少年 最終章/ぼくらの旗]


Japan 2009  Directed by: Yukihiko Tsutsumi  Manga: Naoki Urasawa  Script: Yasushi Fukuda, Takashi Nagasaki, Yusuke Watanabe  Production: Morio Amagi, Ryuuji Ichiyama, Nobuyuki Iinuma, Futoshi Ohira, Seiji Okuda  Cinematography: Satoru Karasawa  Editing: Noboyuki Ito  Music: Ryomei Shirai  Cast: Toshiaki Karasawa, Takako Tokiwa, Etsushi Toyokawa, Airi Taira, Teruyuki Kagawa, Hitomi Kuroki, Hiroyuki Miyasako, Renji Ishibashi, Naoto Takenaka, Nana Katase, Chizuru Ikewaki, Kuranosuke Sasaki, Fumiyo Kohinata

The third and last chapter of the 20TH CENTURY BOYS saga is kind of one big showdown. Everything will be resolved: Friend’s identity, his reasons and the question, what exactly his relationship with Kenji and his friends is. At the peak of Friend’s reign doomsday is near and his opponents are willing to do everything in order to stop him. Kanna and la résistance are ready to take on Friend face to face – but can they prevent the worst? Can anyone get to Friend or stop his master plan on time?

20TH CENTURY BOYS – REDEMPTION begins with a short summary of the previous episodes, but that will not be enough to understand what has happened so far. If you haven’t seen part 1 & 2 or read the manga you shouldn’t bother watching REDEMPTION. For fans however CHAPTER 3 is the worthy conclusion of an outstanding film trilogy that dares all and wins all. This time the tension reaches new heights and various new twists are pushing the story to the limit until the end – and end that consists of various endings.

While some of it may be predictable the grand finale is a neat web of deception that’s simply fun to watch. The “first“ ending is intentionally disappointing, whereas the second ending is by far more satisfying. It is interesting to see how the who-dunnit plot more and more turns into a why-dunnit plot. This is a strength and a weakness at the same time: 20TH CENTURY BOYS has spent a substantial amount of its running time to make us believe the who-dunnit question is the key we’re looking for. But those who are particularly interested in Friend’s identity must be warned – REDEMPTION does not offer a really satisfying answer.

Instead the “why” is now our main concern, which is fine with me but it also disappoints expectations. Overall the why is far more interesting though: the psyche of the deviant dictator has always been the central motif of the manga and even if REDEMPTION and its predecessors do not tell us anything really new here they raise our awareness for past regimes and future dictatorships just as effectively as any other film dealing with similar topics.

Instead of painting the world in black and white REDEMPTION blurs the line between good and evil: perhaps it’s not exactly true that societies per se get the government they deserve, but each and every one of us is responsible for what constitutes society at the end of the day. Friend’s “career” clearly reminds us of certain historical figures and raises the question whether and how such a friend can be prevented. In addition the attack of the Ōmu Shinrikyō („Aum“) sect and their attack of the Tokyo Metro is clearly alive in the memories of the Japanese – 20TH CENTURY BOYS can’t hide its local origins.

REDEMPTION, garnished with a touch of BATTLE ROYALE II, is fast, furious, complex and amusing. Who’s paying attention may have learned a lesson or two about ourselves and about the fact that actions must always uphold ethical and moral standards since we cannot rely on getting a second chance.

20TH CENTURY BOYS – REDEMPTION is serious entertainment, but most of all it’s a categorical imperative in celluloid.