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Hajimemashite minna san....welcome to my site on my fave Japanese Pop Culture likes such as dramas, movies, magazine scans, promo events etc. Mainly concentrate on my faves...Risa Watanabe... Bae Suzy... Nogizaka46!....Jin Se-Yeon.... Nanase Nishino!.... if you're a fan at all of any of them then you've come to the right place(!) but many others are featured here besides them. Do mainly quick reviews on things I've watched, try to make the reviews brief, quick to read through with not too many spoilers, just whether they're good or bad and why I thought so plus whether you may find them enjoyable. Many, many screenshots are included from everything I've watched plus any video trailers if they're available. Hope you find something that interests you, don't hesitate to comment, arigato gozaimasu!

Also these days(mid-2017) have many posts for Korean actresses, dramas and films that are worth checking out as over the years have become a much bigger fan of Korean dramas versus the ones from Japan.

Few tidbits....
New item on the right is the 'Featured Post of the Day', will be putting some fabulous oldie posts which some of you may have missed the first time around, most will be at least one year old.

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Monday, June 18, 2018

Nao Kanzaki: Nao's weekly movie series #3....

 No top ten or even twenty film for last week's seven views though every film was a winner. Start these posts a bit early, have watched four films for the week but as of now at a loss what's going to be the top two for the week as so far all are deserving.
 Back after watching my seventh film of the week and it ended up being a  mini Meiko Kaji movie marathon watch as the final four films starred her. Will shake things up a bit and do a few posts for her in the future, she's my #1 actress and woman of all time and bet many young fans have never heard of her. Perhaps if you reside in Japan then know of Meiko as she's had some movie marathons on TV over there such as 'Cool Beauty'. Above is the trailer for my second fave movie of the week which is "Lady Snowblood" from 1973 and is Meiko's best known film outside of Japan.

 First two films are from the 'Late Ozu' box set, Yasujiro Ozu is one of the top Japanese directors of all time and one of my faves. These Criterion sets are highly recommended, have five of them and most of the films are rare ones. Ozu was known for his quiet films which focused on family issues, this set mainly dealt with the daughters of a family getting married.
 One trait of Ozu was that he always used a still camera, that means it never moved. Ozu directed 53 films in his career yet died at an early age, just two years after "The End of Summer" film was released. He did one more film in 1962 titled "An Autumn Afternoon", probably his most known film was "Tokyo Story" from 1953 but every film he did after the war is worth at least one view.

Equinox Flower    1958    118 minutes

Shin Saburi, Ineko Arima, Kinuyo Tanaka, Fujiko Yamamoto

 As mentioned most of Ozu's later works dealt with the a daughter in a family getting married, think an underlying message was of how a family eventually breaks up. Wataru and his wife Kiyoko had a prearranged marriage and wanted their daughter Setsuko do go the same route. However the days are getting more modern and Setsuko wants to marry for love and won't agree to meeting any prospective suitor her father finds.
 Setsuko has her heart set for one man at her company, Wataru refuses to let her see the man but eventually relents to his daughter's wishes, she was a grown woman so there really isn't much a father can say in that situation. My fave character was that of Yukiko who was played by Fujiko, she won a 'Best Actress' award for her role and she's in the first pic. She's still alive these days and she's now 86, Ineko who played Setsuko is also still around and is the same age. This was Ozu's first color film. This was also the highest quality film I've ever seen, can't believe how pristine the picture was as far as the DVD quality went.

 The End of Summer    1961    103 minutes

Ganjiro Nakamura, Setsuko Hara, Yoko Tsukasa, Keiji Kobayashi 

Really the same theme as the above film but done in a slightly different style. Akiko was an unmarried daughter of Manbei but it was because her husband had died and she was raising a son by herself. There were a few attempts to hook her up with the owner of a steel company but by the end of the film she's decided the single life suits her better. Also single was Akiko's sister Noriko but she won't be that way for long. It took a while for her to decide but by the end of the film she's going to accept a marriage proposal from a co-worker. The problem is he's getting transferred to Sapporo, this film takes place in Osaka.
 That's just a quick overview, these posts aren't for reviewing films but mainly for giving some reasons what I really liked or didn't like about them. What makes these Ozu films and others like it is how quiet they are. I prefer the traditional Japanese things and the way they lived so many decades ago, today things are too Westernized. Also what's appealing is that there's zero fighting, swearing, sex, drugs, modern technology, etc. in these films, a solid story is all one needs for a terrific film. Setsuko is an actress worth checking out, she's one of my faves and appeared in so many Ozu movies.

 Mothra versus Gozilla    1964    88 minutes

Akira Takarada, Yuriko Hoshi, Hiroshi Koizumi and.... The Peanuts!

 Sadly Yuriko who played the reporter Junko in the film died on May 16th, she was 75. The Peanuts listed above were twin sisters who were quite a popular J-Pop duo at the time though don't think music was referred to as J-Pop back in those days. There's no doubt the first Godzilla film is the most known one and perhaps the best of the bunch but this film here is my fave of them all. Mothra may not seem like a match to Godzilla but she was for a while, the problem was that Mothra was on her last wings and was about to die.
 But she had laid an egg whcih had washed upon the shores of Japan. Godzilla had risen once again and was about to scramble the large egg until Mothra made an appearance. If the fight was longer Godzilla would have easily won but Mothra distracted him from the egg long enough so it could hatch and out of the egg slithered two centipedes. Though just hatched they knew their mission in life was to destroy Godzilla which they eventually did but as we all know you can't kill the creature as there were about twenty more films in the series after this.
 The Peanuts were miniature gals who were from Infant Island where Mothra was from. Mothra and the islanders wanted no part of saving Japan from Godzilla but with the help of the Peanuts Mothra finally relented and was a part of the defeat of Godzilla. Kind of a fun movie to me with a decent plot, it was in the seventies when the films started to get silly and haven't watched many of them after 1975. This film wasn't number two for the week but easily could have been.

 Female Prisoner #701 1: Scorpion    1972    87 minutes

 Meiko Kaji, Isa Natsuyagi, Rie Yokoyama, Yayoi Watanabe

 Hadn't planned on having the mini Meiko marathon but after watching this film couldn't find myself watching any other films unless they starred my #1 Japanese actress of all time. Back in the 'olden days' films could be made so much quicker and cheaper too, there were four from this series released in one year!
 Meiko played Nami Matsushima in this series, it did go on for a total of seven films but she was just in the first four. Nami didn't start out being a criminal, actually she never became one. Her boyfriend when the movie started was Sugimi who was a high ranking detective in the Tokyo bureau. She helped him break a smuggling operation but he didn't stick up for her as she was beaten and raped by the evil group. That infuriated Nami so much she eventually went after Sugimi with a knife, she was unable to kill him so she was whisked away to jail with the prisoner number 701.
 Plenty of action scenes in the prison and for all who love them there were plenty of shower scenes. Won't give away too many spoilers as this film series definitely needs to be viewed but near the end of the film there was a riot by the female prisoners. In the mayhem Nami was able to escape and avenge the wrongs that were done to her. One by one she managed to stab all those who were involved in her being sent away with Sugimi being the final man killed in what was a fitting ending.

 Female Prisoner #701 4: Grudge Song    1973    92 minutes

 Meiko Kaji, Masakazu Tamura, Hiroshi Tsukata, Akemi Negishi

 This wasn't as highly regarded as the first three films but I like this one quite a bit, it's my second fave of the four Scorpion films that Meiko starred in. She also sang the theme songs to these films and others that she starred in. Besides being an extremely popular actress Meiko was also a singer and a few of her singles sold over a million copies. Do plan on having a couple of 'tribute posts' so will have more info and videos in those posts.
 Though there's four films it's not a continuing story, after the first film you can watch them in any order. Once again Nami had escaped from prison, she had been briefly recaptured but as usual manged to elude the police before they arrived at the prison. In these films Nami is known for not saying that much, she didn't utter a line until the fifty minute mark and in the whole film just said seven lines as her eyes did the talking for her.
 Eventually Nami was recaptured as she was betrayed by a man who at first had helped her. She was scheduled to be hanged but on the day it was going to happen Nami once again managed to escape. However it wasn't a true escape as she had been set up by the detective Hirose who blamed her for his pregnant wife's death. Hirose had brought her to a secluded spot but Nami turned the tables on him as she was about to be hanged, it was him that was left dangling from the rope.

 Lady Snowblood    1973    97 minutes

Meiko Kaji, Hitoshi Takagi, Toshio Kurosawa, Yoshiko Nakada

 This ended up being my second fave film of the week and didn't miss the top spot by too much. This is probably Meiko's best known film outside of Japan, quite an easy DVD to obtain and I highly recommend this movie. Meiko played Yuki in the film, she was born in the year 1874 and most of the action takes place in 1894. Yuki had been born on a snowy night in prison, shortly after her mother passed away.
 Yuki was raised with one mission in life, to avenge her family. Six years before her birth her father and brother had been murdered, her mother was captured and beaten and raped senselessly. Sayo was Yuki's mother's name, of the four who had murdered her husband and son she had manged to kill one of them, Yuki's purpose in life was to find the other three and kill them.
 Vengeance is the theme of this movie, for twenty years Yuki trained with a priest to obtain the skills she needed to hunt down and kill the three scoundrels. This weekly series isn't going too much into detail on what happened in these films but to give a quick overview. Let's just say that Yuki eventually did track down the remaining three villains and killed all of them. Actually one hung themselves just before Yuki could exact her revenge on her but she did slice the woman's body in two with her sword, a scene that has to be seen.
 Exciting ending too as Yuki finally was able to track down the third devil who was also the mastermind behind the original murders. Yuki had been shot in the end and as the film came to it's conclusion it appeared as though she was dead. Yuki may have been but came back to life as there was a sequel to the film the following year which started right where this film ended. The sequel was just so-so at best, have viewed it twice but will probably never watch it again but this film here has one of my highest recommendations ever and it truly is a must watch.

Stray Cat Rock 1: Delinquent Girl Boss    1970    82 minutes

 Meiko Kaji, Akiko Wada, Koji Wada, Tatsuya Fuji

 My number one fave of the week but bet most fans of Japanese films would consider this to be the worst of the seven which wouldn't be a knock on this film by them, just that the previous six are so terrific. This is the first of five films in the series, none have anything to do with each other so it doesn't really matter what order you watch them in. All five star Meiko along with Tatsuya who was a fave of mine during this era which to me was the best period for Japanese films.
 The main star though was Akiko who was quite a hot singer at the time. She's remained quite popular since then and she still hosts at least one variety show. That's her in the bottom two screenshots while the incomparable Meiko is in the top two. All five films follow the happenings of small groups of young twenty somethings. Wouldn't call them delinquents but none of them ever work and just prefer to have fun in life while hustling for money.
 Akiko played Ako who was new in town, she quickly hooked up with Mei's(Meiko) small gang of gals who did nothing but hang out at clubs and create mischief around their part of town. That fun didn't last forever as Mei and her gang got on the wrong side of the Seiyu group who eventually killed Mei's boyfriend Michio. In the first three films Meiko's character gets killed, that happened right at the end as Mei and Ako exacted revenge for Michio's death but in the process Mei was blown away by a shotgun.
 All five of the films in this series need to be viewed, true that none of them are considered classics but you'll find yourself enjoying every film immensely and will probably watch them a few times. All five are superb but this is the film I'm really addicted to as I've viewed this one more than any other film by far. Haven't kept count but bet the total is close to 125 watches, I'll never get tired of this film. May continue the mini marathon one more night and watch the second film in the series which is "Wild Jumbo" and to me is the second best film of the series.

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