Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Eien no Zero

Eien no Zero (永遠の0) is the third movie to come from the work of Naoki Hyakuta, and the second this year after Monster was released in April. Eien no Zero was Hyakuta's 2006 debut best seller novel, which was also released in a 5 part manga series in 2010.

The story concerns a brother and sister who discover that their real grandfather was an ace pilot during the world war 2 who volunteered for the kamikaze squad. The film deals with some rather sensitive topics of wartime Japan, especially with the recently heightened tensions between Korea and China, and Prime Minister Abe's push to strengthen the Japanese military. The plot of the novel raises the question of whether the Kamikaze pilots are brave war heroes or terrorists, and it'll be interesting to see how that plays out on the screen.

From Ghibli's heart wrenching Grave of the Fireflies to Clint Eastwood's Letters from Iwo Jima, which gave me my first perspective of war from the non-American/Australian side, I'm hoping Eien no Zero provides a valuable perspective on the war, and those who fought it.

The "Zero" in the title is a reference to the A6M Zero used by the Imperial Japanese Army during the Pacific War. Chasing on from Ghibli's latest anime, Kaze Tachinu (風立ちぬ), there is plenty on offer in Japanese cinema this year for fans of World War 2 era Japanese airplanes.

Directed by Takashi Yamasaki (山崎貴) who has found recent success with the Showa era film series, Always 3 Chome. Starring Junichi Okada (岡田准一) and Mao Inoue (井上真央) as war torn lovers in the flashback part of the film and Haruma Miura (三浦春馬) and Kazue Fukuishi (吹石一恵) as the present day grandchildren trying to uncover their families hidden past.

The movie will be released on December 21st in Japan. Check out the film's website here: http://www.eienno-zero.jp/, or follow the news on twitter: https://twitter.com/eienno0_movie

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Tsume to Me

The winner of the 149th Akutagawa Prize for the 1st half of 2013 was announced this month, and awarded to Kaori Fujino's (藤野可織) Tsume to Me (爪と目).

It was published earlier int he year in the April edition of literary magazine Shincho (新潮). You can check out an extract from the story here: http://www.shinchosha.co.jp/shincho/tachiyomi/20130307_1.html

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Oyasumi Pun Pun #12

This series is a rarity for Inio Asano (浅野いにお) currently releasing the 12th and penultimate volume, with the final 13th volume due later in the year. Asano usually writes smaller stories within 1 or 2 volumes, such as A Girl By The Seaside from earlier in the year, or the 2005 hit Solanin.

But the brutal honesty presented in Asano's story are still present. Although how real can a story centered around a anthropomorphic bird-boy be? The surrealistic twist adds a softness to the harsh reality and emotional pain of the central characters.

The art of Asano is sublime, I'd love to frame some his artwork. But it is combined with emotionally crushing and gut wrenching stories that are so honest and painful that I sometimes find them difficult to read. Several years ago I read the first 7 volumes of this series as Pun Pun developed from a cute primary school boy with an innocent crush on a girl in his class, to an awkward adolescent, and onto an introverted sexually confused high school student. Picking up in volume 12, I see that Pun Pun's emotional strain has only increased as he tries to keep his dysfunctional life from disintegrating. Not for the faint of heart, but one of my favourite current series.

Asano Inio on Twitter: https://twitter.com/asano_inio
Oyasumi Pun Pun Website: http://spi-net.jp/rensai_sakuhin/oyasumi_punpun/index.html

I Am A Hero #12

The latest installment of I Am A Hero hit the bookshelves a few weeks ago. Issue 12 wraps up the introduction to the second group survivors including the mentally unstable and ultra-violent Kurusu (来栖).

The safety of the group's hideout becomes exposed after a break in by a wandering zombie, aka ZQN. And tension builds within the group as they argue about where to move.

We see several characters, like Hiromi from the first story line and Kurusu from the second story line, who manage to maintain some of their humanity and do not full succumb to the illness. With slurred speech but an inhumane strength and love of violence, these characters hold the key for the survivors, and future of the series.

These meme of immune and semi-immune carriers is slowly establishing itself as a zombie plot device. From 28 Weeks Later, to the current PS3 hit The Last Of Us, and now I Am A Hero. I mentioned this after the release of volume 11, but I'm really hoping to see this series picked up for a movie adaptation.