Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Momotaro sponsored by Pepsi Next

A bit of a different post today. Maybe I should be asking Suntory for some free samples, but I love the new Pepsi ad starting Shun Oguri (小栗旬). It is a remake of the Japanese fairy tale Momotaro (桃太郎). For those that don't know the story, Momotaro is found by an elderly couple after floating down the river inside a giant peach. Momotaro grows up and goes on a quest (along with a monkey, dog and pheasant) to save the troubled island Onigashima from a marauding hoard of demons. The commercial is very nicely done, and I'd love to see a full length feature film along the lines of the 2009 film adaptation of Where The Wild Things Are. Momotaro is played by Japanese heart throb Shun Oguri. I'm a big fan of his work, I would compare him to a young Johnny Depp or Brad Pitt, in that he doesn't rely on his good looks but also chooses interesting roles. He has played the lead roles in several film adaptations of popular manga including Uchu Kyodai (宇宙兄弟), Gaku (岳), and Crows (クローズ). He also appears frequently on stage productions including the lead in a Japanese production of Clockwork Orange. His next movie is a live action version of Lupin the Third (ルパン三世). Anyway, here is the ad, this looks like the first in a series of ads.

The Wake Of 3/11

I mentioned earlier this month documentary film maker Nao Kubota's (久保田直) film Ieji (家路) dealing with the aftermath of the earthquake and tsunami that hit north eastern Japan on March 11th 2011. This week The Daily Beast has an interesting article about Ring director Hideo Nakata's (中田秀夫) upcoming documentary, The Wake of 3/11. Check it out here:

Sunday, March 9, 2014

37th Japanese Academy Awards - Winners

The winners of the 37th Japanese Academy Awards were announced on Friday night. I gave a run through of the movies that were up for the major awards back in January, you can read that here. But now on to the winners.

The Great Passage (舟を編む)
Best Picture
Best Director - Yuya Ishi (石井裕也)
Best Actor - Ryuhei Matsuda (松田龍平)
Best Screenplay - Kensaku Watanabe (渡辺謙作)
Best Sound Recording - Hirokazu Kato (加藤大和)
Best Film Editing - Shinichi Fushima (普嶋信一)

The Wind Rises (風立ちぬ)
Best Animation
Best Music - Joe Hisaishi (久石譲)

Like Father, Like Son (そして父になる)
Best Supporting Actor - Lily Franky (リリー・フランキー)
Best Supporting Actress - Yoko Maki (真木よう子)

Sayonara Keikoku (さよなら渓谷)
Best Actress - Yoko Maki (真木よう子)

The Unforgiven (許されざる者)
Best Cinematography - Koichi Watanabe (渡邊孝一)

Ask this of Rikyu (利休にたずねよ)
Best Art Direction - Takashi Yoshida (吉田孝)

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

I Am A Hero #14

It's a good week for zombie fans Japan this week in Japan, Hulu Japan start showing the second half of Season 4 of The Walking Dead from Thursday, and the volume 14 of Kengo Hanazawa's I Am A Hero was released.

The cover illustration shows off some fan service, as the protagonists (Hideo, Hiromi, and Oda) find themselves cornered in an onsen in Hakone and decide to make the best of the situation by taking a relaxing soak. I'm still a bit undecided about how I feel about the unexpected turn of events, I won't spoil things here, but it's odd to say the least.

I Am A Hero has been out paced by The Walking Dead, and upstaged by The Last of Us, but still feel it's a worthy read for those looking for more zombies.

Follow Kengo Hanzawa on Twitter:


The latest film starring Kenichi Matsuyama (松山ケンイチ) tells a story lies close to my heart. Directed by documentary film maker Nao Kubota (久保田直), Ieji (家路), which translates to The Homeward Road, tells the story of a family from a farming community that was evacuated due to it's proximity to the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. Jiro, played by Kenichi with a Fukushima accent, sets out to cultivate and rebuild the contaminated land.
Ieji is currently in limited release in Japan, and was shown at this year's Berlin International Film Festival.
Film Website: