More Reviews Coming Up

I just saw not one but TWO movies I’ve been anticipating since I’ve heard of their release. I was sooooo happy when I found them. It takes awhile for them to get subtitle and even though I’ve studied Japanese, I’m not that much of an expert to watch it without a little help ^^; Anyway the movies were….

Paradise Kiss

Centering around a girl name Yukari Hayasaka (played by Keiko Kitagawa) who dutifully studies for her college entrance exams everyday at her mother’s insistence, but found no joy in the act (who can blame her?) She chances upon a group of student from a fashion design school and they insist she become their run-way model for their fashion show. Whose insistence will she follow? Or not follow anyone’s at all?

Kaasan, Mom’s Life

You’d think a movie about a manga-ka, or comic book artist in Japan, who writes about motherhood in a very humorous tone will have an equally humorous life. That’s where life is strange and the people in it are stranger. Rieko Saibara (played by Kyoko Koizumi)  juggles motherhood, the hectic deadlines of a manga-ka, and her alcoholic husband. Her life is never boring, nor is it ever normal. Will it ever be?

Both reviews will be on in the coming weeks! 🙂


Summer Wars | Review

Directed by: Mamoru Hosoda
Animated by: Madhouse
Released in:  2009

Overall Rating: B+

I saw this movie a few weeks ago and was planning on writing a review for it when the magnitude (now rounded up to) 9.0 earthquake hit Japan on March 11th. Coincidentally, I find a warm connection between what happened in the movie and the disaster that actually happened in Japan.

Told through the life of Kenji Koiso, an 11th grader gifted in math, Summer Wars tells a story of a modern Japan where the country and the rest of the world is linked to an online network known as OZ. People can access the network through their electronic devices that range from portable gaming devices like the Nintendo DS to cellphones. OZ is more or less the equivalent of the internet but more advanced. Not only is it a place to meet people and find information, it also provides the data backbone of hospitals, traffic system, and other important systems for the real world. Once inside, your security is assured thanks to the most advance encryption system known to mankind protecting each and everyone’s information.

Of course that’s a big lie and there’s a crack in everything. When Kenji  solved a math equation sent to his phone, it opens to door for a powerful AI called Love Machine to invade OZ and takes control of everyone’s account. These accounts, unfortunately, include those that could influence real life such as the ones said above and other high profile account like a satellite system that can be programed to crash into a nuclear power plant and let’s not forget all the nuclear weapons of the world as well. When OZ breaks down and along with it the orderliness of the real world, can a nerdy math geek save the day? Read more at



The Director Behind “Norwegian Wood”

Hi there! So guess where I went for a week in December? Japan! That’s right, my friend and I said to ourselves one night, “Let’s go to Japan on our winter break.” So we saved up our money, scoured the internet for the best deals, found it, book it, and went for it. It was great! I had a great time. I’m talking about my trip over at in posts My Trip to Japan: Part 1 & Part 2. There are more to come.

That’s not what I want to talk about though. While I was in Japan, a commercial for a Japanese movie was constantly playing on TV. The movie is Norwegian Wood and is adapted from a book by Haruki Murakami that goes by the same name. The movie stars Kenichi Matsuyama (L from Death Note) and Rinko Kikuchi (Ryo from Liar Game II) and a host of other stars. Being a Japanese movie, I was surprised to find out the director of the movie is actually Vietnamese! The director is Anh Hung Tran who is a reputable director from Vietnam who immigrated to France after the Vietnam War. Continue reading →

Spirited Away | Review

A new review, finally! It’s my first review as part of my collaboration with Enjoy!

English title: Spirited Away
Japanese title: 千と千尋の神隠し (Sen to Chihiro no Kamikakushi)
Sen and Chihiro Being Spirited Away
Directed by: Hayao Miyazaki
Animated by: Studio Ghibli
Released in: 2001 (Japan), 2002 (US)

Overall rating: A+

The story begins with Chihiro in the car with her parents as they drive to their new home. Chihiro is noticeably unhappy about the move and remained in a sour mood for the entire drive. Her mood only worsens when her dad gets lost and decides to take a short-cut through the woods. They come to an abrupt stop when the road runs out and before them a mysterious passageway. The family walks through to find an abandoned theme-park with freshly cooked foods abound. As Chihiro’s parents gluttonously eat the food, she wanders around the park and suddenly bumps into a young boy. He warns her to get her parents out of here before dark, but it was already too late. Chihiro returns to find her parents missing or rather they’ve turned into pigs! The way back to the car has also disappeared now replaced by a river. As the sun too vanishes and overtaken by the night’s sky, the park is transformed into a busy bathhouse for the spirits who roams freely in the new environment. Lost, alone, and now in another world, Chihiro must finds her parents and return home. That is, if she can remember the way. Read more here.


Asia Remakes American Movie

There’s a common sense of “UGH, not again” in the Asian drama crowds when Hollywood studios remake a cinematic work from Asia (i.e. My Sassy Girl, Il Mare, The Ring, etc). I don’t know about you, but I always have this bloating sense of disgust because I know in my heart it won’t comes out pretty (pun intended). However, this time it’s the other way around. A famous Hollywood movie by the name of Ghost is getting a makeover in the land of the rising sun.

It stars Nanako Matsushima as the fallen girlfriend and Song Seung Hun plays the grieving boyfriend. The movie is called Ghost: Mou Ichido Dakishimetai (Ghost:  I Want to Hold You One More Time). A little twist to the classic story line. I wonder if it’ll play out like the original story or there will be more twist to the tale. Asian culture has always put an emphasis on the dead and ghost stories are not just something to tell on Halloween but a part of life. In many Asian countries, people practice “death day” where the family will cook a meal and honor a dead family member on the day of their death. As such, movies about ghosts are more or less common place which begs the question of how will this movie strive to be original and different? I have to say I’m a little curious. No bloating sense of disgust…yet.

Good-bye, Mr. Kon

I regret to announce that on August 24th, fame director Satoshi Kon died from pancreatic cancer at the age of 46. I’ve mentioned him many times on this blog, most recently on my post comparing Inception with his animated movie Paprika. Kon also directed one of my all-time favorite animated movie – Millennium Actress. Upon his death, it is reported that he was working on a movie called Yume-Miru Kikai. SOURCE: Tokyograph

RIP Mr. Kon, you will be miss.