With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013

With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013
With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013

Thursday, April 29, 2010

ACF 555: Gintama Collection 1 now available

Section23 Films has announced the release of GINTAMA COLLECTION 1 from Sentai Filmworks. The 2 DVD set includes all 12 episodes.

It’s like the Seven Samurai, except with more aliens, giant animals and bazookas!

SYNOPSIS: Life isn’t easy in feudal Japan… especially since the aliens landed and conquered everything! Oh sure, the new health care is great, but the public ban on the use of swords has left a lot of defeated samurai with a difficult career choice! This is especially true if they’re not particularly inclined towards holding a day job, which is why Gintoki Sakata’s opted for the freelance route, taking any job that’s offered to him as long as the money’s right. Unfortunately, in a brave new world filled with stray bug-eyed monsters, upwardly mobile Yakuza and overly ambitious E.T. entrepreneurs, those jobs usually don’t pay as well as they should for the pain, suffering and indignities endured!!

Title: GINTAMA COLLECTION 1
Running Time: 325 min.
Age Rating: TV 14 (V,S,L)
Language: Japanese with English Subtitles
Published by: Sentai Filmworks
Distributed by: Section23 Films
Street Date: 4/27/2010
Format: DVD
SRP: $39.98

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

ACF 554: MAOH: JUVENILE REMIX coming May 11th, 2010 from VIZ Media

MAOH JUVENILE REMIX © 2007 Kotaro ISAKA, Megumi OSUGA/Shogakukan

VIZ MEDIA OFFERS A BATTLE OF BRAINS VERSUS BRAWN
IN NEW MANGA SERIES MAOH: JUVENILE REMIX

A Boy With A Special Power May Be The Key To Saving A City In A Story Of Courage, Determination And Confrontation

VIZ Media is bringing MAOH: JUVENILE REMIX to North American audiences on May 11th. The new series, by Megumi Osuga and Kotaro Isaka, will be published under the SHONEN SUNDAY imprint, is rated ‘T+’ for Older Teens, and will carry an MSRP of $9.99 U.S. / $12.99 CAN.

In the city of Nekota, where rapid modernization threatens everything the longtime residents hold dear, one young man stands up to oppose the progress. Inukai and his team of vigilantes, known as Grasshopper, protect the citizens from the rising crime wave and the greedy businessmen bent on turning every block into a strip mall. But what is this public hero’s true motive? Is this angelic man really a devil in disguise?

Ando is a high school student who has the power to make others say out loud what he's thinking. In this chaotic city, these two will come together to weave a story of courage, determination and confrontation. But will this be enough to uncover Inukai’s secrets and stop the plot to control the city?

“It’s a cat and mouse chase and battle of wills between two sides with differing ideals as creator Megumi Osuga and Kotaro Isaka set the stage for an engrossing story with MAOH,” says Alexis Kirsch, Editor, VIZ Media. “The new series shows that as crazy as one’s ideas may seem, as long as you believe in yourself and tackle problems head-on, one has the power change the world. This is the perfect addition to our SHONEN SUNDAY library and we are excited to bring this intriguing series to our fans.”

Megumi Osuga made her debut in Shonen Sunday R with the manga series, Tonpachi, and also had a short series called Honou no Ana no Yomi featured in Shonen Sunday Super. MAOH: JUVINILE REMIX launched in Weekly Shonen Sunday in 2007.

Born in 1971 in Chiba Prefecture, Kotaro Isaka is one of the most popular Japanese novelists and has received numerous awards. He has many titles under his belt, and most of them have been turned into live-action movies.

To read free previews of MAOH: JUVENILE REMIX or for more information on other SHONEN SUNDAY series, please visit www.shonensunday.com.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

ACF 553: Kekkaishi to air on Adult Swim beginning May 29th

VIZ MEDIA LICENSES KEKKAISHI ANIME
SERIES TO ADULT SWIM

Life Is A Wild Adventure For A Teenager Balancing Girls,
Junior High School And Nighttime Demon Slaying

VIZ Media has licensed 52 episodes of the popular Shonen Sunday KEKKAISHI anime series to Adult Swim for domestic broadcast beginning May 29th, 2010.

KEKKAISHI is based on the hit manga series by Yellow Tanabe (also published in North America by VIZ Media). A story of mystical forces powerful in the region known as Karasumori. For over 400 years, it has been the duty of a clan of “kekkaishi”—barrier masters—to guard this land and exterminate the supernatural creatures that are drawn to it night after night.

Yoshimori Sumimura is a junior high school student at Karasumori Academy, which is built upon the Karasumori grounds. By night, Yoshimori follows the tradition passed down through generations and fulfills his destiny as the twenty-second “kekkaishi” of the Sumimura clan. But by day, Yoshimori's got other demons to contend with, like an obsession with cake making and a seriously crotchety grandfather! Yoshimori's pretty neighbor, childhood friend and rival, Tokine Yukimura, is also a “kekkaishi,” but their families are caught up in a feud over who is the true practitioner of the art. Protecting ordinary people from the ever-present danger of the Karasumori grounds, Yoshimori will continue to grow stronger as he battles the forces of evil again tonight!

“Kekkaishi spotlights compelling cool characters, in an intense yet fun-filled supernatural action adventure saga. It possesses all of the hallmarks of great anime!” says William Germain, Director, Programming & Music Sales, VIZ Media. We are very excited to add KEKKAISHI to the Adult Swim anime lineup for U.S. fans to enjoy.”

More information on KEKKAISHI at http://www.shonensunday.com/.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

ACF 552: Le Portrait De Petite Cossette

Section23 Films has announced the DVD release of LE PORTRAIT DE PETITE COSSETTE, a dark gothic masterpiece about love and obsession.

SYNOPSIS: What happens when the face you see in a reflection isn’t your own? That’s the shock that awaits Eiri Kurahashi when he sees the living image of Cossette d'Auvergne in a glass in his uncle’s antique shop. Infatuated, he becomes possessed and mysteriously makes contact with the beautiful young aristocrat, only to learn that she was murdered 250 years earlier.

Now, her soul trapped inside the goblet, she can only be set free if someone is willing to pay for the sins of her murderer, the artist Marcelo… who may very well have been reincarnated as Eiri! As shadowy forces surround Eiri, his love for Cossette drives him down a tortuous path of self-destruction, while those who love him in the real world can only watch in horror

Title: LE PORTRAIT DE PETITE COSSETTE
Running Time: 120 min.
Age Rating: TV 14 (V, S, L)
Language: English and Japanese with English Subtitles
Published by: Sentai Filmworks
Distributed by: Section23 Films
SRP: $19.98

Friday, April 23, 2010

ACF 551: Northeast Asia New (York) exhibition coming to The Korea Society

Northeast Asia New (York) Gallery Opening
Thursday, April 29 at 6:00 PM

I'm pleased to pass on this information and invitation from The Korea Society about an interesting upcoming exhibition and gallery opening.

WHAT:
From winning gold at the Winter Olympics to hosting November's G-20 summit, Korea has emerged as a vibrant leader in sports, policy, and the arts. The Korea Society is celebrating the run-up to the G-20 by showcasing new artists from Northeast Asia in an exhibition of their latest works titled Northeast Asia New (York). New York residents all, these young visionaries share their images of the City, reflecting on the challenges of urbanization and the search for the contemplative. With styles distinctly Asian and cosmopolitan, Hao Chang (China), Maki Teshima (Japan), and Zola Nyambuu (Mongolia) explore the image in modern society, recollecting the work of late contemporary great Nam June Paik (Korea), whom the exhibition honors.

Dr. Stephen Noerper, Senior Vice President of The Korea Society praises the selected artists as "visionaries and nomads, who through their photography and printmaking, remind us of the vibrancy of this metropolis and, in tribute to the late Nam June Paik, of the power of the image in modern society. As Korea brings the G-20 nations to Seoul this fall, so too The Korea Society is proud to gather together such talent from Northeast Asia. Chang shows us grand cityscapes in a toy-like montage, Teshima employs printmaking technique—a global contribution of ancient Korea—with modern photographic overlay, and Nyambuu wields a powerful lens in capturing both the majestic and contemplative."

Join us as The Korea Society launches its Young Professionals Month and Asian Pacific American Heritage Month festivities. The opening will feature a soju and sake tasting.

WHEN:
Thursday, April 29 from 6-9pm (comments at 7pm)

WHERE:
The Korea Society
950 Third Avenue @ 57th Street, 8th Floor
(Building entrance on SW corner of Third Avenue and 57th Street)

The Korea Society is dedicated to the promotion of greater awareness, understanding and cooperation between the people of the United States and Korea. Please visit www.koreasociety.org.

ACF 550: Nemuri Kyoshiro At Bay: The Sword of Seduction at Japan Society

© Kadokawa Pictures, Inc.

Nemuri Kyoshiro At Bay: The Sword of Seduction
(Nemuri Kyoshiro Joyo Ken)
A.K.A. Sleepy Eyes of Death 4
Directed by Kazuo Ikehiro
Japan, 1964, color, 87 min.
Showtime: Saturday, April 24th, 2010 at 7:00 PM

This episode is regarded as one of the best in the Nemuri Kyoshiro series of films, the first twelve of which starred Raizo Ichikawa and the final two which starred Hiroki Matsukata, after Ichikawa's death. It was the first one that Kazui Ikehiro directed, and it was a good thing that the film was a hit. The first three had not been particularly successful and the studio indicated that it would discontinue the series if number four didn't work.

A terrific film by any standard, its success is due in part to Ikehiro including elements from Renzaburo Shibata's books, upon which the films were based, that had not been used in the previous movies. Key among these was introducing the secret of Nemuri's illegitimate birth. Ikehiro also took a cue from the early James Bond films and used "Bond girl" femme fetales to inject a spark of sexuality -- though not nudity -- into the mix.

Not surprisingly, The Sword of Seduction, like several other films in Japan Society's The Double Edged Sword film series, gets a 3.5 out of 4 star rating and is very highly recommended.

Here's a synopsis from the Japan Society website:

Half-breed warrior Nemuri (“Sleepy-Eyed”) Kyoshiro, the other most popular swordsman of all time (alongside Zatoichi), and the self-proclaimed "Son of the Black Mass," was the archetypal anti-hero: dark, romantic and desperate! Widely considered to be the strongest entry in the wonderfully perverse and violent samurai Nemuri saga, The Sword of Seduction finds the shadowy outcast mixed up in a labyrinthine intrigue involving persecuted Christians, opium smuggling, a drug-addled princess, and a search for a holy Madonna!


The Sword of Seduction is part of the Monthly Classic Series The Double Edged Sword: The Chambara Films of Shintaro Katsu & Raizo Ichikawa

For the Japan Society website page for this film, which includes a link for ordering tickets online, click here.

And don't forget that earlier on Saturday, at 5:00 PM, there will be a separate screening of New Tale of Zatoichi.

Finally, I must acknowledge using some information from Patrick Galloway's Warring Clans, Flashing Blades and Chris D.'s Outlaw Masters of Japanese Film in my comments above. Anyone with a serious interest in the kinds of films they describe should own both of these invaluable books.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

ACF 549: More NYAFF 2010 news

The New York Asian Film Festival 2010 will run June 25 - July 8. I'll continue to do my best to keep readers updated. But I strongly, very strongly, and most strongly urge you to check out the Subway Cinema/New York Asian Film Festival sites listed at the bottom of this post. In the meanwhile, here's some of the extremely exciting news about this terrific annual love-fest for fans of Asian Cinema:

NEW YORK ASIAN FILM FESTIVAL 2010
Co-presented for the first time with The Film Society of Lincoln Center!
All screenings at the Walter Reade Theater!
Additional screenings July 1 - 4 at Japan Society!
Special Midnight shows Fridays & Saturdays at the IFC!

Like Vandals storming the gates of Rome, the New York Asian Film Festival rampages through the Film Society's Walter Reade Theater June 25 ­ - July 8, unleashing an orgy of the latest and greatest pop masterpieces Asian cinema has to offer. For nine years, the NYAFF has been North America's leading festival of popular Asian cinema but now it's teamed up with the Film Society of Lincoln Center to also become North America's fanciest!

America's art-house theaters normally show an anemic sliver of what Asian cinema has to offer but the NYAFF's 2010 line-up is a brawny slab of 35 blockbusters and break-out hits that audiences in Thailand, China, Korea, Hong Kong and Japan actually buy tickets to watch.

The full line-up will be announced in May, but this year's festival will have three major events, so mark them on your flesh now!

THE STAR ASIA AWARDS
The NYAFF will be presenting three Star Asia Awards to actors Western audiences should know more about. The ceremony will take place on opening night, June 25, and the recipients will all be at the festival to receive their awards.

Rising Star of Asia Award to Huang Bo
One of China¹s most popular new actors, Huang Bo got his break in Ning Hao's 2006 comedy, CRAZY STONE, and he¹s gone on to specialize in earthy, foul-mouthed characters. A leading man with a character actor¹s face, he won a Golden Horse for his performance in COW, and we'll be screening it as part of the NYAFF 2010, as well as his movie CRAZY RACER.

Star Asia Award to Simon Yam
Starting as a character actor in the 1970's, Simon Yam has gone on to become one of Hong Kong¹s favorite leading men, winning Best Actor at the 2010 Hong Kong Film Awards for his performance in ECHOES OF THE RAINBOW, an official selection of this year's New York Asian Film Festival. From his performance as the insane fashion plate, Judge, in Ringo Lam's FULL CONTACT to his turn as the dapper pickpocket, Kei, in Johnnie To's SPARROW, Simon Yam has been one of the world's best, and most debonair, actors. In this year's festival, he appears in ECHOES OF THE RAINBOW, STORM WARRIORS and BODYGUARDS & ASSASSINS.

Star Asia Lifetime Achievement Award to Sammo Hung
A special Star Asia Lifetime Achievement Award will go to the legendary actor and director, Sammo Hung, to honor his legacy of onscreen work. Jackie Chan's "older brother" at Master Yu Jim Yuen's Chinese Opera School, Sammo has worked as a producer, director, action-choreographer or stuntman in over 230 films. In this year's NYAFF, Sammo Hung choreographed the action in IP MAN, he co-stars in the festival's official opening night film, IP MAN 2, and he stars in the cracked action-cooking-comedy KUNG FU CHEFS. There will also be a special screening of his 1987 Vietnam War movie, EASTERN CONDORS, preceded by an onstage chat with the maestro about his career.

RETURN TO THE OLD SCHOOL: HONG KONG'S NEW MARTIAL ARTS CINEMA
After 2009's film, IP MAN, became a massive box office hit, savvy Hong Kong producers unleashed a wave of old school-inspired martial arts films that went back to basics: no CGI, no fancy wire work, no fakery. Instead, they were all about blazing hand-to-hand combat, hard-falling stuntmen and lightning fast kung fu. In conjunction with the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office in New York, this year's NYAFF features a special focus on Hong Kong's new wave of old school kung fu.

This year's line-up will include Jackie Chan¹s latest movie, LITTLE BIG SOLDIER; we¹ll be screening GALLANTS, a rollicking action comedy starring a gallery of old school greats like Bruce Leung and Chen Kuan-tai; and two movies about Bruce Lee's teacher and Chinese folk hero, Ip Man: an encore presentation of the original IP MAN and the North American Premiere of IP MAN 2, our official Opening Night Film.

We'll also be screening the award-winning, 2009 Hong Kong blockbuster, BODYGUARDS & ASSASSINS; the insane cooking kung fu flick, KUNG FU CHEFS; and the totally mad throwback to visually bonkers Hong Kong comic books of the 70's, THE STORM WARRIORS, and much more.

UP FROM THE JAPANESE UNDERGROUND
Independent movies get a bad rap, but for the past two years some of the wildest Japanese films have been shot on video for about $1.95. Hip hop wannabes stranded in the middle-of-nowhere will be ripping up the screen in the award-winning 8000 MILES (about male rappers, dying on the vine) followed by a screening of the much-anticipated follow-up 8000 MILES 2 (about female rappers, languishing in obscurity). Director Yu Irie will be here for both screenings. We'll also be screening two films from director Tetsuaki Matsue, who will also be attending the festival. First up is his Japanese/Korean personal odyssey porno documentary, ANNYONG YUMIKA, that's a testament to the passions aroused by one Japanese skin flick actress working in Korea. Then we're screening LIVE TAPE, one of the most ambitious concert films ever made and winner of "Best Japanese Film" at the Tokyo International Film Festival, starring Kenta Maeno, known as Japan's Bob Dylan. Kenta Maeno is expected to attend the screenings.

We may be in a new location, but the NYAFF will still be as raw and potent as moonshine. Although we're on the Upper West Side, we're still showing movies that'll mess you up and ruin you permanently for the pale, lifeless junk Hollywood has to offer.

ABOUT THE NEW YORK ASIAN FILM FESTIVAL
Subway Cinema is a New York-based film programming, exhibition, and marketing collective, committed to increasing exposure and appreciation for Asia's popular cinema with year-round events and screenings. Its flagship event is the New York Asian Film Festival (June 25 - July 8) which the New York Times has called "...one of the city's most valuable events..."

Launched in 2002, the Festival selects only the best, the strangest, and the most entertaining movies to screen for New York audiences. It was the first North American film festival to put a spotlight on Johnnie To, Bong Joon-Ho and Park Chan-Wook and it also held the largest retrospective of Tsui Hark's work outside of Hong Kong. It is widely considered invincible.

For all festival news, keep your eyes on our blog: http://www.subwaycinemanews.com/

Or check out our Facebook page: "New York Asian Film Festival" on Facebook

And watch for write-ups and schedule info on our website: http://www.subwaycinema.com/

ACF 548: Flower in a Storm due out on May 4th, 2010 from VIZ Media

FLOWER IN A STORM Hana ni Arashi © Shigeyoshi Takagi 2008/HAKUSENSHA, Inc.

FLOWER IN A STORM BRINGS ON A FRENZIED ROMANTIC CHASE
IN FUN NEW SHOJO SERIES FROM VIZ MEDIA

When A Boy Just Won’t Take No For An Answer Sometimes
All A Girl Has Left Are Her Superpowers

VIZ Media will be offering FLOWER IN A STORM, an imaginative romantic comedy from a fresh new talent of the shojo manga world, Shigeyoshi Takagi. Set to be published under the Shojo Beat imprint and released on May 4th, FLOWER IN A STORM is rated ‘T+’ for Older Teens and will carry an MSRP of $9.99 U.S. / $12.99 CAN.

Riko Kunimi is trying to lead a normal high school life when Ran Tachibana bursts into her classroom carrying a gun and tells her that her life is now his. Ran, who is the richest and most powerful 17-year-old in Japan, wants her as his wife, and he’s not taking no for an answer!

If Ran can’t capture her by five o’clock the next day, he’ll give up, but he has all that money can buy at his disposal. However, Riko has one trick up her sleeve—she has superpowers!

“FLOWER IN A STORM is a zany, sweet, over-the-top story of a girl with superhuman abilities who just wants to lead a normal life and a boy who leads anything but a normal life but just wants to make her his,” says Leyla Aker, Editorial Manager, VIZ Media. “We hope shojo readers will enjoy this fresh, funny debut series from a young creator.”

FLOWER IN A STORM is a two-volume series that was originally featured in Lala and Lala DX magazines (also the original home of VAMPIRE KNIGHT). This is the first graphic novel from Shigeyoshi Takagi.

More information on this title or other shojo titles from VIZ Media is available at www.shojobeat.com.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

ACF 547: Living for the Day After Tomorrow is now available in a 2 DVD set

Section23 Films has announced the release of Living for the Day After Tomorrow Complete Collection from Sentai Filmworks. All 12 episodes are available in a 2 DVD set.

Before you tell someone to grow up, make sure you’re ready to do it yourself!

SYNOPSIS: There are far worse things than having to deal with your ex-boyfriend’s little sister or your older brother’s ex-girlfriend. But that’s something Karada Iokawa and Shoko Nogami have to learn the hard way when a magic wishing stone inexplicably grants Karada’s wish to be older. And does it by stealing the years from Shoko! Now Shoko, who’s already graduated and studied overseas, is Karada’s age, just about to enter junior high school. Meanwhile Karada must suddenly face the real facts about what being grown up entails. And just to make a bizarre situation even more awkward, there’s the issue of how to handle their existing romantic interests!

Title: LIVING FOR THE DAY AFTER TOMORROW COMPLETE COLLECTION
Running Time: 300 min.
Age Rating: TV 14 (D)
Language: Japanese with English Subtitles
Published by: Sentai Filmworks
Distributed by: Section23 Films
SRP: $39.98

ACF 546: New Tale of Zatoichi at Japan Society, Saturday, April 24th at 5:00 PM

© Kadokawa Pictures, Inc.

New Tale of Aztoichi / Shin Zatoichi monogatari
A.K.A. Zatoichi the Blind Swordsman, Vol. 3 - New Tale of Zatoichi
Directed by Tokuzo Tanaka
Japan, 1963, color, 91 min
Showtime: Saturday, April 24th, 2010 at 5:00 PM

Zatoichi (Shintaro Katsu) returns to his hometown hoping to leave behind his wayward lifestyle., He reunites with his former sensei, whose daughter brazenly proposes marriage to the Z-man. Further complicating matters are a mysterious gang of criminals and a fellow drifter looking for revenge. Life's never easy for our unfortunate blind masseur.

This is the third in the series of Zatoichi films and the first one in color. Katsu is even more outstanding than usual in conveying Zatoichi's emotional reactions, especially the hurt he feels when he's slighted by his master.

New Tale of Zatoichi gets a 3.5 out of 4 star ACF rating; very highly recommended.

For the Japan Society website page for this film, which includes a link to buy tickets online, click here.

This screening of New Tale of Zatoichi is part of the Monthly Classic Series The Double Edged Sword: The Chambara Films of Shintaro Katsu & Raizo Ichikawa.

New Tale of Zatoichi is available on DVD from Home Vision Entertainment. It also is one of eighteen Zatoichi films that can be streamed from Hulu.com. All of which is fine if you can't make it to this screening. But if you can, Japan Society's presentation is the far better way to go.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

ACF 545: K-20 available today on DVD

K-20: The Fiend With Twenty Faces
(K-20: Kaijin niju menso den)
Written and Directed by Shimako Sato
Japan, 2008, 137 min.

K-20: The Fiend With Twenty Faces comes out today in a single disc DVD edition from VIZ Pictures. It has an MSRP of $24.92 U.S. / $35.99 CAN. Based on the novel Kaijin Niju menso den by Soh Kitamura and set in 1949, the story employs an alternate history motif in which the Japan never attacked Pearl Harbor and engaged in war with the United States. The island nation has an extremely rigid, hereditary class system with almost all the wealth held by a small aristocracy.

In the imperial capital of Teito, a phantom thief known as "K-20," or the "Fiend (Kaijin) with 20 Faces," steals priceless objects from the rich. However, unlike Robin Hood, he does not give to the poor, but keeps his trove to himself.

Takeshi Kaneshiro stars not as K-20, but as Heikichi, a circus acrobat and illusionist. The title character actually appears very little in the film. He does set up Endo to be mistakenly identified and arrested as K-20, and the movie is thus about Endo's efforts to prove that he's not the master thief.

Endo's nemesis is detective Kogoro Akechi (Toru Nakumura), who is also a baron and thus a member of the nobility. Romantic interest for the two male leads is supplied by lovely Takako Matsu as Duchess Yolko Hashiba, the heir to Hashiba Industries.

The film has a beautiful Steampunk look that could have gone murky in the transfer to DVD. Thankfully it hasn't, as VIZ Pictures has done an outstanding job in maintaining detail in the many shadowy scenes. Writer/director Sato has done a masterful job moving things along and providing great action sequences. This is the first film I can recall seeing in which Kaneshiro (Chungking Express, House of Flying Daggers, and most recently John Woo's Red Cliff) carries the film as the dominant male lead, and he's more than equal to the task.

The DVD doesn't have much in the way of extras, just the original and the English trailers and some trailers from other VIZ films. But don't let that dissuade you from buying this release.

K-20 is terrific entrainment, and gets an ACF rating of 3.5 out of 4 stars, very highly recommended.

ACF 544: VIZ titles top the New York Times manga best seller list

ROSARIO TO VAMPIRE SEASON 2 © 2007 by Akihisa Ikeda/SHUEISHA Inc.

VIZ MEDIA TITLES DOMINATE NEW YORK TIMES
MANGA BEST SELLER LIST

VIZ Media has announced that 9 of its manga titles have made the New York Time’s Manga Best Seller list for the week ending April 10th.

VIZ Media Best Selling Manga Titles on the list include (in listed order):

1. ROSARIO + VAMPIRE: Season II, Vol. 1
2. YU-GI-OH! R, Vol. 4
3. NARUTO, Vol. 47
4. THE GENTLEMEN'S ALLIANCE †, Vol. 11
5. ONE PIECE, Vol. 40
6. ONE PIECE, Vol. 39
7. ONE PIECE, Vol. 41
8. ONE PIECE, Vol. 43
9. ONE PIECE, Vol. 42

The rankings reflect sales of graphic novels at thousands of retailers and venues nationwide. These include hundreds of independent book retailers; national, regional and local chains; online and multimedia entertainment retailers; university, gift, supermarket, discount department stores and newsstands.

“It’s exciting to see such a wide variety of VIZ Media titles reach this level of popularity,” says Gonzalo Ferreyra, Vice President, Sales, VIZ Media. “From the irresistible bite of ROSARIO + VAMPIRE to the high seas pirate adventures of ONE PIECE to the romantic shojo hijinks of THE GENTLEMEN’S ALLIANCE, these titles continue to show the diversity of the manga genre and its strong appeal among readers of all ages and interests.”

ROSARIO + VAMPIRE: Season II, Vol. 1 · Rated ‘T+’ (For Older Teens) · Shonen Jump Advanced

Average human teenage boy Tsukune accidentally enrolls at a boarding school for monsters – no, not jocks and popular kids, but bona fide werewolves, witches, and other unnamable monsters out of his wildest nightmares!

YU-GI-OH! R, Vol. 4 · Rated ‘T’ (For Teens) · Shonen Jump

The twisted Yako Tenma has taken control of the gaming company KaibaCorp, using its high-tech dueling machines to resurrect the dead... but the original master of KaibaCorp is not happy! Kaiba, Yugi's archrival, challenges Yako to a duel to see just who will control Japan's biggest gaming company. Can Kaiba's Blue-Eyes White Dragon stop Yako's evil plan. Look for an ultra-rare Angel 07 Card inside! (Limited quantities available). For more information on YU-GI-OH! and to read free online previews of the manga, please visit ShonenJump.viz.com.

NARUTO, Vol. 47 · Rated ‘T’ (For Teens) · Shonen Jump

Naruto inches ever closer to discovering the true identity of his nemesis, Pain, but is it worth it as the frustrated ninja begins to morph at last into the dreaded Nine Tails? Plus an unexpected confession reveals incredible secrets about his past as Naruto prepares for the ultimate battle with Pain. Can the chakra-challenged Naruto win when one misstep could spell disaster? For more information on NARUTO and to read free online previews of the manga, please visit www.Naruto.com.

THE GENTLEMEN’S ALLIANCE †, Vol. 11 · Rated ‘T+’ (For Older Teens) · Shojo Beat

Haine goes to Shizumasa and Takanari's grandfather, the head of the Togu family, to ask him to release the twins from their fate. He tells her she must pass the same trial the twins went through for determining the Togu heir. Haine agrees, but little does she know that a former friend is now out for her life. For more information on THE GENTLEMEN’S ALLIANCE † and to read free online previews of the manga, please visit www.ShojoBeat.com.

ONE PIECE © 1997 by Eiichiro Oda/SHUEISHA Inc.

ONE PIECE, Vol. 39 · Rated ‘T’ (For Teens) · Shonen Jump

Sanji, Usopp and Franky are on their own against the Navy as the rest of the Straw Hats hurry to catch up to the speeding Sea Train. But freeing Robin from the clutches of CP9 won't be an easy task with a train full of enemies. And even if they do reach her, does she even want to be rescued?!

ONE PIECE, Vol. 40 · Rated ‘T’ (For Teens) · Shonen Jump

Hankering for a fight, Luffy's got a jump start on the battle to rescue Robin and Franky before they're sentenced by the Navy's court at Enies Lobby. Now that the Straw Hats and the Franky Family have banded together, the World Government is in for an epic battle. But did the Navy deceive Robin into sacrificing herself in order to trap the Straw Hats?!

ONE PIECE, Vol. 41 · Rated ‘T’ (For Teens) · Shonen Jump

Robin and Franky have been captured by CP9 and locked in the courthouse on Enies Lobby. The Straw Hats and Franky's crew must join forces if they want to save their friends. But before they can rescue them, they must face Spandam's six deadly assassins. Can the two groups work together, or will CP9 finally win?

ONE PIECE, Vol. 42 · Rated ‘T’ (For Teens) · Shonen Jump

The Straw Hats have infiltrated the Tower of Justice to save Robin, but they still need a special key to release her. One of the CP9 assassins holds the right key, but Luffy and his crew may have to defeat them all. Can the Straw Hats thwart CP9 and rescue Robin?

ONE PIECE, Vol.43 · Rated ‘T’ (For Teens) · Shonen Jump

Luffy has made it to the tower where Robin is being held captive, but in order to save her he must get past the deadly assassin Rob Lucci. The rest of the Straw Hats are busy fighting their own battles to find the key that will free Robin. Can the crew find the right key in time?!

For more information on ONE PIECE and to read free online preview of the manga, please visit OnePiece.viz.com.

For more information on these titles, or others from VIZ Media, visit www.viz.com.

Monday, April 19, 2010

ACF 543: Seimu Yoshizaki's KINGYO USED BOOKS due April 20th from VIZ

KINGYOYA KOSHOTEN © 2005 Seimu YOSHIZAKI/Shogakukan

VIZ MEDIA TRANSPORTS READERS TO KINGYO USED BOOKS
A FANTASTIC PLACE WHERE READERS FIND THEIR DREAMS IN MANGA

A Charming Bookshop with a Special Inventory Becomes a Place
Where Lives Are Changed Through Manga

VIZ Media transports readers to an unassuming store that stocks all the manga a fan could ever desire with the release of KINGYO USED BOOKS tomorrow, April 20th. The new series, by Seimu Yoshizaki, will be published under the VIZ Signature imprint, is rated ‘T+’ for Older Teens, and will carry an MSRP of $12.99 U.S. / $16.99 CAN.

In KINGYO USED BOOKS, a businessman discovers how his childhood memories can brighten his day. An art student finds inspiration. An archer hits a surprising bull's-eye. A housewife rediscovers romance. A teenager discovers his true self in the pages of a manga magazine. Welcome to Kingyo Used Books, a place where people find their dreams in manga...

“KINGYO USED BOOKS is the little shop that every fan dreams of. The endearing vignettes that take place there show how peoples’ lives can be affected by books in a significant way,” says Leyla Aker, Senior Editorial Manager, VIZ Media. “KINGYO USED BOOKS uses a variety of genres to take readers on a journey that traces the history and evolution of manga. We hope this new series will strike a chord that inspires fans to similarly revisit a cherished manga title from their own past.”

KINGYO USED BOOKS is currently featured in Japan in IKKI magazine, home to some of the most innovative and compelling titles in the world of contemporary manga. The series is also featured at SigIKKI.com, VIZ Media’s unique online destination for edgy new manga designed for mature audiences.

Seimu Yoshizaki was born in Kanagawa, Japan. She made her manga debut with Aka–chan to Tenshi (Baby and Angel) in 1989. Aside from Kingyo Used Books, which is currently being serialized in IKKI magazine, she is the creator of many other titles, including Telekinesis (Yamanote TV Kinema Room), Ugokashiya, Kaban Toshokan and Deka Girl.

For more information on other SIGIKKI titles and to check out a sneak peek of chapter one through eight of KINGYO USED BOOKS, visit www.SigIKKI.com.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

ACF 542: Two Wives at Japan Society

All images (c) Kadokawa Pictures, Inc.

Two Wives / Tsuma futari
Directed by Yasuzo Masumura
Japan, 1967, color, 94 min.
Showtime: Sunday, April 18th, 2010 at 8:45 PM

Japan Society's Mad, Bad.... & Dangerous to Know film series concludes tonight with this film, the fourth starring Mariko Okada. Since it has not previously been shown outside Japan and there was no screener available, I can only pass on the following description from the Japan Society website. It looks terrific and I'm quite bummed that I won't be able to make the screening tonight. But I think that if you can, you won't be disappointed.

For the first time outside Japan, Masumura’s Two Wives will be on the silver screen. When did you last see a film that offered two great roles for women? Everything you need to know about Two Wives is there in the faces of the two actresses: Mariko Okada and Ayako Wakao, who hold the camera’s attention without strain or scheming.

After a random encounter at a bar, two couples collide. Two men, two women, embroiled in a love-and-hate drama that threatens to engulf them. The sexual anxiety between the interwoven couples tautens right up to the nearly unbearable tension of the climax, in this rare masterpiece by the director of Manji and Blind Beast.

For info or to order tickets online, click here.

And keep in mind that there will be an earlier, separate screening of Woman of the Lake at 6:30 PM tonight.

Mad, Bad.... & Dangerous to Know: Three Untamed Beauties is made
possible through the generous support of The Globus Family.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

ACF 541: Woman of the Lake at Japan Society tomorrow, April 18th, 2010

All images (c) Shochiku Co., Ltd.

Woman of the Lake / Onna no mizuumi
Directed by Kiju Yoshida
Japan, 1966, B&W, 94 min.
Showtime: Sunday, April 18th, 2010 at 6:30 PM

Japan Society' s film series Mad, Bad.... & Dangerous to Know: Three Untamed Beauties concludes on Sunday, April 18th with two films starring Mariko Okada. Woman of the Lake will be shown first, at 6:30 PM. A separate screening, with a separate admission charge, of Two Wives will follow at 8:45 PM. I'll be putting up a separate post about Two Wives.

For now, let's take a look at Woman of the Lake, first the description of it from the Japan Society Website, then my impression based on the DVD screener I watched. (Again note that the link immediately below for the Japan Society Website also provides for purchasing tickets online if you desire.)

Japan Society Website:

Based on a novel by Nobel prize-winning author Yasunari Kawabata, Kiju Yoshida’s film approaches the topic of sexual encounters in the manner of a fogbound documentary and the nocturnal gravity of a requiem. In this surrealist erotic story reminiscent of Antonioni’s visual universe and some of Bergman’s formal experiments, it is indeed hard to tell where character ends and texture begins—so much of the film seems to unfold near the skin.

Here, Okada’s trademark character—a woman of quiet intensity and strong will, yet fumbling for undefined sexual fulfillment—takes a lover to escape the somber dissatisfaction of her loveless marriage. One night, she allows him to take nude pictures of her, but the negatives are soon stolen and she faces threats of blackmail from an anonymous stranger. She complies with the blackmailer’s demands and travels to recover the negatives, embarking on a journey that soon aligns her darkest desires with those of her shadowy aggressor.

ACF Review Thoughts:

This is the final film starring Okada that I had a screener for, so I'll use this as an opportunity for some general comments about the three of her films I've seen as well as about Woman of the Lake specifically.

First off, I've fallen in love with this actress. At times she looks a bit like a Japanese version of young Natalie Wood, circa West Side Story. But there's an icy coolness - not to be confused with lack of emotion - that reminds me of Grace Kelly. It's not for nothing that her segment of the series has been deemed The Discreet Charm of the Adultress, and nobody I know of pulls off the inner conflicts that often accompany an adulterous affair better than Okada.

Also, unless a double was used - which I doubt - she had the most gorgeous, long slim fingers I've ever seen on celluloid, or in real life for that matter.

There's an intriguing segment in the film where Okada's character and her blackmailer come across a film crew working along a shoreline. I'm a sucker for these kind of scenes and thought it worked very well here.

Woman of the Lake gets a 3.5 out of 4 star ACF Rating; very highly recommended. It's my favorite of the three Okada films I've seen, edging out The Affair by just a hair.

Mad, Bad.... & Dangerous to Know: Three Untamed Beauties is made
possible through the generous support of The Globus Family.

Friday, April 16, 2010

ACF 540: New York Asian Film Festival 2010 at 3 venues including Lincoln Center!

Info has begun trickling out about the New York Asian Film Festival 2010. As readers of AsianCineFest or Asian Cult Cinema magazine know, I've been covering this annual festival for several years. It is an incredible event and is certainly one of the premiere opportunities to check out great Asian films from a wide variety of countries, not just Hong Kong, China, Japan, and Korea. Even if you can't make it to New York, you owe it to yourself to at least read about the films that NYAFF will be screening, so be sure to use the links below.

The big news this year is that the main venue will be at the Film Society of Lincoln Center's Walter Reade Theater! FSLC presents the annual New York Film Festival and has periodically offered outstanding Asian film series, such as the two Heroic Grace series that focused on Hong Kong films and The Newest Tiger, which focused on recent films from South Korea.

Now the NYAFF is going to be there! Outstanding!

On a personal note, this'll make it even easier for me to cover screenings in person, as Lincoln Center is right on the subway line between my day job and my home. I'm looking forward to seeing even more films with a live audience, although I'm sure I'll be previewing some on DVD screeners as well.

Here's the basic schedule for NYAFF 2010:

JUNE 25 - JULY 8 at LINCOLN CENTER'S WALTER READE THEATER

JULY 1 - JULY 4 at JAPAN SOCIETY

MIDNIGHTS JUNE 25-26 & JULY 2-3 at IFC CENTER


For more info, click the links below. Also check back here for further details as they become available.

Subway Cinema website

Subway Cinema News blog

Join the Subway Cinema News mailing list

Thursday, April 15, 2010

ACF 539: Preview of Bakuman manga in May issue of Shonen Jump magazine

FIND OUT WHAT IT TAKES TO MAKE IT TO THE TOP AS A MANGA CREATOR IN THE NEW SHONEN JUMP SERIES BAKUMAN。

Two Students Must Have Perseverance, Innovation And An Uncompromising Will To Succeed In The New Series From The Creators Of DEATH NOTE

VIZ Media has announced the upcoming release of the manga series BAKUMAN。. The series, rated ‘T’ for Teens, will be released on August 3rd under VIZ Media’s popular Shonen Jump imprint and will carry a MSRP of $9.99 U.S. / $12.99 CAN. Previews for the series will start to run in the May 2010 issue of VIZ Media’s popular monthly manga anthology – SHONEN JUMP magazine which is on stands now.

BAKUMAN。is written by the author of DEATH NOTE, Tsugumi Ohba, and the artwork is by Takeshi Obata, the artist known for series such as DEATH NOTE, HIKARU NO GO and RALΩGRAD. The story follows average student Moritaka Mashiro, who enjoys drawing for fun, but when his classmate and aspiring writer Akito Takagi discovers his talent, he begs Moritaka to team up with him as a manga-creating duo. But what exactly does it take to make it in the manga-publishing world?

In the opening volume, Moritaka is hesitant to seriously consider Akito's proposal because he knows how difficult it can be to reach the professional level. Still, encouragement from persistent Akito and the motivation from a girl he has a crush on help push Moritaka to test his limits!

“BAKUMAN。is an outstanding, behind-the-scenes manga about manga, and the artists who create it, written and drawn by the creative team that produced the DEATH NOTE series,” says Elizabeth Kawasaki, Senior Editorial Director at VIZ Media. “The series is a great read for all manga fans, and especially fun for aspiring artists.”

Born in Tokyo, Tsugumi Ohba is the author of the hit series DEATH NOTE. The writer's current series BAKUMAN。is serialized in Weekly Shonen Jump in Japan.

Takeshi Obata was born in 1969 in Niigata, Japan, and is the artist of the wildly popular SHONEN JUMP title HIKARU NO GO, which won the 2003 Tezuka Osamu Cultural Prize: Shinsei "New Hope" award and the 2000 Shogakukan Manga award. Obata is also the artist of Arabian Majin Bokentan Lamp Lamp, Ayatsuri Sakon, Cyborg Jichan G, and the smash hit manga DEATH NOTE.

More info on this title, and other Shonen Jump titles at http://shonenjump.viz.com.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

ACF 538: The Affair at Japan Society

All images (c) Shochiku Co., Ltd.

The Affair / Joen
Directed by Kiju Yoshida, A.K.A. Yoshishige Yoshida
Japan, 1967, B&W, 101 min.
Showtime: Thursday, April 15th, 2010 at 7:30 PM


As I did with my post on Impasse, I'll offer the blurb from the Japan Society, then my thoughts based on the DVD screener I watched. (Note that the link immediately below for the Japan Society Website also provides for purchasing tickets online if you desire.)

Japan Society Website:

With this radical erotic “anti-melodrama”, Kiju (Yoshishige) Yoshida became not only the cineaste of women but the cineaste of one woman: Mariko Okada, starring here as an unhappily married woman confronting the decadent legacy of her mother, who made no secret of her affairs with younger men. Okada faces this inheritance by initiating sexual relationships herself, forming a strange love triangle between her, a sculptor who had been her mother’s lover, and a rough construction worker to whom she surrenders with the reluctant passion of a Japanese Lady Chatterley.

Events unfold—flashes of warmth, wintry blasts of ire—in a patient procession of details and descend calmly into the uncontrolled. All the while Yoshida’s cautious camera hovers over the quakes of jealousy and tidal surges of desire, filmed like the progress of a haunting.

ACF Review Thoughts:

This pairing of Yoshida and Okada was released later earlier in 1967 than Impasse. Both films feature shots through glass windows and ones employing mirrors. There is also some of the hand-held camera work circling the subject(s), but it is much more judiciously and smartly utilized than in Impasse.

Again like Impasse, The Affair can be characterized as an art house film. And while it too jumps around in time, it is shot more like a conventional, rather than an avant-garde, film. Okada is marvelous as Oriko Furuhata, whose was embarrassed by the love affairs her mother had with various men and who is dissatisfied with her marriage to the president of a securities company. Interspersed throughout the film are various fantasy imaginings of her mother's death as a pedestrian hit by a truck. As Oriko's life begins to mirror her mother's, she is the one struck by the truck.

I was even more impressed by The Affair than I was by Impasse. So The Affair gets a 3.5 out of 4 star ACF Rating; very highly recommended.

Mad, Bad… & Dangerous to Know: Three Untamed Beauties is made
possible through the generous support of The Globus Family.

ACF 537: Science Fiction novels from VIZ set to debut this spring

FANTASTIC ADVENTURES AND ALIEN WORLDS AWAIT IN FOUR NEW SCIENCE FICTION RELEASES FROM VIZ MEDIA’S HAIKASORU IMPRINT

New Novels By Some Of Japan’s Best Sci-Fi Writers Set To Debut This Spring

VIZ Media has announced the upcoming release of four new science fiction novels under its Haikasoru imprint. SLUM ONLINE, by Hiroshi Sakurazaka, and THE STORIES OF IBIS, by Hiroshi Yamamoto, will hit stores on April 20th. LOUPS-GAROUS, by Natsuhiko Kyogoku, and THE NEXT CONTINENT, by Issui Ogawa, will be released on May 18th.

Haikasoru publishes some of the most compelling contemporary Japanese science fiction and fantasy stories for English-speaking audiences. The imprint launched in North America with a dedicated focus on Japanese science fiction.

SLUM ONLINE by Hiroshi Sakurazaka
Price: $13.99 U.S. / CAN $18.99 · Available April 20th

Etsuro Sakagami is a college freshman who simply drifts through life, but when he logs on to the combat MMO Versus Town, he becomes Tetsuo, a karate champ on his way to becoming the most powerful martial artist around. While his relationship with new classmate Fumiko goes nowhere, Etsuro spends his days and nights online in search of the invincible Ganker Jack. Drifting between the virtual and the real, will Etsuro ever be ready to face his most formidable opponent?

Author Hiroshi Sakurazaka published his first novel, WIZARDS WEB, in 2003. His 2004 short story, “Saitama Chainsaw Massacre," won the 16th Japan SF Magazine Reader's Award and he has also been nominated for the prestigious Seiun Award, a Japanese literary honor that recognizes exemplary science fiction. Sakurazaka’s other novels include CHARACTERS (co-written with Hiroki Azuma) and ALL YOU NEED IS KILL (also published in English by Haikasoru).

THE STORIES OF IBIS by Hiroshi Yamamoto
Price: $15.99 U.S. / CAN $19.99 · Available April 20th

In a world where humans are a minority and androids have created their own civilization, a wandering storyteller meets the beautiful android, Ibis. She tells him seven stories of human/android interaction in order to reveal the secret behind humanity's fall. The tales Ibis tells are science fiction stories about the events surrounding the development of artificial intelligence in the 20th and 21st centuries. At a glance, these stories do not appear to have any sort of connection, but what is the true meaning behind them? What are Ibis's real intentions?

Hiroshi Yamamoto was born in 1956 in Kyoto and began his career as a writer and game designer. He gained popularity with titles such as FEBRUARY AT THE EDGE OF TIME and the GHOST HUNTER series. Yamamoto’s first hardcover science fiction release, GOD NEVER KEEPS SILENT, became a sensation among science fiction fans and was nominated for the Japan SF Award. His other novels include DAY OF JUDGEMENT and THE UNSEEN SORROW OF WINTER. In addition to working as a writer, Yamamoto is active in several literary capacities serving as editor of various classic science fiction anthologies and as president of To-Gakkai, a group of tongue-in-cheek "experts" on the occult.

LOUPS-GAROUS by Natsuhiko Kyogoku
Price: $16.99 U.S. / CAN $23.00 · Available May 18th

In the near future, humans communicate almost exclusively through monitors connected to online networks—face-to-face meetings are rare and the surveillance state nearly all-powerful. Even school children are only allowed to meet in the flesh in designated communication centers. So when a serial killer starts slaughtering junior high students, the crackdown is harsh. And despite all the safeguards, the killer's latest victim turns out to have been in contact with three young girls: Mio Tsuzuki, a certified prodigy; Hazuki Makino, a quiet but opinionated classmate; and Ayumi Kono, her best friend. As the girls get caught up in trying to find the killer— who just might be a werewolf—Hazuki learns that there is much more to virtual reality than meets the eye.

Natsuhiko Kyogoku has won many literary awards for his works including the 1996 Mystery Writers of Japan Award for Grave of Goblins, the 1997 Izumi Kyoka Award for Laughing Iuemon, the 2003 Yamamoto Shugoro Prize for Inquisitive Koheiji and the 2004 Naoki Prize for Going Around a Hundred Stories, the sequel. His novel, The Summer of the Ubume, was also published in English in 2009. In addition to working as a writer, Natsuhiko Kyogoku established his own design studio and still works as an art director, designer, and bookbinder for various projects. He’s also an expert in yokai (monsters and ghosts of Japanese folklore).

THE NEXT CONTINENT by Issui Ogawa
Price: $16.99 U.S. / CAN $23.00 · Available May 18th

The year is 2025 and Gotoba Engineering & Construction, a firm that has built structures to survive the Antarctic and the Sahara, has received its most daunting challenge yet. Sennosuke Toenji, the chairman of one of the world's largest leisure conglomerates, wants a moon base fit for civilian use, and he wants his granddaughter Tae to be his eyes and ears on the harsh lunar surface. Tae and Gotoba engineer Aomine head to the moon where adventure, trouble, and perhaps romance waits.

Issui Ogawa is known as one of Japan's most prominent science fiction writers. His 1996 debut, FIRST A LETTER FROM A POPULAR PLACE, won the Shueisha JUMP Novel Grand Prix. THE NEXT CONTINENT garnered the 35th Seiun Award. A collection of his short stories won the 2005 Best SF Poll and THE DRIFTING MAN, included in that collection, was awarded the 37th Seiun Award for domestic short stories. Ogawa other works include LAND OF RESSURECTION, FREE LUNCH ERA, and THE LORD OF THE SANDS OF TIME (published by Haikasoru in 2009). Ogawa is also a principal member of the Space Authors Club.

For more information on Haikasoru visit the dedicated website at www.haikasoru.com.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

ACF 536: Impasse to be shown at Japan Society tomorrow, Wed, April 12th

All images (c) Shochiku Co., Ltd.

Impasse / Hono to onna
(A.K.A. Flame and Women & Flame of Feeling)
Directed by Kiju Yoshida, A.K.A. Yoshishige Yoshida
Japan, 1967, B&W, 101 min.
Showtime Wednesday, April 14th, 2010 at 7:30 PM

The third segment of Japan Society's Mad, Bad.... & Dangerous to Know film series starts this Wednesday with Impasse, the first of four films starring Mariko Okada and linked by the theme of The Discreet Charm of the Adultress. Below I've presented some info about it from Japan Society, then my thoughts based on the DVD screener I watched. (Note that the link immediately below for the Japan Society Website also provides for purchasing tickets online if you desire.)

Japan Society Website:

As the title implies, Mariko Okada and Kiju Yoshida's fifth collaboration is a moral furnace of a film, stoked with guilt and vengefulness. A labyrinthine exploration of the decomposition of a middle-class couple, the bewitching, fractured narrative artfully shuffles the time scheme, as the protagonist, Ritsuko (Okada, in a highly nuanced and restrained performance), stumbles out of the sluggish half-life of her sterile marriage and towards a troubled search to restore her emotional self. After giving birth to a son through artificial insemination (presented here as science fiction), she starts nourishing a forbidden but irrepressible desire for the biological father of her child.

ACF Review Thoughts:

Impasse definitely struck me as an "art house" film, and a rather avant-garde one at that. It has a true international feel and look. Aside from the actors and a certain sensibility, there's practically nothing "Japanese" about it: the costumes and especially the house in which Ritsuko, her husband, and their son live are totally "Western."

My best suggestion of what the film is like is to imagine an Ingmar Bergman film, though one not nearly as heavily metaphysical as his works tended to be, shot in a John Cassavettes kind of style.

Many shots are done looking through glass, so that the reflections create a multi-layered look. Mirrors are also frequently utilized, sometimes obviously, at other times so that you are fooled into thinking that you're looking directly at what's going on, only to find out at "the reveal" that it's actually been a reflection you've been watching.

But the most prominent technique was the use of a hand-held camera to circle around the subject, sometimes two people, but most often an individual. This is an effective technique to introduce camera movement economically. No need for tracks or cranes. (Keep in mind that steadicams were not introduced to the industry until 1976).

However, I must confess that for me the technique was overused here. Not that it produced "motion sickness," not at all. Just that, for me, it was employed too often. Sometimes a simple lock-down on a tripod or a smooth pan would have been welcome instead of another round-and-round we go. Simply put, the problem is that this circling technique all too quickly draws attention to itself, thereby taking the viewer out of the film.

Impasse was the first film I can recall seeing Okada in and the first I've seen directed by Yoshida. Despite my issues with the hand-held circling camera-work, I enjoyed watching it very much. Keeping in mind what I said about it being an avant-garde art house film, I give it a 3 out of 4 star rating, highly recommended, a movie well-worth seeing.

The Mad, Bad.... & Dangerous to Know: Three Untamed Beauties series is made possible through the generous support of The Globus Family.

Monday, April 12, 2010

ACF 535: Three mangas from VIZ Media receive several Eisner award noms

PLUTO © Naoki URASAWA/Studio Nuts, Takashi NAGASAKI and Tezuka Productions. Original Japanese edition published by Shogakukan.
Based on “Astro Boy” written by Osamu TEZUKA.

VIZ MEDIA NOMINATED IN MULTIPLE CATEGORIES FOR THE
2010 WILL EISNER COMIC INDUSTRY AWARDS

NAOKI URASAWA’S 20TH CENTURY BOYS, PLUTO: URASAWA × TEZUKA and OISHINBO: À LA CARTE Among Titles Nominated

VIZ Media has announced that three of its manga titles and one creator have been nominated in several categories for the 2010 Will Eisner Comics Industry Awards for a total of 6 nominations, as announced by Comic-Con International on April 8, 2010. While I haven't read any of the other two mangas, readers here know that I've been raving about the Oishinbo series from the first to (sadly) last issues.

Named for pioneering writer and comic artist Will Eisner, the awards recognize exemplary comics, graphic novels and other pop writings, and are given each year as part of the annual Comic-Con International convention. Winners will be announced at a gala ceremony on the evening of Friday, July 23rd during Comic-Con, at which VIZ Media will be a major exhibitor and participant in the programs offered. VIZ Media titles are consistently nominated for the Eisner Awards, and in 2008, took home the Eisner Award for Best U.S. Edition of International Material – Japan for TEKKONKINKREET: BLACK & WHITE, by acclaimed creator Taiyo Matsumoto.

The nominated titles from VIZ Media are:

OISHINBO by Tetsu Kariya and Akira Hanasaki

Best U.S. Edition of International Material–Asia

PLUTO: URASAWA × TEZUKA, by Naoki Urasawa and Takashi Nagasaki

Best Limited Series or Story Arc
Best U.S. Edition of International Material–Asia

NAOKI URASAWA’S 20TH CENTURY BOYS, by Naoki Urasawa

Best Continuing Series
Best U.S. Edition of International Material—Asia

In addition, Naoki Urasawa is nominated for Best Writer/Artist, for his work on NAOKI URASAWA’S 20TH CENTURY BOYS and PLUTO: URASAWA × TEZUKA. According to the nomination list, Urasawa-sensei is also the creator with the most nominations.

“We are so excited that VIZ Media again has several nominees in the coveted Eisner Awards,” states Alvin Lu, Vice President, Publishing VIZ Media. "These awards recognize excellence in the comics industry, and we are honored to be considered among such a diverse group of nominees.”

OISHINBO A LA CARTE © Tetsu KARIYA, Akira HANASAKI/Shogakukan

OISHINBO · by Tetsu Kariya and Akira Hanasaki · VIZ Signature · Rated “T” for Teens

OISHINBO (or “The Gourmet") depicts the adventures of journalist Shiro Yamaoka, who writes for the fictional newspaper Tozai News. When the paper’s top executives decide to create “The Ultimate Menu” to celebrate the paper’s 100th anniversary, Yamaoka, known for his reputation as a foodie with culinary skills to match, is given the daunting assignment. With the help of his coworker Kurita, Yamaoka begins an epic saga to find unique and tasty dishes that will compose this ultimate bill of fare. The subject of the debut volume is classical Japanese cuisine, and features delicious stories on subjects like how to prepare a proper dashi (the broth that is one of the building blocks of Japanese cooking), green tea, and red snapper sashimi. Each subsequent volume of OISHINBO focuses on specific foods and culinary trends such as sake, sushi, vegetables, rice dishes, ramen, and izakaya (pub) food.

PLUTO: URASAWA × TEZUKA, by Naoki Urasawa and Takashi Nagasaki · VIZ Signature · Rated “T+” for Older Teens (NOMINATED IN THREE CATEGORIES)

Pluto: Urasawa × Tezuka is a modern reinterpretation of the work by the master of manga, Osamu Tezuka. In an ideal world where man and robots coexist, someone or something is after the seven great robots of the world. Interpol assigns robot detective Gesicht to this most strange and complex case – and he eventually discovers that he is one of the targets!

20th Century Boys: 20 SEIKI SHONEN © Naoki URASAWA/Studio Nuts
With the cooperation of Takashi NAGASAKI.
Original Japanese edition published by Shogakukan

NAOKI URASAWA’S 20th century boys · by Naoki Urasawa · VIZ Signature · Rated “T+” for Older Teens (NOMINATED IN THREE CATEGORIES)

Humanity, having faced extinction at the end of the 20th century, would not have entered the new millennium if it weren't for them. In 1969, during their youth, they created a symbol. In 1997, as the coming disaster slowly starts to unfold, that symbol returns. This is the story of a group of boys who try to save the world.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

ACF 534: K-20: The Fiend With Twenty Faces coming on DVD on April 20th

VIZ PICTURES BRINGS THE HIGH FLYING ACTION OF
K-20: THE FIEND WITH TWENTY FACES TO DVD

Suspense And Intrigue Combine With Stunning Visual Effects And Gravity-Defying Stunts For A Riveting Adventure About A Phantom Thief

VIZ Pictures will release the action film K-20: The Fiend with Twenty Faces on DVD on April 20th. The film will carry an MSRP of $24.92 U.S. / $35.99 CAN, and will be distributed exclusively across North America by VIZ Media. The move played at last summer's New York Asian Film Festival and was very popular.

Director Shimako Sato assembled a strong cast and used cutting edge special effects to bring K-20 to life. The movie is set in the fictional city of Teito in the late 1940s, in a world where World War II never happened and the nobility system established during the Meiji Era still exists. An extreme divide exists between the upper and lower classes, with 90 percent of the country’s wealth being held by the upper class. The capital of Teito is in crisis with the emergence of a menacing phantom thief known as "The Fiend (Kaijin) With Twenty Faces" or simply "K-20." The film is based on The Story of Nijyumenso, a novel written by Soh Kitamura, and also features the mesmerizing theme song, Shock of the Lightning, by the British band OASIS.

Heikichi Endo (played by Takeshi Kaneshiro) is a circus acrobat who is deceived by K-20 and framed to take the fall for the phantom thief. Using his incredible physical dexterity, Heikichi wages war against K-20 in order to clear his name and fights alongside K-20's next wealthy target, Duchess Yoko Hashiba (Takako Matsu) and her fiancée, the brilliant detective Kogoro Akechi (Toru Nakamura). But what is the ultimate decision Heikichi has to make?

Actor Takeshi Kaneshiro is internationally renowned and made his screen debut in the film Executioners (1993) followed by the critically acclaimed Wong Kar-Wai film Chungking Express (1994). More recently he has starred in films including Wong's House of Flying Daggers (2004) and John Woo's The Battle of Red Cliff (2008).

To celebrate this new release, VIZ Pictures has also announced a special theatrical screening of K-20 at VIZ Cinema in San Francisco on April 20th at 7:00pm. Tickets are $25.00 and also will include a copy of the DVD, a K-20 poster and more! VIZ Cinema is located at: 1746 Post St., San Francisco, CA 94115. Tickets are available at the box office and online at www.vizcinema.com.

“The character of K-20 was originally born in the best-selling 26-volume Boy Detectives series, written by Japanese literary master Rampo Edogawa, and over the years the stories have been enjoyed by more than 100 million people,” says Seiji Horibuchi, President and CEO of VIZ Pictures. “The inspired film uses a potent mix of eye-catching visual effects and gravity-defying high wire stunts to bring the unique story to the screen with incredible results. We look forward to fans discovering this thrilling new action feature from VIZ Pictures.”

For more information on K-20: The Fiend with Twenty Faces or other VIZ Pictures titles, please visit http://www.viz-pictures.com/.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

ACF 533: Baseball manga series Cross Game to preview online in May, 2010

VIZ MEDIA PREVIEWS THE RELEASE OF BASEBALL MANGA SERIES
CROSS GAME ONLINE AT SHONENSUNDAY.COM

Set Against The Backdrop Of The Sport Of Baseball, This New Manga Series
Explores The Bonds Of Love Between Friends, Siblings And Family

VIZ Media will bring Mitsuru Adachi’s acclaimed manga series CROSS GAME to North American readers via special online previews beginning in May on VIZ Media’s Shonen Sunday website (ShonenSunday.com). CROSS GAME is rated ‘T’ for Teens and is due to release Fall 2010.

CROSS GAME is a moving drama that is heartfelt and true, yet in the brilliant hands of manga artist Mitsuru Adachi, delightfully flows with a light and amusing touch. The series centers around a boy named Ko, the family of four sisters who live down the street and the game of baseball. This poignant coming-of-age story will change your perception of what shonen manga can be.

“Mitsuru Adachi is a legend in Japan, where his work has been loved by fans for more than 40 years, and we're honored to bring him to a U.S. audience with the launch of CROSS GAME," says Andy Nakatani, Editorial Manager, VIZ Media. "Readers can go to our Shonen Sunday web site to get a glimpse of how baseball combined with the drama of adolescence, tragedy and newfound loves produces a truly groundbreaking story."

One of the biggest names in the manga industry today, Mitsuru Adachi made his debut in 1970 with Kieta Bakuon in the pages of Deluxe Shonen Sunday. The creator of numerous mega-hits such as Touch, Miyuki, and Cross Game, Adachi Sensei received the Shogakukan Manga Award for all three of the aforementioned series. Truly at the top echelon of the manga industry, his cumulative works have seen over 200 million copies sold, and many of his series have been adapted into anime, live-action TV series and film. A master of his medium, Adachi has come to be known for his genius handling of dramatic elements skillfully combined with romance, comedy and sports. He, along with Rumiko Takahashi, has become synonymous with the phenomenal success of Shonen Sunday in Japan.

For more information on this title, or others from VIZ Media’s Shonen Sunday imprint, please visit http://www.shonensunday.com/.

Friday, April 09, 2010

ACF 532: Focus on Thailand at upcoming Hamburg International Short Film Festival

In accordance with an email from the 26th Hamburg International Short Film Festival dated Monday, May 24, 2010, this original post is being deleted. The information in that original entry was not intended for release at the time that the original post went online on 04/09/10. New information about the festival will be provided in a new post in late May or early June, 2010. Sorry for any confusion that this situration caused.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

ACF 531: Conclusion of manga THE GENTLEMEN’S ALLIANCE† is released

THE GENTLEMEN ALLIANCE -CROSS- © 2004 by Arina Tanemura/SHUEISHA Inc.

VIZ Media has announced the release of the conclusion of Arina Tanemura’s popular shojo drama THE GENTLEMEN’S ALLIANCE†. Here's some info about it:

This entertaining love story for older teens is set in a high society high school where a spirited girl falls for the President of the student body.

Published under the popular Shojo Beat imprint, THE GENTLEMEN’S ALLIANCE† is from creator Arina Tanemura known best for her spunky female characters and beautiful artwork.

Don't miss the conclusion to this fun shojo story that proves why Arina Tenemura has international fame in the shojo arena.

ACF 530: The Fabulous Kim Sisters at The Korea Society, Thursday, April 15th, 2010

"Try to Remember," An Evening of The Kim Sisters

The next event in The Korea Society's series Facing the War: Six Decades of Film Since the Korean War will celebrate the fabulous Kim Sisters. It will consist of a video montage followed by a Q&A with Sue Kim Bonifazio.

The year is 1960, and The Kim Sisters have set the Vegas Strip afire with rich harmonies and an ability to play dozens of instruments. The sisters had been in the United States only two short years at the legendary Thunderbird—after singing for American GI's during and after the Korean War. From there, they became a staple of Rat Pack-era Las Vegas, booking clubs across the United States and appearing a record 22 times on the Ed Sullivan Show. Join us as we trace the meteoric rise of The Kim Sisters—from singing for chocolate bars in war-torn Korea to making $13,000 a week as headline entertainers—with a special montage from The Fabulous Kim Sisters and sister Sue Kim Bonifazio sharing her Stardust memories.


Date: Thursday, April 15th, 2010
- 6:30 PM Screening
- 7:15 PM Q&A with Sue Kim Bonifazio, moderated by Benjamin Min Han, New York University

Place: The Korea Society
(950 Third Avenue @ 57th Street, 8th Floor)

Tickets to each screening are available for $10 (members) or $15 (nonmembers). For more information contact Yuni Cho at (212) 759-7525, ext. 323 or yuni.ny@koreasociety.org.