With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013

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

Monday, April 30, 2012

ACF 1451: Free screening of FISH STORY this Saturday at Japan Society

Fish Story
Directed by Yoshihiro Nakamura
With Atsushi Ito, Kengo Takara, Mikako Tabe and Nao Omori
Japan, 2009, 112 minutes
When: Saturday, May 5, 2012 at 6:30 PM
Where: Japan Society 333 East 47th Street, NYC
Between 1st and 2nd Avenues
In Japanese with English subtitles
Co-presented with Subway Cinema

It’s 2012, and a colossal meteor is set to smash into earth within hours, causing tidal waves that will destroy humanity. People have fled Tokyo except for two music geeks in a record shop, who are listening to a song by an underground Japanese punk band from 1975. What follows is the outrageous story of the song’s origin and how it caused a chain of events that will eventually save the world. Fish Story had its North American premiere at Japan Society’s 2009 JAPAN CUTS—The New York Festival of Contemporary Japanese Cinema, co-presented with the New York Asian Film Festival.

Admission is free, but RSVP is suggested.
Please RSVP by Wednesday, May 2, noon, at rsvp-openhouse@japansociety.org.

Part of the Open House Weekend, May 5-6, 2012.

ACF 1450: GODZILLA coming to Japan Society this coming Saturday! Admission FREE; RSVP suggested

GODZILLA” (a.k.a. “GOJIRA”) © 1954 Toho Co., Ltd. “GODZILLA, KING OF THE MONSTERS” © 1956 Toho Co., Ltd. Godzilla, Gojira, the character designs and King of the Monsters are trademarks of Toho Co., Ltd. All rights reserved.
Godzilla / Gojira
Directed by Ishiro Honda
With Akira Takarada, Momoko Kochi, Akihiko Hirata, Takashi Shimura
Japan, 1954, 96 minutes
When: Saturday, May 5, 2012 at 4:00 PM
Where: Japan Society
333 East 47th Street, NYC
Between 1st and 2nd Avenues
In Japanese with English subtitles
Co-presented with Subway Cinema

Godzilla is the roaring granddaddy of all monster movies. It’s also a remarkably humane and melancholy drama, made in Japan at a time when the country was reeling from nuclear attack and H-bomb testing in the Pacific. Its rampaging radioactive beast, the poignant embodiment of an entire population’s fears, became a beloved international icon of destruction, spawning almost 30 sequels. Japan Society id showing the original, 1954 Japanese version (not to be confused with Godzilla, King of the Monsters, the far inferior 1956 “Americanized” version with additional scenes featuring actor Raymond Burr).

Admission is free, but RSVP is suggested. Please RSVP by Wednesday, May 2, noon, at rsvp-openhouse@japansociety.org

Part of the Open House Weekend, May 5-6, 2012.

ACF 1449: JOU DU playing at the Walter Reade Theater tomorrow

Ju Dou
Directed by Zhang Yimou 
China/Japan, 1990, 95 minutes
In Chinese with English subtitles
When: Tuesday, May 1, 2012 at 6:15 PM
Where: The Film Society of Lincoln Center
Walter Reade Theater
165 West 65th Street, NYC
Info and tickets available here
Enjoy $25 Dinner & a Movie!

The Film Society of Lincoln Center continues its celebration of 50 Years of the New York Film Festival with tomorrow night's screening of Ju Dou, directed by Zhang Yimou and starring Gong Li:

Master filmmaker Zhang Yimou (RAISE THE RED LANTERN, HOUSE OF FLYING DAGGERS) made the second of six NYFF appearances with this visually stunning, sexually charged melodrama set in a dye factory in rural China at the turn of the 20th century. When the sadistic factory owner takes a third wife (having murdered the first two), his nephew finds himself falling for the woman, named Ju Dou (played by the ravishing Gong Li, in one of her first major roles).

They soon embark on an affair and conceive a child, which the owner believes to be his. But as the years pass, the truth gradually bubbles to the surface, and a series of lurid twists and turns set the characters on a tragic collision course with the fates. Shot in eye-popping color by Oscar-nominated cinematographer Changwei Gu (FAREWELL MY CONCUBINE), JU DOU was banned by Chinese authorities, but nevertheless went on to become the country’s first-ever Oscar nominee for Best Foreign Language Film.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

ACF 1448: Happy Birthday, King Hu

King Hu working with Cheng Pei-Pei during the filming of Come Drink with Me

King Hu (Hu Jingquan) was born in Beijing, China on April 29, 1931. However his reputation rests on films he directed in Hong Kong and Taiwan. After emigrating to Hong Kong in 1949, he entered the film industry in 1951. He worked in art departments, then began acting. After joining Shaw Brothers in 1958, he worked as an actor and writer, ultimately to begin his career as a director there.

Come Drink with Me, which he made as King Chuan for Shaw Brothers in 1966) was an innovative wuxia (martial arts) film. It made Cheng Pei-Pei, who played Golden Swallow, a star in the genre. She utilized her training as a dancer to "sell" her character's ability to be a formidable swords-woman, much as Michelle Yeoh and Zhang Ziyi would years later.

Hu wanted her to also star in his next film, Dragon Inn (a.k.a. Dragon Gate Inn, 1967). But Hu had not been happy with producer Run Run Shaw with regard to Come Drink with Me, and had relocated to Taiwan. Cheng was still under contract with the Shaws, who were unwilling to let her make Hu's film. Nonetheless, she and Hu had formed a strong friendship that lasted until his death.

Hu's A Touch of Zen (1971) is probably considered by most to be his penultimate film. It's famous fight in a bamboo forest was at least in part an inspiration for a similar encounter in Ang Lee's triumphant Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000, which starred Cheng Pei-Pei, Michelle Yeoh, and Zhang Ziyi, as well as Chow Yun-Fat).

King Hu returned to make films in Hong Kong in the '70s, while also working in Taiwan and elsewhere. He died on january 14, 1997.

King Hu was "[t]he only director to have 2 films (Dragon Inn, 1967 and A Touch of Zen, 1971) selected among the top 10 of the Best 100 Chinese Motion Pictures selected by Hong Kong Films Award in celebration of 100 years of movies." (Source: IMDB biography)

And so, ACF celebrates this renowned and revered director on the anniversary of his birth, with much gratitude for the wonderful films he gave us.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

ACF 1447: Sentai Filmworks licenses DUSK MAIDEN OF AMNESIA


Join Sentai Filmworks for a mystery that must be solved from beyond the grave as they announce the North American licensing of Dusk maiden of Amnesia.  Director Shin Oonuma (ef ~ a tale of memories, ef ~ a tale of melodies) and character designer Yukiko Ban (.hack//SIGN) bring original creator Maybe’s tale of death and haunting to life.

Synopsis: 60 years ago, a young woman was left to die in the abandoned school building behind the exclusive Seikyou Academy.  No one knows why.  No one knows how.  But the horrifying tale and the legends of the ghostly haunting that followed live on to this day.  Perhaps it’s not so surprising then, that among Seikyou’s many school clubs is one for students interested in “paranormal investigations.”  What might raise more than a few hairs, however, is that the founder of the club is the ghost herself.

Unable to remember how she died and trapped in the grey land between life and death, Yūko latches onto Teiichi Niiya, a freshman who can inexplicably see her, and together they and the other unsuspecting members of the club begin to unravel the many dark mysteries that surround Seikyou.  Will unlocking the secret of Yūko’s gruesome death finally free her?  Or will her sudden close association with a mortal have even stranger repercussions on both of their existences?  In a tomb of silent classrooms, the answers await in Dusk maiden of Amnesia.

Dusk maiden of Amnesia will begin release through select digital outlets soon with a home video release to follow.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

ACF 1446: THE BOOK OF BANTORRA coming to Xfinity On Demand starting May 1st

The Book of Bantorra English Dub Coming
Next Week to Xfinity Top Picks

This May, Anime Network and Comcast are getting together to bring viewers the first look at their newest show: The Book of Bantorra. Starting May 1st, the entire Collection 1 (eps 1-13) of The Book of Bantorra will be available in the Top Picks section of Xfinity On Demand.

Synopsis: The Bantorra Library is home to books who used to be dead people. Visitors are able to read these book and learn about their own past. The Library’s Armed Librarians use psychic powers to defend against the religious society Sindeki Kyoudan. 
Click here to watch a promo video clip at The Book of Bantorra homepage.

To learn more about Xfinity On Demand and Top Picks, click here.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

ACF 1445: Free screening of THE SERVANT in NY next Tuesday

Korean Cultural Service
presents
Korean Movie Night
Series 3: Epic Romance
The Servant
Written and directed by KIM Dae-woo
South Korea, 2010
When: Tuesday, May 1, 2012 at 7:00 PM
Doors open: 6:30 PM
Where: Tribeca Cinemas (map here)
54 Varick Street, on the corner of Canal Street, NYC
Near the A, C, E @ #1 Canal Street subway stops
Admission: FREE!!!
All seating is first-come, first served

Opening at number one at the Korean box office, this retelling of Chunhyang-jeon (Korea’s version of Romeo & Juliet which has been remade hundreds of times) is told from the point-of-view of Bang-Ja (Kim Ju-Hyuk), a servant of the young scholar Lee Mong-lyong.

Bang-Ja is normally an incidental character in Chunhyang-jeon who does little more than act as a go-between for the star-crossed lovers, but here he’s elevated to center stage and the result is a funny, touching, unexpected twist on a classic tale.

Writer/director Kim Dae-Woo, who crafts pure cinematic magic here, also wrote the script for 2003’s Untold Scandal, the hit Korean riff on Dangerous Liasions.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

AFC 1444: Nakamura’s "tsuritama" acquired by Sentai Filmworks


Sentai Filmworks has announced their latest catch: Kenji Nakamura’s (Ayakashi – Samurai Horror Tales) tsuritama.  Originally airing in Fuji Television’s prestigious noitaminA block, tsuritama is sure to be the catch of the day.

Synopsis: You can’t catch fish if you don’t go fishing, and you can’t make friends if you don’t at least try.  Which is how relationship-challenged student Yuki finds himself on a fishing trip to a tiny island with three other boys he barely knows.  Well, two other boys and Haru, who claims that he’s an alien.  Not that constantly stewing Natsuki or mysterious Akira are any more likely as prospects for good companionship.

But there’s something about fishing that makes it unlike any other pastime, and maybe that quiet sense of companionship and hopeful expectation is just what Yuki needs to start charting the unfamiliar waters of personal connections.  Or maybe it will turn out that Haru’s right and they’re going to have to save the entire planet.  There are lots of different kinds of fish stories, from the “ones that got away” to the “best catches ever,” but whichever way the currents of life take them, for four young men, this trip may turn out to be the biggest whopper ever in tsuritama.

tsuritama will begin release through select digital outlets soon with a home video release to follow.

ACF 1443: Final screenings of CHILDREN WHO CHASE LOST VOICES FROM DEEP BELOW at IFC Center this weekend

CHILDREN WHO CHASE LOST VOICES FROM DEEP BELOW
Directed by Makoto Shinkai
Japan, 2011, 116 minutes
When: Sat & Sun, April 28 & 29 at 11:00am
Final Weekend!
Where: IFC Center, 323 Sixth Avenue (at West Third), NYC
Map here

Makoto Shinkai is perhaps the world's finest animator and his brilliant new feature delivers frame after frame of jaw-dropping photorealistic splendor: skyscapes of unspeakable majesty, a butterfly on a twig, a blade of grass - all are rendered with such astounding delicacy and precision that you mourn their passing once the image has left the screen. The story is a modern-day Orpheus tale with a sci-fi twist that pays tribute to the great works of Hayao Miyazaki - especially Princess Mononoke - with its demonic spirit-gods and magnificent forest creatures.

Synopsis: Asuna spends her afternoons alone in the mountains, using her crystal radio to listen to haunting songs from somewhere far away. One afternoon, a wild bear-like creature attacks and Asuna is saved by Shun, a boy with strange powers who comes from a mythical underworld beneath the Earth that is a gateway to the afterlife. When Asuna returns the next day to find him gone, she decides to leave the world of the living behind and follow him.

To order tickets, click here.

Monday, April 23, 2012

ACF 1442: Sentai Filmworks acquires QUEEN’S BLADE: REBELLION


Sentai Filmworks has announced their acquisition of the season’s hottest swordswomen in Queen’s Blade Rebellion.  With series composition by Hideki Shirane (Dream Eater Merry, Kill Me Baby!) and music by Masaru Yokoyama (Kimikiss: Pure Rouge, Freezing), five out five rebels agree that this series will kick some royal booty!

Synopsis: Power corrupts, and it when it appears that the once noble Queen Claudette’s ways have turned to oppression and heretical persecution, it’s up to a new generation of warriors to step up to the plate armor to bear arms and bare their naked fury in open rebellion!  The odds may seem unfairly stacked in favor of the Amazonian ranks of the queen, doubly supported by her power of writ and assassins.  But the incredible wits and assets of the dazzling array of daring damsels willing to risk their gorgeous skins and put their lithesome bodies on line against her, might just expose a few unexpected weaknesses in the queen’s support!

It’s the wildest fantasy ever as an unprecedented force of fabulous female fighters… from Elven alchemist to half-demon berserker, from undead pirate captain to dragon maid… all come together with the goal of stripping the queen from her throne in QUEEN’S BLADE: REBELLION.

Queen’s Blade Rebellion will begin release through select digital outlets soon with a home video release to follow.

ACF 1441: New Shojo Beat mangas STROBE EDGE and DEMON LOVE SPELL coming from VIZ

VIZ MEDIA ANNOUNCES
NORTH AMERICAN PUBLISHING LICENSES
FOR NEW SHOJO MANGA SERIES 
STROBE EDGE AND DEMON LOVE SPELL

VIZ Media has announced its latest manga (graphic novel) licenses with the acquisition of the domestic publishing rights to two new shojo series – STROBE EDGE, by Io Sakisaka, and DEMON LOVE SPELL, by Mayu Shinjo. Both titles are scheduled to begin publication later this year under the company’s Shojo Beat imprint.

Creator Io Sakisaka’s STROBE EDGE (rated ‘T’ for Teens) asks the timeless question, “What is love?” Ninako Kinoshita’s friends tell her it’s one thing, but Ninako wants to discover this mysterious emotion herself. When she meets Ren Ichinose, a handsome, enigmatic guy worshipped by all the girls at her school, she finds her heartbeat quickening with excitement! Is Ninako about to experience the many facets of love?

Celebrated manga creator Mayu Shinjo (AI ORE!, SENSUAL PHRASE) also returns with her new supernatural romance, DEMON LOVE SPELL (rated ‘T+’ for Older Teens). In the series, Miko is a shrine maiden who has never had much success at seeing or banishing spirits. Then she meets Kagura, a sexy demon who feeds off of women’s feelings of passion and love. Kagura’s insatiable appetite has left many girls brokenhearted at school, so Miko casts a spell to seal his powers. Surprisingly the spell works – sort of – but now Kagura is after her!

STROBE EDGE has been one of the most requested titles that our readers have asked to be licensed, and the romantic coming-of-age story will be a perfect series for young teen readers in particular,” says Leyla Aker, Vice President, Publishing. “Mayu Shinjo’s new series, DEMON LOVE SPELL, will intrigue older teen readers and young adults with its fun mix of comedic supernatural romance and gorgeous artwork. We look forward to launching both series later this year and will be announcing more information on the forthcoming debuts soon!”

For more information on Shojo Beat manga titles, please visit: www.ShojoBeat.com

Sunday, April 22, 2012

ACF 1440: MEDAKA BOX


Sentai Filmworks has acquired MEDAKA BOX, the newest production of the famed Gainax studio (Neon Genesis Evangelion, Gurren Laggan).  Featuring series composition and direction by (Shouji Saeki (He Is My Master, This Ugly Yet Beautiful World) and music by Tatsuya Katou (Samurai Girls, Horizon in the Middle of Nowhere), MEDAKA BOX is sure to prove that good intentions don’t always matter.

Synopsis: When newly elected Student Council President Medaka Kurokami institutes her idea for a suggestion box where people can submit problems that need to be solved, she’s expecting things like rescuing lost puppies and giving advice.  What she and her best friend Zenkichi find instead, however, are the first hints of an unbelievable secret, and their school, Hakoniwa Academy, and Medaka herself are somehow at the very center of the growing maelstrom!

As what seemed like an innocent past time turns into a dangerous game, Medaka and her recruits to the Student Council discover new depths to both themselves and their own unexpected abilities.  And then things get REALLY out of control!  Get ready for a battle royal unlike anything you’ve ever seen before as the simple power of suggestion unlocks the secrets of MEDAKA BOX.

MEDAKA BOX will begin release through select digital outlets soon with a home video release to follow.

ACF 1439: Happy Birthday, Johnnie To, Happy Birthday To You!


Hong Kong director, producer and writer Johnnie To was born in that city on April 22, 1955. He's probably best know for his crime/action or policier films. Among the more than 50 movies he's directed are The Mission, PTU, Breaking News, Election, Exiled, and Sparrow. Such well known Hong Kong stars as Simon Yam, Andy Lau, and Suet Lam frequently star in To vehicles.

So Happy 57th Birthday wishes to you Johnnie. Looking forward to more great films from you in the future.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

ACF 1438: Section 23 announces upcoming releases for June 2012


Home video distributor Section23 Films has announced its June slate of releases. Packed with top titles by Section23 client, Sentai Filmworks, including FATE / STAY NIGHT UNLIMITED BLADE WORKS, K-ON! and TOWANOQUON, June promises to make this the hottest summer on record!

Product details, in order of release:

Title:                 KURENAI COMPLETE COLLECTION
Published by:    Sentai Filmworks
Distributed by:  Section23 Films
Run Time:         300 min.
Street Date:      6/5/2012
Format:             DVD
Language:         Japanese with English Subtitles
SRP:                $49.98

SYNOPSIS:  He's only a teenager, but Kurenai Shinkurou is already both a master of an arcane martial art and an experienced professional mediator with a long track record of resolving disputes.  Not bad for someone who's just sixteen and still in school, but everyone has their limits and Kurenai may have met his when his boss and role model Benika responds to his request for a more challenging assignment by giving him the task of protecting young Murasaki Kuhoin.  Never mind that she's only seven, the fact that the people Kurenai's supposed to protect her from are her own very rich and extremely powerful family is guaranteed to take this job into the danger zone.  Now the heat is on and Kurenai's scrambling to put out as many fires as he can, even as the secrets surrounding his young charge bring everything else to a flashpoint in KURENAI- THE COMPLETE COLLECTION!


Title:                 FATE / STAY NIGHT UNLIMITED BLADE WORKS
Published by:    Sentai Filmworks
Distributed by:  Section23 Films
Run Time:         105 min.
Street Date:      6/12/2012
Format:             DVD
Language:         English & Japanese with English Subtitles
SRP:                $29.98

SYNOPSIS: Having spent the last ten years of his life studying under a mysterious sorcerer, Shiro Emiya has become a Magi, a sorcerer who has summoned a "Servant," a mystical female warrior of incredible power named Saber, to stand together in the ultimate test of sorcery and magic: the Holy Grail War.  But Shiro's own feelings for Saber may conflict with their goal.  For to win the contest means to take the risk of losing everything, even as he also begins to empathize with members of the rival battleteams.  For while seven teams will enter the battle, only one will leave, and the winners will receive the prize of the Grail itself and their greatest wish granted.  Will that wish be worth the price Shiro must ultimately pay?  The battle is on in FATE/STAY NIGHT - UNLIMITED BLADEWORKS!


Title:                 FATE / STAY NIGHT UNLIMITED BLADE WORKS BLU-RAY
Published by:    Sentai Filmworks
Distributed by:  Section23 Films
Run Time:         105 min.
Street Date:      6/12/2012
Format:             BD
Language:         English & Japanese with English Subtitles
SRP:                $39.98

SYNOPSIS:  Having spent the last ten years of his life studying under a mysterious sorcerer, Shiro Emiya has become a Magi, a sorcerer who has summoned a "Servant," a mystical female warrior of incredible power named Saber, to stand together in the ultimate test of sorcery and magic: the Holy Grail War.  But Shiro's own feelings for Saber may conflict with their goal.  For to win the contest means to take the risk of losing everything, even as he also begins to empathize with members of the rival battleteams.  For while seven teams will enter the battle, only one will leave, and the winners will receive the prize of the Grail itself and their greatest wish granted.  Will that wish be worth the price Shiro must ultimately pay?  The battle is on in FATE/STAY NIGHT - UNLIMITED BLADEWORKS!


Title                  SULTRY ASSASSIN APHRODISIAC KILL
Published by:    Switchblade Pictures
Distributed by:  Section23 Films
Run Time:         68 min.
Street Date:      6/12/2012
Format:             DVD
Language:         Japanese with English Subtitles
SRP:                $19.98

SYNOPSIS:  When drugs, graft and the illegal sex trade, come together, the outcome can be deadly; especially in ancient Edo, where the law is dictated by he who wields the strongest sword.  That's why Yasaburo, a mere commoner, spends all his spare time practicing and refining his prowess with a blade.  But when Yasaburo comes to the aid of a woman he believes to be a prostitute, he soon learns that there are more kinds of weapons than he'd ever imagined…  For the woman is actually Rin, a female ninja enforcer assigned to pose as a prostitute in order to investigate shipments of an illegal aphrodisiac, and the deadliest weapon in ancient Japan isn't made of steel or wood, but rather of human flesh in the form of a deadly kunoichi assassin.  Get ready for the wildest eroninja film ever as three of Japan's hottest female stars - Akiho Yoshizawa, Asami and Rin Kawaii - bring Junichi Yagami's epic erotic novels of sex and steel to life in SULTRY ASSASSIN - THE APHRODISIAC KILL!


Title:                 GOLGO 13 COLLECTION 4
Published by:    Sentai Filmworks
Distributed by:  Section23 Films
Run Time:         300 min.
Street Date:      6/19/2012
Format:             DVD
Language:         English & Japanese with English Subtitles
SRP:                $59.98

SYNOPSIS:  The hit anime series about the stone-cold assassin Golgo 13 ends with a bang as Golgo faces his most dangerous assignments yet.  A beautiful CIA operative seeks Golgo's help as she is hunted by a hired hit squad.  But does she have a hidden agenda?  And how is it that a woman suddenly comes to his rescue after a car accident erases his memory?  Is she to be trusted?  What of the hooker being held captive by mobsters?  And the little baby who bears a striking resemblance to Golgo himself?  When the stakes are raised this high, is it possible anime's most heartless killer will finally discover he actually has a soul?  Find out in this thrilling ending to one of the smartest animated crime stories ever!


Title:                 K-ON! SEASON 2 COLLECTION 1
Published by:    Sentai Filmworks
Distributed by:  Section23 Films
Run Time:         325 min.
Street Date:      6/19/2012
Format:             DVD
Language:         English & Japanese with English Subtitles
SRP:                $59.98

SYNOPSIS: For two full years, Yui, Mio, Ritsu and Tsumugi have worked together to keep Sakuragaoka Girl's High School's struggling Light Music Club alive, and along the way they've begun to build a reputation as real rock musicians… especially since the previous year's addition of underclassman rhythm guitarist Azusa.  But as a new school year begins, there are new and scary challenges ahead.  With four fifths of the club graduating at the end of the year, replacement members have to be recruited.  There are college exams to prepare for.  There are colleges to choose.  And there are friends to prepare to say goodbye to.  But no matter what happens, they'll have their faculty adviser and secret former Death Metal guitar/vocalist Sawako Yamada there to help them in her own unusual way, especially since she's now their homeroom teacher as well!!   And most of all, they'll have each other.  Because the group of amateur musicians who barely knew each other has become much more than just a band, and by the time this school year is over, they're going to achieve something so amazing it requires multiple exclamation marks!!  Get ready to be blown away as the girls from K-ON! rock on in an all new adventure in K-ON!! - THE COMPLETE SECOND SEASON Volume One!!  


Title:                 K-ON! SEASON 2 COLLECTION 1 BLU-RAY
Published by:    Sentai Filmworks
Distributed by:  Section23 Films
Run Time:         325 min.
Street Date:      6/19/2012
Format:             BD
Language:         English & Japanese with English Subtitles
SRP:                $69.98

SYNOPSIS: For two full years, Yui, Mio, Ritsu and Tsumugi have worked together to keep Sakuragaoka Girl's High School's struggling Light Music Club alive, and along the way they've begun to build a reputation as real rock musicians… especially since the previous year's addition of underclassman rhythm guitarist Azusa.  But as a new school year begins, there are new and scary challenges ahead.  With four fifths of the club graduating at the end of the year, replacement members have to be recruited.  There are college exams to prepare for.  There are colleges to choose.  And there are friends to prepare to say goodbye to.  But no matter what happens, they'll have their faculty adviser and secret former Death Metal guitar/vocalist Sawako Yamada there to help them in her own unusual way, especially since she's now their homeroom teacher as well!!   And most of all, they'll have each other.  Because the group of amateur musicians who barely knew each other has become much more than just a band, and by the time this school year is over, they're going to achieve something so amazing it requires multiple exclamation marks!!  Get ready to be blown away as the girls from K-ON! rock on in an all new adventure in K-ON!! - THE COMPLETE SECOND SEASON Volume One!!  


Title:                 MARIA HOLIC ALIVE! COMPLETE COLLECTION
Published by:    Sentai Filmworks
Distributed by:  Section23 Films
Run Time:         300 min.
Street Date:      6/26/2012
Format:             DVD
Language:         Japanese with English Subtitles
SRP:                $49.98

SYNOPSIS: Some things never change: Ame no Kisaki, that famous and exclusive boarding school, STILL doesn't accept boys, and Kanako, Kisaki's most romantically unfortunate student, STILL doesn't accept them either.  (They give her the hives.  Literally.)  Sadly, that means that Kanako's STILL trying to connect with ANYONE of the same sex, and having the usual horrid luck.  She's STILL in imminent peril of dying from the constant nosebleeds she gets from being over stimulated by the presence of her fellow classmates.  And she's STILL forced to endure the tragedy of sharing a room with the school's most beautiful girl who is, of course, STILL a guy in drag.  Poor Kanako!  She came hoping to find love and happiness, and all she's found is misery, frustration and a level of desperation so great that she'll even take a chance on a sleepover in a dorm filled with deathtraps.  But what YOU'LL find is non-stop hilarity as the girl least likely to succeed refuses to give up, even if it kills her (and it probably will,) as Kanako's quest for love continues in MARIA HOLIC ALIVE! The Complete Series!


Title:                 TOWANOQUON COMPLETE COLLECTION
Published by:    Sentai Filmworks
Distributed by:  Section23 Films
Run Time:         300 min.
Street Date:      6/26/2012
Format:             DVD
Language:         English & Japanese with English Subtitles
SRP:                $59.98

SYNOPSIS: In the not-too-distant future, children are being born with special powers, marvelous and remarkable abilities.  But what would seem like a wondrous gift turns out to be a dangerous curse.  For the world is now run by The Order, and these miraculous "deviants" are hunted down-and killed.  But Quon and his group of Attractors are out to rescue these children before The Order's elite squad of ruthless cyborgs detect them.  From their hideout beneath a popular amusement park, the Attractors use high tech gadgetry and their own remarkable abilities to save these children, and teach them to harness and control their powers to overthrow the very powers that seek to destroy them.  With spectacular animation, stunning fight sequences, and richly detailed characters, Towanoquon is destined to be an anime classic and must-have for any animation fan's library.


Title:                 TOWANOQUON COMPLETE COLLECTION BLU-RAY
Published by:    Sentai Filmworks
Distributed by:  Section23 Films
Run Time:         300 min.
Street Date:      6/26/2012
Format:             BD
Language:         English & Japanese with English Subtitles
SRP:                $69.98

SYNOPSIS: In the not-too-distant future, children are being born with special powers, marvelous and remarkable abilities.  But what would seem like a wondrous gift turns out to be a dangerous curse.  For the world is now run by The Order, and these miraculous "deviants" are hunted down-and killed.  But Quon and his group of Attractors are out to rescue these children before The Order's elite squad of ruthless cyborgs detect them.  From their hideout beneath a popular amusement park, the Attractors use high tech gadgetry and their own remarkable abilities to save these children, and teach them to harness and control their powers to overthrow the very powers that seek to destroy them.  With spectacular animation, stunning fight sequences, and richly detailed characters, Towanoquon is destined to be an anime classic and must-have for any animation fan's library.

ACF 1437: MYSTERIOUS GIRLFRIEND X coming soon from Sentai Filmworks


Just when you thought it couldn’t get any weirder, Sentai Filmworks proudly announces its acquisition of a tale of strange, sticky bonds and slobbering repercussions: Riichi Ueshiba’s Mysterious Girlfriend X.  Featuring direction by Ayumu Watanabe (Space Brothers), music by Tomoki Hasegawa (DNAngel, NANA) and character designs by Kenichi Konishi (Bokurano, Fullmetal Alchemist: The Sacred Star of Milos), Mysterious Girlfriend X is sure to be a hit with any self-respecting salivator.

Synopsis: When the oddly peculiar Mikoto Urabe transfers into Akira Tsubaki’s class, he finds that life has thrown him the weirdest curve ball ever.  Because while Urabe may be an anti-social loner who sleeps on her desk, carries a pair of scissors in her underwear and breaks out in sudden fits of insane laughter, there’s something about her that Tsubaki just can’t quite put his finger on.  Until he accidentally puts his finger in it, and suddenly the phrase “sharing spit with a girl” takes on an entirely new meaning!

Before he can wipe her drool off his face, Tsubaki is mysteriously addicted to Urabe, which isn’t half as strange as the fact that she not only finds this normal, but already seems to have plans for her new drooling boyfriend.  So can a girl spitting in your face ever be a GOOD thing?  Is this relationship bound for disaster or great expectorations?  Find out as Urabe puts a spittle love in Tsubaki’s heart and things get REALLY bizarre in the most dysfunctional bodily functional anime ever: Mysterious Girlfriend X.

Mysterious Girlfriend X will begin release through select digital outlets soon with a home video release to follow.

Friday, April 20, 2012

ACF 1436: CHILDREN WHO CHASE LOST VOICES FROM DEEP BELOW

CHILDREN WHO CHASE LOST VOICES FROM DEEP BELOW
Directed by Makoto Shinkai
Japan, 2011, 116 minutes
When: Sat & Sun, April 21 & 22 at 11:00am
Where: IFC Center, 323 Sixth Avenue (at West Third), NYC
Map here

Makoto Shinkai is perhaps the world's finest animator and his brilliant new feature delivers frame after frame of jaw-dropping photorealistic splendor: skyscapes of unspeakable majesty, a butterfly on a twig, a blade of grass - all are rendered with such astounding delicacy and precision that you mourn their passing once the image has left the screen. The story is a modern-day Orpheus tale with a sci-fi twist that pays tribute to the great works of Hayao Miyazaki - especially Princess Mononoke - with its demonic spirit-gods and magnificent forest creatures.

Synopsis: Asuna spends her afternoons alone in the mountains, using her crystal radio to listen to haunting songs from somewhere far away. One afternoon, a wild bear-like creature attacks and Asuna is saved by Shun, a boy with strange powers who comes from a mythical underworld beneath the Earth that is a gateway to the afterlife. When Asuna returns the next day to find him gone, she decides to leave the world of the living behind and follow him.

To order tickets, click here.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

ACF 1435: Sentai FIlmworks licenses KIDS ON THE SLOPE anime series


Sentai Filmworks has announced the acquisition of one of the most anticipated animated series of the decade,  KIDS ON THE SLOPE, the long awaited reunion of the team behind COWBOY BEBOP and MACROSS PLUS, director Shinichiro Watanabe (SAMURAI CHAMPLOO, THE ANIMATRIX) and composer Yoko Kanno (RAHXEPHON, ESCAFLOWNE, GHOST IN THE SHELL S.A.C.).

Produced for Fuji Televisions prestigious noitaminA block and based on the manga Sakamichi no Apollon by Yuki Kodama, the 12 episode series’ already blockbuster list of production credits grows even more impressive with the addition of character designer Nobuteru Yuki (RECORD OF LODOSS WAR, ESCAFLOWNE, BATTLE ANGEL) and scripting by Yuko Kakihara (PERSONA 4-THE ANIMATION, TAYUTAMA-KISS ON MY DIETY) and his second season collaborator on Disney’s STITCH! anime series, Ayako Kato.

There is perhaps no better summation of the astonishing caliber of talent assembled for this project than Ms. Kodama’s own words: “When it comes to adapting this manga to anime, I can say with no reservations that the series has been blessed with a brilliant combination of staff members that couldn't be any better.”

Synopsis: It’s the summer of 1966 and high school freshman Kaoru Nishimi is struggling to adjust to the latest of many moves in his young life, this time to his uncle’s home in the seaside town of Kyushu.  It’s never easy adjusting.  It’s never easy fitting in.

But this time will be different.  This time he’ll meet friends who’ll change his life forever.  And he’ll discover a new passion, one that grabs his heart and rocks him to his very soul.

It’s a music.  A beat.  A whole new way of looking at life.  It’s called JAZZ, and together with bad boy Sentaro and music store girl Ritsuko, they’re going to follow their muse to wherever their music takes them!  You think garage bands are something new?  Think again and travel to a time when dreams and a couple of musical instruments really could change the world!   Get ready to be blown away as the acclaimed team behind COWBOY BEBOP reunites for a tale of life, love and all that jazz in THE KIDS ON THE SLOPE.

THE KIDS ON THE SLOPE will begin release through select digital outlets soon with a home video release on DVD & BD to follow.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

ACF 1434: THE DAY HE ARRIVES reviewed; opens in NY on Friday

 The Day He Arrives / Book chon bang hyang
Directed by HONG Sangsoo 
South Korea, 2011, 8079 minutes 
When: Opens Friday, April 20, 2012 in NYC
Followed by national release
Where: Lincoln Plaza Cinema
1886 Broadway, NYC
 Map and directions here
A Cinema Guild Release

The Day He Arrives is the latest release from South Korean director HONG Sangsoo. Like many of his films, the protagonist is a film director. Seongjun (YU Junsang) made four films, then moved to Daegu, in the south-eastern area of the country, where he now teaches. The film takes place entirely in Seoul, to which he has returned to visit his friend Youngho (KIM Sangjoong). Upon arriving, Seongjun is unable to reach Youngho. He spends the evening first with three young film students, then visits Kyungjin (KIM Bokyung), a former girlfriend that he hasn't seen for two years.

Kyungjin and Seongjun

The next day he hooks up with Youngho, who's with his female friend Boram, who teaches -- surprise! -- film. Youngho, who is divorced, clearly has amorous feelings towards Boram. That evening the three of them go to a bar called "Novel." The bar's proprietress, Yejeon, bears an uncanny resemblance to Kyungjin, Seongjun's former girlfriend. (KIM Bokyung does double duty as both characters.)

The next two nights of Seongjun's visit are again spent at "Novel." There are various repetitions that occur. The proprietress is not at the bar when they arrive. Someone joins Seongjun after he steps outside to have a cigarette. Yejeon goes out to buy food from a nearby store. But these repetitions often include variations that are intriguing and somewhat mysterious, especially because none of the characters seem to notice them.

Boram, Youngho and Seongjun

Visually The Day He Arrives differs in two ways from the other four HONG films that I've seen. First off, it's in black and white, not color. Personally I found this change was quite suitable to HONG's material and aesthetic. His movies can reasonably be likened to a cinematic counterpart to George's description of the show that he and Jerry pitched on Seinfeld: "a show about nothing." In HONG's films much time is spent wandering around doing mundane, routine things such as sitting in a park, waiting to get a haircut, and most often of all, eating and drinking. Nothing much seems to happen. But what's always going on is an intriguing, often wryly witty exploration of relationships between the characters. The use of black and white seemed to bring this more into the forefront.

Another variation pertains to HONG's trademark zooms. Here he sometimes employs pans and tilts in conjunction with the zooms. The effect is a much more "cinematic" look, a gentle illusion of camera movement when it actually remains mounted on a non-moving tripod. HONG does continue to eschew tracking or dolly shots. This approach may be for aesthetic or financial reasons or both. Personally, I believe it's to allow for quicker set-ups and tear-downs, thereby reducing the cost of filming.

Seongjun and Yejeon

The Day He Arrives opens in New York this Friday; a national release will follow. While I've enjoyed and appreciated the other four films by him that I've seen thus far, I liked TDHA the most. MY ACF Rating for it is 3.5 out of four stars; very highly recommended.

Also keep in mind that the U.S. theatrical premiere Oki's Movie, one of two HONG films released in 2010 (the other being the comedy Hahaha) continues here in NY through April 22nd. (My review of Oki's Movie here.)

ACF 1433: NARUTO SPIN-OFF: ROCK LEE & HIS NINJA PALS now on VIZAnime.com and Hulu


The superdeformed anime NARUTO SPIN-OFF: ROCK LEE & HIS NINJA PALS debuted yesterday on VIZAnime.com and Hulu - this is NARUTO like you've never seen it before! Starring Rock Lee, the ninja who actually can't use ninjutsu, you'll fall in love with the cute antics of all your favorite ninja!
 
Rock Lee may not be able to use ninjutsu, but that doesn't stop him from aspiring to become a great shinobi! What he lacks he makes up for with his undying passion and training... Under the guidance of his super-awesome sensei, Guy, and with the reluctant support of teammates Tenten and Neji, Rock Lee will make himself known to the world!

New episodes debut on VIZAnime.com and Hulu every Tuesday, two weeks after broadcast debut in Japan! Once you watch, you're sure to fall in love with Rock Lee and all his ninja friends!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

ACF 1432: Live action martial arts thriller THE KUNOICHI


Sentai Filmworks stealthily announces their acquisition of the new martial arts thriller THE KUNOICHI.  Directed by Seiji Chiba (ALIEN VS NINJA) and with fight choreography by the live-action GANTZ's  Kensuke Sonomura, the feature is the third starring vehicle for beautiful Japanese Karate champion Rina Takeda, who at only 19 years old has already landed continuing roles in two Japanese TV series and looks posed to become a major action superstar.

Opposite Takeda as the opposing forces are male leads Mituski Koga, who starred in Chiba’s previous features, ALIEN VS NINJA and EVIL NINJA, pop singer Yuichi Sato of the Purboys, and Kentaro Shimazu (OUTRAGE); while Takeda’s fellow female cast members include popular actress/singer Shiho Fujisawa (SAYANARA COLOR).

Synopsis: As the long, brutal and bloody war between the Iga and Koga ninja wages on, it is the women of the rival clans who pay the heaviest price.  The kunoichi must fight alongside their fathers and brothers, they must bury their sons and their husbands, and when captured themselves, are denied an honorable death and instead reduced to sex slaves for the purpose of slaking the savage and twisted desires of their former foes.

But when Iga warriors Shimotsuki and Hyotsu kidnap four Koga women, they soon learn that killing the beautiful ninja girl Kisaragi would have been a far wiser course of action.  For a kunoichi is never unarmed, even when naked, and Kisaragi is deadlier than most.  Rising martial arts superstar and  Japanese Karate champion Rina Takeda explodes into action as prey becomes the  hunter in THE KUNOICHI.

THE KUNOICHI will soon be available digitally through many outlets, with a home video release later this year on DVD.

Monday, April 16, 2012

ACF 1431: NEW PEOPLE announces dates for 2012 J-POP Summit Festival


NEW PEOPLE ANNOUNCES DATES
FOR THE 2012 J-POP SUMMIT FESTIVAL

One-Of-A-Kind Weekend-Long Festival Celebrates “Cyberpop Overload!”
And Showcases The Best In Modern Japanese Film, Anime, Fashion,
Music, Art, Retail Design And Popular Culture This August

NEW PEOPLE, a dynamic entertainment destination bringing the latest examples of Japanese popular culture to North American shores, has announced the dates for its 2012 J-Pop Summit Festival. The Festival, now in its fourth year, will be held across San Francisco’s Japantown in association with the Japantown Merchant Association on Saturday, August 25th and Sunday, August 26th. 

The theme for 2012 will be “Cyberpop Overload!,” and the all-day, weekend-long event will offer many popular attractions that have made the J-Pop Summit Festival a fun annual gathering for fashion, film, anime, video game, technology and music fans as well as pop culture enthusiasts, Bay Area residents, and tourists visiting the city. More than 55,000 people attended last year’s J-Pop Summit Festival, according to the SFPD, and this year’s Festival is expected to attract even more attendees.

Information about the festival is available at J-pop.com and will feature regular updates. Additional official news alerts over the coming months will detail specific events, attractions, event partners and sponsors as well as Guest of Honor appearances.

Among this year’s most highly anticipated highlights, NEW PEOPLE is partnering with Japan’s Nippon Television Network Corporation (NTV) to present a very special event featuring the EVANGELION series in the U.S. for the first time ever! More information on this attraction will be announced in coming months.
A variety of other pop-inspired attractions including fashion shows, theatrical film premieres,  live art performances, celebrity appearances, and mini-concerts by some of Japan’s hottest bands are planned for the 2012 J-Pop Summit both inside the NEW PEOPLE complex, and also outdoors at the adjacent Peace Plaza. Innovative artists from Japan will join a variety of merchants and food vendors from the Bay Area to offer an array of pop-inspired products and delicacies for sale in open air displays on both sides of Post Street, the main Japantown thoroughfare.

“The J-Pop Summit Festival has become an important part of the cultural fabric of San Francisco and is a unique celebration of Japanese pop culture in all its colorful forms,” says Seiji Horibuchi, the President/CEO of NEW PEOPLE, Inc. and Chairman of the J-Pop Summit Festival Committee. “We’re working closely with a variety of sponsors, partners and the City of San Francisco to prepare a very exciting roster of talent and attractions that will make this year’s Festival the biggest one yet! We look forward to announcing these in coming months.”

NEW PEOPLE opened in 2009 and has become a unique must-see attraction of San Francisco’s cultural landscape. The 20,000 square foot contemporary venue features the latest examples Japanese popular culture expressed though film, art, fashion, and a variety of specialty boutiques and ongoing monthly events. NEW PEOPLE is located at 1746 Post Street in the city’s Japantown.

About NEW PEOPLE, Inc.
Based in San Francisco, California, NEW PEOPLE, Inc. (www.newpeopleworld.com) offers the latest films, art, fashion and retail brands from Japan through its unique entertainment destination as well as through licensing and distribution of selective Japanese films. NEW PEOPLE Entertainment (www.newpeopleent.com), a film division of NEW PEOPLE, Inc. strives to offer the most entertaining motion pictures straight from the "Kingdom of Pop" for audiences of all ages, especially the manga and anime generation, in North America. Some titles include DEATH NOTE, GANTZ, KAMIKAZE GIRLS, and THE TASTE OF TEA.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

ACF 1430: THE DEVIL’S FEAST coming in July on subtitled DVD from Switchblade Pictures


Switchblade Pictures has obtained the rights to THE DEVIL’S FEAST, the suspense and shibari erotic thriller from the late, internationally acclaimed novelist and screenwriter Oniroku Dan (FLOWER AND SNAKE, ROPE HELL, LADY BLACK ROSE).   Widely considered to be  Japan’s greatest master of dark erotica, Dan, who passed away in May of 2011, wrote over two hundred novels over his career, as well as the screenplays for many of Japan’s most successful and influential features, being especially known his popularization of the Japanese rope-bondage art of Shibari.

Directed by Kenji Hanyu from an adaption by Hiroshi Yoshino, THE DEVIL’S FEAST was distributed theatrically in Japan by Shintoho and stars Chihiro Koganezaki (CRUEL RESTAURANT), Yuya Matsuura (ZOMBIE HUNTER RIKA), Hitoshi Kajiki (RINKO 18) and famed AV model Arisa Matsumoto.  

Synopsis: When the beautiful Kumiko joins the editorial desk at a small local newspaper, the most deeply kept secrets of the rich and powerful leader of a religious cult suddenly begin finding their way into print in blistering exposes… scandalous exposes which have even more shocking repercussions for the paper’s sales manager, Okomoto, and his elegant wife Shizuyo.   Ensnared in the escalating war of wits and chains between the sadistic cult master and Kumiko, his former sex slave, Shizuyo finds herself strung in the rope bonds of a ruthless game that mixes sensuality with humiliation.

Could it be that Shizuyo’s only hope of release may come in the form of her own husband’s mistress?  Or is that exactly what the Devil has been planning on all along?  From the novels of the late legendary SM Master Oniroku Dan, prepare to be served a dark and unsettling vision of twisted lust and inhuman bondage:  THE DEVIL’S FEAST

THE DEVIL’S FEAST will begin Home Video release on subtitled DVD July 31st 2012.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

ACF 1429: HIDAMARI SKETCH X SP


Sentai Filmworks is pleased to invite you along for another visit with everyone’s favorite art students in HIDAMARI SKETCH X SP.  These two special episodes feature the cast and staff that have brought the girls of the Hidamari Apartments to life, including direction by Akiyuki Shinbo (Maria Holic, And Yet the Town Moves) and character designs by Yoshiaki Ito (Alice Academy).

Synopsis: Even though studying at a prestigious art school like Yamabuki is hard work, the girls who live at the Hidamari Apartments always manage to squeeze in time for a little fun and exploration.  And when they actually get a day off?  Watch out world!  Yuno, Sae, Hiro, Miyako and new students Nori and Nazuna return to create another masterpiece of life as art, with all new adventures that include swimming, pajama parties, trips to the art museum and even an all-you-can-eat diner courtesy of the landlady!

Of course, there’s always a little housework that has to be squeezed in, but with a pinch of resourcefulness and a dash of creativity, even the most onerous of chores can be turned into something magical.  Get ready for another illustrious collection of life, laughter and togetherness as Yuno and her friends always put a little love in their art in HIDAMARI SKETCH X SP.

HIDAMARI SKETCH X SP will be available digitally soon, with a home video release on subtitled DVD scheduled for later this year.