Hachiko Monogatari (ハチ公物語) is a highly-rated Japanese film that was originally released on 1st August 1987.
China released a movie on 31st March 2023 that was based on the original. I decided I wanted to watch the Japanese version which is better rated than the Chinese one. There was an American version as well but I’m really not interested in viewing a “Hollywood” version of the original story and they say it just took away all the Japanese cultural references.
A puppy was born in Akita Prefecture and sent as a gift to Professor Ueno of Tokyo University. They didn’t want to have another dog but their daughter was desperate to have one, the Professor bonded really well with Hachiko. The dog accompanied the Professor to the train station every morning and would walk back there in the evening when he came home from work. However, one-day disaster struck. The movie is based on a true story.
Nakadai Tatsuya (仲代達矢) as Professor Ueno Shujiro
He is considered one of the best actors in Japanese history. He was born on 13th December 1932 and is now 90 years old. His first on-screen appearance was a judge on the TV show Kouhaku Uta Gassen. He has appeared in many films since 1954. He said he accidentally became an actor, he was previously working as a clerk in a shop in Tokyo.
Yachigusa Kaoru (八千草薫) as Ueno Shizuko (the Professor’s wife)
She was an actress from Osaka Prefecture. She was married to director Senkichi Taniguchi. They have both now, unfortunately, passed away.
The dog is the star of the show, the rest of the cast were on the sidelines, like extras. This is how it should be, Hachiko is pretty much a legend in Japan and the focus was definitely reflected in the movie.
Even though the movie is pretty sad to watch it’s really well done. There are humans who you will love and some you will not like at all, the daughter is the villain. In real life people ask themselves “Oh how can you not be responsible for the dog you wanted so much”, but in the movie at least there was one beacon of hope in the world which was the Professor.
It doesn’t feel as though this movie was made in 1987 and I’m sure most issues in there remain relevant today.
It does seem that Hachiko’s full story wasn’t reflected in the film, the fact that he had a larger human family, was there at the unveiling of his own statue and that he passed away due to cancer.
Whatever happened, Hachiko has turned into an international legend thanks to popular culture.
I will give this movie a 4/5, marked down as it could have addressed more on the dog’s real life.
Kantarou: The Sweet Tooth Salaryman (さぼリーマン) is a Netflix & TV Tokyo collaborated Japanese TV Show that aired between 7 July to 29 September 2017. It’s sometimes called “Saboriman Kantarou”.
Ametani Kantarou is a salesperson for a publishing company that goes out to stores to sell products. While he is out on his trips he plays hooky to try out new desserts and do a write-up on his blog. However, it’s becoming more difficult not to get caught and one of his colleagues has become suspicious.
Onoe Matsuya II (二代目尾上松也 aka Inoue Ryuuichi) as Ametani Kantarou
He really did well in this show from being totally serious one minute to a complete oddball the next. Poor chap had all kinds of stuff thrown over him, I wonder if he put on weight during the show too. He is a very popular actor starting his career at the age of 10.
Ishikawa Ren (石川恋) as Dobashi Kanako
She plays the potential love interest of Kantarou and also has a sweet tooth. She also went from serious to doing dance routines, pretty much practising a full range of skills. She is also a popular in-demand actress.
Minagawa Sarutoki (皆川猿時) as Miyake Toru
The most experienced actor on the show, he has appeared in many productions and continues to be in demand. Evidently, he is a vocalist for a Japanese comedy rock band called “Group Tamashii” which has me in stitches even though I have no idea what they are singing.
Well, this show was completely bonkers but I loved it, it was a lot of fun.
The food part of the show was great as they showcased different areas of Japan and the different sweet/dessert specialty places in that area. The explanation of how the desserts were put together were great too. They must have hired special food photographers to take part in the show.
There was a different story each week relating to Kantarou’s adventures plus a couple of ongoing story arcs about a potential romance, I won’t give away the ending.
The totally bonkers part of the show included odd special effects, people’s heads being replaced by fruit, singing, dancing, quotes from famous people and just a general mish-mash of whatever they could chuck into the show.
I noticed online some people will give it a 1 star, and some 10 stars, I guess it depends on your sense of humour and what you are looking for in a show.
This show made me very happy, so I give it 4.5/5. It’s worth trying out, episodes are short.
Where Can I Watch
This is showing only on Netflix but I’m not sure if it can be seen elsewhere in Japan.
Cherry Magic! Thirty Years of Virginity Can Make You A Wizard?! is a Japanese movie that was released on 8th April 2022
The film follows events of the series but this time Adachi has received an order from the company to be transferred elsewhere. How will both Adachi and Kurosawa deal with this?
All the favourite actors/characters were back in the movie.
Akaso Eiji (赤楚衛二) as Adachi Kiyoshi
The only show I’ve seen Akaso in before is Kamen Rider although he has appeared in many other productions. He is an actor and model. He dropped out of University to join the world of entertainment. Instagram
Machida Keita (町田啓太) as Kurosawa Yuichi
He is very much in demand starting his career in 2011 when joining the stage group EXILE, which he eventually had to step away from due to a calf accident. Not only is he very much in demand as an actor but has many product endorsements too, if his Instagram account is anything to go by. Instagram
Asaka Kodai (浅香航大) as Tsuge Masato
The actor appeared to have lost a lot of weight since the series, I almost didn’t recognize him. Again, another very much in-demand actor whose TV and film career appears to have started in 2011 although signed by an agency in 2008. Instagram
Yutaro (後藤優太朗) as Wataya Minato
He is just known as Yutaro. He is a model and actor who started his career in 2018 and has numerous TV and Film productions in his portfolio.
Kusakawa Takuya (草川拓弥) as Rokkaku Yuta
He is an actor, model and dancer. He has much more TV production in the acting portfolio than in films. He does appear to be very popular too.
I had been waiting to see this film for some time and was so pleased to see it.
This was like an extended episode of the TV series and I’m so pleased they kept it that way.
There was nothing extravagant about the movie, it just focused on the storytelling. The story was centred around Adachi still having his magical mind-reading powers, being forced to move to another city by his company and subsequently meeting the parents. There are some dramatic and tense scenes but also comical as well. Old friends come back with their small story arcs, and viewers will be interested in knowing what happened to them as well. The ending was everything that I wanted it to be.
I’ve no idea how close the TV shows and movie is to manga book at all, I haven’t had time to read them. The movie has made me more enthusiastic to get into them.
The show is very unique to Japan, I would be hard pushed to find similar quality entertainment in the west. I would give the movie 4.9/5. If I could have changed one thing I would have increased the pace. It was just cuddly entertainment and storytelling. So wonderful.
Samurai Gourmet (aka Mangaban Nobushi no Gurume/漫画版 野武士のグルメ) is a Japanese TV series commissioned by Netflix airing first in March 2017.
Kasumi Takeshi is a retired salaryman getting used to the routine of his second life. He has never had a beer at lunchtime during the week. He is trying to get acquainted with going out and eating alone.
The series is an adaptation of the very popular The Solitary Gourmet TV show. It’s also had a Chinese remake.
Takenaka Naoto (竹中直人) as Kasumi Takeshi
He is an actor, comedian, singer and director. He has been in many TV shows and directed about 6 movies. I don’t recall seeing him in any other productions.
Amayama Tetsuji (玉山鉄二) as Samurai
He is a model turned actor and has appeared in many TV shows, films and music videos. He is in Naked Director which is showing on Netflix as is Samurai Gourmet.
There are 12 episodes in the series of about 20 minutes in duration which makes it very watchable.
This is a very delightful relaxed TV series with nothing offensive or stressful going on in it. I would say it’s one of the best I’ve seen in 2021. Every person in the same age group can relate to this drama.
The stories are very simple, nothing complex, although drawing the views in to see where he is going to end up next. The main character gets excited by the simplest of food. It makes you think about the effort that goes into small business restaurants to bring their lovely creations to us.
We really enjoyed this movie, one of the best we’ve seen from Japan.
Kingdom is an adaptation of a Manga series of the same name which I believe ran into 3 seasons.
Shin is a war orphan and becomes a slave. There he meets Hyo, they have a close relationship for years, both who have ambitions to become “The Great General under the Heaven”. Hyo is then recruited by the Royal Army which sets Shin off on a dramatic path.
Well, I have limited down the amount of information about the plot, just wanted to provide a little taster.
Shin is played by popular actor Yamazaki Kento (山﨑賢人). His career started as a model but got his first acting roll in 2010 appearing in many productions since then.
Hyo is played by Ryo Yoshizawa (吉沢亮), another popular actor whose career started in 2011.
Yamazaki Kento interviewed by Netflix Japan, English subtitles are available:
I saw a little of the original Manga series and there are distinct similarities between that and the film, even down to the costume design. From what I can make out it’s a pretty good adaptation.
The production quality is very good, they appear to have gone all out to make this into an epic including the CGI work. I did notice an error with the CGI, in two scenes the army was cheering, however, I bet many people won’t even notice.
The storyline was solid and moved fairly fast with some breaks when they needed to discuss strategy. Lot’s of fighting and action scenes.
Yamazaki Kento made the movie, he was clearly the star, sometimes comical, delightfully over the top now and again, appeared to put a lot of passion into his role.
My only criticism, this was a movie about China but didn’t feel like it at all, only when they actually mentioned the country. The production didn’t feel “Chinese” at all from the costumes to the mannerisms. I guess it was like Chinese TV and films pretending to have a scene in England where a Russian actor is faking a British accent, which I see quite often.
We gave this move a 4.5 out of 5.
To Be Continued
There is no indication in this movie that there will be a part two, however, it’s definitely happening. Both Yamazaki Kento and Ryo Yoshizawa will be reprising their characters along with others. According to what I have seen Kingdom 2 will be released this year, 2021.
I thought Brain Man would be a cheesy superhero type adventure, given the odd title, but it turned out to be quite the opposite.
Brain Man (脳男) is a Japanese movie released in February 2013. A serious of random explosions occur which leads the police and psychologist Mariko Washiya to come across Ichiro Suzuki. Ichiro is also known as “Brain Man”; he is without emotion, doesn’t feel pain, and has extremely high intelligence.
The film is 2 hours 5 minutes in duration and is 18+.
Ikuta Toma plays Ichiro Suzuki
He was very convincing in this role, his character was kind of frightening and every small move he made, and the way he did it, was very important for the part. Toma started his entertainment career in a child band called Strawberry Parfait but was more widely recognized in the 2007 Fuji TV drama Hanazakari no Kimitachi.
Matsuyuki Yasuko plays Mariko Washiya
She played this role very well too. Yasuko is an actress and singer with a very decent career in TV and film.
This was a “who is right” and “who is wrong” type of drama, I won’t give anything away.
It was fairly violent, not too bad, and that usually turns me off a movie as I do prefer cute and cuddly. They probably could have made the movie without it but may not have been so intense as it was supposed to be.
I don’t think there was anything spectacular about the cinematography apart from the scenes showing “Brain Man” in his isolation and how they focus on his every move to make him a little scary or mysterious.
There were surprises throughout the movie, including at the end as well. I notice on Asian forums that many ask what the ending is like to determine whether it’s worth watching, this one won’t disappoint.
I felt the script left things open for a potential follow up movie, but there wasn’t. I would rate it as 4/5, the markdown was the violence and maybe the overtop acting of one of the characters.
Not Quite Dead Yet 一度死んでみた is a Japanese comedy thriller movie released in March 2020.
Nanase Nobata is a university student who has a very bad relationship with her father, he works for a pharmaceutical company who invented a pill that emulates death for 2 days. He took the pill but his daughter then has to find out who is trying to steal company secrets to give them to a rival.
The film was notable for its number of cameo appearances although, I shamefully admit, I didn’t know any of them. The main case was:
Popular actress and model Hirose Suzu plays Nobata Nanase.
Yoshizawa Ryo plays Matsuoka Taku. He started his television career playing in three different Kamen Rider series. In Not Quite Dead Yet he plays an employee of the pharmaceutical company and helps Nobata with her quest.
Multi-award-winning actor Tsutsumi Shinichi plays the Father, Nobata Kei.
The only actor I instantly recognized, from his role in the Afro Tanaka TV series, was Ozawa Yukiyoshi who played the not so nice Watanabe.
It was the debut of Hamasaki Shinji as a film Director, although he had worked many years on award-winning commercials.
As always Internet Movie Database didn’t review this film too kindly but it went down well with Asian netizens, one review said it was hilarious and inspirational. In the end, the movie did come with a moral message to tell in a quick hit kind of way.
The first few minutes of the film I thought…what on earth have I just started watching?! After that initial hurdle, I started to enjoy it. It was a very funny tongue in cheek humour about death and funerals, I never knew such humour would be acceptable in Japan.
The acting was very good, kept in line with the completely bonkers style of the movie. The straight-laced father actually fit in well with the more over the top characters of the film.
There was a small number of special effects in the movie. Some special effects could have replaced the set that represented heaven with a little bit more imagination.
The movie was well worth a watch. Be patient with the first few minutes and don’t forget to watch the clip at the end of the closing credits.
Aozora Cut (アオゾラカット) was one of those shows I just stumbled across, didn’t know anything about but thought I would watch anyway.
Kawamura Shouta returns home to Japan, from Paris, to attend his mother’s funeral. He comes from a family of hairdressers and after beauty school decided to move to France rather than stay with the family business due to historical conflicts. Returning home he has to face up to the family issues he left behind.
The short movie starred two actors I am very familiar with from Ossan’s Love.
Hayashi Kento (はやし けんと) plays Shouta extremely well. The actor’s had many roles in different shows and in this one gets to, surprisingly, test his English Language skills. I am not sure if he speaks English but he does a pretty decent job.
Yoshida Kotaro (よしだ こうたろう;Yoshida) plays Goro, the father, and is a veteran of the acting world with many performances in his resume including stage, TV and movies. He was of course very good in this show too.
Japan Academy Award winner Dobashi Akihiro (どばし あきひろ) was the screenwriter on the show.
Anything that Hayashi Kento appears in does tend to be on the cute and this show is no exception. There are many little twists and turns to surprise the audience. It wasn’t a big-budget film, more like a low budget on-screen play that would work well on stage, but was very well executed. I haven’t seen many review’s of the show and the ones I have seems to be negative, don’t let them spoil your enjoyment of it, I do recommend it. If you are a fan of any of the above actors it is a must-see.
Maison De Police (メゾン・ド・ポリス) is a Japanese TV show broadcast in 2019 about how rookie detective Makino Hiyori, while investigating a crime, becomes involved with a “share house” of ex-police officers. The 10 part series is adapted from the novel of the same name, “Maison de Police”, by Katō Miaki.
As the series develops the story focuses more on the suspected murder of Makino Hiyori’s father who worked at a construction company and somehow some ex-officers in the share house are involved in the previous investigation of the crime.
The show aired between 11 January to 15 March 2019 every Friday night on the TBS network. I understand a DVD is now available.
I really enjoyed this series, it has some light comedy, the actors of the share house were a little eccentric adding to the charm of the show, and quite a bit of drama with unexpected plot twists.
The first 7 episodes were more stand-alone than the last 3. The first episode was so-so, could have been improved, but after that, we were hooked.
Certainly, the last 3 episodes were the best of the series and were very well done, linking all elements of the story to a dramatic conclusion.
Other reviewers appeared to be familiar with the cast, however not watched many Japanese TV shows myself I didn’t know them at all. It’s difficult to focus on any 1 or 2 actors being the lead but I would say the main focus was on:
Takahata Mitsuki who played the main character rookie detective Makino Hiyori. She was absolutely perfect for this show, she is a great actress who bought a little shyness, clumsiness, yet determined trait to the character that improved her policing skills over time.
Nishijima Hidetoshi who played main character ex-detective Natsume Souichirou. A brilliant actor playing what seems like a private person in the share house but turns out to be the action man of the show. Looking through his biography the actor has had quite an impressive career, I must look out for other shows he’s been in.
I give this show a 5 out of 5, loved it, must watch if you love Japanese dramas and a great introduction if you’ve never watched any before.
The series is about a middle school boy named Kageyama Shigeo, nicknamed Mobu (or Mob), who is extremely shy and has very low self-esteem. Mob has extremely powerful psychic abilities which he doesn’t like to use due to hurting people with them in the past. He also thinks using these abilities will not win him a girlfriend. Mob isn’t the only person with these special abilities and he is manipulated by those who want to harness them for good and bad.
The main actor in this series is Hamada Tatsuomi who is known most recently for being Ultraman Geed and other Ultraman-related movies. He is absolutely perfect for this part as he comes across as very sweet and innocent, just like the actual character itself.
It was a pretty good show, I enjoyed it a lot.
I checked out a couple of episodes of the original anime before reviewing the show. The anime was fast and busy for me, whereas the live-action was slower.
The show might be more suitable to a younger audience but definitely over 18 since some of the content wasn’t children appropriate. The story was pretty much secure but very cartoonist. Some of the humour in the show was very unique, especially from the Arataka Reigen and Takane Tsubomi characters whose performances I enjoyed very much. The structure of the show was unique too, quite a different feel to it and very cute in parts, I love the closing theme and how they had different versions of it. I was quite impressed by the dramatic scenes and acting from Mochizuki Ayumu who played Mob’s brother Ritsu.
The special effects were of a much higher standard than I expected but some were a little old school compared to what we see in the US, Canada and UK. The physical effects, where people were thrown around the room crashing into furniture I thought was of a very high standard, they much have been very highly trained stunt people.