The Banana Guide to Asian Entertainment: It’s All About Japan: Part III

Films about nothing that are so good.

A film like Nobuhiro Yamashita’s Linda Linda Linda (リンダ リンダ リンダ) might be looked down for being just a chick flick. However, how many other films about a group of girls that just wants to play at the school’s music festival can you name that will get you to sing along to Doona Bae’s [1] renditions of The Blue Hearts songs? There’s no big dramatic meltdown, there’s certainly no girl fights over a guy — just the pure and simple love for music and friendship.

Slow-paced films of minimalistic styles about little at all seem a little prevalent in Japanese cinema with people like Naoko Ogigami and films like Kamome Diner (かもめ食堂), about a Japanese woman who sets off to live in Finland and opens a Japanese home-made food diner, or Megane (めがね) about a woman who leaves her stressed out life for an island vacation.

Other films that might fit the bill are Tony Takitani (トニー滝谷), Air Doll (空気人形), After Life (ワンダフルライフ), Maborosi (幻の光), Don’t Laugh at my Romance (人のセックスを笑うな), Shunji Iwai’s Picnic, One Million Yen Girl (百万円と苦虫女), and The Taste of Tea (茶の味) — though the latter one is “a film about nothing that can only be Japanese.” LOL


YAM Magazine editor, photographer, blogger, translator and part-time web designer. Film junkie, music junkie… and lately series (a.k.a. TV) junkie.

9 Responses

  1. Camiele says:

    All I know is that Grave of the Fireflies could be the most heartbreaking film I’ve ever seen. Certainly, there’s nothing “cartoonish” about Japanese animation. Obviously, they’ve got films and shows geared towards children, of course. However, their animation is so beyond mature sometimes that I marvel at people’s lack of respect for the genre. I even love the old school animation Akira comes to mind (obviously… HaHA). Japanese animation is some of the most thoughtful, most interesting storytelling to ever be put on film.

    • amy says:

      @Camiele, I was a mess. A MESS watching Grave of the Fireflies. There was a live action version done a couple of years ago for television… I haven’t dared to watch it. LOL

      It appalls me how many of my friends refer to animated films as “dibujitos” (as in little drawings) LOL. In school, I used to… almost, get offended. hahaha.

      • Camiele says:

        @amy, Well, that’s when you say, “And what you watch is any better?” Lame people are LAME!!! Any time anyone sees anything animated, they automatically think it’s the same thing as, like, Animaniacs. WRONG! People are so ready to be close-minded and I just don’t have time for them… HaHa.

        Yeah, I made the mistake of watching it at work and I was an emotional wreck while processing people’s taxes… HaHa.

        • amy says:

          @Camiele, LOL. And were you like “I’m just crying because this person is going to lose so much money”?

          Not like there’s anything wrong with Animaniacs… xP

  2. Camiele says:

    @amy, Yeah, nothing wrong with Animaniacs. Love Pinky and the Brain as much as the next person.

    HaHa. People mostly were coming around my office like, “Why are you so quiet?” HaHa. I wasn’t crying… well, I was crying on the inside. I mean, it’s probably the most depressing film every made.

  3. oh my gosh Grave of the Fireflies.
    Kon’s “Milennium Actress” is another fave anime.

    I think I just started at three points with Japanese live-action film – through J-horror, looking for other weird stuff, and classics. My favorite book is Kamikaze Girls (Shimotsuma monogatari), and I liked Nakashima’s adaptation. I also like what I’ve seen of Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s work. I’ve seen much of Miike, and I recommend The Bird People in China to show that he does things other than outre horror. The guy makes like six movies a year, so there’s plenty of variety (in quality and genre) among his work. Sion Sino’s Suicide Circle has stuck with me, as has Nakashima’s Confessions. I’m also making my way through the works of classic directors Akira Kurosawa, Kenji Mizoguchi (a favorite), and Masaki Kobayashi. I’m also hoping to watch some films by female Japanese directors.

    Finally, for those seeking truly odd only-from-Japan horror experiences, I recommend Hausu and Jigoku (Hell). The latter is slow going until the insane third act.

    • amy says:

      @Diandra Rodriguez, wow. That’s a broad list! There’s really way too much too watch, and so little time to do it!

      I’ve noticed Miike does have an extensive… VERY extensive filmography with a lot of variety, but I haven’t really dived into it (for the length of it haha). And I still have to catch up on Akira Kurosawa xD

  4. Roxanne says:

    Wow!! I’ve seen most of Miyazaki’s movies all of which I’ve loved. I’ve seen some more ‘commercial’ type movies like Nana and recently Uchuu Kyoudai (also a manga adaptation). I really need to get into all this wonderful Japanese cinema. I might just take up a Tsutaya subscription so I can rent all the movies I want!!

    Thanks for this wonderful insight into Japanese cinema ^_^

  5. amy says:

    I really liked Nana, which made me get into Mika Nakashima’s music. LOL Make sure one of the first films you watch be Swing Girls. Juri Ueno is LOL funny on that one.

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