A Look At: Solanin (ソラニン)

Solanin – lyrics

Mistaken thoughts from beyond the sky
A life spent saying goodbye?
The little piece of the future I saw
Was waving goodbye

The small room I once lived in
Is now occupied by someone else
The horrible things I said to you
The days that were wasted

Perhaps if I’d taken that chance, if I could go back to that day
But I’ll never be that person again

Even if that frail happiness
had somehow lingered on
A bad seed would surely have sprouted
So I guess this is goodbye

The cold cans of coffee from freezing winters
That long rainbow coloured scarf

I stroll through the back alley
It all comes back to me

Even if that frail happiness
had somehow lingered on
A bad seed would surely have sprouted
So I guess this is goodbye

I guess

Goodbye, that’s enough
You can cope anywhere
Goodbye, I’ll manage somehow too
Goodbye, that’s what I’ll do

The Japanese rock band Asian Kung-Fu Generation took these lyrics from the original manga and adapted them into the song which is played in the film.  Video and my thoughts on the film after the break. Continue reading

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Review: Air Doll (空気人形)

Hauntingly beautiful

Rating: ★★★★

In short: A deep, thought-provoking, beautifully filmed, and well acted piece of Japanese cinema. Bae Doona is magnificent as an inflatable doll that develops a soul and falls in love. Hirokazu Koreeda wows once again with his deliberate film making, effectively commenting on social problems dealing with urban life. Despite the fact that it is a bit slow and a bit long, Air Doll is definitely one of the better films that I’ve seen recently.

I was finally able to watch this film (on DVD) and was impressed, more so than I thought I would be. To me, Air Doll includes aspects that make it attractive to both film festivals and commercial audiences. With the quirky and interesting premise of a sex doll that comes to life, Air Doll (which is lightly based on a manga) establishes itself as a film which seeks to appeal to modern audiences, specifically Japanese. This doll, “named” Nozomi (played by Korean actress Bae Doona), sneaks out of her owners house every day to go to work at a local video store. There, she falls in love with her coworker, Junichi (played by Arata), and learns about life–both the good and the bad. Continue reading

JDramas of ’09

*originally posted March 27, 2010*

I didn’t watch a whole lot of Japanese dramas last year, as I found most uninteresting. To me, 2009 was not a good year for Japanese TV. Here are three that I enjoyed.

Akai Ito (赤い糸)

Before starting this drama, I was a bit skeptical. I wondered if I could still enjoy content that dealt with junior high/high school drama. I have to say that I was immediately drawn by Akai Ito’s cinematography. This drama is beautifully filmed, which was surprising as I was constantly reminding myself that this is a drama, not a film (there is a film with the same cast and production crew!). The music is beautiful and the main theme is fitting and gives a feeling of nostalgia. Actually, the whole drama gave me the feeling of nostalgia throughout. Acting is sub-par at best, which was disappointing. Both of the main actors played their parts well, but most of the time they were flat. I guess their flatness could be attributed to the characters personalities themselves, but to me it was very noticeable that they are amateur actors.

The story of Akai Ito is very depressing, dealing with suicide, drug addiction, death, and general teen drama. The romance is sweet, but frustrating. These kids seem to have so many problems to deal with; you’re supposed to cry for them, but sometimes I was at the point where I thought to myself how ridiculous everything was…their lives suck! Side point: I’ve heard that the book is even more depressing, dealing with many more mature problems. But besides an ambiguous ending, I thought the drama was well done and had a certain draw to it. If you don’t want to watch the drama, but are interested, check out the movie. It is basically the drama condensed into movie size. Continue reading