Tag Archives: japanese movie

Outgrowing KamikazeeGirl

What do you when you seem to outgrow your blog identity? 

51Pios-FDdL

I first started blogging close to thirteen years ago. Back then, my very first blog was hosted in LiveJournal.

I was probably in my late twenties, I was sullen most of the time, a rebel-without-a-cause and a devil-may-care attitude. I was obsessed with Japanese culture (as I am still am today), and watched nothing but Japanese movies and doramas. Gokusen, GTO, Hana Yori Dango, Okurubito, Hana Kimi were all a potent mix of a drug for me and I would spend hours and hours trying to watch for snippets on YouTube.

Blogging was also on its infancy and was still not the media behemoth/monster that it is today. As a journal-obsessed girl, I wanted a piece of the action. I wanted a place where I can share my thoughts; someplace that would serve as an extension of the many journals I have amassed through the years. So, I went online – using that noisy dial-up internet connection we had back then and started crafting my online persona. I wanted something unique and distinctly me. Read: devil may care/ Japan-obsessed/a bit crazy and weird.

I was set on becoming another Makino Tsukushi because, at that time, I was convinced that I had a shot with Jun Matsumoto (my then-BF/now-husband knew I was crazy for MatsuJun back in the day) but it was too common for me. Until I chanced upon this crazy, quirky movie and yep, KamikazeeGirl was born:

kamikaze-girls-copy.jpg

These were the two original Kamikaze Girls” Momoko (L), a self-absorbed Lolita Girl who only cared about fashion and Ichigo (R), a yanki biker girl who fits the words “crazy and weird” to a T. To the twenty-something me back then, they were also the perfect personification of my personality. So, my online persona was born. I wrote about anything and everything under the sun and basically made KamikazeeGirl a repository of rants and cringey emo stuff. I didn’t care because I was convinced no one was reading my blog, and my early stats seemed to confirm this.

But life goes on and we grew old. Almost three years ago, and following a steady influx of visits, I made my blog public. The signs were there: paid collabs being offered, in spite the fact that I barely advertise or promote the site; there was free stuff coming in the mail and blogging was starting to become the very definition of new media. So, I signed up to join blogger groups, I started going to events and even joined some collabs. I started to post less and less also about my rants and dialed back on the Japanese pop culture reference.

On the personal side of things, I started a new job, handled more and more responsibilities, worried about my blood pressure and overall health, and became more engrossed with work. Updates became few and limited in between. Advertorials were written and press releases were accommodated.

To put it bluntly, the blog as KamikazeeGirl was losing its identity. I was growing old and I was no longer the young Momoko-Ichigo. Last night, while trying to meditate before going to sleep – it hit me. I was no longer KamikazeeGirl.

I am now a grown-ass woman who worried more about her bills, her investments, her job and the state of her mental health. I stopped following and obsessing about Jun Matsumoto years and years ago, so I was actually saddened to read over Facebook that Arashi (Jun’s band) will be going on an indefinite hiatus after 2020. It felt like the end of an era, and in this blog’s case, it was also the end of the online personality, “Kamikazeegirl.”

Yesterday, I started searching for tutorials on how to change my domain name. This blog is on paid-Wordpress hosting so I might contact WordPress support directly on how to do it.  I am also thinking of how to bring the blog to the next level, given the rise of social media influencers and vloggers. Given that anyone with access to a platform and an internet connection is now calling themselves bloggers and writers — how do you set yourself apart from the crowd?

KamikazeeGirl was the kid with the journal, and with no plan in sight. This planner-wielding, penny-pinching, obsessive-compulsive middle-ager can no longer relate.

 

 

 

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“Okuribito/Departures” to open Eiga Sai 2011

One of my most favorite Japanese movies (and one that made me cry) “Departures” will open the 2011 Eiga Sai – Japanese Film Festival , in celebration of the Philippines-Japan Friendship Month.

Departures is a 2009 Oscar-winning movie directed by Yojiro Takita. It tells the story of Daigo Kobayashi, a cellist who played in an orchestra in Tokyo who lost his job, and went on to answer an add for someone who will “assist departures”. Daigo goes on to find that the job is actually someone who prepares the dead.

The story is very poignant and heart-tugging, without the usual melodramatic drivel usually present in most Asian films. The simplicity yet beauty of the movie has earned it a host of recognitions worldwide, including the Best Foreign Language Film during the 2009 Oscars; the Best Actor Award for Masahiro Motoki during the 3rd Asian Film Awards, and then went on to cop most of the awards during the 32nd Japan Academy Prize.

Seriously, I am quite frustrated with my lack of contacts from Japan Foundation Manila or the Japanese Embassy in Manila since I really wanted to attend this year’s opening of the Eigqa Sai. Hopefully, someone will take pity of me and send me tickets to the Eiga Sai opening on 01 July.

To see film screening schedules, go here

Memoirs of a former teenage drama queen

FINALLY!
Almost a year after I first started searching online for the movie “Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac”, a film produced and made by Japanese-American collaboration and starring one of the best young actors in Japan today, Kenichi Matsuyama and the lovely Horikita Maki — I finally found an uploaded version via YouTube.

You don’t know the sh*t I had to go through searching for this movie. It’s like–the more I yearn to see it, the more it becomes hard for me to see a full, English-subtitled version. It’s crazy!

Here’s a short summary of the story: Due to a series of unfortunate events, Naomi falls off the stairs of her school, Tokyo American School, effectively wiping out four years of her memory. She forgot that she is dating the school jock, Ace Zuckerman and even finds little meaning in her previous preoccupation as co-editor of the school yearbook along with her bestfriend Hasegawa Mirai. She then falls in love with the school loner, Yuji Miwa who hides a dark past. With her amnesia comes change on who she is: she quits the yearbook, broke up with Ace, started dating Yuji, quit the tennis team and even started acting in a play. She started questioning why she even liked yearbook and photography in the first place. By losing her memory, she had to start building herself (her likes and dislikes) in just a few short weeks after the accident. When she started gaining her memory back, it is only then that she became to appreciate herself as a person. As the story came to a close and as her father informs her of an impending engagement to another person, he tells Naomi:“‘You forget all of it anyway… You forget your junior year class schedule and where you used to sit and your best friend’s home phone number and the lyrics to that song you must have played a million times…. You forget who was cool and who was not, who was pretty, smart, athletic, and not…. You forget all of them. Even the ones you said you loved, and even the ones you actually did. They’re the last to go. And then once you’ve forgotten enough, you love someone else.'”

Horikita Maki as always is the gem of Japanese cinema. She can be so naive yet so casually cold at the same time. Being a Japanese-American collab, Maki (along with her other Japanese co-stars) were required to speak in English (almost 1/3 of the movie is in english). She delivers well and without the usual accent present with non-native speakers. Maki succeeds in playing the quintessential Japanese young female on the verge of growing up. Though sometimes, it’s hard to differentiate her acting from other teen dramas and show where she is required to be charming and precocious.

And Kenichi Matsuyama? As mentioned before, he has the “angry-young-man/weird-character-with-a-heart-of-gold/loner-who-you-want-to-kiss” roles down pat. The great thing about Kenichi is that he is so good he could be the resident schizophrenic of Japanese young cinema. He has a way of building characters and making them separate from one another, even if there’s only ONE ACTOR behind all the masks. Imagine, who would think that L, Shin, Johannes Krauser II, Yuji Miwa and Toru Watanabe were all the same person. He is so good. In this movie, be prepared to fall in love with him–especially if you’re the type who likes her men angry, emotionally tortured and mysterious like hell. Though there are times when he reminded me of Wes Bentley in American Beauty.

Tegoshi Yuya as Mirai as lovable as always, but I have a feeling that Tegoshi is very capable of giving something more than the requisite tortured friend-in-love-with-his-best friend. I suspect given a more challenging role, he can definitely bring it on and maybe (who knows) slum it up with Mr. Best Actor himself, Kenichi Matsuyama.

If Anton Yelchin’s role description as Ace Zuckermann is to make his annoying to viewers, then congratulations Gabrielle Zevin and Hans Canosa, you succeeded in making his annoying. He is a self-centered, arrogant prick!

Seeing this movie made me look back on what I remember during high school. In high school, I was far from the drama queen that I am today–lemme put it this way, I was more of a Yuji Miwa back then. I cut my hair really short, dressed like a boy yet behaved like a tortured writer even at fifteen. Looking back, I was such a drama queen as early as 1994, yet being boyish–I mistook it for the equivalent of emo crap that pervades the youth of today. I never had to develop an amnesia in secondary school, but looking back on the shitty things I did back then–I think I could use one right now. More preferably an amnesia that would remove all four years of high school: the prefect visits, the drama, the annoying hair cut as well as my (funny) belief that I look good in an XL shirt tucked in a jumper.

The movie (yes, let’s go back to that) also sports a killer OST that begs to be played during long drives and during times when you feel like your heart been’s skewered.

Gokusen the Movie: formulaic but entertaining

As mentioned last night, I was determined to find the Japanese movie “Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac”, but my search through Torrentz, ISO Hunt and other downloading sites proved futile. In my desperation, I checked out YouTube and MySoju and this is what I found instead:

Of course, we all know Gokusen. The story of Kumiko Yamaguchi (or Yankumi to her students) who is always assigned to teach and advise the 3-D class, composed of miscreant, gangsters and the worse students of the schools. These students will not accept her at first and will try to rebel–usually going against her advices. More often than not, they will get in trouble (usually with gangs) where she will bail them out by going on a hand-to-hand combat with the thugs. But not before she utters these lines:

…Who am I? (after the thug ALWAYS asks her who the hell she is) (she removes her first ponytail)
…I am just the homeroom teacher of that student you were bullying/fighting with (she then removes the other ponytail)
…I will not let you hurt my beloved students…(she flings her glasses somewhere)
…I will not let you ruin their future (she steps forward)

KYAAAAAAAH!!!! (major ass-kicking follows)

This has happened season after season after season.

This happened in Season 1

And yet again, during Season 2

Once more, on Season 3

This also happened of course in the movie, where instead of your friendly neighborhood thugs and biker gangs, Yankumi and her students from season 3 (HARUMA MIURA as REN KAZAMA!) was caught in a web of deceit and drug trade by a former delinquent turned politician (who of course heads the drug syndicate). Kamenashi Kazuya returns as Ryu Odagiri from Yankumi’s 3D class in Kurogin High School and now a trainee teacher assigned at Akadou High.

The same formula (yes, FIGHT-O! is still present) and the principal we all love to hate, Goro Sawatari. Yes, the students hate her first but would come to love and respect her in the end. But what is special in this episode is the return of former students whose lives were touched by Yankumi. There was Haruhiko “Uchi” Uchiyama (yes–THE Shun Oguri), Takeshi Noda, Youichi Minami and noodle proprietor “Kuma”–all from Season 1.

But one particular alumni was noticeably absent:

Yes, my Sawada Shin was not able to come back and pay his respects to his former high school teacher. My guess is he is now busy with his career, being a politician’s son and all. (or maybe Jun Matsumoto’s schedule just can’t accommodate the guesting) 😦

Keita Takeda (now a salaryman), Hikaru Tsuchiya (an assistant cameraman at a local TV station) and Kosuke Hyuga (still helping his dad in the tofu shop) were all present.

What I particularly loved about the movie is that it was able to show how the students turned out after graduating from their respective high schools. Some was able to continue studying in college (Kazama, Odagiri, et al) while some had to work in order to earn a living (Uchi, Tsuchiya). If we are to look for the touching part of the movie–maybe it’s Yankumi’s message to Odagiri (and all her former students) that she will always be their teacher for as long as she lives.

Yes, Gokusen followed the successful formula it displayed in the series–and why change it when it always works. But also note that Gokusen succeeds in tugging the heartstrings of the “student” in all of us. It is movies such as these that makes me want to be a high school teacher.

Going gaga for “teenage amnesiac”

HELP!

I badly need to see this movie otherwise, I will die from utmost despair and sadness (HAH! I didn’t took a semester in theater arts for nothing!)

I have basically tried everything there is just to get a copy of the movie. ISO Hunt and Torrentz proved of no use this time. The same goes for my friendly neighborhood Makati Cinema Square (MCS) Japanese movie source. Full disclosure: this source of mine sells DVDs at MCS–considered the mecca for pirated movies in the Philippines–she basically supplied me everything there is to watch when it comes to my beloved J-movies and dramas. She failed me this time, and basically looked at me as if I am speaking in a foreign language when I looked for this movie.

Oh, I really needed to see this. As you can see from the trailer, the delish and talented Matsuyama Ken’ichi stars, along with Horikita Maki and Tegoshi Yuya (a Jimusho boy), as well as a host of foreign actors (Emma Roberts + Anton Yelchin). Oh, the thought of seeing MatsuKen star in a light yet entertaining romance movie appealed to me too much–since the boy is known more for his quirky roles and for his aversion for romantic lead roles.
MatsuKen, as we all know is also into dating cougars… What this means, ladies and gentlemen, is that the (unmarried) oba-chans/ahjummas of the world has a shot when it comes to this star. (I do not qualify on the basis of possession of a marriage contract).

So–please I beg you (in my most melodramatic capacity) to please point in my direction any source of this must-watch movie.

Yoroshiku Onegaishimasu!

Norwegian Wood gets the “Beatles”

There are few things in life that you could utterly be thankful for:
1. Good music
2. A great piece of literature
3. A movie adaptation that would make you further appreciate points 1 and 2.

So imagine my utter joy when it was announced that a movie adaptation of Haruki Murakami is in the works, and will star the delish highly-regarded actor, Matsuyama Ken’ichi and Oscar-nominee Rinko Kikuchi.

Finally, a movie worth waiting for. And the fact that it stars the brilliant MatsuKen fills me with utter joy. This remind me that I have yet to see “Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac” where MatsuKen plays one of the lead characters.

So, here comes the part about the “good music”. As previously posted, I am a big Beatles fan, so much so that I dream of crossing Abbey Road one day, barefoot okay, bare foot! This recent news that the movie was given a go-signal by Apple Records to use the original recording as soundtrack for the movie is so. FREAKING. COOL. that I am even tempted to spend the remaining hours of this day playing all the Beatles songs on my iPod. To my mind–nothing can ever be cooler than that (well maybe ‘cept for my MatsuJun going to the Philippines).

May I be bold and venture that I smell an Oscar-winning entry in the making? If this happens and MatsuKen walks the red carpet, I’m gonna skip work and throw an Oscar party at home, just because!

kyaaaaaah!!! Horikita Maki + Matsuyama Kenichi! kyaaaaah!!!

The movie, “Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac” (Dareka ga Watashi ni Kiss wo Shita) is based from the novel of the same name by author Gabrielle Zevin and stars Horikita Maki, Kenichi Matsuyama, NEWS hearthrob Tegoshi Yuya and Anton Yelchin.

The story is about Naomi Suzuke who lost her memory after a bad fall in a flight of stairs. What follows are a series of questions which she now must find the answer for her to truly find herself and find love again.

This is basically the plot:

“If Naomi had picked tails, she would have won the coin toss. She wouldn’t have had to go back for the yearbook camera, and she wouldn’t have hit her head on the steps. She wouldn’t have woken up in an ambulance with amnesia. She certainly would have remembered her boyfriend, Ace. She might even have remembered why she fell in love with him in the first place. She would understand why her best friend, Will, keeps calling her “Chief.” She’d know about her mom’s new family. She’d know about her dad’s fiancée. She never would have met James, the boy with the questionable past and the even fuzzier future, who tells her he once wanted to kiss her. She wouldn’t have wanted to kiss him back.

But Naomi picked heads…”

Wow, the story sounded really, really good PLUS I’ve always find Horikita Maki cute and Kenichi Matsuyama totally adorable. I think this is my first time to see Kenichi playing a “normal” boy for once. Since most of his roles are pretty deranged weird characters: as L in Death Note, as Johannes Krauser II in Detroit Metal City…and the pierced J-Rock guitarist Shin (Shinichi Okazaki) in Nana.

Tegoshi Yuya meanwhile is a member of best-selling Japanese boy band “NEWS”.

The movie opens in Japan tomorrow, 27 March 2010. I am now counting the days when I can finally have a copy of the movie (I don’t care from where or how!) cos right now, I am still smiling ear-to-ear and I’m positive it’s because of Kenichi-kun.