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June 2008 Archives

Kafka on the Shore [Umibe no Kafuka]

Genre: Exemplar Contemporary Japanese Fiction
Author: Haruki Murakami (2005)

review in one breath

Just in case you are not amongst the cutting-edge literati, I'm here to tell you that Japanese author Haruki Murakami has trumped the (U.S.) 'National Bestseller' list with two novels which are WELL worth your consideration as fans of Japanese Supernaturalism, hints of traditional folk lore, and downright strange goings-on. If you're looking for a good summer read, this is definitely one to put on your list.

Drunken Angel [Yoidore Tenshi]

Genre: Quasi-historical Yakuza Drama [Post-war Japan: 1948]

review in one breath

Quote: "Will power can cure all human ailments."

Here is the first time Toshiro Mifune appears in a movie by Akira Kurosawa!

This very early post-war film is set in a squalor, yakuza-ridden slum of 1948 Tokyo. In the heart of this neighborhood is a large, bubbling cess pool into which residents have heaped garbage and waste. This cess pool, as our main character, Dr Sanada, warns, is brimming with typhus. The pool is intended by Director Akira Kurosawa as a symbol for the moral decay and corruption permeating post-war Tokyo. In this new world, traditional social values and honor have not survived the war. In their stead have emerged selfish opportunism, greed, and the yakuza, flamboyantly embodied in Matsunaga (Mifune), the suave yet unruly young and upcoming mob leader. While his boss Okada has sat in prison for four years due to a brutal knifing, Matsunaga has risen in power and control. Now, however, with Okada's release from prison, Matsunaga finds himself in a desperate and violent power struggle. And yet Matsunaga's ultimate opponent is not Okada, but the tuberculosis which has gradually eaten away at him through years of unrestrained living.

Death Note 2: The Last Name
[Desu Noto 2: the Last Name]

Genre: Supernaturally-Fueled Crime Thriller

review in one breath

This is the second and concluding film of the two-part Death Note live action saga. Here Kira continues his strategic maneuvering under the watchful pursuits of his nemesis, the boy-genius "L". Whose name will be "the Last name" written in the Death Note?

Death Note
[Desu Noto]

Genre: Supernaturally-Fueled Crime Thriller

review in one breath

When a young man stumbles across and touches a mysterious notebook, his eyes are opened to the supernatural forces of Death Gods or "Shinigami" who work behind the scenes of human mortality. When an individual's name is merely written in this Death Note, that soul dies within mere seconds. Possessing such a flawless weapon immediately requires decisions regarding murder, the Law, an ideal society and above all, Justice. This is a face-paced and highly strategic crime thriller based on the popular manga series.

Ravaged House
[Tadareta Ie : "Zoroku no Kibyou" yori]

Genre: Tale of Dismal Collectivism and Local Superstition

review in one breath

In a rural village, a young man is suddenly stricken with a mysterious and terrible disease which transforms him into an unrecognizable mass of festering sores. Fearful of the local towns people's opinion and reaction, the family strives to keep their diseased son hidden from sight. But when the nosy mayor and his delinquent son take things into their own hands, the horrible secret is brought to light with dreadful consequences for everyone involved. This is the last tale in Hideshi Hino's Theater of Horror Hexology.

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