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Apologies for not posting much lately (so it feels to me in any case), but I’m quite busy with my studies and work at the moment. I won’t be in the UK for the entire month of August (gotta escape the chaos of the Olympics), and am trying to get as many hours in as possible before going away. Unfortunately, this doesn’t mean that I will be particularly less busy next month, just that I won’t have immediate deadlines and meetings with my supervisors.

As for trailers, there is quite a mix this week, although with a definite emphasis on Japanese productions. The variety is, instead, in animated vs. non-animated, old stuff vs. films that have only just been completed, documentary vs. fiction vs. fantasy. All pretty serious though.

  • ピアノの森」 (Piano no mori/The perfect world of KAI, Japan, 2007) – Directed by Kojima Masayuki. Piano no mori is a manga by Isshiki Makoto, which has been running since 1998, and was adapted into this animated film in 2007. I have seen some references to a live-action adaptation as well, but can’t find any details – it may be a project that is still in the making. The story: Shuhei transfers to his new elementary school, where he soon ends up bullied because of his dream to become a pianist. During a dare to play a mysterious piano in the forest he meets the enigmatic Kai, who is the only one that can get any sounds out of the broken piano. Truth be told, certainly in terms of animation, I don’t expect too much from the film and the trailer indeed seems to have the somewhat more simplified visual quality typical for anime series (rather than animated films). That said, Madhouse has given us all kinds of gems – including on the visual level – from Katabuchi Sunao’s 「マイマイ新子と千年の魔法」 (Maimai Shinko to sen-nen no mahō/Mai Mai Miracle,2009) to the films of Hosoda Mamoru and the late Kon Satoshi.
  • はだしのゲン」 (Hadashi no Gen/Barefoot Gen, 1983 and 1986, Japan) – Trailer with German subtitles only (very few subtitles though). This is another offering from Madhouse and it too started as a manga. It has been adapted in manifold ways, including into two animated films (Hadashi no Gen 1 and 2). I have heard plenty about the story, which is based on the author’s personal experience of Hiroshima’s atomic bomb as a child. It’s the sort of animation (topic wise) that you just don’t get to see in the cartoons-are-for-kids West and already the trailer is both gruesome and powerful.
  • 孤独なツバメたち デカセギの子どもに生まれて」(Kodoku na Tsubametachi Dekasegi no Kodomo ni Umarete/Lonely Swallows, Japan, 2011) – A documentary that follows five Japanese-Brazilian children living in Japan. I am always interested in any sort of work that deals with cross-cultural experiences, but Japan, with its still very homogeneous society, provides a particularly interesting case.
  • 彩虹伴我心 (Cǎihóng bàn wǒ xīn/Mama Rainbow, China, 2012) – Another documentary, this time from China. It features six mothers “who talk openly and freely about their experiences with their homosexual children”, trying to shift the stigma attached to being gay in their country “by giving a whole new definition to Chinese-style family bonds” (quote source). The documentary was only just completed in June 2012. I’m going to keep my fingers crossed that the BFI will pick it up for its Lesbian and Gay Film Festival next year.
  • 殯の森」 (Mogari no mori/The Mourning Forest, Japan, 2007) – I featured a film by director Kawase Naomi in a previous Trailer WeeklyMogari no mori, the Grand Prix winner at Cannes in 2007 is another one that looks interesting. Machiko, secretly still grieving over the loss of her son, takes Shigeki, an old man from the nursing home she works at, for a drive in the countryside. Shigeki takes off into a forest, seeking the grave of his wife – dead for some 33 years – for one last time.
  • 오사카의 두마리 토끼 aka 「大阪のうさぎたち」 (Romanised Korean: Osakaui dumali tokki; Romaji: Ōsaka no usagi-tachi/Two Rabbits in Osaka, Korea/Japan, 2011) – This one is a sort of fantasy feature (it screened at the Puchon International Fantastic Film Festival) and although the synopsis sounds like a boring end-of-the-world film that I would never watch if it were produced in Hollywood, the trailer gives off a much more interesting vibe. Plus, that title is awesome.

Bonus Bits:

  • I will include this, although I feel it is sort of a not very useful bit of news: apparently the next two Studio Ghibli films – one directed by Miyazaki Hayao, the other by Takahata Isao (this was already known) – will officially be announced in December this year. Suzuki Toshio, the CEO of the animation studio, revealed as much during a lecture he gave at Rissho University. I suppose you can (vaguely) mark this on your calendar. I myself will be more excited when the day actually comes around and we actually know what the films are, because at the moment there are only indeterminate quotes and different rumours to go on. Curiously enough, some of these reports seem to suggest different things (i.e. second link from, Sept 2011, details Takahata’s project, the first, from Feb 2012, says nothing is known about it).
  • Two more posters for Mogari no Mori – all three are rather different: