Thursday, November 10, 2016

10 Must-See Japanese Girls’ Movies!


If you like to spoil yourself to chill out on weekend nights like I do, how about killing your time with movie the Japanese girls are in power? Comedy, romance, or road to success, the girls in these movies really kicks ass. Whether spending movie time alone, with your friends, or with your significant other, I hope you can find a favorite in this list.
So, here are the 10 must-see Japanese girls’ movies!

1. Kamikaze Girls / Shimotsuma Monogatari (2002)


“Kamikaze Girls” is the perfect movie for those Lolita fashion lovers or fashion enthusiasts. Starring Kyoko Fukada and Anna Tsuchiya, the unlikely friendship between the edgy Lolita-fashion girl and a wild biker girl in a comedy storyline became a hit. And having these two girls in a countryside of Japan, Shimotsuma-city in Ibaraki prefecture, with many of the Shimotsuma residents with strong characters, it brings us laughter as well. Because of this movies’ unexpected hit, the Lolita-fashion itself and the brand “THE BABY STARS SHINE BRIGHT” became publically known. The original book was written by Nobara Takemoto, novelist and a Lolita-fashion fan himself, and directed by Tetsuya Nakashima, who became famous for his visual techniques using slow motion, including animation, and colorful display.

2. Sakuran (2007)

If you want to really dive in to the colorful display of beautiful womanhood in Japan, “Sakuran” will be the very first step. The story takes place in Yoshiwara, the red-light district of the Edo period. The story is about the legendary “oiran,” played by Anna Tsuchiya, who survived and grew to be the best oiran in all of Yoshiwara. The movie is based on the original manga series by the popular female manga writer, Moyoko Anno, and directed by one of the most popular female photographer in modern Japan, Mika Ninagawa. On top of that, Ringo Shiina, the female Japanese rock singer, have composed the soundtrack, as well as, the ending theme was collaborative work with Ringo Shiina’s older brother and a singer, Junpei Shiina, and Neko Saito, violinist and composer. The beautiful Japanese women in colorful kimonos, props, and arts, with Ringo-world music will carry you away back in to the Edo period.

3. Helter Skelter (R15+) (2012)

If you liked “Sakuran,” then maybe you will also enjoy “Helter Skelter” as well. The movie is based on the controversial manga series published from 1995 to 1996, by legendary subcultural manga artist, Kyoko Okazaki. The film was directed by Mika Ninagawa, and the “trouble-making” actress, Erika Sawajiri made a come-back as the protagonist for this film. The story is about the beautiful and charismatic model, Liliko, who have risen up as the top-star of the entertainment industry in Japan. But the mystery behind her beauty was that her entire body was beautified by plastic surgery, which soon leads to the downfall of her stardom. The film gained its popularity with the collaboration of Mika Ninagawa and Erika Sawajiri, but also with the fans of Kyoko Okazaki celebrating the revival of her work, which has built up the girls subculture in the 80s and 90s Japan. The movie really puts in front about what “beauty” is all about, which all of the females have to face, and hopefully, “Helter Skelter” would help you with the answer.

4. Swing Girls (2004)


Can you imagine what it will be like if high-school girls playing Big Band Jazz? The “unthinkable” has come visually true in the movie, “Swing Girls,” starring Juri Ueno, Shiori Kanjiya, Yuika Motokariya, and Yuta Hiraoka, and directed by Shinobu Yaguchi. The director Yaguchi is well-known from the movie “Water Boys,” which he is well-known for his uptempo and unique storyline. Many of the starring actors, including Juri Ueno, gained their popularity through this film as well. The story is about the 13 high school students who raised their hands to be in band that they can miss their summer school classes for the band members who had to be in the hospital for food poisoning. The students who were gathered were delinquent at first, but gave all of their effort to succeed as big band jazz. The “Swing Girls” also portrays the nature of the countryside and the unique Tohoku dialect as well. How about swinging with the Tohoku’s high school girls?

5. Linda Linda Linda (2005)


You love rockn’ roll and high school girls? “Linda Linda Linda” will be enjoyable as well. Starring Bae Doona from S. Korea, Yuu Kashii, Aki Maeda, and Shiori Sekine (from the band, BASEBALL BEAR) and directed by Nobuhiro Yamashita. The movie is about a high school girls band who were on the crisis from their vocalist and the guitarist have just quit the group, three days before the cultural festival day (Bunnka-sai). They have asked the Korean exchange student to be the vocalist and started as a new band, and practiced playing the BLUE HEARTS’s all-time-favorite song, “Linda Linda Linda.” Will they be ready for the big day? Let’s find out in the film. James Iha, ex-member of  Smashing Pumpkins and the popular Japanese band, BASEBALL BEAR participated as the composer for the original soundtrack. If you liked the hit anime series like “K-ON!,” this movie will gets you to rock with the high school girls too!

6. NANA (2005)


“NANA,” one of the most popular girls’ comic series that were written by Ai Yazawa, has also became a movie starring with the popular female singer, Mika Nakashima, and popular actress, Aoi Miyazaki. The story is about the two girls with the same name, “Nana,” have coincidently met on the same seat on their way out to Tokyo. One Nana, played by Aoi Miyazaki, was chasing after her boyfriend, and another Nana, played by Mika Nashima, was chasing after her dream of being a rock singer. Not just on the train, they have also met each other on their way to room hunt in Tokyo, and there, they have agreed to share a room and start their lives in Tokyo and chasing for their goals and success.
The songs are actually sung by Mika Nakashima as Nana from the band, Blackstones, and her rival vocalist Reira, from the band Trapnest, is also played by the singer Yuna Ito. Not just the romantic story, but the road to success as a rock band in Japan is well depicted in this film. There is also animation series of “NANA” as well, so how about rockin’ on with NANA too!

7. Hula Girls (2006)


“Hula Girls” is based on the true event that took place 40 years ago in Iwaki-city, Fukushima prefecture, where people have joined together to work up to their current success. Starring Yuu Aoi, Yasuko Matsuyuki, and Estushi Toyokawa as the main casts, and the soundtracks were composed by Jake Shimabukuro, one of the internationally renowned ukulele performer. The story takes place in 1965, when the men were working in coal mines in Fukushima prefecture. But as the nation’s energy resource have changed it to fuels, coal mine workers have lost their jobs and the town itself were losing their economic sources. The mining company have made a project to create a spa resort using hotspring and call it, “Hawaiian Center,” to revitalize cold, and wintery Iwaki-city and Fukushima. The women were gathered and trained to be the hula dancers for the show to perform at the Hawaiian Center. The road to success as the town, and as the individual characters in the film, has been well-received from both domestic and international audiences. After you see this film, you might have want to visit Iwaki city and Hawaiian Center to see the strong, and beautiful “hula girls,” who have worked their current success.

8. One Million Yen Girl / Hyakuman-yen To Nigamushi-onna (2008)


We all think we are strong enough to live just with your own effort and “One Million Yen Girl” used to think that way too. Starring Yuu Aoi as the protagonist, Suzuko, who is a normal girl travels from the beach to mountain to town, to work until she saves up her money to million yen. It is the road movie in search of herself, and to find out what is it to live independently, but Suzuko realizes that it’s not all true. We all tend to think that we are strong enough, but it’s just trying-it too much. So, how about sharing that part of yourself with this film.

9. Hana And Alice / Hana To Arisu (2004)

One of the Japanese girls’ youth and teenage days must portrayed the best in “Hana and Alice” series. Starring Anne Suzuki as Hana Arai, and Yuu Aoi as Tetsuko Arisugawa, portrays the friendship and anguish between the two best friends. The short-film series were first released through Nestle Website for its 30th Anniversary, and soon became a long film with its’ unexpecting popularity. The series have turned in to Animation film in 2015, directed by Shunji Iwai, and the voice actors were also played by the same actors played in the movie. The animation film is about when Alice and Hana became close with the “case” that they had face.
The series are in different chronological order of the story, but it is still enjoyable to watch the friendship of Hana and Alice.

10. Girl Who Leapt Through Time / Toki Wo Kakeru Shoujyo


The classic sci-fi novel by Yasutaka Tsutsui in 1967, “The Girl Who Leapt Through Time,” is also all-time classic science fiction, and teen movie to enjoy. The novel have been well-received by science fiction fans, and many of those fans have analyzed and discussed the story, and been loved by all generation.
The story is about a high school girl, Kazuko, who adopted the ability of time leap when she smelled a lavender-like scent while cleaning schools’ science lab. After her adopting the weird ability, there have been many mishaps especially to her best friends, Goro and Kazuo was going to be involved. In order to change the incidents, and to find out why Kazuko started to have that ability, she travels time back and forth.
The first film adaptation was in 1983, directed by Nobuhiko Obayashi, and played by Tomoyo Harada, who was the upcoming teen idol back then. The theme song, same title, was composed by one of the legendary singer-song writer, Yumi Matsutoya, and sung by Tomoyo Harada, which the song became a hit.

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