Jackie Chan reprises his roll as Drunken Master all over Edo era Edo, Japan (they changed the name to Tokyo a few hundred years ago, thus ending the Edo Period) in a short film for Kirin Beer. He spends the film training his young friends to fight and drinking beer, then watching them fight while drinking beer. Until his male protegee is defeated, at which point he beats the crud out of the leader of the opposition, of course. This short film is in Japanese, and you can tell the difference between Jackie saying a phrase in Nihongo (the actual name of the Japanese language) and a voice actor being dubbed over him but trust me when I say you will not have any problem following the action. Everyone knows about Japanese Sake, or Rice Wine, but Japan also brews some of the best beers in the world, and Kirin happens to be my personal favorite, so I am not surprised they put this project together. Go ahead and watch, it is just 7 minutes of silly fun.
They are a little pricy at 1.35 million dollars each baseline (options cost you more), but in the first month they went on sale they took orders for 3,000 of them. Called the Kuratas after their designer, Kogoro Kurata, when you order yours from their web page you can even have it customized with the various weapons systems they offer. They have been out for about a year now, and they do have a disclaimer on their home page that these are sold as works of art, not as combat mechas. Thanks to Rocket News 24 for the heads up on this one.
A new show this season, Random Hero seems to be somewhere between The Greatest American Hero and Sarah Jane Smith. The first episode sets the tone nicely and seems to promise some fun stories coming up…
After watching yesterday’s video I explored a bit more, and somebody is actually compiling the best, or at least strangest, commercials from Japan each week or 3. These include some serious genre references and products along side the merely wacked out, and I enjoyed them too much to keep them to myself. I particularly enjoyed the Kyary Pamyu Pamyu spots on each video, using her music to promote her fashion line, and the Mecha spots they had long before we started doing Iron Man commercials..
I love the amazing array of genre coming out of Japan, but some of their output is strange. I THINK this may be a recruiting video for McDonald’s street theater staff in Tokyo (why don’t we have that here?), but it could also be a girl with Hypno Toad genes creating her own cadre of dancing zombies. Maybe a commercial, maybe a music video, maybe filmed as part of a collage film making course; hard to tell from this side of the screen, but definitely different. Thanks to Japanator for the heads up on this one.
Donnie Yen’s movie Dragon (Wu Xia) finally becomes available for the take home market, and if you are looking for some martial arts action it is a good choice. If you are in the market for something with a bit more substance to it, how about a set of films that helped change the worldview of an entire generation from that part of the planet? Eclipse Series 38: Masaki Kobayashi Against The System is a collection of four movies by this amazing filmmaker that also becomes available this week: The Thick-Walled Room, I Will Buy You, Black River, and The Inheritance. This is a Criterion Collection release, but it isn’t pricy compared to some single films they have put on the shelves in the past. After surviving WWII in the Japanese military Masaki started making movies that fomented social change in the 1950s and 1960s in Japan, and is probably best known for his 3 part epic The Human Condition. This four film collection includes some of his most important work of that era. Finally, the 1978 classic Message From Space is being re-released in the US, if you haven’t seen this film yet now is your chance.
In TV, Flash Gordon: The Complete Series is the release of the 2007 program, not the earlier works. It is yet another Syfi Channel TV show that no longer has an actual home page, but it was good silly fun and did the original radio drama series based on the comic strip proud. The other show this week is Spies of Warsaw, which is quite well done. Why am I including this non-genre show? Because it is probably the closest anyone will ever come to letting David Tennant play James Bond.
For western animation, A Monster in Paris is quite tasty. Also out Iron Man: Rise of the Technovore. Both of these are feature length films in two completely different styles. If you are looking for quality silly fun I would definitely go with Monster.
In Anime, A Certain Scientific Railgun Season 1 is being released in 2 parts rather than a single box set. This clever series is a good blend of science and psychic powers, and is followed by others, starting with A Certain Magical Index. I really enjoy this series, from the premise to the cast of characters, and can recommend it to anyone looking for a good story. Hiiro no Kakera: Season 1 is about a girl who suddenly learns she is an enchanted princess when she is attacked by creatures she thought mythical while on her way to attend her first day at a new school. The boy who rescues her is both a fellow classmate and a demon, and things just get stranger from there.