Manga, or Japanese comic books, is now a 4 billion dollar a year industry that does not just play a pivotal role in the publication media but it also provides a great source of inspiration to filmmakers. Action or love story, comedy or drama, manga is a mirror reflecting the realities and ideas of the Japanese society.
From over the top, offbeat narratives of psychic teenagers and upstart political wrangling in a high school environment, to spectacular battles between good and evil, and stories of tender friendships, the Japan Foundation’s Summer Explorers! mini season comes to the British Library St Pancras on Saturday, 27 July & Sunday, 28 July 2019.
Directed by Shinsuke Sato, 2018, 127 minutes, English Subtitles
Soon-to-be retired, utterly forgettable salaryman Ichiro Inuyashiki (Noritake Kinashi) gets no respect from his colleagues or his family. His feelings of emptiness and futility are compounded when his doctor informs him that he has terminal cancer with only a few months to live. That night, Inuyashiki is involved in a freak accident which somehow transforms his body into a machine with superhuman powers. Meanwhile, Shishigami (Takeru Sato), a high school student also at the scene of the accident, undergoes the same transformation but unlike Inuyashiki, he begins to recklessly use his newfound powers at will. Are human beings ultimately good or evil? Find out in this fantastically entertaining action film.
Directed by Tatsushi Ohmori, 2016, 75 min, English Subtitles
Second-year high school students Sou Utsumi (Sosuke Ikematsu) and Shokichi Seto (Masaki Suda) spend their days after school just hanging out and talking beside a dry riverbed. Though Utsumi and Seto have opposite personalities, they enjoy playing stupid word games, fretting over just what words to use when texting the girls they like, and having deep conversations. The two of them never seem to run out of things to talk about. The only other person who watches over them is their classmate Ichigo Kashimura (Ayami Nakajo) who has a crush on Utsumi. Based on Kazuya Konomoto’s popular manga of the same title, this dialogue-based comedy explores the experience of high-school boys in Osaka – which also makes the film a good aid for getting to grips with the infamous Osaka-ben (Osakan dialect).
TEIICHI Battle of Supreme High
Directed by Akira Nagai, 2017, 118 min, English Subtitles
Kaitei High is unlike any other high school. An elite institution attended only by sons from the highest social rungs, it provides them with an expedited training in reaching the top of the political and military worlds. Thriving in this highly competitive microcosm is Teiichi Akaba (Masaki Suda) who must ally himself with the right candidate running for the next class president, and steadily climb the social ladder if he is to achieve his ultimate goal of becoming Japan’s prime minister. He will stop at nothing to achieve his aims but his will his obsessive pursuit of power alienate those closest to him? Based on a manga series (2010-2016) by Usamaru Furuya, Akira Nagai’s film smartly satirises the realities of national political campaigns by injecting quirky absurdist humour into the briberies, sabotage, and scandals launched by these student factions.
You can buy a two-day pass or tickets for individual films from the British Library’s Summer Explorers site. Individual film tickets are priced at £8 / £6.
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