Jeremy Clarke on a low-key movie about takeaway food and suburban life.
Early morning. A man (Masatoshi Nagase) tramps heavily up fire-escape steps to look at the view from his rooftop, then down again and along the street. He goes through a little door into a small restaurant kitchen where he dons a chef's hat and apron to prepare food. Elsewhere in the urban sprawl, an old lady (Kirin Kiki) gazes at the cherry blossoms on the trees.
The chef carefully pours just the right amounts of pancake mixture onto a hotplate to make dorayaki – two small, burger bun sized pancakes with a filling of sweet bean paste in the middle. The old lady peers in. She saw the sign for part time work and wants to know if the post is still vacant. When she admits she's in her mid-seventies he becomes quite keen to get rid of her and offers an outrageously low hourly rate. She proposes to work for half that and introduces herself as Tokue. His name is Sentaro. He makes excuses as to why it won't work. “Thanks,” she says, “I'll come again,” and disappears. Thus begins director Naomi Kawase's Sweet Bean, a bittersweet tale of suburban life across the generations, based on a novel by Durian Sukegawa, who starred in Kawase’s earlier Hanezu.
It's a deliberately slow piece set in a picturesque suburbia where the noise of passing trains that no-one ever boards interrupts the peace and quiet at regular intervals. Swathes of cherry blossoms are visible whenever the narrative ventures outside, and much is made of the preparation of food. Where movies such as Denmark's Babette's Feast and Taiwan's Eat Drink Man Woman present mouth-watering meals to the eyes, Sweet Bean opts to show the preparation process of just one element of dorayaki: the bean paste. Tokue, it transpires, has been making this for 50 years, and leaves Sentaro a mysterious paper package which he later tastes and finds to be rather better than his usual efforts.
Before long, Sentaro confesses that he’s never got the hang of making bean paste. It either gets burned or comes out too thick, so he buys it in ready-made. The horrified Tokue resolves to start making it herself, bossing around the boss as she lectures him about the need to rinse the beans, the way to run off the froth, and the two hours of faffing it takes to cook them to the right level of sweetness. As the camera lingers on the food in preparation the viewer's taste buds drool. The preparation makes it look mouth-watering. But there are also questions. Why is a man who claims “not to have a sweet tooth” wasting his time running a sweet shop? And why is Tokue leading such an isolated life?
The reason is a shock to Sentaro and to his business, setting off a chain of events that unearth various unexpected truths about the characters, and suddenly expands this small, gentle film into the world of social commentary, exposing one of the scandals of modern Japan. The ubiquitous cherry blossoms appear to stand for an otherworldly optimism. Kawase's odd use of imagery may not resonate that strongly with Western viewers, yet it chimes with her singular vision. Sukegawa wrote the character of Tokue with Kirin Kiri in mind. Like the writer Sukegawa, Kiri had been in the cast of Hanezu and her intelligence on the set had impressed the director. Watching the completed film it's impossible to imagine Tokue played by a different actress. Kiri embodies the character so perfectly that the screen lights up whenever she appears.
Sweet Bean is out on both Dual Format BluRay/DVD and VoD courtesy of Eureka Video.
Psycho-Pass is a franchise that everyone at Anime Limited loves so much and following on from our release of Season 2 earlier this year [full details on our Season 2 release can be found HERE] we are fast approaching the arrival of the next chapter in the franchise with Psycho-Pass The Movie! We bring the movie to DVD and Limited Collector's Edition Blu-ray/DVD on 31st October.
It's also worth noting that if you're coming to the MCM London Comic Con event between 28-30th October, we'll this available to purchase from our stand while stock lasts. You can also meet the director the Psycho-Pass The Movie at the event as well! You can find details about this HERE.
Synopsis: In a futuristic Japan, the Sibyl System is charged with keeping the peace. Using extensive surveillance and biological monitoring to gauge the likelihood that individuals will commit a crime, the police are able to use weapons called Dominators to remove potential criminals from the population before they become a problem. Confident with the success of the System within their own borders, the Japanese government has begun to export the technology to other countries, planning to ultimately spread the System across the globe.
When the state of SEAUn brings the Sibyl System in to test its effectiveness, it becomes a haven of peace and safety for a time. Eventually, terrorists from SEAUn begin appearing in Japan, somehow slipping through the Systems security and attacking from within. Desperate for answers, Inspector Akane Tsunemori is sent overseas to bring the terrorists to justice. But when her investigation forces her into a standoff with an old ally, will she be able to pull the trigger?
Check out the trailer for the film below.
Our release comes packed in a rigid case with a digipack to hold the two discs (1 x Blu-ray and 1 x DVD.) Also inside the rigid case is a 32-page booklet that includes lots of art from the film as well interviews translated from the original Japanese release. These interviews being:
- Character art and information with comments from the Character Designer, Naoyuki Onda
- An interview with the Tomokazu Seki and Kana Hanazawa, the Japanese voices of Shinya Kogami and Akane Tsunemori
- An interview with Character Designer Naoyuki Onda
- An interview with the writers of the screenplay for Psycho-Pass The Movie, Gen Urobuchi and Makoto Fukami
- An interview with the director of Psycho-Pass The Moive, Naoyoshi Shiotani
In addition that, on disc extras (exclusive to the Blu-ray disc only) includes a U.S. Staff & Cast Commentary and Japanese trailers for the film.
And now it's time for for photos of the finished product itself! Check them out below and as a note you can click on the photos to enlarge them too. Continue Reading
Andrew Osmond interviews the co-director of Harmony.
Michael Arias should need little introduction to readers of this blog. He’s most famous as the American director of the epic anime film Tekkonkinkreet, whose production was the subject of an in-depth interview by Jasper Sharp. Arias is also the developer of the Toon Shaders software, as deployed on the Ghibli blockbusters Princess Mononoke and Spirited Away – you can read his comments on Toon Shaders here.
But when Arias came to London this year to attend the MCM London Comic Con and the “Anime Weekend” at the BFI Southbank, we couldn’t resist interviewing him again. Below, we chat about Arias’ career, his thoughts on the anime industry, and his latest anime film – Harmony, based on a novel by the late Satoshi Ito, better known as Project Itoh. Continue Reading
By Paul Jacques.
As a 12-year-old, I remember wandering the High Street in Mosley (Birmingham) and entering a martial arts shop. There wasn’t much I could afford, but I did buy a 50p pamphlet with a scratchy drawing of the human body, and an English translation on the “ancient Chinese martial art” of Dim Mak (‘Poison Touch’ ). Like some cliché from Stephen Chow’s Kung Fu Hustle I had stumbled across a form of 'Five-Point Palm Exploding Heart Technique' that Pai Mei would recognise.
Of course, it was no such thing. It was a bad copy of an acupuncture chart with a dubious hand technique for striking at meridians. What this experience did teach me was a healthy scepticism for martial arts – although how to kill a man would have been nicer – that I kept in the back of my mind throughout my youthful years of judo, karate, atemi jutsu, and aikido: take nothing on face value.
Jonathan Clements’s Brief History of Martial Arts, also takes nothing on face value. Within the course of this book he grips the martial arts face, opens the mouth wide and takes a good long look at its history. Continue Reading
UPDATE: 26/10/2016 with Guest of Honour Signing Session times and other information. (Updates have been highlighted in red throughout this page.)
just under two weeks away now only days away from the MCM London Comic Con event at Excel London so it's the perfect time to tell you all the reasons you should swing by our AllTheAnime stand over the course of this weekend!
If you have got your tickets yet you get them from the official website of MCM London Comic Con.
UPDATE - WHERE TO FIND US AT MCM LONDON COMIC CON, OCTOBER 2016
Here's a map (which you can find the full version of at the MCM website HERE) of where out booth on the show floor is. We are in the North Hall!
Your eyes don't deceive you! We're delighted to announce we are collaborating with the forerunners in the current landscape of anime streaming simulcasts, Crunchyroll, and they will be at our AllTheAnime booth the entire weekend!
Crunchyroll Giveaways ~ They'll have some exclusive giveaways (strictly while stock lasts) for Premium Subscribers of their service all weekend! You simply need to prove you're a Premium Membership subscriber to the representative at the stand and you'll be able get an exclusive free gift! You'll get a free coaster - you have a choice between one of two designs - and you'll even get a free Re:Zero bag! Again, these giveaways are exclusively for Crunchyroll Premium subscribers and are strictly while stock lasts.
Crunchyroll Screening Room ~ Back at MCM London in May we had a screening room at our booth in conjunction with FunimationNow and we loved how so many of you wanted to chill out and watch some anime throughout the weekend.
At MCM London Comic Con in just under a few weeks we happy to say the screening room back at our stand! However this time we'll be offering screenings of many subtitled anime that are currently streaming at Crunchyroll and will be coming to home video in the future as part of our partnership with them too!
(Also worth noting that the English language dub SimulDub streaming version of these same shows are/will be available through the FunimationNow service.)
We'll have a full schedule of what anime you can watch over the weekend in our Screening Room published before the event begins. So be on the lookout for details.
UPDATE - Screening room schedule will be posted before doors open on Friday (28th).
It's become a #1 destination for anime fans across the UK at events we attend back in May London was no different. At MCM London Comic Con later this month the official AllTheAnime shop is back in full force giving you the opportunity to add new anime to your collection before anywhere else!
We can exclusively reveal that (strictly while stock lasts) we will have MCM Exclusive Pre-Sales of the following titles at our stand: Continue Reading