After the Storm and IWD

International Women’s
Day came around again with
even more to say

Today was International Women’s Day. I wonder how it was marked in Japan.  I haven’t had time to look it up.  Yesterday was International Book Day.  In the spirit of both, I have not yet taken up The Tale of Genji, considered the world’s first novel, written by a woman (haha, you might have thought there that I’d say I did given the day that it was, but no) but I will soon enough.

I’m quite busy at the moment with not much time to read and when I do have time I pick up the books I’m currently in the middle of – one being a wonderful book about the history of colours.

I finally got around to watching After the Storm (its original Japanese title is Umi yori mo mada fukaku – Even deeper than the sea) renting it from one online source after a real torturous waste of time downloading it for rental and then trying to enjoy it from another source.

As for the film itself, where the main character is coincidentally a struggling writer – cool but accidental choice for International Book Day – it was good but not as good as I thought it would be I’m afraid.

It was quite a while before we got to the protagonist Ryota’s important scenes with his son and his ex-wife Kyoko with whom he is trying to reconnect (but she has moved onto a guy who’s the complete opposite of Ryota, which is probably why she chooses him but he’s not that nice).

Still, the main actor, Hiroshi Abe, is very good as the struggling writer earning a wage as a private detective to keep himself (barely) going. He has the right mannerisms for such a role. He doesn’t seem all that likeable at times and is seen as unreliable, but the final scene in the pawn shop is quite touching and shows his integrity which might not be otherwise obvious.

The first time I saw him was in a drama called The man who cannot get married. A good drama with a few laughs, supported by another Kore-Eda regular, Yui Natsukawa.

Kiki Kirin, who sadly died a few months after the win at Cannes last year for Shoplifters, plays his mother who is hoping he gets back with his wife.

The actress Yoko Maki, who plays Kyoko, has had a lead role in another of Kore-eda’s – Father and Son (maybe she’s in one or two more? I’m not sure)
She’s also in a funny comedy drama I once watched called The Best Divorce (though I never did get back to finishing that).

Lily Franky, who’s in Shoplifters and Father and Son plays his detective agency boss who says a really cruel thing to him at one point about his efforts to reconnect with his son, at which point you really feel for Ryota.
Films aside, I saw him more recently as a somewhat incompetent, eccentric morgue attendant in the drama, Crow’s Blood, that I mentioned a while ago.

Hirokazu Kore-Eda likes to stick with actors he knows will do the job well. And why not? These actors are very good and are clearly suited to Kore-Eda’s films.

Well, I hope to see Shoplifters soon. I’m looking forward to that.



Criminal Minds (not the tv show!)

Crime novels the

next thing to look out for but

only if books are cheap!


Has anyone read Keigo Higashino’s stuff?  I’m interested in getting started on his crime novels which are apparently the best-selling crime novels in Japan (not that they have to be best-selling but you might as well go for the best!).   I saw one reviewed lately but was taken aback by the price of it, even for a paperback!  I’ll try to get my hands on a copy somewhere as this novelist looks good to me and it will be a change from the usual stuff I read from Japan.   Incidentally, I came across a new work by Murakami H lately.  The hardback copy only which was also ridiculously pricey.  I haven’t spent that much on individual books since I bought  his 1Q84 (in its split set up of 1-2 and then 3 separately) and while that was worth it, it was hard to part with that much cash in one go at the time!   Anyway, this new one really doesn’t look that good to me.

I got two of Murakami’s first published short stories (re-published in the one book) out of the library a couple of months ago but I just couldn’t get into them.   I guess I have Murakami fatigue.   I rarely bring books back to the library unread so that was something.

Anyway back to all things crime, I managed to see A third murder on the plane on the way to Japan earlier this year.  It’s a good film, by Hirokazu Kore-Eda, starring Koji Yakusho.   I was stoked to see it was a film option as sometimes the film options aren’t great and I did want to see that one.   Also, this actor happens to promote this airline so that’s possibly another reason but not necessarily as he’s almost always in good films, which I’m sure show up on some airline film programme somewhere around the world.

A film I still haven’t seen which I have in my recommended film list is After the Storm, already out a year or more.  Another more recent one, to return to the crime theme, is called Shoplifters.  This looks really good, looking again at a complex family set up.  I think it is the late Kiki Kirin’s last film.

I’ll be looking out for those two family-themed films directed by Hirokazu Kore-eda who is just brilliant, as I may have said before 😉

I caught a pretty good drama lately – a horror called Crow’s Blood.  It’s about a transfer student with a major secret which brings nothing but woe to the school.  It’s quite good for something set in a high school (which I usually avoid) but Japan does horror pretty well as we know (though South Korea is catching up or has maybe surpassed Japan in the horror field). I’ve added that and another drama I checked out lately to my list in the drama and documentaries page.

Well, if anyone can recommend any other good dramas or novels, crime or otherwise, drop me a line.





French pens say no to Le Pen

Well done to the French,

or those who voted at least,

on their choice today


Congratulations to Monsieur Macron for becoming the new President of France, beating his opponent well with 65% of votes to the loser’s 35 (roughly).   To all the hate-filled fear mongers who support the clown in the White House or other such clowns, around Europe and the world, bog off.  Ok, like I’ve suggested before Macron may not be everyone’s cup of tea.  Roughly 23% abstained from voting at all and a lot of people only voted for him to stop her getting the Presidency but that does not matter.  The French vote made most of the world breathe a sigh of relief today.  It’s like the opposite of the American situation in that the economic-minded, not quite a people person won over someone who’s (clearly) trouble.  Meanwhile, the defeated candidate has said what in her concession speech? Well, she has pledged to form a new party even more right-wing than the one she heads already (well she stepped down temporarily as President of her party to go for the Presidency but even so)?   Unbelievable.   Macron has quite the task ahead of him and the general elections in June mean le Pen’s party, in whatever form it takes, will probably become the main opposition party.    He’d better do his job well as she will probably be back in another few years.  I also wish Mélanchon’s party well in these elections as he seemed ok (a bit too much to the left though like a French Bernie Sanders? Well I hope they get their spot anyway).