New stuff from Japan

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Not much free time at the moment but at least I managed to shop for some films and books from Japan. You probably all know by now that I’m a little film buff, or better was one. But recently I got in the mood again and ordered some title from the terrific Masters Of Cinema collection straight from the UK. If you haven’t heard about this marvelous Dvd and now Blu-Ray boutique label: They are basically the Criterion equivalent from the UK but at a much smaller scale. Their film selections and discs are still excellent though and rival those from the Collection from the States. They have a lot of amazing Japanese films in their repertoire. An amazing (but now OOP) box set with 8 films by Imamura, films by Seijun Suzuki, Ozu, Mizoguchi and many more.

I just picked up some of my favorite Japanese films ever from them. The mystic and beautifully filmed Onibaba, Naked Island which is pure poetry on celluloid, my favorite Ozu Floating Weeds and Sweet Bean a supposedly fantastic film about the culture clash of ancient and modern Japan. If you like films and appreciate nice packaging design and a beautifully made booklet the Masters Of Cinema series is right up your alley. Some of their releases overlap with those of the Criterion Collection. They mostly differ in bonus material which means that audio and picture quality on the discs is mostly identical and usually the best one can do.

Arrow video just released a set of Blu-Rays collecting all three movies from the Black Society Trilogy. I love the early films by Miike. Charming Yakuza movies which were mostly made for the direct-to-video market. If you’re interested in modern Japanese cinema do yourself a favor and order these. The disc label Arrow is putting out some nice Japanese genre films from time to time. A lot of weird and trashy stuff as well but if you can enjoy a movie that doesn’t take itself too seriously you might enjoy the Arrow Video line-up as well. Just pre-ordered Wolf Guy a crude horror/action film with Sonny Chiba. Never heard of it before but I’m always ready for some Japanese weirdness.

It’s been ages since I last read よつばと!so when I noticed that there is a new volume out I just had to purchase it immediately. gave away the first one to a friend of mine so I just re-ordered it. Haven’t properly checked Reading aloud in Japanese but considering my poor speaking skills I thought it was a worthwhile purchase. Of course more about it and Nihongo Fun & Easy with a proper post like you’re used to by now.


These were my latest purchases with Japanese related stuff and I thought why not share them with you. Anything that tickles your interest among these? And if you have some recommendations for me, please share them. More in two weeks when my semester break will finally start.

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  • Den Film “Sweet Beans” habe ich von meiner Tandem Partnerin zu Weihnachten bekommen! 😀 Muss aber gestehen, dass ich ihn mir noch nicht angesehen habe. 🙈
    Hatte mit ihr den Film “Nokan – Die Kunst des Ausklangs” angeschaut, da sie ein absoluter Fan vom Hauptdarsteller ist, kann den Film empfehlen, falls du den noch nicht gesehen hast. ☺

    • Nokan muss ich auch unbedingt ansehen. Wollte mit meiner Antwort warten, bis ich Sweet Beans gesehen habe und – bin begeistert. Schöner Film und auch den Hauptdarsteller mag ich sehr. Da kann ich deineTandempartnerin verstehen :)

  • Lars Bos

    I recommend you also watch Kuroneko (if you liked Onibaba) and Tampopo (Awesome movie about japanese food)

    • Thanks for the recommendations Lars. Actually love both films myself. Been meaning to pick up Kuroneko from MOC but haven’t got around to do so yet. Already preordered Tampopo after getting rid of the rather shitty Germany BR.

      • Lars Bos

        Nice! I got the Criterion version from Kuroneko, but I think both transfers are similar. And just to stay in the horror genre, you should definitely try out Kwaidan (Criterion)

        • Are you a Criterion collector as well? Thanks for the tip with Kwaidan. Will definitely pick it up at some point. Just ordered High and Low though. Never seen it before.

          • Lars Bos

            Yes I am! Though they can be quite hard to come by since I live in the netherlands, I usually get them from the sale or second hand. Awesome that you ordered high and low, very suspenseful movie. I think you’ll like it, based on your previous buys. There is a very iconic scene in it which I won’t spoil. Other movies you should definitely check out:

            – Sword of doom (Samurai without remorse)
            – Rashomon (classic whodunit, told from multiple perspectives)
            – Yojimbo (lone samurai messes with the local gangs in a small town)
            – Seven samurai (I think you already own this one, if not, you should)
            – Vengeance is mine (hunt for a serial killer in Tokyo)

          • That’s awesome Lars. Any chance you are on letterboxd as well? Would love to follow you. I was collecting CC discs back in the DVD age and had about 200 at some point. Sold everything when the first CC Blu-Rays were announced (along with most of my other DVDs). Since then I bought and sold most of my CC purchases because I didn’t want to have too many discs around and haven’t watched as many films as I used to. But the movie fever came back recently :)

            You should check wowhd (formerly cdwow. Bought dozens of discs from them a decade ago). I’m located in Germany, shipping takes about 2-3 weeks but their prices can be excellent. Not everything is cheap though and the prices fluctuate a lot. I have a full wantless which I look over once in a while and look which titles are sub 23€.

            I have seen all of your fantastic suggestions with one exception: Seven Samurai. Always wanted to pick up this classic but with nearly every digipack slightly destroyed so far I’m a bit hesitant. When I’m doing a big box set order for amazing.com it will definitely be part of it.

          • Lars Bos

            Yes! larsbos is my username, i’ll connect with you there then! Wow you’ve had an ever bigger collection! Movie fever comes and goes doesn’t it? I’m currently waiting for the B&N sale.

            Did you also check out filmstruck.com ? They stream the entire criterion collection, not sure about the quality though, they’re still in the process of streamlining and working out the bugs.

            Thanks for the tip, I recently ordered a hard to get film called “Grand Slam” with Klaus kinski through them. I did see some negative reviews about shipping, but so far it has been shipped and I don’t see any problems.

            That’s really too bad about Seven Samurai, did you try B&N? They usually ship it with a bit more care. You could also try ebay. Or, you could wait for Criterion UK to release it and order through zavvi.com

            See you on letterboxd!

          • Lars Bos

            By the way, I was wondering what you thought of the Black Society Trilogy? I personally think Takashi Miikes’ movies are difficult to follow because they usually have a disjointed narrative (dead or alive, ichi) , was this also the case with BST?

          • I was even part of the filmstruck beta but unfortunately the service didn’t work at my place. Still mo idea why and I was too busy or just didn’t care enough to really get to the bottom of this. You won’t regret buying from wow. Never had a problem with them.

            Added you on filmstruck and can’t wait to see what films you give a like. Really catched the movie fever again recently. Just finished “The great beauty”. What a marvelous film.

            Ordered from the BN a couple of times already but never had much luck with digipacks from there as well. Maybe next time. Really want the Apu Trilogy, the Jaques Tati films and the Before trilogy.

            Regarding the Black Society Trilogy. I’m a sucker for Miike’s early films and the three are very much worth watching. I guess you have to like his style but I never found his films too confusing to begin with. Guess I got used to just barely following a story watching the Yakuza Papers series. You should definitely give the BST a look. Three charming Yakuza films which all have the Miike sense of cool in them.

          • Lars Bos

            I usually follow reddit posts about Criterion related things, and I think Filmstruck should work now in Europe. But who cares? The physical media is so much better right? ;)

            The great beauty, i’ve heard alot about it, really curious, I’ll add it to my watchlist! Did you see Bicycle thieves? When people ask me which movie I like the most I can’t usually pick one, there are simply too much options, but if was stuck on an island with a blu ray player, with only one movie, that one would be my choice. So simple and yet so engrossing, you should really get that one!

            And thanks for the recommendation, I will definitely try BST!

          • I did watch Bicycle Thieves but probably about 15 years ago. Funny thing, just recently thought that I should pick up the Criterion BR of it. Really a magnificent film and I really need more Italien cinema in my collection. Hoping for some more Spanish films as well. Spirit of the beehives and Cria Cuervos are still burned in my memory. Two magnificent films which I only discovered thanks to the collection.

  • Invisible

    I miss old obi’s on Youtubato! which matched the cover graphics… Little things…

    • I feel you. But maybe they will come back at some point. Are you reading Yotsubato as well?

      • Invisible

        I try from time to time :) I have 5 of them… Currently slowly pacing through WaniKani since, even though I’m poor in grammar, the stopping point in reading is vocab and kanji.

        I’m mostly gathering material above my reading level, but if I flip through them every now and then I can see that I’m improving. Also I remember vocab better if I can link it contextually from manga/anime/novel.

        To counter-recommend, see “New Game!” manga if you liked the anime. More in your corner is “新米姉妹のふたりごはん” although the meals are very simple…

        • Thanks for your recommendations. Especially 新米姉妹のふたりごはん sounds highly promising. You know that I have a weak spot for cooking right :) I’ve been buying lots of stuff above my reading level and I have to say that just looking at the titles (looking at you Saint Oniisan) every now and again is pleasure enough :)