Archive for the Japan Category

Gantz movie review

Posted in 3.5 Stars, Foreign, Horror, Japan, New Movie, Review, Sci-Fi with tags , , , , , , , on January 23, 2011 by russellsreviews

After the successful live-action adaptations of Death Note, Detroit Metal City, and 20th Century Boys its becoming more common for Japanese film studios to take a chance on a mature manga/anime series. Gantz is the newest one by creator Hiroya Oku. However, Gantz is a much different beast than all the others before it. Its not that the manga isn’t as deep, but it goes to some very dark and intense places for it’s characters. Does the Gantz movie pull any punches or stay true and risk loosing a broader audience?

Kei is a underachieving teenager simply waiting for his train to arrive. A drunken man stumbles and falls on the tracks and everyone, including Kei, just stares and being curious to see what happens next. The only person who decides to help turns out to be Kei’s childhood friend, Kato. With the pressure of seeing his friend, Kei drops down to help raise the drunken man back on the platform only for them to be ones crushed by the oncoming train. Kei and Kato immediately find themselves with other killed strangers in a small locked white apartment with a giant black ball in the center room. Are they really dead? Where are they? How did they get there? More importantly why are they there?

That’s as far as I want to go as a set up, because the main draw of the series for me is seeing these mysteries played out and never know whats going to happen next to the characters. From the very first time I watch the anime of Gantz I felt that the story could translate very well to the big screen and would no doubt blow the sci-fi genre craze wide open if the the action was done well. The only problem is the original Gantz goes to some disturbing limits. This will ultimately be the deciding factor if you will enjoy the film or not if your a fan. To be honest there were parts of Gantz that went to far in my opinion. I know the main character did some really nasty immature stuff and part of showing all that sex and violence was for you to see how far Kei grows as a human being, but it was borderline too farĀ  sometimes and crossed over to being simply there for shock value and to get the very same people Kei is growing out of to watch the show. The Gantz movie rolled back the unnecessary sex and made Kei into much more likable guy from the start. Gantz might have pulled back a little too much in some areas that hurt it from being near perfect, but in this reviewer mind it also helped making it a more balanced movie. If you were one of the fans of the Gantz manga that liked it only for how messed it up it got sometimes you will feel jipped. Fans should not worry about the action side of the film. All scenes are very close to the original and are surprisingly good.

For those that know nothing of Gantz are in for a real treat. You have a lot of the fat trimmed out for a more streamlined version and are in for something totally fresh and interesting. A fair warning though. The version shown in American theaters is dubbed and dubbed very bad in some emotional scenes that did twist some powerful scenes into unintentionally funny ones. Some fans will predictably cry foul, but a lot will walk away feeling pretty satisfied and will be excited to see what the sequel might bring.



I *heart* Japan part 1

Posted in Japan, Non-Movie Related, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on November 7, 2009 by russellsreviews

Weeks ago I got married and went on a trip of a lifetime. Going to Japan was always a dream of mine and one I never thought I could reach. The Grace of God made it possible and it was more than expected. I feel so grateful and every day still in awe. I want to share it so maybe for the people who may never get the chance I did can get at taste of such wonderful and crazy cool place.


You know you see lots of people in America wearing shirts with cool fish, dragons, and Asian Characters? Yeah will they do that in Japan too just the other way around. It was like anyone who was under the age of 40 wore a shirt with some English on it. It was cool to see our language is so popular or “hip” over there.


Our first night we freaked out and had no idea where to go to eat. We found this cool take out Bento Box place that had pictures to help you order. At the time we didn’t know that 80% of the places had pictures to help people like us order. The Bento Box was delicious!

ultra tv

That night I almost freaked out. They had Ultraman Advertise Honda in a commercial! I knew at that moment I was where I belong.

vending machine

Huge Vending machines were everywhere with tons of options from Soda, Tea, energy drinks, and even coffee. Some even had Dr. Pepper! New York City didn’t have Dr. Pepper. Tokyo 1, NYC 0

tommy lee image

Tommy Lee Jones was on ads everywhere for Boss Coffee. Never have been a bigger fan for the Texan actor.

kanji lessons

The first full day in Japan we took a tour trip to see Mt. Fuji and Hakone. During the bus ride the guide told us funny stories and taught us a lot. Here she is explaining the Kanji character for Sake.

castle on bus

Many great sites to look at during the ride.

fuji 1

fuji 2

Then we went up Mt. Fuji. Notice how long and tall it is. No matter if you are in Tokyo or Kyoto you can see it in the background.

lake high up

View of the lake from atop of Mt. Fuji.

fuji villageVillage near the top of Mt. Fuji

fuji shrineShinto Shrine in the village.

prayer requestIf you have a prayer request or wish for the priests to make for you simply write it down on these wood tags and tie them to this wall.

bad luckYou can also get your fortune read. If you get a bad one, make sure you tie them to these ropes. The priests will pray for you and try to get rid of your bad luck.

hokaneSide of Hakone mountain. Since Hakone is actually a volcano they drill holes on to let out the hot air.

rope way images

rope wayWe took a rope way down the side of Hakone. Needless to say, beautiful.

pirate shipAt the bottom of Hakone you could take a boat ride around the lake. On a freaking Pirate ship! So we did.

shrine waterview

gate on water

sun waterBreathtaking views from the ship.

gate in cityHuge gate at the city port where the ship was docking. Very cool.


nijo gate

nail cover

Next day we were in Kyoto and went to Nijo castle. Nijo castle was the capital castle back when Kyoto was the country’s capital. Above notice the fantastic plates? There actually a very creative way to hide the nails used to build the structure. Sadly, taking pictures inside was forbidden, but hopefully you can still see the beauty.

golden pavillionThen we saw the Buddhist temple the Golden Pavilion. Made out of real gold.

zen gardenZen Garden at the Golden Pavilion.

roof endsDetail roof tops.

school uniforms

Bunch of School children at Nijo Castle. Notice the cool uniforms.

fire image in mountainA mountain view from a street in Kyoto. Kyoto had a perfect mix of old and new. That’s the fire mountain. Once a year during the fire festival they burn that image on the side of the mountain in celebration and tradition of the old ways of Japan.

great peopleIt didn’t long at all for us to see Japan is full of nice and funny people. A truly one of a kind place.

Wew. Part 1 finished. Next time one of the hippest places on earth Harajuku, the busiest intersection on earth, and some of the biggest statues you will ever see! Sayonara!