films seen
average score
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The good stuff

One Million Yen Girl

Hyakuman-en to Nigamushi Onna
2008 / 120m - Japan
One Million Yen Girl poster

One Million Yen Girl is a very typical Japanese drama which does little to really set itself apart from its peers. It will mostly appear to fans of the genre, which I happen to be.

Solid pieces

Romance Doll

Romansu Dôru
2020 / 123m - Japan
Drama, Romance
Romance Doll poster

A fine Japanese drama with some quirky elements, but also one that feels a little too comfortable to really rise above its peers. I've seen my share of these film and while they're generally intriguing, effective and well-made, they sometimes lack a little boldness and vision to stand out.

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Director Tanada attempts to stir things up by having the main character work as a love doll sculptor. A fact he tries to keep hidden from his wife, who served as an unbeknownst model for one of his designs. But in the end that doesn't really change the dynamics, nor the tone of the film. Apart from a handful of stand-alone scenes, Romance Doll will feel very familiar.

Performances are excellent, which isn't a big surprise with Yu Aoi and Issey Takahashi in the lead roles. The cinematography is good, but nothing out of the ordinary, the same goes for the soundtrack. All in all it's a fine film, I really haven't anything bad to say about it, it's just nothing I hadn't seen before.

Round Trip Heart

2015 / 97m - Japan
Round Trip Heart poster

A cute little drama with minor comedy elements. Tanada isn't reinventing the wheel here, if you've seen a couple of Japanese dramas, this will definitely feel familiar. At the same time, there are some interesting details that do set it apart from its peers. And unless you want lots of narrative action, I'm going to guess this is also a very accessible film.

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When a young woman working on a train apprehends a thief, the man pleads not guilty. After a little scuffle and some back and forth, the two end up together on a little trip in search of Hachiko's mother. She sent Hachiko a somewhat disconcerting letter, and the man fears she might be planning on killing herself. Hachiko reluctantly joins the mysterious man.

This is one of those films where two unfamiliar characters get together by chance and work through their problems as they spend some time together. The performances are strong, the comedy elements are light and amusing, the drama subtle but effective. A very pleasant film that doesn't outstay its welcome, but isn't quite distinctive enough to truly stand out.

The Cowards Who Looked to the Sky

Fugainai Boku wa Sora wo Mita
2012 / 141m - Japan
The Cowards Who Looked to the Sky poster

Interesting drama that starts off pretty well, but begins to wander the moment it tries to juggle too many characters and plot lines. There's a lot of drama that needs to be covered, a lot of characters that are dealing with issues of their own, and I feel a tighter focus might've done the film some good.

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Tanada's direction is frank and to the point, but not as refined as I'd hoped. A little extra attention to the camera work and soundtrack could've helped to create a bigger dramatic impact. While the film doesn't look cheap or uninviting, the styling is pretty functional and by the numbers.

Performances are great though and there is definitely some interesting drama to dig through, I just had a little trouble with the shifting focus of the narrative, that often abandons characters for long stretches of time. A solid film that is sure to please fans of Japanese drama, but a little too uneven to be truly great.

Ain't No Tomorrows

Oretachi ni Asu wa Naissu
2008 / 79m - Japan
Drama, Comedy
Ain't No Tomorrows poster