Daily Archives: July 31, 2009

Tsukamoto Taking Tetsuo Nightmare to Venice

Tetsuo the Bullet Man

Tsukamoto Shinya’s latest update of his most famous movie has been chosen to compete at the upcoming 66th Venice Film Festival. “Tetsuo the Bullet Man” is the renowned director’s second sequel to his now 20-year-old cult movie “Tetsuo” (Tetsuo: The Iron Man) and his first English-language work. It’s not due for release until next year, but movies fans got the first 10-minute peek at the Comic-Con event in San Diego earlier this month. The original 1989 arthouse classic is regarded as one of the most groundbreaking and influential cyberpunk movies to have come out of Japan (or anywhere). Disturbing and nightmarish, it makes use of stop motion, a hardcore industrial soundtrack, and brutally stark imagery so that sitting through the relatively short 67 minutes is quite a challenge. The first sequel, “Tetsuo: Body Hammer,” was released in 1992. The lead character in the new movie is played by American actor Eric Bossick and all the dialog is in English, but the setting is once again Tokyo, which Tsukamoto describes as “a true cybercity – the most cyberpunk city in the world.” Though there are parallels that can be drawn with the 1988 cult anime movie “Akira,” Tsukamoto (49) has said his films have no connection with that movie’s Tetsuo character.

Snowblood’s Excellent review of the original “Tetsuo”.

Sazae de Gozaimaaasu!

Mizuki Arisa as Sazae-san

Japan’s most famous cartoon housewife is coming to life once again. As part of its 50th anniversary celebrations, Fuji TV has announced a live-action version of perennial favorite “Sazae-san.” The anime, based on the late Hasegawa Machiko’s manga, has aired on Sunday evenings for 40 years. Though its audience rating peaked at a massive 39.4% in 1979, the show has maintained solid numbers in the high teens or low 20s ever since. Taking on one of Japan’s best-loved roles is Mizuki Arisa (32), and done up with Sazae-san’s distinctive hairstyle she certainly looks the part. “It’s an honor for me,” she said. “We’ve been discussing it for several years, so I think I’m ready to play the part.” A Fuji producer said of the star, “She’s probably Japan’s No.1 comedy actress and, because she’s loved by audiences of all ages, she perfect as Sazae-san.” The role has been taken on by several actresses in the past – about once every decade – with the most recent being Asano Atsuko (48) in 1992-96. The first, on TBS and starring the late Eri Chiemi, was in 1965-67 and actually predates Fuji’s anime version. The new drama, which will air in the autumn, will follow the anime’s 3-story omnibus format, though it will run to two and a half hours.

• A couple of TV networks got their wrists slapped this week. NHK received a letter of complaint from the Osaka Bar Association about details of its drama series “Konkatsu, Rikatsu,” which aired in April-May. The show featured several scenes in which a notary public gave legal advice in a divorce case, though the profession is restricted solely to the preparation of legal documents.

Meanwhile, NTV became the first network to receive a formal criticism from the Broadcasting Ethics and Program Improvement Organization (BPO) since it was established in 2007. The BPO recommended that the network air a program to explain how falsified testimony became the basis for a report on the “Bankisha!” news show last November about alleged slush funds within the Gifu prefectural government. NTV issued an on-air apology several months later and the network chief resigned in March. The man who made the false statements was arrested and recently received a guilty court verdict.