Nippon Connection 2012 in Frankfurt, Day 1

Konichiwa in Frankfurt
Before going to the Nippon Connection center I had to check in with the Hotel Klein, one subway station after the Hessen Center (or better: the end station). Last year we were at the 4-stars-hotel Amadeus with separate rooms (which was pretty expensive now), this time we planned to stay at an accommodation closer to the festival location and sharing the price/room. But only two weeks ago we received a notification that the hotel was about to close (later being re-opened by a new owner). Luckily we found something even cheaper.

Hotel Comfort…with getting used to
My friend Axel was already there (because he went by car, me by train) and it looked more complicated on the map reaching the destination than it actually was.
The hotel room was pretty big, the only fun or weird thing was that the shower handles worked the opposite way: turning the red-marked resulting in cold water (and strangely also having some sort of ventilation system from below) and vice versa. Opening the shower door had to be done with quite some violence, closing it went more or less the same way.
But of course we weren’t there to spend all day long in the hotel, but to enjoy our second Nippon Connection film festival from the start (last year it was only at the weekend).

Japan in Frankfurt for the 12th time
The 12th Nippon Connection in Frankfurt (Wednesday, May 2nd til Sunday, May 6th ) is the biggest film festival in Germany which focuses on Japanese cinema only. Like the Fantasy Filmfest it has sponsors, but its helpers do it on a voluntary basis. Its emphasis is also on offering the chance to experience Eastern culture in different forms, like exhibitions, workshops, lectures and concerts which are all taking place at the university campus.

Some events are even free (like a gaming den, which unfortunately doesn’t show any exclusive import games, but a mixed bag of games most people are familiar with; Mario Party, Zelda, Streetfighter IV among others; a bit strange that the great Japanese game No More Heroes on PS3 was playable on the first day…only minutes later there was an age 18+ sign outside the door) and offer a quick glance at Japanese culture on the go (or waiting for the next movie to start).

It’s also possible to taste some of the typical Japanese food and drink (other than Sushi, but Sake’s pretty much what works with everything for every situation; there was also a testing booth which I did last year), some sweets as well. Prices are a bit steep in comparison to the single movie tickets, but then again why not try something new every day as there’s enough to choose from (even though standing around due to lack of seats is commonplace)?

Q(ueue) & A(waiting)
Speaking of tickets: The prices were the same as last year (depending on the film selection, Nippon Visions less than Nippon Cinema, the former usually being more experimental and low budget), and it’s nice to have student offers.
What isn’t that great is the new selling system: When I arrived and didn’t know if it was still possible to get an accreditation, I was standing in a queue for two hours. Luckily the sun was shining. Apparently every ticket had to be booked online and printed out separately. Either it was the slow internet connection or the printer, this was something which just didn’t work out. One woman even had to get out of her queue, otherwise she would have missed her movie (she luckily booked in advance online).
Last year tickets were printed out and readily available. Now with only one ticket booth open at first and no way to buy them upstairs at the bar (which was possible last year), it’s safe to say the old system was much more effective. And it wasn’t even the weekend…no rain…

Hard to press
Press accreditation after the deadline of April 22nd was handled without any problems for blog or website writers: filling in a form and paying 25 Euros in advance which would be paid back after coverage. The only problem was that unlike last year, one had to wait in front of a second sale booth. A quicker solution later was that one could make reservations for today’s and tomorrow’s movies and get the tickets in individual envelopes (the press badges had to be picked up the next day). Again some negative side effect of the new system, still it more or less worked better than waiting in the long queue.

So much for the general info about the festival and the first day impression. Now following up with reviews (for the first day only one due to the long waiting and accreditation process) of individual movies and what else happened during the upcoming days of the film festival.

Day 1
Wednesday, May 2 2012

Half Virgin and Zero Man
(Japan 2011, director: Sakichi Satô, original title: Shojo hanbun to zero otoko)

Expecting a trash movie in which those two characters would fight each other was a bit misplaced . Without taking too much away from the twists, turns and surprises this crazy piece of Japanese cinema offers, it’s still a bit weird to write about the whole experience.
A man who can’t remember who he is now finds himself in the role of a police officer and (even stranger) discovers a circle on his forehead whenever he gets an erection… This is only half of the weirdness when he sees numbers appearing on other people’s heads as well.
The audience is led from one false lead to another, making it a fun flick to watch. Unlike a David Lynch movie which has subtle meanings or a certain disquieting atmosphere, this one is always on the edge of absurdity and strange humor, some of which is pretty crude when it comes to more serious subjects like rape (at this point the director also doesn’t seem to know if he wants to take a drama turn). With an ending which makes one wonder if there ever was a script the director used, it’s probably a movie which can only be experienced once as there’s not much of suspense, character development or other memorable scenes which work outside of the wtf-framework.

Rating: 7/10 (or rather wtf/10)
imdb
More info on Nippon Connection website

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About nufafitc

Being an avid gamer, cinemaniac, and bookworm in addition to other things the internet and new media present, I'm also very much into DIY music, rock and pop in particular. Writing short or longer pieces about anything that interests me has always made me happy. As both an editor for German website "Adventure-Treff" and UK website "Future Sack", I like to write reviews and news about recent developments in the movies, games and book industry.
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