Sunday, May 6 2012
On the last day of the Nippon Connection I took the opportunity to walk around a bit in the festival building. Having already seen a bit of the Gaming Den before, there were still surprises to be found, as some games were replaced by others. More casual-or-rather-all-ages-friendly than No More Heroes, now Street Fighter IV was open for competitive gaming, as well as some drums-rythm-action (with Japanese text) and even the good-old-fashioned Zelda: Ocarina of Time and another Zelda-game, probably Link To The Past could be played next to some Wii-Sports-gaming. Quite a better selection than last year with its dance mats peripherals.
Changes could also be seen with the live painting which became quite colorful and was later sold for 1200 Euros, the money given to Japanese people affected by the earthquake.
If you want to take a look at how the painting process went, check out this video:
Having a press badge I could also go to the press room and watch some of the movies I missed (or which were going to be shown that day) on PCs. Unfortunately there wasn’t much time and this wasn’t actually mentioned by the event helpers. Still it was nice to discover some beautiful artwork downstairs.
Onedotzero: J-Star 11 Short Films
(Japan 2011/2012, directors: miscellanous, original titles: misc.)
After last year’s disappointing normal short films selection and the rather good festival Onedotzero (but awful DVD compilations), it seemed a hit-or-miss affair again. Surprisingly many films were light-hearted entertainment, accompanied by J-Pop music. Only the typical art-student-discoveres-his-3D-graphics-program-and-asks-his-DJ-friend-to-do-some-beats examples, together with long sequences of watching an organic/metal object from every angle proved to be the dull exceptions. The rest weren’t great in the idea department, but just right for a last-day-noon-screening.
What became apparent was the undertone of environmental hazards (be it people wearing gas masks or wandering around desolated cities), but despite the serious subject matter it never felt too much of point-your-finger-at-the-audience propaganda. Could have been the nice music or colorful cinematography, but it more or less felt like the right mixture.
(Japan 2011, director: Takashi Iitsuka)
Another short movie, even if its running time was 30 minutes. Telling a story of two friends who witness a monster laying waste to a small city.
There are a few twists in it, but all in all the story is rather forgettable. So are most of its jokes. It relies a bit too much on its trash presentation: action figures held by nylon wires, not really any lip synch. Something like Team America with a much lower budget.
It’s commendable to have someone do this in his free time, even giving away the movie on DVDs for free (although I was too late to get any copy). Still 10-15 minutes would have been enough as it gets rather boring after some time and could have used more unique ideas or memorable moments.
(Japan 2011, director: Hitoshi Ohne, original title: Moteki)
A blogger who gets a job at a website covering mostly music festivals but who’s still a virgin and has no luck with girls until he meets…
Sounds like a teeny comedy? Pretty much, yes, or one of those rom-coms the US is (not rightly) accused of. Now add some J-Pop musical performances and it all becomes a big hit in Japan. Why? It works for the first half as some light-hearted comedy with not-really-catchy tunes, but at least some ironic lyrics. But when the drama kicks in with lots of crying, moving from one predictable scene to another, it falls miserably on its face. A bumpy emotional ride on the cliché wagon. There are still some rather surreal scenes (like at the beginning and somewhere in between, so there aren’t THAT many), but all in all close to the end I couldn’t bear the whole whining of the nerd character (something I usually don’t have much of a problem with in US comedies). Fast forward to the good parts, make it 30 minutes and you get some decent entertainment value.