The Great Asian Fantasy Movie Quest: Shinobi ~ Heart Under Blade (2005)

Ten Little, Nine Little, Eight Little Ninjas…

by Ender’s Girl

A hopeless sucker for a good sword-and-sorcery yarn, I never pass up the chance to road-test possible contenders for the Next Great Asian Fantasy Flick. (Recs from y’all are most welcome!) This particular movie tracks two ill-fated ninja lovers trying (not?) to kill each other in the mountain forests of 17th-century Japan. Sounds, epic, I know. But is it really?


Shinobi: Heart Under Blade

The Cast:
Nakama Yukie, Odagiri Joe, Sawajiri Erika

Directed by Shimoyama Ten / Shochiku Films, 2005

In a Nutshell:
An uncanny pair of star-crossed ninjas (and one in a mullet) must choose between forbidden love and clan duty. (OHNOES OHNOES!!!)

(SpoilLert: Ohohoho you bet!)

Genres: fantasy, romance, cosplay
Iconography: secret ninja communes, dueling magicky people, Odagiri Joe in a mullet
Main themes: mullets, blood feuds, filial piety, forbidden love
Key message: If your boyfriend grows a mullet, you might as well gouge your eyes out. (Yowww!)

Watching certain parts of Shinobi – and I’m just talking about the good parts here – is like watching nature-themed screensavers while pretending to send emails from your workstation. Same amount of brainwork required, too. Because if all you’re looking for is a pretty movie, then this one is it. It’s hard to top the visuals of the Edenic realm in which this film is set: a falcon winging over tree-topped ravines… a shallow rock pool shimmering in a forest glade… a fish arcing out of the water and scattering crystal droplets in slow-mo… a wood nymph with lavender chenille in her hair, alighting by the pool for a sip while her would-be lover, a solemn young man in a mullet, gazes at her from across the water…

Okayyy, so maybe a moony-eyed man in a mullet ain’t such a great idea for a screensaver. But all the other location shots just mentioned are very scenic indeed. Too bad there’s little else to be admired about this movie — besides the fact that Nakama Yukie has never looked lovelier than she does here (no nerd glasses or unisex track suits for Yankumi this time, oh no no!). She’s the wood nymph by the mountain stream… except that she’s not really a nymph, but a tough cookie of a ninja princess (!!!) — who can kill with a glance (!!!). Enter the mullet (gonggg!!!) in the shape and form of Odagiri Joe, who also happens to be a ninja… except that his clan has a long-standing blood feud with Nakama Yukie’s kin, ohnoes (!!!).

Yepyepyep, it’s THAT kind of story, think Romeo and Juliet… but with superpowers! And mullets! (I seriously have to stop saying that… but first I ought to mullet over, hahaha.) The year is 1614 and Tokugawa Ieyasu sits in his castle fretting over spy reports that the shinobi people (another term for ninja) are offering their arcane arts to the highest bidders, many of whom are the Shogun’s political enemies. Worried that these mystical mercenaries will be used to undermine his regime, Tokugawa Ieyasu and his advisers hatch a plan that will pit the two strongest shinobi clans against each other.

These two clans, the Iga-ryu and the Kouga-ryu, have been locked in an uneasy 400-year peace treaty that basically limits their mutual hostilities to mooning each other across the river and leaving territorial pee marks on the bark of enemy trees – pretty hardcore stuff, I know. But the ancient ceasefire obviously hasn’t stopped the tribes from hating each other with a passion – or, as we find in the case of Yankumi and Odagiri Joe, from luhhhving each other, either.

Guarding this shaky peace is Hattori Hanzo, a functionary in the Shogunate’s employ tasked to arbitrate among the shinobi. It naturally becomes clear to the Shogun and his flunkies that the most effective way to stamp out these stealthy little buggers is to rescind the no-fighting ban – and then wait as they finish each other off. The Shogun then commands both tribes to select their five best ninja, who are to square off in a fight-oh!!! to the death-oh!!! – all on the pretext that the winning clan will get to determine the next Shogun. It’s a terribly lame-oh!!! ruse, I know, but the shinobi fall for it hook, line and, er, shuriken – which makes you wonder whether all those centuries of hermitic inbreeding have caused their recessive traits – low IQs! mutant powers! fast-growing mullets! – to surface with a vengeance.

A sylvan people, the Iga-ryu live in primitive huts on a secluded river bend, while the Kouga-ryu have carved out a mountaintop hamlet where they can practice mining, quarrying and other ecologically destructive methods to their hearts’ content. Even the set design of both villages couldn’t be more disparate, as if to stress just how much at odds these two tribes are: the Kouga lands are all dusty browns and blazing sunlight, in contrast to the tranquil blue-greenery where the Iga tree-huggers romp and live.

And did I mention that Yankumi and Mullet Joe are the only ones unhappy with the Shogun’s new edict? Because they’re secretly lovahs, not fightahs!!! But as much as they want to elope to the city and put the whole silly vendetta business behind them, they can’t – because Yankumi’s granny just happens to be the Iga clan’s chieftain, while Mullet Joe’s gramps happens to be – you guessed it!!! – the headman of the Kouga. (What to do, what to do???)

Turns out that Granny and Gramps don’t wanna fight each otha’ no mo’ either, for their confrontation in the forest following the Shogun’s announcement suggests that they, too, were once lovahhs. But, well, clan duty trumps personal happiness once again, because the chieftains end up fighting their final duel, this time to the death — for both of them. (Tsk, tsk)

Meanwhile, Yankumi and Mullet Joe are having their own romantic powwow in another forest clearing, oblivious to the geriatric showdown just a few thickets away, lol. In this scene, Mullet Joe finds Yankumi by the river and grabs her behind – er, grabs her from behind – and it’s without a doubt the lovers’ Shining Moment of Happiness before their Doom!Doom!!!, something akin to Romeo and Juliet’s last (illicit) hurrah before their story’s tragic denouement.

Hours later (and still a little dopey from their tryst), the lovers return home to learn the unfortunate news. With the ancient peace treaty now irretrievably shattered, the clamors for revenge from both sides will not be denied. But as the tribes gear up for war, oh! – what’s this? Mullet Joe morphs into “Pacifist Joe” and balks at leading his homies into battle against Team Iga! The poor chump also knows he can’t fess up to his loyal subjects that he’s been sleepin’ with the enemy (or who knows what they’ll do to him – maybe chop off his mullet? shudders!), so he vents this frustration by screaming and punching the walls of his mud hut. Tsk tsk… excitable, excitable. Lol. Baffled by his un-Kouga-like behavior, the villagers promptly label their leader a pansy and call him everything from “Satyagraha Joe” to the less cultured “Chickensh*t Joe,” e.g. “Oh here comes Chickensh*t Joe, too sissy to fight those gay Iga river rats!” *spits on ground* (Lawl)

Thankfully, Yankumi is made of fiercer stuff than her wimp-o boyfriend and wastes no time going on the warpath with Strike Force Iga. And just so you know who we’re speaking of, here’s a quick look at their lineup:

1) Yankumi. (Power: the Death Stare that turns one’s innards into gunge!!!)

2) Mr Hypothermia – a jujumancer in a color-coordinated ensemble of silvery hair, purplish lips, cobalt blue wizard robes, and a ghastly, ghastly shade of face powder. (Power: longevity and self-healing abilities, thanks to his symbiotic pet worms!!!)

3) Whippy the Whipping Boy – an androgyne in a stylized black-and-white kimono-cum-Adidas tracksuit. (Power: can shoot whiplike wires from his sleeves!!!)

4) Beastly. (or… Manimal?) (Power: can do a really, really low-rent Wolverine impersonation!!!)

5) Sawajiri Erika. (Power: blows gold pixie dust that turns into… butterflies!!! hahahaha are you all scared now, Team Kouga??? ARE YOU ALL SCARED NOW???)

Not to be outdone in the costume and prosthetics department — is Team Kouga!!!

1) Mullet Joe – ‘nuff said. (Power: can move fast, very very fast! – faster than a speeding mullet! er, bullet! hahaha)

2) The Saracen – a blind, blah-looking man in brown robes and a nondescript cowl. (Power: clairvoyance and remote sensing!!!)

3) Lamia — a slinky, pouty vamp secretly in love with Mullet Joe. (Power: there isss poissson in her kissss!!!)

4) El Scowl’o – a dour-looking bearded dude sporting an old leather cuirass and gray bloomers. (Power: none!!! but is good with weapons and heavy machinery!!!)

5) Mr WTF – a silver-faced mummy zipped up in a filthy gray… pod. Or something. (Power: can shape-shift! and teleport faster than you can say “WTF?!!??”)

After seeing these ten ninjas parade before the screen in their… frippery, you’d expect that back home, the other villagers would also be decked out in similar fashion, right? RIGHT? Then why does everyone else look so friggin’ normal, clad in simple villager garb of tatty tunics and breeches — and oh looky, no makeup or face paint!!! Hahahaha. Which only makes our ten elite shinobi fighters look stooopider than they already do, blerg.

So Mullet Joe sends a strongly worded telegram to Team Iga saying that he and his posse won’t rise to the Shogun’s bait, but will seek an audience with Hattori Hanzo in yonder Emerald City, and ask the burning question of the day: “WTF is going on and why are you making us play this sick and cruel game, huh?” (lol) But while Mullet Joe & Co. skip down the Yellow Brick Road leading to Sumpu Castle, linking arms and singing, “We’re off to see the Hanzo, the Hattori Hanzo of Oz…” an incensed Yankumi sets her own hit squad after the Kouga peaceniks — OHNOES!!!

What follows is the Great Shinobi Purge-a-thon, in which our ten little ninjas dispatch each other with disturbing alacrity. But it’s the speed and casualness at which these shinobi drop dead (and drop out of the story) that only prove how disposable everyone is, writing-wise. You feel no real loss even as these ninjas, these mortal kombatants, run all over the forest stiffing each other, because you never get to know them beyond their fancy superficies. What does it say about a movie if more thought and effort obviously went into designing the cast’s cosplay outfits and props, and ascribing the characters their superpowers — than into developing the characters as real persons who evolve as the story unfolds?

Well, you can chalk it up to a script that’s thinner than denatured alcohol and characters flatter than pee on a plate. These ninjas have about as much depth as those mutant Beastnoids from the Super Sentai shows of yore, the ones who’d get trotted out in their cheap rubberized suits just to strike one or two fierce poses and show off their combat moves — before getting whacked by the bionic heroes, of course.

Things get so bloody predictable in Shinobi that you can sniff the payoff a mile away. I mean, we all know how that popular children’s counting rhyme ends, don’t we? 

Ten little ninjas looking fierce and fine,
One got the kiss of death and then there were nine;

Nine little ninjas out to test their fate,
One was skewered to a tree and then there were eight;

Eight little ninjas (cos)playing under heaven,
One croaked by the river and then there were seven;

Seven little ninjas pulling out more tricks,
One had his cover blown and then there were six;

Six little ninjas miraculously still alive,
One became a dartboard and then there were five;

Five little ninjas fond of blood and gore,
One received the laser stare and then there were four;

Four little ninjas lurking in the trees,
One gave her life for love and then there were three;

Three little ninjas playing peek-a-boo,
One got eaten by his worms and then there were two;

Two little ninjas no longer having fun,
One ran the other through and then there was one;

One little ninja, now blind and very glum,
Slipped and fell into a stream… and then there were none.

(Well okay, so maybe we never really see Yankumi drowning in a mountain stream per se, but it ain’t that hard to imagine, LMAO.)

Granted, the fight choreography in Shinobi can wow the most hard-to-please of action-adventure (and ninjutsu) enthusiasts, especially that standout scene where Mullet Joe on “super speed” mode hacks his way through a swarm of government-issue ninjas in a moonlit glade (or was it just his magic mullet doing all the work? t’was too dark to tell, lol). But seriously, what’s the point if the action and stunt work – however niftily executed – do nothing to substantiate or advance the plot?

And please don’t get me started on the love stuff – or egregious lack of it. The creative mavens behind Shinobi flattered themselves by styling their movie after well-known specimens of the doomed love sub-genre, but aping certain scenes from, say, Zhang Zimou’s Hero only underscores what a pretentious, unoriginal adaptation Shinobi is — even if the source material was published decades before films like Hero came out. I may not have read the original novel by Yamada Futaru or the 2003 manga, nor seen the 2005 anime, but this live-action adaptation penned by Kenya Hirata just blows. Epically.

This is one movie that feels more like a hack-and-slash arcade game played by truant high school boys, than a worthy entrant to the pantheon of tragic romance canon. The scenes that bookend the lovers’ luckless story – i.e. Yankumi and Mullet Joe’s first meeting by the mountain stream, and lastly their disastrous face-off at the story’s climax – may be as dramatic and cool-looking as anything you’ve seen, but it isn’t Point A or Point B, but the entire journey in between that will keep the viewer interested, invested and involved.

And heckyeah, of course I wanted to be interested, invested and involved; I wanted to know Yankumi and Mullet Joe’s backstory and see how they fell in love after that chance encounter at the beginning of the movie (and not merely rely on the narration, which was expendable anyway), and later, how their progressively difficult choices drove them farther apart until the story could not be resolved without one of them dying. And dammit, I wanted something more meaty and satisfying than a few stolen cuddles in the woods, no matter how prettily shot. But all I got was emotional static and dead air… plus lots of fight scenes that, while nicely done, were really beside the point.

Watching Shinobi can become so mentally stultifying that at some point you’ll feel compelled to do something that demands a little more brainpower — like maybe paint your nails (as I did, lol). In the scene where the doomed lovers finally face off on that desert ridge, I looked up from my half-finished nails with a vague feeling that I ought to be sad for them. Had I been watching, say, Hero or Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, my face would’ve been buried in my tear-soaked pillow by now. But seeing a homicidal Yankumi run her blade through a very stoic Mullet Joe only made me go, “oh.” before turning my attention (and nail polish) to my big toe.


Next thing you know, Yankumi’s jabbing two fingers into her eyes before a stunned Tokugawa Ieyasu and his court — in a desperate bid to convince the Shogun that she’ll forgo her  ninja powers if it means saving the Iga-ryu and Kouga-ryu from the Shogun’s armies, who, unbeknownst to the dueling shinobi, have laid siege to their mountain retreats and are this close to pulverizing both villages to sawdust and pixie dust. Yankumi sacrificing her eyes is all very statement-y, but rather pointless because by the time Tokugawa Ieyasu orders his armies to cease and desist, there’s nothing left of either village but mud and sticks and dead ninjas. (Tsk, tsk. At least Yankumi’s boyfriend got to keep his mullet to the very end, lolzzz)

Yankumi is by turns fierce and flinty as the revenge-obsessed Oboro (there, I’ve said her character’s real name at least once, happy now?) — and you can see her efforts to bring life to such a sketchy and underdeveloped role. Odagiri Joe is a totally different matter, coasting along for the paycheck 95% of the time. I mean it doesn’t take much to look glum and listless while puttering around the forest, spouting quasi-philosophical anti-war slogans, does it? 4% of the time he pulls off some actual ninja fighting, and the remaining 1% is when he remembers to “act” — and by “act” I mean “register any form of emotion” — as his mini-screaming fits in two scenes show us. And speaking of “screaming,” is it just me, or does the whole look of this dude scream “CONTEMPORARY!!!” It’s hard to buy the whole ninja act because it’s like Odagiri Joe doesn’t even belong in the movie, much less the year 1614. It seems as though he just wandered in from the year, um, 1985 maybe? Lol. (It had to be 1985, the mullet’s a dead giveaway, hahaha.)

Need I also point out the utter absence of chemistry and sexual tension between the two leads? No come-from-behind hugging could squeeze a driblet of romantic alchemy from Yankumi and Mullet Joe. I’m not even talking about open-mouthed kissing (although that too is always welcome, lol), but I needed to see the bridled (but simmering!) sexual energy and unrealized passion that typify romances of the forbidden and doomed varieties, made even more volatile by the lovers’ polarized convictions regarding duty, war, peace, honor. It’s a shame none of that yummy stuff is in this movie. (And puhleeeze, hugging is SO overrated. *rolleyes*) Shinobi a “Tragic Romance?” Hahaha. The only real tragedy here is that there isn’t enough romance in this clunker. And what “Doomed Lovers?” The only thing that’s doomed is the time you spend watching this film, 107 minutes of your life that all the ninja powers and magic mullets in the world can never, ever get back.

Grade
Artistic & technical merit: C+
Entertainment value: D
Overall: C

***

Postscript: In which E.G. Plugs a Book for the Very First Time

If you came away from Shinobi feeling as gypped as I was, and yearn to see the Star-crossed Lovers archetype fleshed out to an infinitely more satisfying degree — but still well within the same fantasy-adventure genre and ninja/warrior motif as Shinobi, then you might just love Lian Hearn’s “Tales of the Otori” cycle (five books in all). An exhilarating blend of historical drama, magic realism, philosophy, YA coming-of-age fiction, and — oh yes – romance baby romance, the “Otori” books are set in a world that strongly echoes Japan in the 16th or 17th century – but in an intentionally unintentional way, if you know what I mean. It’s a world inhabited by deadly assassins and duty-bound warriors, sadistic overlords and exquisite noblewomen, scheming courtiers and forbidden sects. (You won’t find the words “samurai” or “ninja” — or “shinobi” for that matter, hyukhyuk — anywhere in these books, but the geographical and cultural allusions to feudal Japan are hard to miss.)

When I read the first book “Across the Nightingale Floor” several years ago, I instantly fell in love with Lian Hearn’s lush and lyrical prose, and with her richly written characters who struggle with their human nature and with the choices they each make – but always endeavoring to find peace and fulfillment in a cruel, uncertain world.

The “Otori” saga is everything Shinobi would’ve wished to be, but wasn’t. There’s love and honor and heroism and sacrifice and destiny and tragedy and betrayal and all that great, great stuff that makes a true epic. And the action here is no child’s play – neither is it cosplay (hahaha). You’ll get your fill of fierce skirmishes, daring castle break-ins, epic battles and other heart-stopping moments. (Eat your heart out, Shinobi ninjas.)

And it’s impossible not to love the main characters: there’s the teenage Takeo who must choose between two completely different paths, being the sole heir of a noble warrior-lord who adopts him, as well as the secret scion of an underground network of spies, assassins and mercenaries known only as the Tribe. Sensitive and mature beyond his years but imbued with an unshakable idealism despite his conflicted feelings about killing and war, Takeo is everything Mullet Joe in Shinobi should’ve been. And there’s the highborn Kaede, Takeo’s secret love who is pledged to another. She’s everything Nakama Yukie’s character could’ve been – both fragile and headstrong, and incredibly brave in the face of the terrible constraints of her class.

The forbidden romance between Takeo and Kaede will make your heart sing, while their slow-burning sexual tension will simply DRIVE YOU INSANE, HAHAHAHA. There is passion, intrigue, danger, sex — and even a little homoeroticism on the side (which shocked me at first, but then this was way before I got to know my Johnnies, so cut me some slack here, lol).

Do give the first book a try. Once you’re swept away in the “Otori” saga you’ll realize that those silly, shallow Shinobi ninjas never stood a chance.

(Still not convinced? Read what the author posted on her site.)

***
Photo credits: asianmediacritics.blogspot.com, astronerdboy.blogspot.com, blu-ray.com, CinemaFrenzy @ photobucket.com, daily.greencine.com, dvdtown.com, flixster.com, hakojou.blogspot.com, japinoy.com, lianhearn.com, orendsrange.blogspot.com, reviewbuster.net, syukri0235.blogspot.com, the-other-view.com

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55 Comments on “The Great Asian Fantasy Movie Quest: Shinobi ~ Heart Under Blade (2005)”

  1. kaigou Says:

    It sounds like it’s an adaptation of Ninja Scroll, I think is the name. Some 80’s-era manga turned into a late 90’s-era anime, and there you gots your explanation for the mullet. The character designs and general plot line is certainly reminiscent of that animanga.

    It’s not exactly what I would’ve nominated as Most Potential For Decent Live-Action Adaptation. I like some good fights (preferably without mullets) as much as the next person, but I also have this thing about wanting actual characterization to go along with it. I know, I know, I’m picky that way.

    • Ender's Girl Says:

      Ahhhh so THAT explains the mullet. Doesn’t make the offense less unpardonable, though, lol😀 But thanks for the info😉

      “The character designs and general plot line is certainly reminiscent of that animanga.” << Oh dear. That doesn't say much about the animanga now, does it? =P

      Speaking of live-action adaptations, I do wonder what a live-action version of Rorouni Kenshin would look like — granted it’s done well and all. x_O That was one anime I was actually invested in, although after seeing the Reflection OVA I remember wishing I hadn’t.😦 Still, I dunno if anyone can really pull off that red shaggy mane and super smexy scar…😛

  2. wolforion20 Says:

    Ah, this movie. I agree, is really only good for the beautiful cinematography. I find it funny that the Iga tribe pins all their hopes on a girl who can kill with one stare and can’t fight worth a darn while Kouga pins their hopes on a peace-lover who can fight, but chooses not to (really the right decision). Sheesh. How those two got put in charge is beyond me.

    BTW – absolutely LOVED your children’s song version of Shinobi. Who knew you could do the whole plot in a few rhyming couplets?

    Odagiri, Odagiri. He has been quoted saying he does dramas for money and movies for love. If so, why in the world did he choose a movie with no plot or interest? I still remember him from Azumi. Now, that man could act pretty good as a total crazy. blood-thirsty psychopath of a swordsman.

    I agree with Yankumi, ahem, Nakama’s beauty in this drama. She really shown. Amazing how good she can look when they aren’t dolling her up as a geek or a tough-as-nails teacher wearing a tracksuit.

    • Ender's Girl Says:

      “BTW – absolutely LOVED your children’s song version of Shinobi. Who knew you could do the whole plot in a few rhyming couplets?” << Lol, sankyou v. much! Hahaha I know right? That's how flat the plot was, that it just took me a few minutes to put the whole rhyme together. Easy peasy! (‘course, it helped to look up the original poem on Wiki :-P)

      “Odagiri, Odagiri. He has been quoted saying he does dramas for money and movies for love. If so, why in the world did he choose a movie with no plot or interest?” << Hahaha an excellent point! I remember reading that too — not that I'm a fan or anything. But, er… maybe he does movies for the love of money? Lol. Anyway, I’d love to see O-Joe squirm and look at his toes (and fiddle with his mullet) when you ever get to ask him that.😀

  3. gaijin mark Says:

    Haven’t seen this movie (and after your review I probably won’t) but I wanted to mention something that “Geezer” over at JDorama said about Yankumi. He said she’s a “star” and not an “actress” which are two different things. I’m beginning to agree with him.

    • Ender's Girl Says:

      You mean, in the same way that Kimura is more of a star than an actor? Hehehe😛

      Ah, good old Geezer, a man ahead of his time!😀 I think it took me all 3 Gokusens and Gokusen the Movie, an episode of Mr Brain, and now this movie to arrive at the same conclusion. x_O

      • jubilantia Says:

        Yeah, but Gokusen is still hella fun to watch. Even though I couldn’t bear to watch any of the sequels. What the stars lack in acting talent they make up for in looks and charisma, I guess.

  4. Dimples (aka rambutan) Says:

    You hit the nail on the head! The cinematography was as beautiful as Mullet Joe was uninspiring. Yankumi oddly fell flat too. But I still liked the movie for all the fantasy and antics of the ninjas. Execution was excellent, I have to admit. But no matter how much I like fantasy, action and suspense, I like your review 1000x more. You are hilarious, as usual. Thanks for making me laugh. Your poetry was …. pure poetry! 🙂

  5. Jenny Says:

    Hahaha! I remember watching this movie years ago and swooning over Odagiri Joe(I don’t care that his hair is a horrible mullet)and thinking this movie is terrible. The scenery is absolutely beautiful though and maybe is the only redeeming bit in it.
    You should definetely watch 13 assasins to make up for loosing precious time to watch Shinobi, it’s AWESOME! Just watched it a few days ago and it was great. I would say that it is definetely Takashi Miike’s best film.

    Tales of the Otori, I started reading them when the first novel came out and bought themas they were published. Thr rights to the books have been bought by some major film company but I doubt it will be made. Lian Hearn is a amazing writer and there is a clear love for Japan in the book. (for samurai’s, ninjas and strong women) I haven’t read the newest book that she wrote that is a prequel to the Otori books. Her new book “On blossoms and shadows” seems really interesting so I’m planning on buying it when it’s published.

    • Ender's Girl Says:

      Omomomo I’m SOOOO psyched for 13 Assassins!!! This is one movie I’d still watch even if Yamada Takayuki was in a mullet!!! Hahaha😀

      Heyyy I’m thrilled that you’re a fellow Otori fan!😉 Hehe I’m kind of re-reading Across the Nightingale Floor this minute. The prequel, Book 5 is all right. 1-3 are still my favorite. I try not to think Book 4 was ever written. Q__Q Also anticipating Blossoms and Shadows!🙂

      Yeah, the film rights were bought eons ago (as with most well-received books) but the books have been “in development” for almost as long, that I’m starting to lose hope. So derivative tripe like Eragon get their own movie adaptation like two seconds after hitting bookshelves, but not gems like Otori? Really Hollywood really??? Blerg @__@

      Since I discovered Jdramas I’ve been casting an Otori movie in my head. I know it’s embarrassing and totally cheesy to say this, but I’d love to see Kimura as Lord Shigeru. As for Lady Maruyama, I wasn’t that invested in the character so I’d cast someone like… Koyuki, hahaha. As for Takeo, I’d take a look at random Johnnies and think, “now that’s just wrong,” lollzzz. So I’m casting Miura (of course!). Would be totally age-appropriate too. Hihihi. And, uh, Sato Takeru as the monk, Makoto? Heh heh😛

      • Jenny Says:

        !3 assasins is absolutely worth a watch. Yamada Takayuki was adorbs even though he was the shortets in the bunch(it’s okay Takayuki-kun I’ll still have you)

        I should definetely re-read them all even though I felt 4 was the weakest link in the series. somehow I think it was not as well written as the others. There are so many books that are in production limbo and I wouldn’t be suprised in they never make this into a film. But if they would I do think they should choose a japanese cast.
        Hmm, who would I cast, I guess because they are quite young when the book begins so a classical beauty as Kaede- Horikita Maki, Takeo maybe Nakamura Aoi, Shigeru Takeshi Kaneshiro and Konishi Manami as lady Maruyama.

        • Ender's Girl Says:

          Where’d you get your 13 Assassins – the jdramas comm at Livejournal? Is the quality good, or should I wait for a better version to come along?

          Woohoo, nice casting right there. Nakamura Aoi is admittedly a cutie with a cute smile.🙂 And oh wow — Takeshi Kaneshiro as Shigeru, niiice! Wonder if he’d be obliged to accept a supporting role, though. (Lol I’m talking as if this movie’s been greenlit xD)

          “But if they would I do think they should choose a japanese cast.” << Ah yes, I agree 100%. We wouldn't want a repeat of the confusion of ethnicities that was Memoirs of a Geisha (I mean, rly Hollywood rly???) @__@

          • Jenny Says:

            Moag still gives me the creeps. I am a geisha and kimono enthusiast so this movie and the casting was so wrong.
            I also quite like my imaginary casting, don’t know about Kaneshiro if he’d agree on a supporting role though even if the character is very important.
            I’m watching Ooku raw and still baffled over who cast Nino, even though he is a good actor he has no fysical resemblence to how the character is described in the manga.

            Jdramas didn’t have it yet so, I watched it on a streaming site.Dramacrazy also have it and the quality looked good.

  6. doozy Says:

    Have not seen this movie and probably won’t based on your review and now, whenever I hear the word “shinobi” my knee-jerk response will be “mullet!”

    Thanks for the Otori rec! *scribbles titles on to-read list*

    • Ender's Girl Says:

      YAY, I do hope you enjoy the books!😉 (You’ll probably end up casting Buki in the lead role anyway, even if he IS a tad older than seventeen, lol. But he’d look absolutely perfect swinging that sword and running over nightingale floors… :D)

  7. zooey Says:

    Lol, I had an idea how much you disliked this movie but I didn’t think you’d go the extra mile to adapt a “children’s counting rhyme”. That being said, the movie is indeed very pretty, great cinematography and CGI. Would have to disagree though about the fight sequences, there was very little fight choreography to begin with considering that everything else was done and enhanced by movie fx.

    The problem of this movie is that there’s really no opportunity for the viewer to get to know the characters. 30 minutes in, they start fighting and falling like flies and you feel absolutely nothing. Had fun though, waiting for and seeing an actual demonstration of the powers held by the main characters. Oh and I did like the whole Romeo and Juliet scenario to the extent that I checked out Basilisk (the anime series based on the Ninja scroll manga from which this live-action adaptation was also based). The verdict: well, the anime series was better and Gennusoke and Oboro’s powers were more of a paradox if one were to go by the original text.

    I still think that this movie is fairly innocuous. There are far more silly and disappointing stinkers out there and considering how the story’s mind-numbingly simple, I bet this would get a bigger audience than other Japanese sci-fi fantasy films that are just plain weird. All things considered, Shinobi’s pretty mainstream. It caters to a crowd that’s looking for something that’s quick, easy and pretty to watch.🙂

    • Ender's Girl Says:

      Hahaha, I wasn’t really going the extra mile with the poem, that was just me seeking to amuse myself while having to replay the deadly dull Shinobi scenes in my head in the course of writing this review. x_O

      “Would have to disagree though about the fight sequences, there was very little fight choreography to begin with considering that everything else was done and enhanced by movie fx.” << Not even that scene with Mullet Joe and the ninjas?😉 I guess if you compared the Shinobi action scenes to movies like Hero or Crouching Tiger, where the fight choreo was intricate footwork & sword work calibrated to balletic perfection, and blended seamlessly with the CGI — then yeah, Shinobi would come across as child’s play. But at least it was people fighting people, unlike in Dororo where it was man vs. *coughpainfully CGI’d* giant mask/giant armadillo-dinosaur-sandworm/giant vampire grubs/etc.😀

      “the anime series was better and Gennusoke and Oboro’s powers were more of a paradox if one were to go by the original text.” << Well, too bad this paradox was lost on viewers unfamiliar with the source material. It wasn't significantly played up in the movie because the characters were so underdeveloped.

      “I bet this would get a bigger audience than other Japanese sci-fi fantasy films that are just plain weird.” << Lol, you mean along the lines of Long Love Letter or something? (No wait, that’s a drama) But I agree, Shinobi had “mainstream!!!” and “crowd-pleaser!!!” and “action fluff!!!” written all over it in red block letters. =P

      • zooey Says:

        Well, to me writing rhymes = extra mile LMAO x)

        But at least it was people fighting people, unlike in Dororo where it was man vs. *coughpainfully CGI’d* giant mask/giant armadillo-dinosaur-sandworm/giant vampire grubs/etc.

        Aww, that’s what I liked about Dororo. Old school Japanese action! Rubber suits and all. Pretty campy stuff, it reminded me of the old days when I’d tune in to Ultraman and Shaider (aghhh, I’m such a nerd).

        Lol, you mean along the lines of Long Love Letter or something? (No wait, that’s a drama) But I agree, Shinobi had “mainstream!!!” and “crowd-pleaser!!!” and “action fluff!!!” written all over it in red block letters. =P

        Nah, I was thinking more along the lines of Kiriya’s Casshern and Goemon, even the first installment of GANTZ for that matter. You can even add films like Kaiji and The Incite Mill—both of which have been picked up and distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures. Though Casshern and Goemon are arguably on a league of its own in terms of CGI, style and weirdness factor, I can’t help but think about how some films are crafted with a Western audience in mind. They’re usually the ones with elaborate costumes and stunning fx, and even though at times they fail to impress, they’re usually the type of films that are marketed under a certain brand or genre (e.g. Japanese action/scifi which pretty much translates to all bets are off, it’s going to be a hit or miss).

        The more I think about it, Shinobi is a bit like The Duelist and 2005’s The Promise–all flash with very little substance but it doesn’t mean that people won’t enjoy it.😀

        • jicks Says:

          ^^Sorry to meddle in but I am totally nodding my head with the style VS substance comparison factor btwn Shinobi & The Duelist. But I think for all their faults, both movies were still superior to The Promise.

          I seem to remember laughing out loud for most of the duration of The Promise… and obviously for all the wrong reasons. Kinda felt like Jang Dong Gun’s character was like a bad version of an Asian Forrest Gump -_-;;;;;;

        • Ender's Girl Says:

          “Pretty campy stuff, it reminded me of the old days when I’d tune in to Ultraman and Shaider (aghhh, I’m such a nerd).” << Hey I loved those shows too!!! Bioman most of all! I frikkin cried when Yellow 4 died 'coz I hated the replacement, hahaha… I guess campy is fine with me… I just was expecting something more… serious and better-crafted because it's… Buki!!!😀

          Thanks for the recs.🙂 I remember passing up a DVD of Goemon a while back after weighing my degree of like for Eguchi Yosuke and deciding that no, I wasn’t going to be a completist even if I loved Lunch Queen. But I digress. Ok, I’ll prolly go back and try Goemon out.

          P.S. I enjoyed The Duelist alright!!! Case in point right there for ya.😀

          • zooey Says:

            Ohoho, the above movies aren’t recommendations so much as likely candidates for future parody-caps.😛

            As for Bioman, I was both sad and shocked at losing the original Yellow 4, too. I guess as a kid, I didn’t expect one of the main characters to die in the middle of the series. After that, the episodes focused on getting a replacement but (like you) I didn’t really take to the new Yellow 4 for some reason. Argh, just realized how old I am now. Lmao x)

          • Ender's Girl Says:

            “Ohoho, the above movies aren’t recommendations so much as likely candidates for future parody-caps.” << Hehehehe, duly noted😀

            “Argh, just realized how old I am now. Lmao x)” << LOLZ! It's all in the mind, baby…😛

            I didn't like the new Yellow 4 because she was loud and KSP, and nothing like the demure flute-playing Pink 5, whom I idolized (mainly because I was nowhere like her, lol). I was shipping Pink 5 and Red 1 so bad, btw — 'coz they piloted one of the spaceships JUST THE TWO OF THEM while the other 3 were lumped unromantically together, haha. Btw did you hear the news (made the rounds of the local forums several years back) about the actor who played Shaider? Died of pancreatic cancer I think. So sad, he was my intergalactic crime-fighting hero😦

  8. aireinu Says:

    Beautiful as always. Thank you for the laugh! Couldn’t finish this movie myself.

    On the other note. Really liked “13 Assassins”, but I wouldn’t consider it the best Miike’s movie. Of course, it’s just my opinion.

    • Ender's Girl Says:

      Haha, thanks v. much! For a sec there I thought you said “couldn’t finish this review myself” lollzz😀

      If you don’t mind my asking, what would be your fave Miike movie, then?😉

      • aireinu Says:

        I haven’t seen all of them, of course. Out of 6 that I’ve seen “46-okunen no koi” (Big Bang Love) is by far my favorite. Followed by “Crows Zero”, the 1st one.
        I’d like to thank you for the Otori tales! I’m on the 2nd book now and really enjoy it.

        • Ender's Girl Says:

          Cool! I’m re-reading the 3rd book now. Glad to know you’re enjoying the trip so far! And do jump into the “if this were a j-movie imma cast ___ in the role of ____” game, it’s really fun and I’d love to know who you’d cast!😉

          • aireinu Says:

            Haha… You got me thinking hard. I like the idea of Nakamura Aoi, but I’d prefer Sato Takeru as Takeo. He made a very good samurai in Ryomaden. Tamaki Hiroshi as Shigeru, for his smile. Shibasaki Kou would make a good Lady Maruyama. Kaede, I’m having problems with. The way I see it, it should be an Ice Princess, a younger Koyuki. Maybe Kuroki Meisa, but she might look too old already.

          • Ender's Girl Says:

            Cool casting choices, esp. Sato Takeru — now that boy I can totally imagine brandishing a katana, yo!😀 Kuroki Meisa would have the inner steel to take on Kaede, I agree, although I always pictured Kaede to be more porcelain-skinned (whereas Meisa is dusky and sexy in an earthy way).

  9. jicks Says:

    So I’m feeling you may slightly dislike Shinobi?? lol

    I remember loving the movie the first time I watched it but after going back to it another time, I realised it was the visual prettiness that had me more than anything else. Definitely not something you could watch over and over again because the story is so thin.

    And I know Maggie+Tony’s scene in Hero kinda makes Nakama Yukie & Odagiri Joe’s shenanigans in Shinobi look like a little amateurish but I rate the Romeo & Julietness… okay, fine, fine fine, it was Joe & his mullet. YES. OMG. Pleassssse… Do not hold it against me- I did like Joe’s.Look.In.This.Movie ><" Dirty confession 101: I totally dig Odagiri Joe when he's all gentle-eyed & emotionless, lol -_-;;;

    Re Nakama Yukie, this was my first exposure to her so I think not having the Yankumi fight-o! factor in my brain allowed me to appreciate the actress moreso than if it had been the other way around. Totally agree re the pointlessness of her gouging out her eyes. But the fake blood from her eyes was even worse.

    Btw, I second doozy‘s “Thanks for the Otori rec” comment- off to search for it fo’ sho’😀😀

    • Ender's Girl Says:

      “okay, fine, fine fine, it was Joe & his mullet. YES. OMG. Pleassssse… Do not hold it against me- I did like Joe’s.Look.In.This.Movie ><" Dirty confession 101: I totally dig Odagiri Joe when he's all gentle-eyed & emotionless, lol -_-;;;" << LOLLLL!!! (And lmfao @ "gentle-eyed and emotionless" ahahaha you so nailed it :D) Ohnoes but I feel a bit crummy now for dissing the mullet. I feel slightly worse than I did when I ragged on Orthros no Inu and it turned out you liked Tackey and the show. No hard feelings, ayt?😉 (Speaking of mullet… I wonder how Miura would look in one, ahahahaha.)

      Re “Otori” — hey the author’s quite close to home. Apparently “Lian Hearn” is a pseudonym for Gillian Rubinstein (?), a children’s book author based Down Under.😉 Hope you like the books! Am dying to hear your take on the casting for our theoretical hypothetical movie adaptation. =P

      • jicks Says:

        ahaaha, Miura in a mullet! I would pay to.. groom it for him REAL well, lol.

        Btw, have you seen the trailer for his upcoming movie Tokyo Koen? I would pay to listen to that boy’s voice all day (& night haha)long xDD

        No worries on the dissing of The Mullet & The Takki, it’s all good😀 Besides, dissing is love, haha.

        Re Lian Hearn/Gillian Rubenstein, now that you mention it, I do remember another friend rec’ing one of her other books: “Across The Nightgale Floor.” But gah, I need more time for the bookies! I am in the middle of two different books atm, plus midway through a manga series, PLUS I’ve just started rewatching my favourite anime… and of course, dorama watching in btwn. My life is getting outta control… but strangely, I am enjoying every sec of it, lol ;))))

        • Ender's Girl Says:

          Hountoni the Tokyo Kouen trailer is out? (Obviously I’ve been hiding under a rock these past 2 months x_O) Imma check it out. Not too enamored of the premise, but seeing as I am enamored of the leading man, I might as well, right? hahaha

          Hey I never really asked — what’s your favorite anime, jicks?😀

  10. GenjiZawa Says:

    I love samurai movies and im a fan of odajoe he’s a fantastic actor, he and yamada takayuki used to have similar hairstyle. I just watched 13 assassins that was sooooooooo fantastic 30 – 45 mins of nonstop action with no repeated scenes and that movie has the most EPICCCC ending dialogue that i have seen.

    • Ender's Girl Says:

      Ano… Yamada Takayuki used to wear a mullet, too?🙂 Good thing he wasn’t wearing one in Byakukayou, or there’s no way I could’ve taken that drama seriously, lullzzz

      “30-45 of nonstop action” << Coolio! My kind of chanbara!😉

  11. jubilantia Says:

    Thanks for the review! I always enjoy them a lot. I’m also definitely trying that book series. Also, I know this isn’t fantasy or even Japanese, but if you like historical stuff, there is a semi-historical series about Genghis Khan, by Conn Iggulden, that I am enjoying and would like to recommend.

    I watched Shinobi awhile ago, and I have to agree with you. Beautifully made, and I do love the fight scenes, but not much else to it. Also, doomed love stories always annoy me, believable or not. I always feel like there is an easy way out they can take, but they don’t because the writer wants it to be a tragedy.

    I’ve been netflixing a lot of movies lately, and the ones that stick out the most for me in the fantasy genre are Death Trance and The Great Yokai War. They are not the same kind of fantasy as Shinobi, though. Death Trance is kind of experimental, but it’s really interesting and you get hooked wondering what is going on. It could be post-apocalyptic or alternate history, I’m still not sure, but there are spirits and zombie-ish samurai and interesting fight scenes.

    The Great Yokai War, according to the critics here in the US, is supposed to be a kids’ movie, since the hero is 10, but I’d call it a bit closer to Pan’s Labyrinth than the NeverEnding Story. Lots of interesting mythology, though. It was very entertaining.

    A very quirky, modern fantasy that I liked was Wool 100%. Two older sisters have lived for years in a house covered in discarded things they’ve lovingly collected and documented. One day, a girl shows up from a ball of red yarn they found, knitting and knitting and turning their lives upside down. Still not sure I understood it, but I’d recommend it to anyone.

    Um. Those are my contributions so far and I’ll let you know if I watch anything else awesome. I know these might not be the kind of epic fantasy movies you are looking for, but I thought I’d put them out there.

  12. jubilantia Says:

    Oh! I just remembered the other fantasy movie that I really liked. Onmyoji is about sorceror dudes in old-time Japan who are in charge of making sure people don’t fall victim to traditional demons. A lot of their power seems to come from kanji and spoken spells and research.

    The special effects aren’t too flashy and are kind of cheap, but the chemistry between the main actors is good, and Hideaki Ito is one of them, and I always enjoy watching him. Also: BROMANCE. Adorable bromance. The other actor is trained in traditional Noh, I believe, and he’s fun to watch as well. There is a heart to the movie that you don’t see here in Shinobi, I thought. And the sequel is just as good as the first one, for once. I recommend it.

    • Ender's Girl Says:

      Sankyou for the movie recs!😀 I think Imma try out Onmyoji for the bromance, and The Great Yokai War because I did enjoy the dark fantasy feel of Pan’s Labyrinth. (And I don’t mind that the hero’s a 10-y.o. kiddo. One of my fave novels of all time, “Ender’s Game,” is about a 6-y.o. boy, heh :-)) And Wool 100% because of the premise. The knitting and the ball of yarn and the sisters living in a house reminds me of the 3 Fates or 3 Norns archetype. Wonder if there’s any connection… =)

      The Genghis Khan series looks interesting. I’ll prolly enjoy it more than Iggulden’s Julius Caesar books. Another series I’m interested in is Temeraire — alternate history/fantasy, dragons and the Napoleonic Wars. Pretty cool, huh?🙂

      • jubilantia Says:

        Oh man, Temeraire. I’ve read the first one and it is PURE ESCAPIST UNICORN CUPCAKENESS. WITH SPRINKLES. So wonderful. I need to get back into that… but so much to read!

        And of course, how could I forget about your internet handle and what it refers to? Silly me. I also love that book. I’m reading another one, kind of a Sleeping Beauty reincarnation one set in modern times by Orson Scott Card, and I forgot how straightforward and sarcastic and fun his style is. It’s called Enchantment, if you are interested.

        Oh, and so you know what to expect- Great Yokai War is not bloody like Pan’s Labyrinth was, just had some disturbing scenes and a different feel. Just so you don’t go in expecting that.

        • Ender's Girl Says:

          Hahaha, your rec of Temeraire = I like!😀 Imma try the first few books then see how it goes from there. I usually start a series on faiah and all that, then my interest peters out if I don’t like how the char. devt is going (like it did with Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files… the lead char.’s girlfriend got killed off and I quit the series in protest, lol). Hopefully the Temeraire books will sustain my interest. Another series I want to get into is Game of Thrones and its sequels. Everyone says that George RR Martin is the Anti-Tolkien so I’m really interested (Tolkien being my Ultimate Literary Hero)🙂

          Okay, Great Yokai War vs Pan’s Labyrinth disclaimer noted, haha =P

          Re Enchantment: ZOMGEEEEEEEEEE are you kidding me it’s only like the best, most romantic fairy tale adaptation EVAR WRITTENNNNN. I try to read it at least once every year, mainly for the hero (I mean, hot AND honorable AND a runner???? working on a bloody PhD??? can I have his babies now? lol) and for the sexual tension which is simply w0000t (I love how Katerina is so mean to him hahaha). I tend to be very picky when it comes to novelized fairy tales (didn’t like both Robin McKinley Beauty & the Beast retellings, for example) but Enchantment tops my list fo’ shizzles!😀

          Btw, have you read OSC’s other fantasy novel, Hart’s Hope? Brilliant, but… bloody depressing. Not reading it again, ever😦

  13. ockoala Says:

    Great movie review – or shall I say parody-cap, except you didn’t parody anything intentionally, the movie itself was just so mockable. Kinda like Wu Zun and Charlene’s version of The Butterfly Lovers.

    Anyways, just wanted to let you know that I just bought all five books of the Otori series, based on your rec alone. Thank you, I’m dying for a new series to read.

    OT, but what do you think about the casting for the The Hunger Games movie? Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, and Liam Hemsworth. I have my reservations, but I’m still dying to watch the movie.

    • Ender's Girl Says:

      “parody-cap” << Hahaha I lurvve thisss!!😀

      Yatta!!! Hope you find the books well to your liking. I know how much you loved THG too. (I actually joined a Gale-Katniss fanfic comm in LJ but never posted a fic. Hahaha) But srsly, YA sci-fi/fantasy is something I’ll never outgrow…

      Re THG movie — yeah, I was on pins and needles for what seemed was an interminable wait before they announced the Gale and Peeta casting. (Hey what reservations did you have, btw? :-)) Jennifer Lawrence was a shoo-in (recent Oscar buzz, plus a part in one of 2011’s most anticipated films, and all those scenes of her skinning wild rabbits and doing tough survival stuff in Winter’s Bone were one extended audition reel anyway, lol), although it would’ve been a bigger (and thus more exciting) challenge had the producers cast against type. Still, I like Jennifer so I’m not complaining.🙂 (It’s whiny vacillating Katniss I don’t like as much, lol)

      J-Hutch was one of the front-runners for the Peeta role, so no big surprise there either. I mean he does have that puppy-dog, just-look-at-him-how-can-you-ever-break-his-heart-you-evil-b*tch quality that makes him perfect for Peeta the Fabulous Baker Boy. I just don’t know if he and J-Lawr will have any onscreen chemistry. Aren’t they mismatched a bit? Will their 903390412 smooches in the arena look like she’s kissing her lil bro, or will they look like she’s kissing… Little Manhattan? Bwahahahahaha😀 But okay, since he was terrific in The Kids Are All Right (they all were), I’m not complaining either. (Take that Alex Pettyfer!!! Lol. Although I must admit a little part of me wanted Pettyfer as Gale. Must’ve been the cheekbones! And the arrogance! lol)

      Liam Hemsworth — er, I’m afraid I didn’t catch The Last Song so I have no opinion, lol. But I expected someone darker and more intense. (Pettyfer and his cheekbones!!! Pettyfer and his cheekbones!!! hahaha) So anyway, the 3 stars of THG are an Oscar-nominated actress, an actor who was part of an Oscar-nominated ensemble movie, and… Miley’s EX-BOYFRIEND OH WOW!!!!!!! xDDD

      But yes I am dying to watch this movie too. OMG I hope they get someone GREAT to play Haymitch and Cinna!!!! *crosses fingers and toes*

      • momosan Says:

        Ah, thanks for the review. It’s a genre I also love and your review made it clear that this is one that I’d only use as a drinking game. LOL! That reminds me I was going to review Shadowless Sword. Yeah, I’m gonna need some strong tea and full strength Dr. Pepper for that one.

        • Ender's Girl Says:

          “It’s a genre I also love and your review made it clear that this is one that I’d only use as a drinking game.” << ROFLLLL!!!😀

          “That reminds me I was going to review Shadowless Sword.” << Oh please, please do!!!😀 Then we'll sit back and compare notes as to which movie will put you to sleep faster, Shinobi or Shadowless.😛 All I remember from that movie is (1) it did put me to sleep, and (2) Shin Hyun-jun’s indestructible manliner, rarghghg! Hahaha😀 (To be honest I watched that movie partly ‘coz of my Hwangbo Yoon Naeuri withdrawal pangs. But the movie wasn’t good therapy, sorry to say @__@)

      • Shadow Says:

        Reading your some of your post I notice that your a fan of yamada takayuki. Do you consider him one of the best japanese actors?? and im curious to know your top 10 japanese actor???

        • Ender's Girl Says:

          I do think Yamada Takayuki is one of the finest J-actors of his generation.🙂 As for my top 10 J-actors, did you mean my top 10 in terms of talent, or my 10 favorite J-actors regardless of talent?🙂 Anyway I still consider myself a newbie to Jdramas or Jmovies and have yet to make my own definitive list, but off the top of my head and in no particular order, I’ve enjoyed the work of the ff actors: Yamada Takayuki in everything; Tsumabuki Satoshi; Motoki Masahiro’s perf. in Departures; Abe Hiroshi; Kusanagi Tsuyoshi; the main cast of Stand UP! (okay I cheated hehe); Eita; Kishitani Goro; KimuTaku (of course); Miura Haruma (hehe)… aaaand my guilty pleasures, YamaPi (NwP) and Kame (NwP & THnK).🙂 Oh was that more than 10? Heh heh

          • Shadow Says:

            My top 3 japanese young actor in terms of talent.
            1. Nagase Tomoya
            2. Yamada Takayuki
            3. Tsumabuki Satoshi

            these 3 actors i believe can follow the footsteps of watanabe ken in my opinion, if only these 3 actor has a movie together like ganster type movie that was amazing. I also notice you love movies like departures and byakuyakou then i recommend you to watch Nobody Knows its a movie based on a true story about children left by their mother to live on their own.


  14. before watching the movie i’ve read the manga first. So i was excited to see how it came up with the live action work!.. but there it goes the same again, like what happened with all the live action movie i watched.. they would never stand equal with the original manga/anime version.

    yet, i agree about the sceneries. it’s one of the reason why i still like watching the movie. About the love scene/chemistry, i didn’t expect to see them from the beginning. There’s not much romance in the manga version as well..😛

    what made me feel even more disappointed was not the lack of character development or digging into the plot, but the fact that they’re easier to die than the actual manga/anime version XD…. In the actual manga the fight was between 10 vs 10 and it takes longer and more time for a character to die. And it’s much less vulgar than the original😛

    It’s that kick ass ninja technique that wasn’t presented at full shape that i’m complaining about but there you have it.

    ps: u can tell im not a girl right😄

    • Ender's Girl Says:

      Wow, it must have sucked for manga fans like yourself who had to sit through such a disappointing live-action.:-/ I had zero anticipation for this movie and had no inkling as to the background and characters, and yet I hated it. How much more for the fans of the original manga? Tsk tsk @__@

      “In the actual manga the fight was between 10 vs 10 and it takes longer and more time for a character to die” << Maybe had the producers retained this free-for-all battle in the movie instead of going piecemeal with the one-on-one duels, the action would've picked up, ne?

      “ps: u can tell im not a girl right XD” << I kind of guessed you weren't. But lots of girls do enjoy bloody and badass action scenes, though.😀

  15. ambergold Says:

    ooh. Totally gonna read those recs – they sound fantastic🙂 Thanks!

  16. Peggy Says:

    Hmmmm…Don’t think I will bother finding this movie. Not in love with that particular actress. Do like Joe. but he always looks a little tatty.
    Think I will stay with Kimura san who is a STARACTOR by the way.

    A genuine STARACTOR..STARENTERTAINER..and anything else that takes talent and aura and chemistry and well you know what I mean Girl…🙂

    • Ender's Girl Says:

      “Do like Joe. but he always looks a little tatty.” << ROFL!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Peggy you killed me right there hahahahaha

      And yes, I know exactly what you mean, girl!😀

  17. Ashley Says:

    I just watched this today, then I read this review…and I tend to agree with a lot of what you said here.

    Your review was very, very entertaining. Poem, character descriptions, mullet-mentions. haha


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