Today I’m chatting to SJ Pajonas about her New Adult science fiction series, Nogiku. This is part of the blog tour organized by Lola’s Blog Tours . The blog tour runs from January 20 till February 2, you can view the complete tour schedule on the Nogiku series blog tour page on the website of Lola’s Blog Tours.
SJ Pajonas is sharing her Top Ten Japanese movies with us today…
Let’s talk Japanese movies today! I have a top ten list to share and I’ll link each title to its page on IMDB so you can queue up some good flicks. Just a warning, though: I’m a total wimp and I’ve left off any horror or thriller movies from this list. But Japan is VERY good at these (which is why they scare me so much) so if you love horror, please check out this list on Tofugu.com.
1. Princess Mononoke – Yes, my top favorite Japanese movie is anime. Princess Mononoke blew me away with the storyline and the animation. Japan’s religious roots are in Shinto, a belief system that honors gods in nature and these gods and spirits leave peacefully with man in the same plane of existence. Princess Mononoke called attention to the world around the characters and the spirits were drawn right with the hero and heroine. I loved the intermix of both in one story.
2. The Hidden Fortress – I love this one, and George Lucas has mentioned it was one of the movies that inspired Star Wars. It’s got a quest, humor, and secret identities all in an age old Japan. What more could you ask for?
3. Tampopo – A Japanese take on the “spaghetti western” this movie is about a woman learning how to make the best ramen in Japan with help from a truck driver passing through her town. But what really gets people who watch this movie are the little modern vignettes interspersed through the movie exploring the relationship between love, life, sex, and food. Never in my life have I ever wanted to be a ramen chef in Japan more than I did after watching this movie. (On a side note, this film is directed by Juzo Itami and I chose his last name for the family surname of Sanaa’s family in REMOVED.)
4. High and Low – Some may choose Akira Kurasawa’s samurai movies as their favorites but I love High and Low for the glimpse into modern post-WWII Japan. This was a turbulent time for Japan. After the war, they were opened up fully to modern influences around the world and their whole society changed with a vast US presence in the country. The kidnapping and ransom storyline in High and Low are riveting and tense, and the whole film has a French film noir look and feel. A definite winner especially with Toshiro Mifune at the lead of this cast. It’s interesting to see him play a modern man instead of a samurai.
5. Spirited Away – another anime! But this time the spritely and curious Chihiro wanders into a land of spirits and must work off her humanly burden at a local bath house. The cast of characters in this will blow you away and there’s a sweet love story too. You can’t go wrong with Miyazaki.
6. Shall We Dance? – I’m such a girl but I really loved this movie. A Japanese salaryman sees a dance studio on his way to and from work everyday and one day decides to pop in and take lessons. What he learns about connecting with other people as he learns to dance changes his life. This is a such a beautiful study of modern day Japan, the loneliness of everyday life in a city that grinds people to the pavement. (FYI, it was remade in the US with Richard Gere. Please watch the Japanese version otherwise you may be sorely disappointed.)
7. The Seven Samurai – I hate to put this amazing movie near the bottom of ANY list but it bears mentioning that Japan has put out a whole load of samurai movies and this one is one of the best. A poor village hires seven lordless samurai to help defend them against, well, bad guys. The interactions between the villagers and the samurai are priceless and there is a serious battle near the end that will have you on the edge of your seat. Nominated for two Academy Awards! And this has my favorite Japanese actor of all time, Toshio Mifune, who I mentioned above in High and Low in his usual samurai role. One of the best!
8. Kiki’s Delivery Service – I love this movie so much and got both of my daughters into it as well. A young witch leaves home to find a town to serve with her witchly gifts. But her greatest skill is flying so she opens a delivery business in the back of a bakery. Even though she thinks she isn’t really helping anyone, she cheers up the townsfolk just by being her. It’s a bit like Pollyanna but immensely cuter with a cat named, Jiji. Sure to charm your pants off.
9. Jiro Dreams of Sushi – This is a new addition to my list as of this past year. This documentary chronicles the life of Jiro Ono, a master sushi chef in Tokyo, his restaurant, and his family. You get to see him make sushi, hear his intimate thoughts on how the best sushi is made, and follow him through the days as he and his son pick out fish from Tsukiji Fish Market in Tokyo to an intimate dinner at the restaurant. His drive for perfection will humble you.
10. The Tale of Zatoichi (The Blind Swordsman) – There is probably no other protagonist more charming than Zatoichi. He’s blind. He’s a traveling masseur. He happens to be a kick-ass swordsman that can slay anyone trying to sneak up on him. My husband and I became so enamoured with him that we bought every Zatoichi movie ever made (there are several) and we are due for a Zatoichi marathon soon…
Hmmm, now I know what I’ll be doing this coming weekend! Hope you all enjoy the films and remember that this is only the tip of what Japan has to offer. If you’re looking for hot-ticket, new, modern films, check out this offering from The Japan Society’s Japan Cuts 2013. Hopefully most of them will be on DVD in the U.S. and other countries soon!
You can find Released on Goodreads
About the Author:
S. J. Pajonas loves all things Asian and has been in love with Japan for as long as she can remember. Writing about Asia and Japan came naturally after studying the culture and language for over fifteen years. She studied film and screenwriting first and eventually segued into fiction once she was no longer working a full-time job.
Released is S. J. Pajonas’s second work, book two of four in the Nogiku Series. The first book in the series, Removed, is described as “a wonderful story” with “engaging characters, seamless world building, and an action packed plot.” It’s an “up-til-3am-because-I-read-it-in-one-sitting book.” She also writes contemporary romance and her upcoming first book in the Love in the Digital Age series will be published in 2014.
S. J. lives with her husband and two children just outside of New York City. She loves reading, writing, film, J- and K-dramas, knitting, and astrology. Her favorite author is Haruki Murakami and favorite book is The Wind-up Bird Chronicle.
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