Now this is going a long one; mostly because I’m not reviewing one film, but rather six short films that are packaged together. That’s the standard for the Cinema Fighter’s project, which works to unite music and film, as well as develop the talents within LDH Entertainment from all aspects. As the fourth installment featuring the actors within Generations from EXILE TRIBE, and Kazaharu Ryuto singing. Without further delay, let’s jump into the first film-
Blue Bird, is the story of Kenji (Sano Reo) and Jun (Daigo Kotaro) who are two punk projects struggling to get by, but are inseparable. Until a sudden diagnosis that neither could anticipate. (Song – “Blue Bird” by Kazuki (Doberman Infinity).
This one was really touching. You could feel the comradery between the two brothers right away. between their striking appearances, and how quietly in comparison their relationship was built up between their work and free time activities. I’ve never seen Daigo Kotaro in anything before but he really impressed me here. I think anyone whose lost a sibling they were really close to will relate to this piece.
About the only thing I’ll say I didn’t like is what I’ll refer to as the gangsters and old woman scene. It started out just fine, and I thought it would be funny. It wasn’t. It was so intentionally jarring that any impact it was suppose to did not resonate with me. The whole scene was just there for shock value, rather then contributing to the story as a whole.
In Two People Who Can’t Say, Ayumu (Shirahama Alan) accompanies his friend Shoko (Kadowaki Mugi) shopping for a gift for her boyfriend. Ayumu has always had feelings for her, but has never been able to say it. (Song – “そんなことキミに言えない” by Deep Squad.)
I think this story was the best presented, because of how naturalistic it is, but also the worst in a way. For a short story, this film was a slow burn that felt like it was going to go no where. When we finally hit that half-way point, and we finally hear Ayumu talk with a perfect stranger about his circumstances I was really won over. It was then I realized how much chemistry the duo had, and while the ending was as conclusive as I would have liked, it did feel natural given the circumstances.
This was a story where you could totally tell it was filmed during COVID. There was such an obvious discrepancy between who the paid extras were and who were just people in the background. It was funny in a way, and has it’s own charm to it. I do worry that later on it might date the story in a negative way.
Ocean Without Water is set in the near future with Yukio (Komori Hayato), works as a food delivery person. Yukio only talks to his A.I., and completes his deliveries until he meets Jennie (Luna) and her lover arguing. Jennie only speaks Chinese, and Yukio does not, but thanks to Yukio’s AI, the duo slowly become more involved with one another. (Song – “愛だけどは…” by iScream).
I have to admit, that this story was my favorite. I like the premise, I like the pacing, and I really think Komori Hayato and Luna had some amazing on screen chemistry. It felt so real, and that we the audience were just a fly on the wall or a drone following Yukio’s route. I’m not sure how I’d feel having an A.I. uber-eats equivalent hooking me up but… all’s well that ends well?
I found it really interesting when and were on screen translations were used. There were parts of Jennie’s dialogue that weren’t translated at all, so we the audience had to puzzle out the potential meaning alongside Yukio. Other times we’d get a single word or phrase, thanks to Yukio’s A.I., which sometimes also caused issues too. I thought it was a really slick touch that ended up playing a bigger part then you can anticipate from such a short film.
Kaidan Mangetsu Hamagurizaka is the story of Ryosuke (Nakatsuka Yuta) a young chef, and his one night stand who isn’t quite who she seems to be. Ryosuke falls ill and is unable to work at his job, and comes to find that his one-night stand is a ghost… (Song – “散る散る満ちる” by Rei.)
I can best summerize this one as odd. I feel like Yuta’s character in Generations as being the ‘alien’ was at play a bit here, but it works out. It feels purposeful, and well intentioned with some great results. The premise is probably the ‘darkest’ one of this list, but not unwatchable nor is it particularly a horror story. The production had a lot of intentional lighting changes that did well to ‘separate’ the two overlapping circumstances. The framing was exceptional in this one as well. About the only weak point was cast chemistry, but that was also intentional.
Despite knowing the story, I wasn’t ready for an on screen sex scene between Yuta and the ghost. It was short, tasteful, and served a purpose before you get too spooked. Admittedly, I got a little red behind the reds when it came on.
In Coyote, Haruto (Katayose Ryota) returns suddenly to Japan to buy tickets to the Olympics for his lover, Hana (Stephanie Park). However, his timing couldn’t be worse as Haruto is suck in Japan, and Hana in Chicago. As the rates of infection rise, so do the tensions in Haruto’s friend group and his relationship with Hana. (Song – “サクライロ” by Katayose Ryota (Generations from Exile Tribe)).
I have to say; I almost bawled like a baby in theaters. The opening shots are filmed by the red/blue line in Chicago and I instantly recongized it despite not having been there in years. I had an instant feeling of longing for the city in a way I haven’t felt in a very long time, and that probably contributed heavily as to why Coyote sticks out so much to me.
Moving forward from that, I feel like this story is probably the most relatable of the bunch given the past couple of years. A lot of people were in the limbo of ‘I’ll only be gone for a few days’, and then were stranded elsewhere. So it’s hard to watch as Haruto and Haru’s relationship goes from being super close, to unintentional long distance.
I thought Katayose Ryota really shone here as well. His English is the sort of learner’s English that sounds really genuine, and had some considerable roadblocks in communication – which is a big point of this story. I really liked Haru’s actress as well bringing the more Western perspective, but still being of East Asian descendent (she’s a second generation Korean born in America).
Also… I think the Chicago crew might have had a bit of fun with this one. I know coyote was chosen as the title, due to them being one of the few larger predators (especially to house pets) in Illinois. But… every time I hear ‘Chicago’ and ‘Coyote’ in the same sentence, I can’t help but think of the Quizno’s Coyote form 2007 so… that might be a bit of an inside joke in there for the locals.
In Midnight Ones, Aoki (Sekiguchi Mandy) is waiting at a bus stop, where Satomi (Abe Junko) leaves her gift bag at the stop. Aoki followers her attempting to return it, only for the duo to realize that they are both struggling with coming to terms with their first love. So they wander Tokyo together all night. (Song – “笑うしかないトラジディー” by Kazuhara Ryuto (Generations from Exile Tribe)).
Now this one, was pretty emotional if you picked up all the cues to set the stage. The duo had two very different circumstances regarding their first love, but this chance encounter was really good for both of them. Truly, it’s the stuff of movies that is just believable enough where you think it can happen to you too. They had just the right amount of chemistry for the circumstances to really sell it too.
I really liked the cinematography of this, especially in the bar scenes. I’m actually pretty surprised that they managed to pull off some of these scenes due to COVID, but hey I’m not complaining. It was really emotional, and I felt that the beginning and ending bookended not only their story, but the whole collection really well. Also, in the bar scene there was a cameo appearance of the “Bessekai” music video by E-Girls. Just sayin’.
Overall – I’m incredibly biased and I liked every single short film, some more then others. I do make the recommendation to see this if you can. It’s a small sampling of what each actor, producer, and musician can do. It’s a little long all at once at, but it can easily broken into smaller viewing times.
I’m of mixed feelings about your review. On one hand, I’m glad you wrote it and on another hand I’m upset because I CAN’T WATCH IT!!!!! 😭 When it was announced last year I was so excited but of course I’m on the other side if the world and I don’t even know if they’ll ever release the DVD (they released for the other three but I can’t find them online or on any cd shop).
I was really interested in Hayato, Yuta and Ryota’s stories. Hayato because he looked so serious in the trailer and it’s in contrast to his cheerful self.
Yuta because I actually got a glimpse of the sex scene lol. I was like 😱😱😱😱
Ryota, because it looked so damn sad and the situation surrounding it is relatable.
I figured Alan’s story would be the most normal lol. I do wish Ryuto had acted though. But I don’t think he’s interested in doing that despite his many jokes about it. Can you spoil me a little? We’re all the endings sad?
Thanks for the review 🙂
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I know that this one isn’t on DVD yet since they’re still trying to have it shown at some film festivals and things. The DVD’s are pretty limited produced but they are on secondhand sites but the mark-up is wild lol.
All of their stories were really interesting in comparison to their GENE selves so that was so much to see them expand their horizons as actors. It was really cool to see and I hope that they make them more widely available in the future!!
As for Ryuto I feel like he’d have fun being a background character more then acting for real. I also think he’s a bit more aware then other’s about where his talents are.
The endings… I’d say the only ones that made me super sad were Reo and Ryota’s. Everyone else’s were open ended I’d say.
You’re most welcome! Here’s hoping they get online soon!!
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I figured the mark up for the DVDs would be crazy lol. Thanks for replying. P.s I knew it! I just knew that Reo and Ryota’s endings would be the sad ones
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No problem! Hope you had a lovely holiday!
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I did! Thanks a lot 😊
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