Posts Tagged ‘Joe Hisaishi’

Best Scores of 2014 – Asia

December 18, 2014 3 comments

The first installment in my series of articles looking at the best “under the radar” scores from around the world concentrates on music from films from Asia: specifically, the far eastern nations of China, Japan, South Korea and Vietnam. Already in 2014 I have reviewed Christopher Young’s magnificent score for the Chinese epic fantasy adventure The Monkey King, and Jo-Yeong Wook’s score for the revisionist samurai action film Kundo: Age of the Rampant. In this article, I’m taking a deeper look at some other excellent works, ranging from anime movies and TV series from Japan, baseball dramas from Taiwan, and two of the highest-grossing films from Vietnam.

You can read my review of The Monkey King here, my review of Kundo: Age of the Rampant here.

Read more…


September 19, 2014 Leave a comment

zakurozakanoadauchiOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

Based on a classic short story in the collection Goroji Dono Oshimatsu by Jiro Asada, Snow on the Blades (Zakurozaka No Adauchi) is a Japanese samurai revenge action-drama directed by Setsuro Wakamatsu. The film stars Kiichi Nakai as Kingo Shimura, a fierce and noble samurai in the service of Lord Naosuke (Kichiemon Nakamura). After Naosuke is killed by a gang of mercenary ronins – samurai without a master to serve – Shimura is forbidden from committing ritual seppuku, and is instead sent on a secret mission to exact revenge. Over the curse of the next 13 years Shimura travels the length and breadth of Japan, searching for those who murdered his master, until only one remains: an equally fearsome samurai named Jyubei Sahashi (Hiroshi Abe). Read more…


October 25, 2013 1 comment

thewindrisesOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

If the rumors are true, it seems as though The Wind Rises will be the last feature film directed by the acclaimed Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki. His is a career that stretches back 50 years, during which he has been largely responsible for the popularization of the anime genre in the West, through films such as Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, My Neighbor Totoro, Princess Mononoke, Spirited Away and Howl’s Moving Castle, all of which were produced by his production company, Studio Ghibli. His emotional, sensitive films tackle weighty issues to do with the environment, pacifism, dreams, and destiny, often presented through a series of fantastical and magical stories, nearly all of which feature a strong female protagonist. Read more…


May 29, 2009 1 comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

The winner of the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar at the 2008 Academy Awards, Departures is a gentle, moving Japanese film directed by Yôjirô Takita, starring Masahiro Motoki as Daigo, a professional cellist who, following the break-up of his orchestra, moves back to his hometown and takes a job as a “Nokanshi”, an undertaker’s assistant who prepares deceased bodies for burial and entry into the next life.

The score for Departures is by the wonderful Joe Hisaishi, whose reputation in the west continues to grow, mainly as a result of his regular collaborations with legendary Anime director Hayao Miyazaki. Departures, however, is a very different score from the likes of Ponyo or Princess Mononoke. Read more…


November 21, 2008 Leave a comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

For all his success in the west with his scores for Hayao Miyazaki’s films – Princess Mononoke, Spirited Away, Howl’s Moving Castle, and the like – Joe Hisaishi’s scores for non-animated films remain strangely underappreciated by Western audiences. His latest undiscovered masterpiece is the curiously-named I Want to be a Shellfish – or ‘Watashi Wa Kai Ni Naritai’ to give it its proper Japanese title. Contrary to its absurd-sounding name, the film is a quite serious and profound drama set in post-WWII Japan, based on a famous novel by Tetsuharo Kato and directed Katsuo Fukuzawa. It tells the story of a man named Toyomatsu Shimizu (Masahiro Nakai), a quiet family man who works as a barber, who is unexpectedly arrested by the occupying American forces and tried for war crimes by a military tribunal. Read more…


August 15, 2008 1 comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

The creative partnership between filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki and composer Joe Hisaishi, despite existing strictly outside the Hollywood world, it nevertheless one of the most fruitful and fulfilling in all of film music. Since first scoring Miyazaki’s 1984 film Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, Hisaishi has scored all of their collaborations since then, including the likes of Laputa, Princess Mononoke, the Oscar-winning Spirited Away, and Howl’s Moving Castle.

Ponyo on the Cliff – or ‘Gake No Ue No Ponyo’ to give it its proper Japanese title – is their ninth film together. It tells the story of a young boy named Sosuke who, while out walking near his cliff top Read more…


October 29, 1999 Leave a comment

princessmononokeOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

Japanese Anime – or Manga, as it is often mistakenly referred to in this country – has been the subject of something of a boom in recent years. Until the release of respected films such as Roujin Z, Space Adventure Cobra, Legend of the Overfiend, Wings of Honneamise and Akira, Japanese animation was widely regarded as merely being the stuff of Saturday morning kids shows: badly dubbed adventure cartoons starring wide-eyed characters surrounded by garishly colorful backgrounds. Since the genre’s migration west, big-screen Anime has slowly built up a devoted cult following, and has become a highly respected art form in its own right. Princess Mononoke, which is hitting these shores two years after it broke all the domestic box-office records, is touted as being the genre’s pinnacle. Read more…