Welcome to Kinema Club

Welcome to the website of Kinema Club, a long-standing, international but informal group devoted to the study of Japanese moving image media. Kinema Club was started precisely to share knowledge about Japanese cinema, so this site serves both to introduce our activities, such as the KineJapan mailing list and our conferences and workshops, as well promote information and thinking about films, research, bibliography, and education.

Postman Blues*

‘Postman’ Rings with High Action

“Does your heart ever thump with excitement like it did when you were a kid?” The yakuza Noguchi (Horibe Keisuke) poses this question to his childhood friend Sawaki (Tsutsumi Shin’ichi) at the beginning of Postman Blues, but it could equally be directed at the audience... Read more

2 Duo*

The Bitter Reality of Japanese Youth

Why can’t we call a fiction film a documentary? Both genres use the same film stock, chemically recording real people engaging in real actions before the camera. What difference does it make that it’s “only acting” in fiction? Don’t we all act to some degree in our everyday lives?

These questions seemed to confront... Read more

The Princess Mononoke*

A Spirited Battle for Nature

It is testimony to the importance of animation in the Japanese film world that the most successful filmmaker in any genre in the last thirteen years - both financially and critically - has without a doubt been Miyazaki Hayao. His epic tales of chivalry and the powers of nature, speaking to... Read more

Tokyo yakyoku

Orchestral Score of Tokyo Life

The city symphony was one of the hallmarks of classical film, as directors such as Walter Ruttmann, Dziga Vertov and Rene Clair tried to weild all the tools the new... Read more


Betting On a Long Shot

Kawase Naomi’s rise to stardom has been nothing less than astronomical. Just a year ago, she was known only to experimental film aficionados as a talented 8mm filmmaker who won of a couple of prizes at the Image Forum Festival and the Yamagata International Documentary Film Festival (where I helped... Read more

The Eel

“The Eel” - A Slippery Slide into Sentimentality

When Japan was experiencing its period of high economic growth in the 1960s and 1970s - developing into a modern, consumer society of comfort and technology - Imamura Shohei was there to remind Japanese that they were still human, a state for him not far removed from the... Read more

Koi wa maiorita

‘Tis the Season to Be Dopey

There’s always something pitifully absurd about a Japanese Christmas movie. It’s not just the fact that Christmas bells ring a little hollow in a non-Christian culture–it’s because the holiday’s cinematic celebration always comes up looking as shallow and as superficial as the consumeristic concoction Christmas in Japan is.... Read more

The Fire Within

Gangster Scorched by Underworld Changes

At first glance, Mochizuki Rokuro’s films may look like the run-of-the-mill hard-boiled fare, featuring lone wolves on the edge reveling in the de rigeur sex and violence. Yet certain peculiarities always lift them... Read more

Wild Life*

The Unexpected Is the Joy of ‘Life’

It almost feels like Aoyama Shinji has been toying with us all along. With three feature films already under this maverick new director’s belt in the year since his debut, he keeps us guessing about what he will do next.

He started off with... Read more

Summer Tale*

Smiling at Our Own Imperfections

Did your mother ever give you the old line: “If you can’t make your bed, you’ll never make anything of yourself”? It seemed like a lot of pressure over just arranging a few sheets.

Takashi (Hidaka Yoshitomo), the fourth-grade hero of Summer Tale, has a similar problem. In gym class, he can’t do a back pullover over the... Read more


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