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.

Innocent Hearts

Hard-Boiled ‘Hearts’

One sees the term “hard-boiled” frequently in the press sheets for Japanese movies these days, as if the “hard-boiler” has become a genre in itself after the decline of the Toei yakuza line and its imitators.

While it was foreshadowed by Fukasaku ... Read more

Niji o tsukamu otoko

Send in the clones

When Atsumi Kiyoshi–the comedian who became synonymous with the character Torajiro Kuruma (aka Tora-san), died last year–Yamada Yoji vowed never to direct another “Otoko wa tsurai yo” film... Read more

Pia Film Festival Shows Off Japan's Independent Streak (Pia Film Festival 1996)

Judging just from the output of the major film companies, Japanese cinema is better off dead. Godzilla and Tora-san may have expired, but their studios are still breeding faded clones from their remaining genetic formulas.

If one looks at the independent scene, however, one encounters another world: a seething, vibrant creativity that threatens to melt the foundations of the movie... Read more

Chinpira/Two Punks*

Punks Having Identity Crisis

Played by the likes of Tsuruta Koji, Takakura Ken or Sugawara Bunta, yakuza in movies are usually made-of-steel, superhuman macho heroes who coldly stare death in the face and fight for honor and gang tradition. If these heroes express emotion, it is within the confines of the melodrama of duty... Read more

One More Time, One More Chance

Woman in White Medicine for Troubled Soul

She appears out of nowhere, a white dress standing out in a dim, moonlit field. “Today’s high school girls are pretty strange,” remarks Rihito (Tsurumi Shingo), a character in Shinohara Tetsuo’s first feature film, One More Time, One More Chance. “But she isn... Read more

Black Jack

‘Black Jack’ Lacks Color

The year 1973 was difficult for Tezuka Osamu, the father of modern Japanese manga. Mushi Productions, the company he founded to pursue animation, his second love, and bring to life such hits as Astro Boy and Kimba the White Lion, went bankrupt that year.

The comic... Read more

Ready For Some Action (Nikkatsu and Aisuru)

The words “Nikkatsu is back” may not only result in a nostaligia trip for many an old film buff. Now that the company has reorganized after nearly going bankrupt in 1993, an event which symbolized the decline of the Japanese film industry, maybe there is also new hope on the horizon for this nation’s film production.

When Nikkatsu filed for corporate reorganization in July 1993... Read more

DANGAN Runner*

Running for Their Lives

World cinema has rarely seen such a trio of losers as on display in DANGAN Runner. The wimpy Yasuda (Tetsuo’s Tomoro Taguchi) tries to prove his manhood by holding up a bank after his girlfriend jilts him, only to... Read more

Atlanta Boogie

‘Boogie’ Beyond Control

Popularized at the turn of the 19th century as a means of training young bodies for the service of the state, the undokai or athletic meet has become a symbol of Japanese schools, companies and local communities–a delightful way to compete and work up a sweat while simultaneously strengthening the body politic.

The affluent residents of... Read more


Television Out of Focus

Recent cases of TV trickery are disturbingly numerous. TBS showed an interview with lawyer Sakamoto Tsutsumi to the deadly Aum Supreme Truth, purportedly to get good footage of the Aum Kamikuishiki compound. Even the elite NHK faked footage in a documentary on the Himalayas to heighten its impact.

One wonders if televisual culture does not habitually... Read more


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