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Ten Women, One From Each Decade (1920-2009), Who I’d Totally Go Out With


Looking for chick pictures using google image search at work: not a good idea!

I like girls. This is pretty obvious. And despite the fact that Japanese and Chinese cultures are seen by many as being very patriarchal and… uh, un-feminist, there have actually been a lot of amazing women on screen in their films. So here are 10 of my favorites, one from each decade from the 20s to the 2000s.

Well, actually that’s just 9 decades, but I chose two for the 2000s, just to make it a good number ok? Stop complaining.

PS. Some of the pics not from the movie. Google image search did not make my life easy.

Ying Ying from Xixiang ji / Romance of the Western Chamber (1927)
Why I Like Her: She’s a legendary beauty?
What’s So Special About Her: Actually, this was a coin toss; I’ve only ever seen 20 movies from the 20’s.
Why It Might Not Work Out: Between a brush-wielding scholar and a bandit, there might be too much competition.
Why She’d Like Me: I am neither a nerd nor a stinky unbathed ruffian.
Potential for Long Term Relationship: 1/10 – Not a good start. My self-imposed one-per-decade limit was probably not a good idea?

Xixiang ji / Romance of the Western Chamber (1927)

I'm not a big fan of the 20's apparently

Ruan Lingyu as The Goddess in Shen nü / The Goddess (1934)
Why I Like Her: She loves kids and will do anything to make sure they get a good future.
What’s So Special About Her: She’s a strong independent woman when women were still sold in the Men’s Accessories Department.
Why It Might Not Work Out: She probably already hates guys, and I doubt I’d be able to convince her otherwise.
Why She’d Like Me: I’d treat her like a goddess. Yeah that’s the best I could come up with.
Potential for Long Term Relationship: 3/10 – She hates guys, and the cultural differences of 70 years is probably too much.

Ruan Lingyu in Shen nü / The Goddess (1934)

Reused photo because I'm lazy

Takamine Hideko as Hideko in Hideko no shasho-san / Hideko the Bus Conductress (1941)
Why I Like Her: She’s got an innocent charm and a lovely smile.
What’s So Special About Her: She’s got the makings of a great business-woman, so I might be able to fulfill my life-long dream of becoming a “houseband”.
Why It Might Not Work Out: I find some of Hideko’s later roles very annoying, so if she turns out that way I’d probably dump her eventually.
Why She’d Like Me: I love to travel and I wouldn’t mind spending long hours on a bus with her talking about everything.
Potential for Long Term Relationship: 6/10 – I don’t want to live in a small town, but humble, sincere and beautiful country girls like her are hard to find nowadays.

Takamine Hideko in Hideko no shasho-san / Hideko the Bus Conductress (1941)

Not from the movie, because I just found out Hideko was 17 during Hideko the Bus Conductress. Oops?

Awashima Chikage as Masako in Soshun / Early Spring (1956)
Why I Like Her: She’s a loyal wife who’ll stick by you through thick and thin, but she wants to be appreciated too.
What’s So Special About Her: I can rest assured that even through a rough patch (career-wise, personal life, or temporary insanity), she’s gonna support me.
Why It Might Not Work Out: I might treat her like dirt knowing she’ll be loyal to me anyway. Treat her like dirt and she’ll stick to you like mud? Probably not.
Why She’d Like Me: Actually, I’m a nice guy, so I’d treat her a lot better than Shoji.
Potential for Long Term Relationship: 4/10 – Actually, this should work out. Except she already has a husband. Drat.

Awashima Chikage in Soshun / Early Spring (1956)

Not shown: Unappreciative husband

Aratama Michiyo as Michiko in Ningen no joken / The Human Condition (number 3 was released in 1961)
Why I Like Her: I don’t think many actresses from the 50s-60s can compare with how absolutely lovely Michiyo is.
What’s So Special About Her: She pretty much knows exactly what it means to love.
Why It Might Not Work Out: Even though Kaji’s already dead, I doubt I could make her forget about him.
Why She’d Like Me: I’m not dead, I’m not going off to war, and I’ll spare her from more heartbreak.
Potential for Long Term Relationship: 7/10 – I’m sure she’ll forget about Kaji eventually. After that I’ll just have to turn the flirt on.

Aratama Michiyo in Ningen no joken III / The Human Condition III (1961)

The fact that I couldn't find a good picture of Michiyo without Nakadai Tatsuya is probably a sign

Fuji Junko as Tsuruji in Junko intai kinen eiga: Kanto hizakura ikka / The Red Cherry Blossom Family (1972)
Why I Like Her: She’s a powerful woman who knows how to take control.
What’s So Special About Her: She’s got a bunch of yakuza dudes following her command, which is always good for fights and football games.
Why It Might Not Work Out: Getting mixed up with the yakuza is tough, and if I ever get in trouble, she’d probably need to save my ass. Not very manly, nor very attractive.
Why She’d Like Me: Maybe she’s into artsy sensitive guys. Otherwise, uh, probably not.
Potential for Long Term Relationship: 6/10 – I could learn to get tough, but she’s probably already too tough for any man to handle. I didn’t even choose her Red Peony Gambler version.

Junko Fuji in one of the Red Peony Gambler movies

Red Peony Gambler Version: She could still kill you in her beauty sleep

Joey Wang as Hsiao Tsing in Sien nui yau wan / A Chinese Ghost Story (1987)
Why I Like Her: She’s cute. And she does magic. I’m sure that’d be useful for something.
What’s So Special About Her: She seduces men for a living, so I assume she’s pretty freaky.
Why It Might Not Work Out: She isn’t exactly human, so I’m not sure if that’ll work, you know.. logistically.
Why She’d Like Me: Actually, she probably wouldn’t, since I hate scary places like creepy forests and I’m afraid of the dark.
Potential for Long Term Relationship: 0/10 – No chance in hell, so I’m not sure why she’s on this list.

Joey Wang in Sien nui yau wan / A Chinese Ghost Story (1987)

Probably not her seductive look

Faye Wong as Faye in Chung Hing sam lam / Chungking Express (1995)

Why I Like Her: She’s silly.
What’s So Special About Her: She’s silly!
Why It Might Not Work Out: Actually, I can’t think of anything here except that we might eventually run out of crazy ideas to entertain ourselves with.
Why She’d Like Me: I have the ability to match her adorable-ness and craziness. Yes, really.
Potential for Long Term Relationship: 9/10 – She’s adorable, and she’s the first celebrity I ever grew a crush on, and so far there have only been 2.

Faye Wong in Chung Hing sam lam / Chungking Express (1995)

Faye being adorably silly

Miyazaki Aoi in Shonen Merikensack (2008) – I haven’t actually seen this one yet?
Why I Like Her: Dude, just look at that poster.
What’s So Special About Her: There is something very precious, very fragile about her beauty that I find amazing.
Why It Might Not Work Out: If her character turns out to be like the one from Nana (2005). Ew.
Why She’d Like Me: The movie’s about punk rock, supposedly, and no one’s cooler than me when it comes to music.
Potential for Long Term Relationship: 8/10 – Actually I’d wanted to say Kozue from Eureka / Sad Vacation, but I’d rather a happy Aoi with Kozue’s strong, complex interior. I wonder what that’d be like.

Miyazaki Aoi in Shonen Merikensack (2008)

Face tattoos and brass knuckles will never again be this cute

Ueno Juri as Aoi in Niji no megami / Rainbow Song (2006) or actually, just Juri-chan
Why I Like Her: She’s an aspiring director who loves movies, film (the medium), and photography ( ❤ kodachrome).
What’s So Special About Her: Everything? You might find me weird if I elaborate.
Why It Might Not Work Out: She dies at the start of the movie.. but if I can get to replace Tomoya (that fucking idiot) it wouldn’t happen at all. Now all I need is a time machine or something.
Why She’d Like Me: We have similar interests and personalities, and my perfect intuition (trust me I’m always right about these things) tells me so. I’d also try really really hard?
Potential for Long Term Relationship: 9.9/10 – I’d give her a 10 but my girlfriend might kill me. This is assuming I have a time machine.

Ueno Juri in Niji no megami / Rainbow Song (2006)

Time spent writing this article: 17:10.
Time spent looking at Juri-chan pics: 1:05:00.

Well this one’s pretty obvious, right? I’d picspam but then I’d spend another 5 hours looking at Juri-chan pictures and get fired from work.


Su-ki-da (2005)

We can stare at Miyazaki Aoi all day if you want

Note: The title sounds stupid and insipid in English, because the three words are so commonly used in English, while it’s notoriously little-used in Japanese

Director: Ishikawa Hiroshi
Writers: Ishikawa Hiroshi
Date: 2005

Genre: Love Story
Description: Taking 18 years to say “su-ki-da”, silence, love, what do you do when everything goes wrong, slow yet rewarding

Cast: Nishijima Hidetoshi + Nagasaku Hiromi, Eita + Miyazaki Aoi, cameo by Kase Ryo

Crew of note: Score by Kanno Yoko, Cinematography and editing also by Ishikawa Hiroshi

Color: Color

Yosuke and Yu. Their love story (stories?), 18 years apart. They hang out, fall in love I guess, and go through great pains to say what they really want to say.

Eighteen years is a long, long time. Short compared to “Love in the Time of Cholera” (the book, didn’t watch the movie), sure, but still a pretty long time. The movie is essentially two different stories, because the Yosuke and Yu of the past are noticeably different from their versions of the present. Jadedness, maturity, cynicism, a lack of vitality, growing up, wrinkles… whatever it is, the characters have definitely changed over the course of 18 years–quite naturally I might add–which creates two different, yet essentially the same, love stories.

There really isn’t that much plot to speak of–in general, they just hang out and stuff. Which is pretty much the love story of 80% of the people in love on the planet. There are no villains keeping them apart, no historical event in between them, not even a wall. This really is just the story of Yosuke and Yu, their awkward moments of silence, their awkward moments of conversation. Just like 80% of the people on the planet who aren’t pick-up artists or Romance novelists. Or assholes.

It should be enough to say that the movie is technically superb, with great use of color, close ups, and well-timed camera movements and still shots. Ishikawa directed, edited, and shot the movie himself after all, so it is understandable that there is a noticeably unified effect.

The only thing that makes the film a little difficult, is the fact that the characters’ awkwardness and tonguetiedness can be very frustrating. Not everyone can be eloquent romancers, but sometimes, the extended silences seem a little too much, even though these moments are indeed beautiful. Words are hard, I guess. Sometimes the right words aren’t even the right words. Maybe, the words don’t even need to be said, and the movie is able to build their relationship enough that we think they already know, even though it’s equally obvious that they don’t. This is kinda a lesson on how to say I love you in silence. In that respect, the film is a success.

Suffers from being a little too artsy and indirect, but I guess being indirect is the whole point of the movie right? The pictures and the music are sometimes a little too nice, a little too perfect, and I don’t know how that’s a bad thing, but the story is a little too… “oblique” for its own good.. which I guess successfully builds up that sense of frustration (aka shouting “JUST SAY IT DAMNIT” at the screen) for the characters. I don’t like it when movies frustrate me (I don’t find it an enjoyable feeling), but it’s hard to fault a movie that is otherwise touching, beautiful, and decidedly soft spoken.

things to take note of
The colors gray and green
Nonsequitur shots?
The tension

best moment
When there is only music
Eita’s song, which can get stuck in your head pretty easily and for a long long long long time
By the riverside

why you should watch this
Not the perfect love story, but technically impressive
Nishijima Hidetoshi is one of my favorite actors
Funny how I keep reviewing Miyazaki Aoi movies (note: I love Ueno Juri more)

rating: 7.9, though I want to give it more

Plot: C+
Cast: B
Cinematography: B+
Music: B
Entertainment: B

similar movies, maybe:
Love Letter, directed by Iwai Shunji
Niji no megami / Rainbow Song, directed by Sugimori Hidenori, starring Ueno Juri

Eri Eri rema sabakutani / Eli Eli Lema Sabachthani / My God My God Why Hath Thou Forsaken Me?

Eli Eli Lema Sabachthani (2005)

I wonder where he plugged all those things

Director: Aoyama Shinji
Writers: Aoyama Shinji
Date: 2005

Genre: Nothing?
Description: Lemming Syndrome, noise, suicide, life and death, loneliness, music

Cast: Asano Tadanobu, Miyazaki Aoi, Okada Mariko, Nakahara Masaya

Crew of note: Music by Nagashima Hiroyuki, Cinematography by Tamura Masaki

Runtime: 107 mins.
Color: Color
Trivia: Asano plays the f’n guitar, and those are real sounds

Lemming Syndrome! People infected with this mysterious virus suddenly feel the urge to kill themselves, which will eventually mean the end of the world in the most depressing and emptying way possible. But, there’s hope! Two experimental musicians may have a cure: noise music. Does it blast your brain’s senses and knock the virus out? Does the frequency of their aural onslaught resonate and destroy the virus? Or maybe voluntarily listening to their music for extended periods of time should be medically considered suicide. Whatever dudes, they rock!

[summary continue] Hana, a girl stricken with Lemming Syndrome, is brought to Mizui and Asuhara in hopes of ridding her of her suicidal tendencies. Stuff happens very, very slowly, and then everyone rocks out. The End.

Okay, it might not be that simple, but that’s already a fairly complete outline, minus possible spoilers. The movie really is quite minimal.. but the pictures are beautiful, and the soundtrack is superb. This is a viruszombieapocalypse movie minus the action, minus the escape, minus the drama, and instead focuses on the implications of a world slowly emptying itself of humanity. Include other favorites of philosophical discourse–suicide, art, beauty, chicks (Miyazaki Aoi <3)–and you get a recipe for.. well, probably a headache. This is a film that requires participation: interpret, contemplate, philosophize. In between bouts of raging air guitar.

Many people with stamp this with the “too experimental” hazard, but I disagree. The plot is fairly linear, though very minimal; dialogue is sparse as well. The only thing that may hold back some viewers is the presence of Mizui and Asuhara’s noodling with instruments, but if you can get past that, and perhaps even enjoy it (like Hana, in the end), this can be a joy for your eyes, ears, and mind. It has all the philosophical trappings of the best virus/zombie/apocalypse films, with an emphasis on dis/connection, loneliness, and music. But best of all, it has the most badass concert in all of cinema.

things to take note of
The color (yellow and earth tones)
The importance of the music
The silence in between
Meaning? Symbolism? I bet it’s somewhere

best moment
The concert! m/ m/

why you should watch this
If you like noise or experimental music, this will be bliss
Asano Tadanobu + Miyazaki Aoi
Amazing music, amazing cinematography

rating: 9.25 (or 6 if you can’t stand the noiz)

Plot: B
Cast: B
Cinematography: B+
Music: A
Entertainment: B+

similar movies, maybe:
Electric Dragon 80,000 Volts directed by Ishii Sogo, with Asano
Maybe other zombie/virus films, but this really is unique

Yurika / Eureka

Yurika / Eureka (2000)

Possibly: Ray-ban models after their limo breaks down

Director: Aoyama Shinji
Writers: Aoyama Shinji
Date: 2000

Genre: Drama
Description: Moving on, life after a tragedy, busjacking, murder, whodunnit, road movie, quiet characters, learning to live, rediscovering life

Cast: Yakusho Koji, Miyazaki Aoi, Miyazaki Masaru, Saito Yoichiro, Mitsuishi Ken, Ono Machiko, etc.

Crew of note: Jim O’Rourke and Aoyama, along with Yamada Isao and Albert Ayler, scored the movie

Runtime: 217 mins. (yes, 3 hours and 40 minutes)
Color: Sepia-toned BW. Or does that count as color?
Trivia: Helpless (1996) by Aoyama is somewhat of an unconnected prequel, and Sad Vacation (2007) ties both together

Kozue and Naoki, two kids off to school one day, get on Makoto’s bus and take a seat in the back. Wrong place at the wrong time I suppose, as a crazed busjacking madman holds all the passengers hostage with a gun. A shoot out ensues, and only Makoto, Kozue and Naoki survive. Faced with the pressure of raising two traumatized children, their mother decides to leave their home, leaving them with no parents. Makoto, filled with inexplicable emotions that resemble guilt and disenchantment, visits the children only to discover that they are alone. He decides to stay, and they try to rediscover life after their shared tragedy.

3:40. It may seem like a daunting number, or an over-indulgent one. But truly, this is a movie that deserves to be even longer. Deep, quiet, somber.. all these words can describe this film. But the entire movie moves with so little words that it seems unfair to pin it with them. The two children barely speak, yet everything they do and everything that happens to them, is a voice of so much more meaning. The characters are some of the most human you will ever meet on screen: sincere, honest, fragile, conflicted… never over-wrought or contrived. They are never perfect; in fact they are often quite frustrating, but it is impossible not to feel a genuine concern for them. I can’t even say enough about Miyazaki Aoi, who is stunning in this film.

The sepia-toned black and white with slow, barely moving shots (mostly stills and slow panning shots) are similar to the pace and characters. Beautiful and meaningful, of course. Music is sparse yet effective. If you know who Jim O’Rourke is, and if you’ve watched other Aoyama movies, you know the music will be a treat.

This is truly about life, the courage to live on, and the process of rediscovering yourself and your life after tragedy. The minor episodes that make up the rest of their lives should be seen and not anticipated by reading a review. I have not yet seen another movie with such a theme that rivals this, and it truly deserves its running time. Many consider this to be a depressing film, but it more frequently made me smile watching their endless days unfold. I’ve babbled so far; if only silence could be adequately conveyed with words.

If you have 3:40 worth of free time, with absolutely no distractions, WATCH THIS MOVIE. Best with a good pair of headphones in a quiet room.

things to take note of
How the color affects the over-all appearance of the film
The two kids’ faces
Miyazaki Aoi

best moment
Is it wrong if I say I love Miyazaki Aoi?

why you should watch this
One of the most beautifully colored films evar
Miyazaki Aoi’s silent performance
It doesn’t feel like 3:40
Humanistic. Maybe even inspiring?

rating: 9

Plot: B+
Cast: A
Cinematography: A
Music: B
Entertainment: B

similar movies, maybe:
Gaichu / Harmful Insects by Shiota Akihiko (also with Miyazaki Aoi)
Riri Shushu no subete / All About Lily Chou-Chou by Iwai Shunji
9 Souls by Toyoda Toshiaki because they ride in a bus?



November 2020