Samurai, Yakuza, Manga, and Tokyo’s Trans Life — Original Cin

Very melodramatic, but solidly played, Eiji Uchida’s midnight swan (Sunday, June 19, 7 p.m.) won Best Picture and Best Actor at last year’s Japanese Oscars. It’s the story of Nagisa (former pop idol Tsuyoshi Kusanagi), a trans woman who performs a nerdy ballerina number at a Tokyo nightclub. Nagisa’s orderly life is disrupted when she reluctantly takes custody of her brooding niece Ichika (first-time actress Misaki Hattori), who drags her out of her comfort zone and into a role as a surrogate mother.

Ichika, it turns out, has real skills as a dancer and is quickly noticed by her teachers and foreign dance schools. Downbeat with inspiring moments, midnight swan is a tragic melodrama in the most sinisterly popular sense.

My favorite film of the festival (I am part of the jury this year), that of Takahiro Horie Sensei, would you like to sit next to me? is a snarky comedy about a husband and wife manga team, whose marriage may be failing. Suspecting her husband Toshio (Tasuku Emoto) of an affair, Sawako (Haru Kuroki) begins telling the story of her suspicions in a manga that takes off with the public. Who is lying? Who distorts the truth? Sensei, would you like to sit next to me screenings Monday, June 20 at 7 p.m.

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