{This post was written by Irina of I Drink and Watch Anime as an April Fool’s gag in which we swapped places for a day, she’s a much more entertaining writer than me so I hope you enjoy!}

Japanese live action cinema can be hit or miss. Unlike Korean cinema that had a resurgence a bit over a decade ago, when censorship laws were broadly loosened and directors went crazy with creativity, Japanese cinema has always suffered from a certain standardization. When a movie succeeds, like the ring did a while back, it spawns legions of copy cats that persist to this day. Japanese cinema might look unusual to a western eye but it is often safe.

Of course there are a few more adventurous directors like Takashi Miike or Sion Sono but they tend to be confined to indie movies or fairly inconsistent in their output. 

Lavish expensive productions with a lot of moving parts are difficult to put together, especially in a country that doesn’t have blockbuster cinematic traditions. That’s why you really need an experienced director who knows all about putting together a feature film. You cannot underestimate the importance of good direction.

or you can get the guy that does those chicken ads…

Gen Sekiguchi had done a couple of shorts and a few music videos before helming Survive Style 5+, but he was mostly known as a successful advertisement director. There are some truly wonderful commercials out there and I would never say that the directors are untalented, but it’s a different field. No matter how creative, adverts are a practical art first. They serve a distinct purpose. Also they tend to be like a minute long so I guess that’s also a difference.

Why would anyone let a guy like that take over an expensive and expansive production with an international cast? We got Vinnie Jones in this one folks. It’s a weird movie…

Image result for survive style 5

It could work, as long as it’s straightforward?

Survive Style 5+ follows five loosely intertwining storylines, and a couple of little pluses. It has 14 main characters. It’s also filmed partly on location and partly on set, boasts dozens of each and is bilingual. Even though the overall mood is lighthearted, each storyline has its own themes and presentation which informs the visuals and direction to give them a very different feel.

One of the storylines features almost no dialogue at all while another has a character who believes they have turned into a bird. And music plays a very important part as such the soundtrack is integrated in the action. There are some pretty impressive 3D fight scenes.  

So It Failed?

Image result for survive style 5

It should have. On paper this doesn’t work. Each storyline manages to be both bonkers and cliché and there’s no way to bring them together without copious amounts of contrivance. The cast is dissonant and the characters are unlikely to have chemistry. Even in the hands of a master this type of film is most likely going to be a cacophonous mess.

But when you give it to a commercial director, everything changes….

Gen Sekiguchi is a guy who knows how to break down stories to little bite size morsels. He knows how to grab your attention and make you feel something with only seconds worth of information available. And that’s the only way a movie like Survive Style 5+ works. By taking it one insane minute at the time and crafting it into the best that minute can be then moving onto the next. Until you have a pretty amazing whole. And a completely unique movie in a sea of conformity.

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I saw Survive Style 5+ years ago at a film festival with the director and a selection of the cast in attendance. It has been one of, if not my favourite movie ever since. It also cemented Tadanobu Asano as an actor to look out for. He had a very odd role and managed to really get the most out of it.

This was some time ago. I was still a student and I was so excited to be there. I would still be excited. It’s exciting for anyone to see a premiere on the big screen. Especially for a young girl in Montreal. It’s not like I get to see these types of events every day. I dressed up in my finest and I celebrated afterwards at this little pub not far from the cinema..

Wait, um K did this at the beginning of the post… so yeah, it’s April 1st and although we should all keep our distance from each other, we can still visit each other’s blogs. And this is why I’m here. Oh you don’t know who I is. 

Should we tell them K? We could just leave it at K and I….


Images are from Survive Style 5+ [credit: Tohokushinsha Film Corporation (TFC) / Manga Entertainment]

6 thoughts on “Survive Style 5+ :The Movie That Shouldn't Be

  1. This sounds like an interesting film! Since starting my blog, I have seen two Japanese movies; ‘Howl’s Moving Castle’ and ‘A Page of Madness’. While I thought ‘Howl’s Moving Castle’ was decent, I was not a fan of ‘A Page of Madness’. But, who knows? Maybe I’ll end up enjoying ‘Survive Style 5+’. I have a series of polls for a movie awards I created. If you’re interested, here’s the poll for the Best Supporting Actress:

    https://18cinemalane.wordpress.com/2020/03/27/its-time-to-vote-for-the-best-supporting-actress-of-2020s-gold-sally-awards/

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That is a very interesting poll, I don’t necessarily recognize all the nominees so I’m not sure it’s ethical for me to vote but I never thought I would see The Kim Possible Movie and Ben-Hur on the same poll.

      Also, this post was an April Fool’s joke in that it was writing by the best anime blogger around Irina from I Drink and Watch Anime if you ever wanted an expert in blogging or Japanese animation I highly recommend checking out her site.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. The reason why The Kim Possible Movie and Ben-Hur are on the same poll is because I happened to see both films last year. The Best Supporting Actress poll is meant to highlight an individual actresses’ performance, not the film as a whole. As for the April Fool’s joke, I thought it was funny!

        Liked by 1 person

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