The Japan Film Festival is back with 14 films you can watch for free

Eigasai 2024 screenings will be held in select theaters in Metro Manila, Baguio, Cebu, Iloilo, and Davao.

Heads up, Japanophiles! One of the most anticipated Japan-related events in the country is back! The Japanese Film Festival (JFF) Philippines 2024, more popularly known as Eigasai (えいがさい/film festival), is set to continue its 27-year tradition of giving Filipinos a glimpse into the rich and vibrant Japanese film industry with the screening of 14 feature films—all for free.

Launched in 1997 and run by the Japan Foundation Manila, it has become one of the largest and most popular film festivals in the Philippines, especially among lovers of Japanese culture. It attracts over 25,000 cinemagoers every year with its lineup of films covering a wide range of genres from drama to anime, romance to mystery, and even recently released titles.

Japan Film Festival 2024

Screenings for this year will be held in the following venues: Shangri-La Red Carpet Cinema (Feb. 1 to 11), SM Seaside City Cebu (Feb. 16 to 25), SM City Baguio (Feb. 23 to March 3), SM City Iloilo (Feb. 23 to March 3), SM City Davao (Feb. 23 to March 3), and UPFI Film Center, UP Diliman, Quezon City (Feb. 22 to March 2).

The Japan Foundation will also host a Director’s Talk with Kasho Iizuka, who wrote and directed Angry Son, one of the participating movies in this year’s Eigasai. The Director’s Talk will immediately follow the movie’s screening on Feb. 3, 6:30 p.m., at the Shangri-La Red Carpet Cinema.

Here’s a quick guide to the 14 films included in this year’s Eigasai.

The First Slam Dunk, directed by Inoue Takehiko (PG)

Japan Film Festival: The First Slam Dunk

The opening film of Eigasai 2024, The First Slam Dunk, is based on Inoue’s Slam Dunk manga series, whose anime adaptation gained worldwide popularity, particularly in the Philippines. Released theatrically in Japan in December 2022, the film follows Ryota Miyagi, the point guard of Shohoku High School’s basketball team, and his teammates Hanamichi Sakuragi, Takenori Akagi, Hisashi Mitsui, and Kaede Rukawa as they challenge the inter-high basketball champions, Sannoh Kogyo High School.

Angry Son, directed by Kasho Iizuka (R-13)

Japan Film Festival 2024:  Angry Son

The film follows Jungo, a high school student who has a Filipino mother and is estranged from his father, their only connection being his monthly child support payments. One day, his mother, Reina, brings her boyfriend home, saying she wants to marry him. Jungo doesn’t want to live with a stranger, so he decides to find his real father.

We Made a Beautiful Bouquet, directed by Doi Nobuhiro (PG)

Japan Film Festival 2024: We Made a Beautiful Bouquet

One of my recent favorite Japanese films and starring two of my favorite J-actors, Suda Masaki and Arimura Kasumi, the film chronicles the love story of two 22-year-olds struggling against the dog-eat-dog world of Japanese corporate culture, while trying to keep the fire burning both in their relationship and their creative passions. Bittersweet—as many Japanese love stories are—this film encapsulates the sad reality of young love set against the harshness of life as a twenty-something in Japan.

Gold Kingdom and Water Kingdom, directed by Watanabe Kotono (PG)

Japan Film Festival 2024:  Gold Kingdom and Water Kingdom

The story follows Sara and Naranbayar, a princess and young man from two different countries who meet by chance and who must act as a couple to maintain peace in their realms. What they didn’t expect, though, is that they will slowly fall for each other. Adapted from a Japanese manga series written and illustrated by Nao Iwamoto, the movie premiered in Japan in January 2023.

And Yet, You Are So Sweet, directed by Shinjo Takehiko (PG)

Japan Film Festival 2024:  And yet you are so sweet

Kisaragi Maaya is in her second year of high school and has just been rejected by her crush. Heartbroken and mortified, she cries out loud to never confess her feelings to someone ever again…only to be humiliated once more because her school’s heartthrob Chigira Sui is within earshot. Upon hearing Maaya’s vow, he proposes a solution to mend her broken heart—that she pretends to have a crush on him instead. As the pair grows closer, however, feelings go from pretend to all too real.

A Man, directed by Ishikawa Kei (PG)

Japan Film Festival 2024:  A Man

Does the truth really set you free? That’s the central question in this 2022 psychological thriller which premiered at the 79th Venice Film Festival. Over four blissful years, Rie and her son shared a new life with her second husband, Daisuke. His sudden death brings not only grief, but an unnerving discovery for the widow: the man she thought she knew was posing under someone else’s identity. Prefaced by René Magritte’s surrealist painting “Not to be Reproduced,” this thought-provoking film interrogates the “fragile morals” that permeate contemporary society.

Father of the Milky Way Railroad, directed by Narushima Izuru (PG)

Japan Film Festival 2024:  Father of the Milky Way Railroad

This moving biopic details the life of legendary poet and novelist Miyazawa Kenji, one of Japan’s most beloved children’s authors. As the eldest son of Masajiro, a wealthy pawnbroker, Kenji was raised with the expectation that he would one day inherit the family business. However, the free-spirited Kenji is determined to walk his own path in life. Based on the bestselling novel of the same name, this movie depicts the power of family and unconditional love.

Not Quite Dead Yet, directed by Hamasaki Shinji (PG)

Japan Film Festival 2024: Not quite dead yet

After Nanase’s father, Kei, drops dead due to a drug that causes temporary death for two days, she is named the president of his pharmaceutical company. She struggles to prevent her father’s enemies from prematurely cremating his body before the drug can wear off and bring him back to life. Something goes wrong, however, and Kei comes back as a ghost. Nanase then tries to restore his life with the help of Taku Matsuoka who works at the company.

Detective Conan the Movie: The Private Eyes’ Requiem, directed by Yamamoto Yasuichiro (PG)

Japan Film Festival 2024:  Detective Conan the Movie- The Private Eyes' Requiem

In the first of two Detective Conan films to be screened in this year’s Eigasai, and the franchise’s 10th anniversary movie, the titular character faces his worst crisis yet. Someone has figured out Conan’s real identity as Shinichi Kudo. Worse, he’s taken Conan’s friends hostage. In 12 hours, a bomb will kill them all. Can Conan solve the case, save his friends, and keep his secret identity?

Detective Conan the Movie: The Time-Bombed Skyscraper, directed by Kodama Kenji (PG)

Japan Film Festival 2024:  Detective Conan the Movie - The Time-bombed Skycraper

Shinichi used to be a high school detective until a dark organization turned him into a little boy. Now called Conan, he can’t reveal himself…not even when a bomber kidnaps his girlfriend. Time is ticking and Conan only has his phone. Will the detective genius be able to solve a series of bombings or will his true love die? The Time-Bombed Skyscraperis the first-ever Detective Conan movie and was released in 1997.

Voltes V: The Liberation, directed by Nagahama Tadao (PG)

Japan Film Festival 2024: Voltes V

Another classic Japanese animated film, Voltes V: The Liberation is the climactic conclusion of the series. The Voltes Team faces Prince Zardoz and his devastating weapon in a desperate attempt to overcome the overwhelming threat, putting their skills and the Volt Machines to the ultimate test. The team combines the Volt Machines to form the Ultra Magnetic Voltes V robot to deliver a decisive blow against the Boazanian forces and Emperor Zambojil’s ambition of inter-galactic conquest.

Mondays: See You “This” Week, directed by Takebayashi Ryo (PG)

Japan Film Festival 2024: Mondays

In this frenetic comedy/workplace parody, Akemi Yoshikawa—who is having the worst week of her life—discovers that her whole office is stuck in a time loop, repeating the same stressful work week over and over. Together with her colleagues, she has to find out how to break the maddening loop.

Tokyo Story, directed by Ozu Yasujiro (PG)

Japan Film Festival 2024: Tokyo Story

This 1953 family drama is considered one of the greatest films of all time. It follows an elderly couple who travel to Tokyo to visit their grown children. They have spent most of their lives in a small coastal town in Hiroshima and hope their visit will be a memorable experience. However, once they arrive in Tokyo, they realize their children are too busy to spend time with them. Feeling unwelcome and disappointed, they cut their stay short and return home. This moving film has no heroes or heroines. There is no happy ending nor are the grown children “evil.” Everything is just how life is.

Voltes V: Legacy, directed by Mark A. Reyes V (PG)

Japan Film Festival 2024:  Voltes V Legacy

The Philippine entry to Eigasai 2024, the film is based on the popular 70’s Japanese anime that follows the story of three brothers—Steve, Big Bert, and Little Jon Armstrong. Together with their friends, Jamie Robinson and Mark Gordon, they pilot five vehicles that form the Ultra Electromagnetic Voltes V Super Robot and defend the Earth from the invading forces of the Boazanian Empire and their Beast Fighters.

For the complete screening schedule, visit the official Eigasai Philippines website.

Associate Editor

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