Up until very recently, the films of Japanese director Iwai Shunji have never been made available on blu-ray. It was only late last year that a couple of his titles were finally released in hi-def format, and with a couple more titles announced earlier this week we now have most ( some of his short films like Uchiage Hanabi and Fried Dragon Fish are still unreleased on blu-ray ) of his works to enjoy in high quality.
Here’s a rundown of his films available on blu-ray :
1) Love Letter
Easily my favourite Iwai Shunji film, I first saw Love Letter as a young impressionable college student studying animation. The director’s distinct narrative style definitely help shape and inform my sense of visual aesthetics. ( as with a few other films in the late 1990s like Alfonso Cuarón’s Great Expectations, Andrew Niccol’s Gattaca and Robert Zemeckis’s Contact. ) I also highly recommend the excellent soundtrack by Remedios.
2) Hana & Alice
3) All About Lily Chou-Chou
4) Swallowtail Butterfly
While I didn’t enjoy Swallowtail’s story all that much, it is perhaps noteworthy to point out that the art and production direction on this film is brillant. The production designer in charge was Yohei Taneda, whose impressive credits include Kill Bill, Flowers Of Shanghai, GITS Innocence, and also designed Ghibli’s The Borrowers Exhibition in 2010. His work is featured in the FilmCraft : Production Design book.
6) April Story
Iwai Shunji’s latest film, which I hope to catch the first opportunity I have. Starring a mostly international cast, it also features Iwai Shunji’s frequent collaborator Yu Aoi ( Hana & Alice, All About Lily Chou-Chou, Hula Girls, Mushishi ). If you’re lucky enough to have seen it, I’ll love to hear your thoughts.