Director Shinobu Yaguchi’s latest film, Robo-G, comes out in theaters on January 14th. In addition to the fact that it’s brought to you by the same director who made Waterboys, it’s got a fantastic cast including Yuriko Yoshitaka, Mickey Curtis, and Naoto Takenaka, and a cute, funny premise that’s sure to deliver.
Shinobu Yaguchi’s films are characterized by young boys and girls, who get themselves into unique and humorous situations. At first, the characters resent their circumstance, but gradually, they come to understand and eventually be impassioned by it.
Waterboys (2001) follows several high school boys of the swimming team as they, by sheer accident and teenage horniness, inadvertently form an all boy’s synchronized swimming team. At first, the boys are embarrassed — synchronized swimming is, of course, a women’s sport. Throughout the film, the boys realize the merits and fun of their unusual activity. The film became such a smash hit that it spawned two j-drama series, a television special, and actual high school boy’s synchronized swimming teams across Japan.
In addition to the aforementioned Waterboys, Yaguchi has brought us Swing Girls (2004) and Happy Flight (2008), about a girls’ big band and flight attendants respectively. If you haven’t seen these films, I highly recommend giving them a shot. Not only are they brilliant comedies, they too became the impetus for nationwide fads.
Yaguchi’s films have also given many of today’s biggest talents in Japanese cinema their earliest “breaks” into stardom. Waterboys was Hiroshi Tamaki’s first major role that brought him into the limelight. Likewise, Satoshi Tsumabuki was also still relatively unknown at the time that he played the lead. Swing Girls was Juri Ueno’s breaking role, eventually leading to her most iconic role as Nodame in Nodame Cantabile.
This time, Yaguchi has chosen Yuriko Yoshitaka to play the heroine. Yoshitaka debuted in Noriko’s Dinner Table as the protagonist Noriko’s sister in 2006. In 2007, she had her first lead role in Snakes and Earrings, which featured a shocking nude scene. In 2010, she was voted the most promising actress in an Oricon poll.
The hero of the film will be played by Mickey Curtis. If you don’t know, Mickey Curtis is a Japanese man in his seventies known for his rock career in the ’50s and ’60s. He’s appeared in over 70 films, including one Japan Flix film Three String Samurai.
So what is this exciting new film about?
Three employees in a small electronics manufacturing company are asked by their boss to build a humanoid robot to enter in the local robot competition for PR purposes. But, only one week before the competition, their robot is destroyed beyond repair.
The three guys decide that their only option is to cheat and have a person impersonate a robot for them. After holding a fake audition, they find Suzuki, a 73 old retired man (Curtis) who would fit perfectly in their robot costume. The scheme causes all kinds of problems as they rake media attention and a robot geek (Yoshitaka) falls in love with the robot.
The movie is cute, funny, features a fantastic cast, and most of all, it’s directed by a proven talent. The film comes out in theaters in Japan on January 14th. If you can find a way to catch this, I highly recommend giving it a try.