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Hiroko Yakushimaru films

She deserves two topics. The old Sailor Suit and Machine Gun topic can be found here. Everything else should go to this topic (unless there’s a good reason to open a third topic).

The following is a list of Hiroko Yakushimaru films till 1986. She’s appeared in films and TV shows after that (1 Litre of Tears, Operetta tanuki goten, Always etc.) but I’m not interested in listing them. Recommeded versions are marked with a star. R2J releases do not contain english subtitles.

Never Give Up (Yasei no shomei) (1978)

  • R1 Adness *
  • R2J Kadokawa
  • R2 UK Adness (NTSC to PAL)
  • R3 HK IVL (apparently dvd-5)

    (all dvds should have the same source material)

    G.I Samurai (Sengoku jieitai) (1979)
  • R1 Adness (old transfer)
  • R2J Kadokawa (old transfer)
  • R2J Kadokawa 2 Disc Special Edition (new HD sourced transfer) *
  • R2 UK Optimum (new HD sourced transfer) (NTSC to PAL) (poor compression)
  • R3 HK IVL (probably the old transfer, but I’m not 100% sure) (apparently dvd-5)

    Toward the Terra (Terra e…) (1980) (animation)
  • R2J Toei

    Tonda Couple (Tonda kappuru) (1980)
  • R2J Toho
  • R2J Kadokawa Hiroko Yakushimaru Box (same transfer as Toho) (OOP)

    Sailor Suit and Machine Gun (Sailor-fuku to Kikanju) (1981)
  • R2J Kadokawa (old transfer) (112 min theatrical cut)
  • R2J Kadokawa Heroines Dai 1 Senshu Box (old transfer) (112 min theatrical cut)
  • R2J Kadokawa Hiroko Yakushimaru Box (new progressive transfer) (130 min complete version) (OOP) *
  • R3 HK IVL (old transfer) (112 min theatrical cut) (dvd-5)

    Nerawareta gakuen (The Aimed School) (1981)
  • R2J Kadokawa *
  • R3 HK IVL

    Story of the Detective (Tantei monogatari) (1983)
  • R2J Kadokawa (dvd-5)
  • R2J Kadokawa Yusaku Matsuda Box (dvd-5)
  • R3 HK IVL (dvd-5) *

    (all dvds should have the same source material)

    Legend of the Eight Samurai (Satomi hakken-den) (1983)
  • R1 Adness *
  • R2J Kadokawa
  • R2 Adness (NTSC to PAL)
  • R3 HK IVL (apparently dvd-5)
  • R0 US Brentwood and other bootleggers

    (all official dvds should have the same source material)

    Tragedy of W (W no higeki) (1984)
  • R2J Kadokawa *
  • R2J Kadokawa Heroines Dai 3 Senshu Box
  • R3 IVL (apparently dvd-5)

    Main Theme (Mein tema) (1984)
  • R2J Kadokawa (OOP)
  • R2J Kadokawa Hiroko Yakushimaru Box (OOP)

    Yabanjin no youni (1985)
  • R2J Toei

    Cabaret (Kyabare) (1986)
  • R2J Toei

    Shinshi domei (1986)
  • R2J Toei

IVL is releasing Never Give Up (1978) and Legend of the Eight Samurai (1983) on dvd in HK next week. However I recommed to get the R1 releases by Addness instead as the IVL dvds are poorly compressed dvd-5’s with badly timed subs. The source material should be the same but Addness may also have done some minor further remastering. Adness’s UK releases should be avoided as well as they are NTSC to PAL conversions.

Never Give Up I haven’t seen but it was Hiroko’s first film and it stars the legendary Ken Takakura (veteran of numerous Toei yakuza pics including the Abashiri Prison series). I’ll post some comments when see the film.

Synopsis: "Following a mass murder in rural Japan, ex-special forces solider Ajisawa (Ken Takakura) adopts the only remaining survivor of the massacre, an amnesiac young girl named Yoriko (Hiroko Yakushimaru). Seeking to put the secrets of the past behind them, the pair instead finds themselves in conflict with the corrupt and powerful leaders of a small town. As Yoriko’s memories begin to reemerge; Ajisawa must call upon his killer instincts to survive against the odds."

Legend of the Eight Samurai (Satomi hakken-den) is a film you shouldn’t miss. A great 80’s fantasy adventure directed by Kinji Fukasaku and starring Shinichi Chiba, Hiroyuki Sanada, Etsuko Shihomi and of course Hiroko Yakushimaru. Give the film a chance even if you don’t like Fukasaku’s yakuza stuff as he’s also a master of light entertainment films. The film is a bit like a combination of A Chinese Ghost Story (which was of course made after this film) and fast paced samurai adventure. Somebody also described it as “Star Wars of samurai films” which isn’t too far from the truth. Also worth mentioning is the kick ass pop soundtrack.

Synopsis: "In Japan’s mythical past, Princess Shizu (Hiroko Yakushimaru), whose clan is cursed by evil, is hunted by demons and the samurai armies they command, leaving a trail of death behind them. With two warriors destined to aid her, she begins a search for six more so that together they may destroy the curse and free the land of evil."

8 Samurai was actually the first Hiroko film I saw. Back then, years ago, I didn’t even know who she was, I just recall wondering “who’s that cute girl playing princess Shizu”?.

Images from asiandvdguide

I like her, too, and especially that fantasy-samurai movie looks way cool. But would perhaps include information in your first post, which dvd comes with english subtitles and which doesn’t? I know, you like watching movies which don’t have any available, but I only do this with the “Sukeban Deka”-TV-Series. Otherwise I’d pretty much like to understand what they’re talking about. :wink:

Tonda Couple (1980)

Tonda Couple, which was Shinji Somai’s first film, turned out to be just the kind of sweet and innocent drama/comedy that I was expecting. It’s often silly and never very deep but it’s a lot of fun, even without subtitles. In fact, I nearly starved while watching this (and not because of the R2J prices) because I was very hungry but way too excited to take a break and go get food. Well, I got my chance after the halfway, which leads us to the problem part. While the first half is excellent, the second is notably worse. Somai gives more room to the supporting characters we get less scenes with the main couple together. The movie doesn’t exactly turn bad, just less great. There’s still many good scenes and I like the ending.

Hiroko Yakushimaru and Shingo Tsurumi are excellent choises for the leading roles with both doing great job. Tonda Couple never turns into a Hiroko show like Sailor-fuku did, instead both leads are equally charming. The film is also loaded with Somai’s trademark long takes… even more so than the other Somai films I’ve seen. I really love these long takes and it’s great to see there’s a director who doesn’t believe in fast editing and hasty pacing. Many scenes and shots featured here are also similiar to what Somai would later use in his other films. The one-take kitchen scene for example remided me of Hiroko wandering in her appartment in Sailor-fuku, and there’s several nice single shots that Somai re-used in Taifu Club.

The dvd included in Kadokawa’s Hiroko Yakushimaru box set is apparently identical to the old Toho dvd. How a Toho film ended up into a Kadokawa box set I don’t know. This is the 120 minute director’s cut (the shorter cut, which is not available on dvd as far as I know, runs approx. 106 minutes). The non-anamorphic transfer is unfortunately far from good. It’s very soft and some scenes are strangely hazy, like extreme ghosting but so visible that it looks like the characters are leaving a mark into air when they move. You get used to it though and the transfer quality didn’t distract me from the movie after the first five minutes. There’s no other serious problems, the colours seem okay and I don’t recall any major print damage. I viewed the film with all sharpness settings set to maximum and without zooming the image in (leaving black bars on all four sides). There are no subtitles, extras or menus.

more screenshots cap 1, cap 2, cap 3

  • dvd cover front, dvd cover back

Main Theme (1984)

The best transfer in the Hiroko box set and the worst film. Oh well. This 1984 drama starring Hiroko and the lady who played Mayumi in Sailor-fuku mainly suffers from the total lack of originality. There just isn’t anything special about it. The story of a girl who develops a crush for a young magician has some potential but the results are mixed. The plot is mostly a mess and there’s some really dumb scenes here and there. It’s thankfully not overly emotional, instead it’s just emotionless. That might work if the director had more more artistic approach, which he doesn’t. As a whole, Main Theme differs very little from any average 80’s youth drama.

Then the good things. There’s an exceptional amount of incredible Hiroko beauty for display here. She even wears a swimming suit, haha… She was about my age by the time the movie was made so now I don’t even have to feel ashamed for drooling after her. She also performs 2 (!) songs during the movie. Aside Hiroko the cinematography is the best things about the movie. While nothing truly special it does capture the beautiful landscapes very nicely. The film tends to be at it’s best when the camera is kept moving and music is played on the background. These scenes, while perfectly mainstream, are solid and enjoyable work. I was slightly impressed by how steady the camerawork was even in moving shots.

Despite all the critisism I did get through the film rather painlessly. There’s a 15 minute segment around the halfway that is really weak, and then there’s these single bad scenes here and there but if you’re a big fan of Hiroko then it may be worth the effort. You’ll just have to settle for a little less than usual. The dvd by Kadokawa is excellent and the progressive transfer does justice to Hiroko’s beauty. The image is simply gorgeous and features next to none edge enhancement. The only extras are the theatrical trailer and a 17 minute begind the scenes featurette. The dvd is encoded with a high bitrate and the whole dvd file including the extras (19 min) takes 7,49 GB of size.

more screenshots cap 1, cap 2, cap 3, cap 4, cap 5, cap 6, cap 7

  • behind the scenes 1, behind the scenes 2
  • dvd cover front, dvd cover back

Story of the Detective (1983)

19 year old Hiroko and Yusaku Matsuda in a romantic 80’s detective story. A sure winner you might think. Unfortunately it isn’t. Hiroko’s performance, while not bad, is probably the least impressive I’ve seen from her so far and miles from her work in Tonda Couple and Sailor-fuku. Yusaku Matsuda fares pretty well as a middle aged detective who becomes Hiroko’s love interest. Still, it’s almost weird to see him playing such a serene role, just four years after his mad and wonderfully gritty performance in Toru Murakawa’s masterpiece Resurrection of Golden Wolf. But despite the critisism the actors play together well. The story kinda works but is mostly an excuse for the character drama. Hiroko’s theme song at the end is a pretty decent one. Aside the good actors there isn’t too much to set this film appart from any average suspense story.

The IVL dvd is the way to go. The original Kadokawa release was a dvd-5 as well so you’re not losing much. English subtitles had slightly better timings that I expected from a IVL Kadokawa release (still far from my own fansub standards) and the image looks pretty decent overall. It suffers from softness but I could fix that with a little adjustment. As usual the original trailer for the main feature is included. Menus spoil Hiroko’s theme song so I advice to skip them before seeing the film.

Another excellent Hiroko review by Muldoon

Damn, now I want to get that R2J W so bad but it’s out of print and I already own the IVL dvd

Tragedy of W (1984)

This is why I love being a Hiroko Yakushimaru fan. Not only is she cute as hell but she’s also both a great singer and a good actress (she was actually nominated for best actress for this role). Although not neccessarily my favourite Hiroko performance she’s got some real stand out moments here and she really shines as a young actress who’s willing to go to great lengths for success. The film’s got an interesting structure where the â€

Hiroko performing the W no higeki theme:

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and again

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also, this website is Hiroko fans best friend:

just picked up legend of the eight samuri on vhs from a flee market gona watch it tonight.

The legend of the eight Samurai.

Directed by Kinji Fukasaku, starring Sonny Chiba, Hiroko Yakushimaru and Etsuko Shihomi. Holy fuck, this movie must be awesome. :o Just finished the chapter about Fukasaku in “The Midnight Eye Guide to new Japanese Film”, in case you wonder.

The legend of the eight Samurai.

Directed by Kinji Fukasaku, starring Sonny Chiba, Hiroko Yakushimaru and Etsuko Shihomi. Holy fuck, this movie must be awesome. :o Just finished the chapter about Fukasaku in “The Midnight Eye Guide to new Japanese Film”, in case you wonder.

It is awesome. Haven’t I told you? ;D

Yeah, I vaguely remembered. ;D

Which DVD do I buy? There are actually a couple of them available, HK, Japanese and US alike.

This is a Kadokawa film, meaning saying all editions by respectable companies are ports of each other would be a good guess.

But because I’m here, you don’t have to guess ;D

The R2J Kadokawa comes with a very good, although interlaced transfers. The R1 Adness (now probably oop, but re-released by Ronin Entertainment in one of their cheap Sonny Chiba Box Sets) is port. The R3 IVL is most certainly a port too, but poorly compressed to dvd-5. Avoid. There’s a french HK Video release too, but with french subs only and probably lesser transfer (they have a nasty habit when it comes to boosting image)

So, order the R1 Samurai Collection. It’s 9$ at dvdpacific (although not in stock at the moment) and comes with three films:

Legend of the Eight Samurai (kadokawa port, best available)

Ninja Wars (kadokawa port, best available)

G.I. Samurai (port of the old kadokawa, best english subbed disc available)

Bloody hell, now I wanna tell you about Ninja Wars, starring Noriko Watanabe as a super cute teenage ninja princess…

[quote=“Hung Fist”]
Bloody hell, now I wanna tell you about Ninja Wars, starring Noriko Watanabe as a super cute teenage ninja princess…
You don’t have to, I’m already sold . . . :smiley:

You don’t have to, I’m already sold . . . :smiley:

You’re learning, son ;D

haha, who am I calling “son”, you’re older than I am. I gotta learn to respect the elder if I ever want to become japanese ;D

ok, back to Satomi hakkenden:

US trailer:

Japanese TV spot:

The theme song you hear in the trailer is sung by John O’Banion.

Some japanese dude singing the theme:

To get some idea how popular Hiroko was (and still is), try typing her name to yahoo japan actions. At the moment you’ll get 1277 search results!!! That’s 64 pages of Hiroko goodies for sale.

Feel like shopping?

The trailer looks just incredible, so colourful and full of intense action. Gotta see that movie as soon as possible (you know about my vow, not beeing able to buy DVDs this year, right?). But providing Hiroko Yakushimaru with an english dub is a sin. Somebody will be burning in hell for this.

And please tell me more about “Ninja-Wars”: since I absolutely need subtitles in order to get full enjoyment out of an movie, may I buy the british DVD?

<LINK_TEXT text=“ … vid=146782”></LINK_TEXT>


Wait, I’m stupid. A subtitled DVD of “Ninja Wars” is already included in the Sonny Chiba Samurai-Collection, which I’m planning to buy anyway.

Bearded middle aged man singing W no higeki. Hilarious, but kinda cool:

And Hiroko doing it right:

God she’s great.

Poster for Nerawareta gakuen (1981):

watch the opening credits here:

It’s Obayashi, so you know it’s not gonna be conventional. I’ll post some commenst and a few caps from the film sometime soon.

Nerawareta gakuen (School in the Crosshairs) (The Aimed School) (1981)

Obayashi starts his movie from outer space, and I’m not even surprised. The storyline is about a young girl with telepathic skills but, again unsurprisinly, Obayshi roots it tightly to high school surroundings. Better script and more characterization woundn’t hurt, but the magical soundtrack and visual supply is intoxicating. Obayashi uses black & while image, colours parts of the picture, turns the sky blazing red and makes the stars dance. In the middle of all is the incredibly cute and sweet Hiroko Yakushimaru.

I have the japanese Kadokawa dvd, which is a very solid if not outstanding effort. IVL recently released the film on english subbed HK dvd. It should be a dvd-5 again (The R2J is dvd-9 of course) with their typical less than stellar encoding. The source material is the same, though. Subs would appear to be much better timed than usual. I used the IVL script with my R2J and unlike before I didn’t have to do much retiming.

Not exactly a movie, but here’s an incredible beautiful 80’s Commercial I just found on youtube, starring Hiroko Yakushimaru. Something especially Hung Fist will adore. :wink: Well, it almost plays like a short-movie.

Check it out: