The 2019 Japan Film Festival Keeps the J-POP Spirit Alive

Young zombie rockers, dreamy anime boys, and other adventures for your rods and cones.

Opens Friday at the New People Cinema.

For reasons that remain unclear, the J-POP SUMMIT Festival is MIA for the second year in a row. Thankfully, its younger sister known as the Japan Film Festival is going strong in its seventh year, and many of its highlights carry on the eye-popping J-POP sensibility. Case in point is Makoto Nagahisa’s live-action “Super Musical Adventure RPG Movie” We Are Little Zombies, in which a group of recently orphaned 13-year-olds access their buried emotions by dressing in junkyard scraps and forming a chiptune-inflected rock band. Meanwhile, Atsuya Uki’s all-caps anime CENCOROLL CONNECT combines Uki’s two hard-to-see-on-these-shores Cencocell shorts into a single feature. The story is pretty standard stuff—monster appears in a city, hijinks ensue—but what’s especially exciting is that it features music by Supercell. It’s Supercell’s first work to not feature Hatsune Miku vocals, but her absence is made up for by Jouji Furuta and Tomoka Nagaoka’s Utano Princesama Maji LOVE Kingdom, an offshoot of the UtanoPrincesama Maji LOVE 1000% anime series. Kingdom features the boy-idol groups STRISH, QUARTET NIGHT, and HEVENS on stage, though unlike previous Japan Film Festival entries such as IA First Live Concert in JAPAN: “PARTY A GO-GO,” this is a 1000%-animated concert. It doesn’t get more J-POP than that, so bring your glowsticks and give in to the joy.

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