So I went to my first movie in Japan. What was interesting about it was how much was similar and how much was just different enough.
The theater I went to was the Warner Brothers “Mycal” theater in the Aeon shopping center just down the street, a mile or so away. This was a 10 screen theater or so, and had a lot of movies playing. Of course, the big American ones had opened, Mummy 3, Hancock, Dark Knight, with Wanted opening in a couple days. I decided to go and see Sky Crawlers, the new Mamoru Oshii film.
From the outside, the theater looks just like most American theaters, you have the ticket windows with the string line set up in front, the concession stand, and the long hallway with the ticket checker in front of the theaters. I got in line and stepped up to the windows. I asked for my ticket and the price? 1,800 yen, about $18. Not unexpected, but still expensive. I did find out that Saturdays and Mondays are only 1,000 yen, so those will be the days I go in the future. After I paid, the woman asked me where I wanted to sit… what? Yes, you heard me right, the theaters use reserved seating. She showed me a seating chart, and showed me the sections available. Apparently the best seats are reserved for some sort of membership or frequent watcher program. She asked really fast and through the window so I couldn’t catch it all, but I got enough to know I wasn’t in whatever she was referencing. So I got a normal seat. She gave me the ticket and I headed over to the concession stand. I ordered a medium 7-Up, which cost me 300 yen, but was actually a normal size. This is the first time that a drink in Japan other than beer has been of a comparable size to the US.
Drink in hand, I headed into the theater. It was normal stadium seating, but the seats were probably the nicest I’ve experienced. They were the right size for me, complete with a headrest, and almost bucket seats. I settled in to watch the previews. First up? The Looney Tunes “guide to the theater”. You know, the “get your snacks, don’t talk and turn off your phones” message. But it was all done with Looney Tunes characters… in Japanese of course. So seeing Bugs Bunny show up first with a “eeeh… doshita no, sensei?” was hilarious.
As far as the previews, there were two for Japanese movies, both of which I really want to see now, Wanted and a Richard Gere movie called (in Japanese) Last First Love. I think the english title is Nights in Rodanthe. Whereas I think Dark Knight, Hancock, etc.. are subtitled, Wanted is dubbed, which was interesting to see in the preview. The first Japanese movie was called Ichi, and not Ichi the Killer. It stars Ayase Haruka (Hotaru no Hikari, Shikaotoko Aoniyoshi) as a blind woman in the sengoku (warring states) era who is being fought over by a couple warlords. The catch? She’s really freaking good with a sword. It looks awesome. The second was called 252. The tagline? which means “Beyond gigantic typhoon, direct hit on Tokyo”. It looks like a fun disaster movie.
Then the feature movie started, and I have to say, it was very good. It wasn’t as action oriented as it looked from the posters, etc.. but it really moved me. The music was amazing, and the story was very interesting. I’ll probably review it on the next episode of Anime Pulse, so look forward to that.
So, all in all, with the exception of the price, reserved seating and the potential benefits program, a movie theater is a movie theater, whether you’re in the U.S. or Japan.