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Ashura-jô no hitomi (2005)

Adapted from the successful play, the film takes place in the 19th Japan where a war between demons and their slayers is fought. Izumo, an Kabuki actor with a demon-slaying past, meets and ... See full summary »

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Cast

Cast overview:
Somegorô Ichikawa ...
Izumo Wakuraba
Rie Miyazawa ...
Tsubaki
Kanako Higuchi ...
Bizan
Atsuro Watabe ...
Jaku Abe
Takashi Naitô ...
Nobuyuki Kuninari
Yukijirô Hotaru ...
Magotaro
Fumiyo Kohinata ...
Nanboku Tsuruya IV
Sarutoki Minagawa ...
Takiji
Hanae Kan ...
Emishi
Kôji Ohkura ...
Hyozo
...
Yachi
Kumiko Tsuchiya ...
Oiran
Kazuo Kuwabara
Tatsuo Yamada
Mutsumi Fujita
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Storyline

Adapted from the successful play, the film takes place in the 19th Japan where a war between demons and their slayers is fought. Izumo, an Kabuki actor with a demon-slaying past, meets and falls in love with Tsubaki. However, something is not right as mysterious marks appear on her body as time progresses. At the same time, it is announced that Ashura, the queen of all demons, will be resurrected and bring destruction to the universe. Written by Ploy P.

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demon | sword | See All (2) »

Genres:

Action | Fantasy

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Details

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Release Date:

16 April 2005 (Japan)  »

Also Known As:

Ashura  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Soundtracks

My Funny Valentine
Music by Richard Rodgers
Lyrics by Lorenz Hart
Performed by Sting featuring Herbie Hancock
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User Reviews

 
The Legend of Namboku's weird tales and Kabuki in Japanese Pop Culture
28 May 2013 | by (Portland, Maine USA) – See all my reviews

Unbeatable, baleful, and sinister Ashura, Queen of the Demons, has a plan to dominate this world.

The Japanese film "The Eyes of Ashura's Castle" is set in the chaotic nineteenth century Edo (later Tokyo) where humans, demons, and evil spirits coexist. The Demon Wardens, a secret society, is beating invincible undead in the city. In the midst of the war between human beings and demons, Ashura's assistant Bizan notifies demon slayers about the rebirth of the impregnable queen Ashura in Edo.

The story revolves around the ghostly, heartrending love relationship between dandy Kabuki actor Wakuraba Izumo and a beautiful thief named Tsubaki. He is a former star demon slayer, and she is graceful and fierce. While developing their romance, they cross a border between this world and the next, which triggers a disastrous outcome. Ultimately, their love and fate unfold by insinuating a common memory of the past that is the dramatic relationship between killing and being killed.

Professional Kabuki actor Somegoro Ichikawa plays Wakuraba Izumo. He is the scion of the most famous Kabuki families whose tradition is much respected by many and recognized as one of the chief Japanese traditional art forms. His skillful and flamboyant swordplay is admirable. Rie Miyazawa, a popular Japanese actress, plays the mysteriously attractive yet ferocious Tsubaki.

Directed by Academy Award winning film director Yojiro Takita, "The Eyes of Ashura's Castle" features a timeless range of cultural references to Japanese popular culture from romanticized eighteenth century Kabuki theater and its playwright Tsuruya Namboku IV's ghost stories to contemporary playful video games and computer graphics. Besides, the film skillfully adds exhilarating zombies with kimono costumes to Japanese pop music. A psychedelic mixture of old and new epitomizes the richness of Japanese popular culture.

The prologue is particularly an eerie collection of some Japanese myths and ethereal symbols. For instance, a fireball is approaching to Edo while Emish, an ominous demon, is singing a parody of children's tune, "Toryanse."

Further, signposts for ogres such as bridges, borders, and twilight are effectively employed. A ghost emerges at the edge of a bridge connecting this world and the next. Additionally, seas, rivers, and mountains demarcate the two worlds. Finally, the opening scene is twilight, which is a brief period of ambiguous time. It is a time of transformation from one being to another. Indeed, the times of uncertainty are chances for ethereal beings that are roaming around the human world.

Furthermore, a parody of legendary horror playwright Tsuruya Namboku IV (1755-1829) plays a crucial role to unite the whole eclectic Japanese national and cultural symbols: Kabuki theater, Izumo's crimson thread magic, Tokubei's giant frog, stylized actions, and the undying Japanese ghost story, "Oiwa." Namboku produced many ghost stories for Kabuki plays, and also wrote about Tokubei's story. These cultural references from the early nineteenth century add an exotic character to the film.

Consequently, the story unfurls a series of Namboku's fantastically weird tales, which include comedy, apparitions, love, tragedy, and disgust. A dreadful opening and a wonderful ending are key components of his story. Blurring this world and the next in the film, Namboku says 'which world you live in, the world has its own paradise.' The poignant story, where the lovers cannot fulfill their love in this world, clearly follows Namboku's traditional Kabuki taste.

Overall, the film is entertaining and worthwhile watching.


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