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  • ethSin9 April 2009
    I didn't expect to like this movie, because it seemed so childish, but the absurd 4.29/5 average user rating in Yahoo! Japan prompted me to give it a try.

    I was disgusted after the first 30 minutes. I thought "Oh, here's another kiddie movie that some adults like, but I hate." However, it suddenly got serious after the main character meets Paco, and I was starting to gain interest in the story. I now find it funny that my reception to this film's story is exactly same as a character in the movie who was listening to the story in "present day". Were the first 30 minutes horrible on purpose?

    Perhaps it simply took 30 minutes to get used to the wackiness or it was the director's intention to gradually change the feel of the film. In any case, I found the story to have a really nice flow, mesmerized by the beautiful visual effects. In fact, tears started streaming down my cheeks in a scene with Tsumabuki Satoshi and Tsuchiya Anna. Something unimaginable to me after watching the first few minutes of the movie.

    Tsuchiya Anna was completely out of place in Sakuran, but now that she's playing a 'punk' character again, she was flawless. I didn't even recognize Yakusho Kouji until the ending credit, but I guess he was just that good. Cast is incredibly star-studded. They all performed exceptionally well and fit the roles.

    I did not know Japan was capable of such high level and artistic CG/SFX. Okay, the characters in the picture book were incredibly stupid-looking by design, but the effects and direction somehow made it funny and cool at the same time. Transition between CG and real-life figure was smooth, and it was a really pleasurable viewing experience.

    This film truly has the magic. I laughed and cried, completely connected with all the characters. The story was unbelievably touching. Direction and every step of the production was top-notch. A masterpiece that will set the standards for "Crazy Wonderland"-style films for years to come.
  • I'll keep it short. For the first 30 minutes I had my finger on the OFF button because it was too cheesy and too childish, i can even say it was bad. Then suddenly it got serious, emotional and deep.

    I was amazed at the bright colors, the characters, the strange dialog, the caption of broken souls of today. It's a masterpiece dealing with very present problems today, loneliness, being different, feeling broken and yet experience something great.

    The many different characters in this movie made me feel like I could relate to all of them on some level, and I think you could too.

    It's a very memorable movie. It has a touching and different story from everything else out there today. Just give it time and you'll understand.
  • Before I start, I must say that I have had this tendency to find 90% of the live-action movies in this country to be so poorly written that I generally avoid them.

    That said, I'll try to describe the movie without any spoilers: Pako and the Magical Picture Book was amazing. At first glance it appears to be a kiddie movie. I'm fine with that, as I like a good childish comedy now and then. As you start watching it, it seems pretty simple and kind of stupid: Oniki, the old man, is in the hospital after having collapsed at a board meeting at the company he spent over 40 years building up from nothing. The farther into the movie you get, the less it seems like a regular hospital and more it seems like a place for mental health patients and for people who cannot take care of themselves. Even the doctor and nurses are weird. There are several people who I would just calls nut cases, a violently angry nurse, another nurse who wants to get the old man's money by becoming the wife of his son (this isn't an essential part of the plot at all), the old transvestite, and several others who can't really be described without ruining part of their plots.

    Then there is Pako. Pako is a little girl who loses her memory every day. Think along the lines of 40 First Dates, but less funny. She is an unusually cheerful girl, and she always carries around a storybook she got from her mom. The book is pretty crazy, and at first it sounds like it is a pretty mean story about a frog who hates everyone.

    By the end, you get some really deep insights into the characters, showing the adult morbid sides to several of them, and the sad depressing sides of others. Alongside all this you have Pako and her story, which twists what would be an extremely depressing and dark story to kind of show what the world would look like to a child's eyes. It is such a perfect mix of dark tragedy and childish comedy that I would say it goes very well with something Tim Burton could have made if he was able to handle the strange intricacies of Japanese dialects and properly convey them in English.

    If you liked any of the "lighter" Tim Burton movies and you speak Japanese, then watch this movie. You are missing out if you don't.
  • Actually I was tempted to stand up and leave the theater at the beginning part of the film because there were flooding scenes of childish and idiotic acting and dialogue yet I had a second thought about it. Well I found I was right about my hunch at the end credit. It was one of the best fantastic comedies with a little spice of tragedy.

    I got involved with the story and went through catharsis because I identified with one of the characters who shared my problem and got it over with. There were various kinds of people in the film and you should find the one whom you can identify yourself with, I guess.

    Koji Yakusho's performance was overwhelming. He was really good at expressing his emotion through his eyes not through line of dialogue, which reminded me of his mentor Tatsuya Nakadai in "The Shadow Warrior(1980)". Ayaka Wilson was as lovely as Ivana Baquero in "Pan's Labyrinth (2007)". Jun Kunimura well-known for his low-keyed performance played a cameo role as a hard gay.

    I wish there were a little more explanation why that cold-hearted shitty old man began to care about the fairy whatever her fate was; it is my personal opinion, though. Everyone in the theater was giggling, running nose like me ;-) and applauding. Oh, if you ever had a chance to see this film, make sure you got your handkerchief, OK?
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Like Director Nakajima's previous film "Kiraware Matsuko no isshô" (literally, "The Life of Matsuko, Who Was Hated By Everyone"), I couldn't help marveling at bright colors and strange, surreal images in "Pako to Mahô no Ehon" (Paco and the Magic(al Picture) Book). The story is about friendship between seven-year-old girl Pako, who loses her memory every day (sort of like Drew Barrymore's character in "50 First Dates") and obnoxious old millionaire Ônuki, both in a very strange hospital, where the only doctor likes to pretend that he is Peter Pan and Cinderella, the nurses were either a blood-sucking vampire-like woman or a punk with body piercing. The obnoxious rich old man, played by Yakusho Kôji (everyone except Paco has such heavy makeups that I honestly couldn't tell who played whom) gradually changed because of Pako, who loves reading a picture book called "Prince Toad vs Monster Crayfish." I cried throughout the movie, although most teenagers in the theater giggled through it. I guess it really depends on your age and life experience. It's a quirky wonderful film and highly recommended.
  • Only the name of 'Tetsuya Nakajima' kept me stayed in front of the display. Honestly, I didn't enjoy the comedy part at all though.

    The arrogant elderly who had the force met a girl, Paco. She couldn't her memory of only a day. Like that, the setting sounds very common. But the director rebuilt it such avant-garde well! I was fascinated with artwork and the cinematography and got why he is called 'a remarkable genius' in Japan. It's worth to watch the beautiful images and Paco's prettiness!

    What does the cripple mean in his movies? I've seen it in the 'Confessions,' too. Maybe it's necessary for him. I wonder if it was inspired by Akira Kurosawa.