(aka 'Hana yori mo naho' or 'Hana: Tale of a Reluctant Warrior')

Directed by Hirokazu Koreeda
Japan 2006


After making four contempo-set dramas (including "After Life," and Cannes-contenders "Distance" and "Nobody Knows"), helmer Hirokazu Kore-eda goes period with "Hana," a humanistic, charmingly off-kilter samurai story of sorts. Tale of a good-hearted warrior on a reluctant mission to avenge his father features practically none of the swordplay and tragedy associated with the genre. Instead, with its teeming cast of colorful characters, domestic emphasis and baggy structure, "Hana" almost feels like a soap-opera pilot, albeit with top-notch production values. Pic opened weakly in Japan in early June, but may click offshore as a niche with Asiaphile auds.

Set in 1702, plot pivots around Aoki Sozaemon, aka "Soza," (one-time pop star Junichi Okada), a shy young samurai who has come to the bustling town of Edo (now known as Tokyo) to look for the man who killed his father, Jubei Kanazawa (Japanese megastar Tadanobu Asano, and a regular Kore-eda collaborator).

Excerpt from Variety magazine located HERE


Theatrical Release: September 7th, 2006 - Toronto Film Festival

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DVD Review: Funimation - Region 1 - NTSC

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Distribution Funimation - Region 1 - NTSC
Runtime 2:08:28 
Video 1.85:1 Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 7.42 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.


Audio Japanese (Dolby Digital 5.1), DUB: English (Dolby Digital 2.0)
Subtitles English, None

Release Information:
Studio: Funimation

Aspect Ratio:
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1

Edition Details:

• Opening Day Stage Greetings
• Original Trailers
• Funmation trailers

DVD Release Date: June 24th, 200
White Keep Case
Chapters: 21



I don't recall us reviewing a lot from Funimation Entertainment but recently Leonard did cover the excellent and reasonably priced Shinobi: Heart Under Blade on Blu-ray HERE.

A lot of Hirokazu Koreeda's films don't ever seem to produce crisp transfers and a few individuals have remarked that they can tend to look somewhat soft theatrically as well. This dual-layered, anamorphic but interlaced DVD seems to fall in line with that contention. Aside from the combing this transfer looks clean but unremarkable and a decent source may have produced similar results that lean towards hazy and not particularly detailed. The quality is consistent but colors nor contrast seem to approach the high end of visual satisfaction. It is quite probable that this is just the way it looks.

Audio has an original Japanese 5.1 track and a 2.0 English DUB. The film's dialogue is supported by optional English subtitles (sample below).

Supplements consist of an 'Opening Day Stage Greetings' auditorium celebration  with cast and crew running onstage and giving a sound-bite or two (optionally English subtitled). There is also a trailer and some further Funimation adverts. There are no liner notes.

I expect most Koreeda fans wishing to indulge in this DVD would be more inclined to show interest in the film itself. I'm usually not one for period pieces but I did enjoy this - certainly a different stylistic direction from Koreeda's "After Life," or "Nobody Knows". This DVD presentation is quite average but it may be more than enough to satisfy those with desires to view the film.  If we knew of a superior DVD edition - we would probably recommend but I only have knowledge of this - and we've certainly seen worse (NOTE: Jeff tells us of the existence of a Shochiku Home Video edition available HERE).

The price seems high but it depends on your interest. If you aren't expecting anything monumental from the digital presentation you shouldn't be disappointed - the film is an interesting drama with some well-timed notes of wry humor... and it is most definitely not a Samurai film in the action-genre sense (if anyone were thinking this).   

Gary W. Tooze


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Combing evident...


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Distribution Funimation - Region 1 - NTSC


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