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Funky Forest: The First Contact

3.6 out of 5 stars 16 customer reviews

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(Mar 31, 2009)
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Cult-favorite director Katsuhito Ishii (The Taste of Tea, Shark Skin Man & Peach Hip Girl) teams up with the talented Shunichiro Miki and ANIKI to create another visually inventive masterpiece! Funky Forest features hilariously odd characters that will take you on an unpredictable cosmic journey.

Three unpopular brothers, Masaichi, Masaru and Masao, are struggling to be popular among the girls. Luckily enough, they finally get a chance to have a co-ed picnic with some pretty young ladies! With 21 free-associative episodes ranging from a nonsense "sci-fi" comedy to a dance-battle daydream, Funky Forest: The First Contact will challenge your mind and melt logic, as its unique characters find themselves in warped dimensions way past our imagination.

Director s chapter menu
Interval chapter menu
Japanese Original Trailers
Dolby Digital Surround 5.1

The Making of Funky Forest- Into the World of the Unfathomable Forest
A Choreography Lesson Video- Katsuichi s Dance Secret Treasure
Video Contents- The Transfer Student is Here!

One simply cannot put too fine a point on the experience of watching Funky Forest: The First Contact, a two-hour-plus, genre-defying feature from Japanese directors Katsuhito Ishii (best known for the cult hit Shark Skin Man and Peach Hip Girl), Shunichiro Michi and Hajime Ishimine (a.k.a. Aniki): It is simply unlike any other film, but its consistently ebullient tone and absurd humor should make it a most enjoyable trip for the adventurous moviegoer. As with Ishii's previous effort, The Taste of Tea, the emphasis is on dreamlike visuals and non-linear storytelling, though here, even the most basic plotline is abandoned in favor of a series of rotating vignettes (non-sequiturs, really) about characters caught in absurd scenarios. The "Unpopular With Women Brothers" (Japanese heartthrob Tadanobu Asano, character actor Susuma Terajima, and young Anglo non-pro Andrew Alfieri) struggle to woo girls with woeful songs and complicated dances, while teacher and aspiring DJ Takefumi (Ryo Kase) attempts to win over his student Notti (Erika Nishikado) with mixes and his own elaborate dancing (which blossoms into a dream with full-blown routines opposite animated partners). Elsewhere, Susama presides over a free-form classroom full of exceptionally vocal students (who also perform a musical routine using some David Cronenberg-inspired creatures as instruments), a trio of chatty businesswomen spin elaborate stories about aliens, a dog pens anime storylines (anime legend Hideaki Anno of Neon Genesis Evangelion fame is featured in the cast), a pair of manic comedians nearly beat each other to death, and the whole thing comes to a lovely and lysergic conclusion in a dream involving Notti (Nishikado provides her own playing) and DJs tuning into the earth itself to create a sort of harmonic convergence.

Suffice it to say that Funky Forest is as bizarre as movies get, and its willful incoherence and long running time (which comes with an intermission) may be more than one viewer's undoing, but in its own fractured way, the movie does make a few gentle observations about freeing one's self of unnecessary hang-ups (about school, relationships, etc.) and finding happiness in the simple joys available in each day. And Ishii and his collaborators and cast (which includes Oscar nominee Rinko Kikuchi of Babel and several of the players from Taste of Tea and Peach Hip Girl) deliver the madness and the message with impeccable technical quality and honest and funny performances, making this a challenging but ultimately rewarding experience for independent-minded audiences and fans of the filmmakers' unique style. The DVD includes several trailers and TV spots, a making-of featurette that threatens to explain the film (but does no such thing), and director Michi's hilarious demonstration of Susama's complicated dance. -- Paul Gaita

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Kotaro Shiga, Kazue Fukiishi, Yoshiyuki Morishita, Ryo Kase, Chizuru Ikewaki
  • Directors: Katsuhito Ishii, Shunichiro Miki, ANIKI
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Anamorphic, Animated, Color, NTSC, Subtitled
  • Language: Japanese (Stereo)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated:
    Not Rated
  • Studio: VIZ Pictures, Inc.
  • DVD Release Date: March 31, 2009
  • Run Time: 150 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0012EM5I8
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #144,963 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Funky Forest: The First Contact" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By [KNDY] Dennis A. Amith TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on December 30, 2008
Format: DVD
An artistic masterpiece or just one very odd film? Depending on the viewer, "FUNKY FOREST" (or "Nice no Mori") could be anything I suppose. And I think that because it's so strange, fun and at times, mind boggling, it's why I the film has become a cult-hit.

I am quite familiar with the work of Katsuhito Ishii, who definitely received some rave reviews for his film "The Taste of Tea" at the Cannes Film Festival but what happens when you take one of the most popular abstract and creative directors and pair him up with equally creative filmmakers such as Shunichiro Miki and ANIKI, you're definitely going to get something wild, unique and something you probably never have seen before.

To explain "FUNKY FOREST" would be a bit difficult. It's not written as a straightforward film. There is no actual climatic points or anything like that. It's 21 free-associative short episodes featuring some of the weirdest characters and also cameos by well-known Japanese talent.

For example,"Little Hataru" is a single segment starring a young girl who is bored and bored of homework, so she has the ability to leave reality and enter some sort of dimension, space or time or does she?

One of my favorite segments in the film are featuring the the Guitar Brothers. Three unpopular brothers, Katsuichi, Masaru and Masao. For their storyline, Katsuichi (Terajima) tries to learn dance but eventually goes to the Hot Springs where he encounters three beautiful women and tries to develop the guts to ask them out for a singles party. Masaru (Asano) is a guitarist. A very good guitarist but somehow he tries to get the approval of his little brother, a Caucasian/portly child who is constantly eating Snicker bars and responds with bad/limited Japanese.
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Funky Forest: The First Contact is laugh out loud loopy -- the most fun I've had watching a film in a long time. Bad comedians, bizarre dance routines, a show and tell classroom, a canine director of animated films, aliens who hope to take over the world, geeky brothers, a funky forest that delivers otherworldly pop, and lots more go into this almost indescribably odd and hilarious film from the maker of The Taste of Tea.

The best description I can think of for Funky Forest: The First Contact is: a Japanese avant-garde science fiction musical comedy television network film. If that doesn't make any sense, or if that doesn't entice your interest, there may be nothing I can say that can convey how delightful and funny and quirky and charming this film really is.

But here's another go: imagine you find yourself in a cheap Tokyo hotel above a busy neon bright city street, and you may have had one too many drinks of sake or maybe not since you can't really remember how you ended up in a hotel room in Japan in the first place, but you can't sleep and you are bored so you turn on the television and start flipping through the channels and each program is a little more strange than the last one and you start to wonder whether you are really asleep after all and dreaming but you think to yourself that your dreams usually aren't so odd and funny and colorful and you don't want to wake up because you are having too much fun. Watching Funky Forest is a little bit like that, but maybe even better.
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Picture Quality, sound and content, all excellent.
extras are nice in this 2 disc set.
Som short sketches, happenings, and dreams. It's not for everyone, but thos who are willing to experiment some nice ideas and stories, will welcome this movie.
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Format: DVD
If you are going to watch this movie, it will help if you go into it not expecting anything resembling a normal movie. I have to admit that I had a pretty violently negative reaction to it at first, and I turned it off at about the 15 or 20 minute mark. After reading some online reviews, I decided to give it another chance when I was in a more receptive frame of mind, and I had a somewhat better time with it. I still think that it's too long, and it has some boring stuff I would have cut (particularly the "babbling hot springs vixens" parts), but if you're willing to stick with it, it becomes an interesting experience. It may seem pretty disjointed at first, and to some, the movie may seem like a collection of completely random, unconnected vignettes, but I think that structuring the movie this way possibly makes it a less frustrating experience that it might have been otherwise because you're not likely to feel that the movie has an intricate plot that is impossible to follow, and if you start to get bored with any particular segment, it's probably pretty close to being over.

It is a bit like channel surfing through strange Japanese tv at 3 am, which is both good and bad. It might help a little if, instead of looking at this as a movie, you look at it a little bit more like a filmed piece of performance art or a really, really strange concert film/extended music video. It would be fair to call the film "dreamlike," but it's worth remembering that the vast majority of dreams that people have would probably make for rather dull viewing.

I would offer a few of pieces of advice for those interested in seeing this movie:

1. If you are not familiar with the names Katsuhito Ishii or Tadanobu Asano, then don't bother with this movie.
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