It already started! Welcome to our first summer survey about Japanese Cinema. Please make your choice: which studio do you preffer? Which one put out the greatest films and directors, the best actors? You don't have to hurry, it'll only end 5 of September. Don't forget to vote on the right side of the screen.
Still hard to answer? Then, let's sum up the best of each studio (i'm sure i will forget someone/something):
(Shochiku logo circa 1977)
Tendencies: The most classical studio (art-house; family dramas; light comedies, essence of japaness etc.). Home of Yasujiro Ozu, Hiroshi Shimizu, Heinosuke Gosho, Keisuke Kinoshita, Yasujiro Shimazu, Yoshitaro Nomura, Yoji Yamada (Tora-San saga). First works of Masaki Kobayashi and Hideo Gosha. Beggining of Japanese New Wave (first works of Nagisa Oshima, Masahiro Shinoda, Kiju Yoshida).
(Toho logo circa 1969)
Tendencies: More Ocidental- influenced studio than Shochiku., while mantaining some sort of classical quality. Home of Akira Kurosawa, Mikio Naruse, Sadao Yamanaka, Shiro Toyoda, Hiroshi Inagaki, Kihachi Okamoto, Ishiro Honda etc. Also known for their Tokusatsu movies (and kaiju-eiga, monster movies) like Godzilla, Mothra etc.
Tendencies: Toei will be always known for their action-oriented and yakuza movies. At first competing with Daiei and their kabuki-like sword films, Toei started directing highly stylised films (almost "B quality"), turning into one of the two transgressive studios during the 70's and 80's (the other being Nikkatsu). Home of Tomu Uchida, Tadashi Imai, Eiichi Kudo, Tai Kato (jidai-geki) Kinji Fukasaku (Yakuza films), Teruo Ishii (the "Joys of Torture series"), Norifumi Suzuki, Female Convict Scorpion films (Meiko Kaji), and almost every Sonny Chiba (martial-arts) or Ken Takakura (Yakuza classic) movie. Also known for producing many kinds of anime.
Tendencies: The experts in Jidai-geki (historical samurai movies) and chambara (swordplay) , during the 50's and 60's. Home of classical directors like Kenji Mizoguchi, Teinosuke Kinugasa, Kon Ichikawa, Satsuo Yamamoto, Yasuzo Masumura (films about youth), Daisuke Ito (last films), Kenji Misumi (and the so-called "artisans": Kimiyoshi Yasuda, Kazuo Ikehiro, Kazuo Mori, Tokuzo Tanaka, Akira Inoue etc.). Famous for their top actors, Shintaro Katsu (Zatoichi movies) and Raizo Ichikawa (Nemuri Kyoshiro, Ninja etc.) Kurosawa shifted temporarily from Toho to make Rashomon at Daiei. Also known for some Tokusatsu (special-effects) movies like Gamera or Daimajin and some classic horror movies. It went in bankruptcy in the early seventies.
Tendencies: The oldest japanese studio, Nikkatsu produced many classic movies. However, in the 60's, Nikkatsu was responsible for many film-noir and youth-themed films with stars such as Akira Kobayashi, Yujiro Ishihara, Tetsuya Watari or Joe Shishido. Films in this era were directed by Ko Nakahira (sun-tribe movies) Koreyoshi Kurahara, Takumi Furukawa, Toshio Masuda, Seijun Suzuki etc. Nonetheless, with fear of bankrupcy, Nikkatsu shifted their direction radicaly, producing the so called Roman Porno films (erotic movies with big budget), directed by such names as Yasuharu Hasebe, Tatsumi Kumashiro, Masaru Konuma, Noburo Tanaka, Koyu Ohara, Chusei Sone etc. and starring actresses like Junko Miyashita, Naomi Tani, Tomoko Ai etc. Also the home of the first Shohei Imamura films (50's, 60's).
(Shintoho logo circa 1960)
Tendencies: Shintoho's speciality was the horror genre. Although being the most modest studio, Shintoho always surprised the viewers with the style, colors and surreal atmosphere of its horror films or thrillers. Home of Nobuo Nakagawa and the first works of Teruo Ishii. It went bankruptcy in 1960.