Sweet and sour
Directors and actors from Japan, Taiwan and China join
forces for a labor of love
By Chie Masuda
|The cast of About Love,
from left: Ryo Kase; Taiwanese stars Mavis Fan and Bo-lin
Chen; Misaki Ito; Takashi Tsukamoto; and Chinese actress
Although the political situation among China,
Taiwan and Japan has been tense recently, the three seem to
be communicating well at the cultural level. A good example
is the film About Love, a collaborative effort between directors
and six young actors and actresses from the three regions.
About Love focuses on relationships between three couples
who speak different languages and come from different cultural
backgrounds. Set in Tokyo, Taipei and Shanghai, About Love
consists of three stories that each concerns a student studying
abroad who falls in love with a local. The trio of directorsJapans
Ten Shimoyama, Taiwans Chih-yen Yee and Yibai Zhang
from Chinaexplore intercultural relationships in their
own style using the city as almost another character in the
Shanghai is usually depicted as a developed and futuristic
city, said Zhang, who directs the Shanghai segment,
but I wanted to express a quiet, simple love story that
was in contrast to the big, noisy city. His episode
stars Xiaolu Li, who is well-known for her movie and soap
opera roles in China as well as commercials in South Korea.
She plays a high school girl named Yun who is attracted to
Shuhei, a Japanese student played by Takashi Tsukamoto. She
tries wooing him in Japanese, Chinese and even Spanish (in
the Shanghai version), but Shuhei is oblivious to her advances
because he still pines for his girlfriend, whom he left behind
in Japan. The multilingual Xiaolu joked that the Japanese
phrase she used the most on set was Onaka hetteru?
(Are you hungry?) because Tsukamoto seemed to
be hungry all the time during filming.
For the Taipei story, director Yee chose Taiwanese singer-actress
Mavis Fan (who sold 20 million albums when she was 17) as
the protagonist A-Su. She starts dating a Japanese guy named
Tetchan (Ryo Kase) to forget her loneliness after being dumped
by her boyfriend. A-Su calls up Tetchan, who only speaks a
little Chinese, for help. Although it is the middle of the
night, he speeds over on his motorcycle, hoping for a one-night
standonly to find out that A-Su wants him to help make
a bookshelf. The most difficult thing in making this
movie was to do love scenes with Ryo Kase only two days after
we met, Fan cooed.
In the third story, set in Tokyo, Taiwanese actor Bo-lin Chen
plays Yao, a student in Japan who dreams of becoming a successful
digital cartoonist. One day in a crowded video shop, Yao is
intrigued by a heartbroken young graphic artist named Michiko
(Misaki Ito). Ito said she and Chen quickly became good friends
and that filming in Shibuya was the toughest part of their
episode. There are always so many people at the intersection
in Shibuya, so we had to shoot either very early in the morning
or late at night, said the 28-year-old actress.
Cult Adman Has His Eye on Tokyo
From its website, KesselsKramer looks like a DIY electronics
company. Or a vending machine maker. Or a tropical bird sanctuary.
Or a clothes hanger supplier. Or whatever pops up the next
time you hit your browsers reload button. In fact, KesselsKramer
is one of the most outlandish ad agencies on the planet.
Founded in 1996 by Erik Kessels, Johan Kramer and Tyler Whisnand,
KesselsKramer occupies an office in a converted Amsterdam
church that includes an oversized Baywatch lifeguard tower
and a miniature Russian fort.
Why are you in Tokyo?
Were launching our book, 2 kilo of KesselsKramer.
It looks like a brick.
Thats the point. The idea came from the two Ks in KesselsKramer...2k
is 2 kilos, so we made the book weigh exactly that. And it
looks like a brick.
But why Tokyo, and not Amsterdam?
The idea for the book came from the Japanese publisher, Pie
Books. Theres high recognition of our kind of work in
What projects have you done here?
This year, the MTV Japan Music Awards Eye Doll hunt. We hid
dolls around Tokyo, and gave people clues on the air and via
their mobile phones. Anyone who found a doll could go to the
Are you looking for more clients in Japan?
We would love to work more here, but we have a lot of respect
for the different way they do things, so were in no
How do you balance ethics and advertising?
We do nonprofit work all the time that we learn from and feed
into jobs for our clients. Branding Ben Mobile in Holland,
we created a top-to-bottom philosophyincluding things
like human resourcesthat should make the company behave
itself. We branded Ben as a person, not a business.
Tell us about some of your other favorite projects.
The Hotel Hell website (www.hans-brinker.com)
for the Hans Brinker budget hotel was one. Another was staging
The Other World Cup between the two worst football
teams in the world on the day of the World Cup final in Japan
in 2002. Bhutan beat Montserrat 4-0. 2kilo of KesselsKramer
will be released in October. www.kesselskramer.com
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