A live-action film adaptation of Mineo Maya’s “Fly Me to the Saitama,” a comedy manga series that was launched in 1982, turned out to be a huge, unexpected box office hit of 2019. It garnered critical acclaim both in and out of Japan, receiving 12 nominations and winning Director of the Year, Screenplay of the Year, and Best Film Editing at the 43rd Japan Academy Film Prize! With the producers who took the demand for a sequel as real, the cast and crew got back together to complete the second chapter of the urban legend in Fly Me To The Saitama -FROM BIWA LAKE WITH LOVE-. In the first film, Momomi Dannoura (Fumi Nikaido), the son of the Tokyo governor and the student council president of a prestigious private school called Hakuhodo Academy, meets Rei Asami (GACKT), a transfer student from the USA and the leader of the Saitama Liberation Front. The story revolves around the urban legend of their fight for the freedom of Saitama prefecture. The sequel takes place three months after the abolishment of the “passport” to enter Tokyo. Peace in the Kanto region (east Japan) doesn’t last long as the citizens of Saitama have poor connections with people in other prefectures. Rei, who is the advocator of THE SAITAMAFICATION OF JAPAN, hopes to unite the Saitama citizens by creating a sea in the inland region of Koshigaya. His journey with his friends to Shirahama, Wakayama prefecture, develops into a battle between the east and west that involves the entire nation. It also turns out to be Rei’s discovery of his own roots. Like the first film, the story has two layers—one about the urban legend of the Saitama Liberation Front, and one about a family of Saitama citizens in the present day who listen to the radio drama about the urban legend in their car. It is directed again by Hideki Takeuchi, who has delivered numerous box office hits to the world, including Nodame Cantabile, Thermae Romae, and Daughter of Lupin. The screenplay is again written by Yuichi Tokunaga, the director’s tag-team partner who is now one of the most popular and talented writers in the Japanese entertainment industry today. In addition to the biting yet affectionate dissing of Saitama and the Kanto region in the first film, the sequel contains an even more scathing dissing of the Kansai region. The battle scene, an “invention” of sorts in the first film, is also repeated in the sequel. Photos of various celebrities from the Kansai region are raised in the air and add flourish to the film. Alongside costars GACKT and Fumi Nikaido, Ryo Kato and Tsubasa Masuwaka reprise their roles as members of the Saitama Liberation Front. A crucial protagonist who joins their battle, Kai Kikyo, the handsome leader of the Shiga Liberation Front, is played by Anne in her first role as male character. Akira Kashoji, the ruthless governor of Osaka and kingpin of the Kansai region who stands in the way of Rei and others, is played by Ainosuke Kataoka. In addition to Norika Fujiwara and Mayo Kawasaki who play the mayors of their real-life hometowns, other colorful actors from the Kansai region intensify the Kansai vibes of the film. They include Mayu Hotta, COOKIE! (Yasei Bakudan), Maryjun Takahashi, Yoshimi Tendo, Momiji Yamamura, and Momoko (Highheel). In the present-day footage, Emi Wakui, akira 100%, and Nao Asahi re-infuse their love of Saitama into their characters to further embellish the story. Fly Me To The Saitama -FROM BIWA LAKE WITH LOVE- is even grander and richer and more powerful and robust than its predecessor. The dissing is shadier, and homeland patriotism, stronger. A brilliant work of entertainment that you’ll thoroughly enjoy tongue in cheek.





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