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(as Kô Shibasaki)


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Oyayubihime - Thumbelina
8 April 2009 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

I believe that 'Kowai Dowa' was an anthology series of stories using fairy tales as a starting point for a modern reinterpretation. The only one I have seen is 'Oyayubihime' which was based on 'Thumbelina' but has no relation to that story apart from having little people. I tracked this down because it stars Chiaki Kuriyama.

I have been keen to see more of her work since coming across her in 'Kill Bill', 'Batale Royale' and 'Azumi-2'. This has been interesting but frustrating. While she adds a touch of class to poor films like 'Mail', she often seems to be there just for her looks, as with 'Persona'. Even in genuinely interesting films such as 'Scrap Heaven', her screen time tends to be small and her role in 'MPD-Psycho' was blink-and-you-miss-it. I have therefore enjoyed her recent work, such as 'Ekusute' and 'The Great Demon War'.

But finally to this review. . . It is a gritty magical fantasy called 'Oyayubihime'. It is four x 25 minute episodes and features Chiaki prominently - she has about 90% of the screen time and she is at her nastiest, psychotic schoolgirl best. She starts off as a schoolgirl with a crush on a classmate who rejects her. She obtains a spell which shrinks him to Thumbelina size and she imprisons him in a drawer in her bedroom. At first she treats him kindly but as he continues to reject her advances, she becomes increasingly crazy and takes to humiliating and torturing her captive. Chiaki is brilliant in this: she plays a really nasty person but is not a cardboard villain and even manages to keep the viewer's sympathy, despite doing the most terrible things. The special effects are surprisingly good.

Also appearing in it is Kou Shibasaki who would be reunited with Chiaki Kuriyama the following year in 'Battle Royale' in which she played Bad Girl Mitsuko.

So, how to get it? I found it here: The page explains how to download it with subtitles - it sounds terribly complicated to do but turned out to be quite easy. There are plenty of clips on U-Tube but I do not recommend watching these as they are just extracts - I really wish I had not watched these before watching the full-length version.

I had no idea something like this existed and when I heard rumours of a long piece of work featuring Chiaki throughout, I thought the rumours were too good to be true but it is really good so try it. I hope you enjoy it!

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