So long as you use a knife, there’s some love left!

wings of kirin nihonbashi bridge tokyo japan abe hiroshi

Kings of the land and the sky we are; proud gryphons

Elizabeth Munroe, Wingspan

Wings of Kirin (2012)
Also known as
Kirin no Tsubasa: Gekijoban Shinzanmono
Crime,    Melodrama,    Mystery,    Tragedy
Written by
Keigo Higashino (novel),    Takeharu Sakurai screenplay)
Directed by
Country of Origin
Running time
129 minutes

oh! … brief

A dying man is found by a police officer beneath a statue of a winged gryphon on the Nihonbashi Bridge in Tokyo. The man later dies on arrival at the hospital.

Meanwhile, at a nearby location, a young man discovered behaving suspiciously attempts to flee capture by the police but is severely injured as he makes his escape. He becomes the prime suspect in the ensuing investigation into the murder of the dead man. His lover denies his potential involvement

During the investigation, the truth behind the tragic murder is slowly and painstakingly revealed.

A seemingly straightforward investigation forces the detectives involved to pound the pavements of Tokyo, rattle the cages, and interpret the information that is discovered to expose the truth and secrets hidden by the murder.

oh! … talks film

Based on the 9th novel in the Kyoichiro Kaga mystery series by popular crime writer Keigo Higoshino, Takeharu Sakurai’s screenplay closely follows the premise of the novel and lends itself to thought-provoking intrigue.

The simplicity of the writing of the screenplay and narrative is what fashions this film so well. There are no pointless or distracting side stories or crazily melodramatic plot twists. It’s refreshing not to have distractions going on left, right, and centre.

I appreciated that Takeharu Sakurai crafted realistic detective characters, narrating honest law enforcement language. In fact, the writing of the screenplay is loaded with character development. Takeharu Sakurai obviously put a lot of reflection and energy into fleshing out the motivations, interactions and relationships of each character. The end result is an involving tale with gripping setups and complexities that keep an audience engaged.

I was entertained by the writing and character development of the law enforcement officers. Takeharu Sakurai portrayed them as regular detectives doing their job of detecting and sifting through the evidence. The evidence points to the prime suspect, but the detectives follow all possible routes to ensure they have the right culprit, in spite of mounting pressure from their superiors. The elimination process is plausible. It’s refreshing!

The combination of a solid screenplay and stirring acting by a well-cast group of actors and actresses delivered a light but profound production. The film focuses on the familial dynamics and touches on human nature topics – deception, desperation, love, forgiveness, and hope. These add depth to the human aspects of the story and I’m sure, makes for a more realistic rendition of the original novel.

I like that the story ends on a positive note with some sage words of wisdom from the lead detective.

Just as the screenplay was understated, so too was the cinematography. Hideo Yamamoto framed beautiful close-ups and scenes with subtle mastery. While I am sure Nobuhiro Doi didn’t intend for an artful production, that is what Hideo Yamamoto captured with his camera lens.

United with the strong screenplay, the beautiful cinematography and cast of skilled actors and actresses, the music reflected the essence of the film. I have struggled to find a place to download Yugo Kanno’s music, but I haven’t given up entirely and I’ll keep you posted. The music, for me, reflected the strong charisma that each of the actors shared with the audience and is in simple truth thanks to the flawless acting of the cast.

Detective Kyoichiro Kaga was played Abe Hiroshi whose low-key performance was magnetic. He perfectly painted a poised, intellectual protagonist with a logical approach to life. He, of course, was stony-faced most of the time which are half of his appeal and allure, not to mention his drop dead “undress me” eyes.

What I truly admire about Abe Hiroshi above all else is his ability to find and bag incredible screenplays and scripts that complement his acting style. I don’t think I’ve seen him in anything terrible and he has always been a shrewd actor.

Playing as his co-lead on the investigation team is Junpei Mizobata who takes on the character Yuhei Matsumiya. While Yuhei Matsumiya shadows Detective Kaga, his acting certainly is not in the shadows. This young man can act at the same level of his mature cast member colleagues.

Yuto Aoyagi, the eldest child of the deceased man and the most complex of characters was played by Tori Matsuzaka. His portrayal of the angry teenage boy was spot on! All the emotional surly anger and angst mixed in with fear and then suspicion was surprisingly authentic. I was needlessly worried initially.

All the supporting cast members seamlessly supported the leads with the skilled delivery of their characters. The acting was simple and unexaggerated which was refreshing given some of the productions I have watched lately.

oh! … that’s a wrap

What can I say, this review is short and sweet! I’d definitely recommend this film as a must-see because the combination of all elements blended to create a visually gratifying film with an absorbing story which was underscored by phenomenal acting and a nostalgic soundtrack. You will not be disappointed, and if by some incredible chance you are, there’s always Abe Hiroshi to feast your eyes on!

You’ll enjoy this film if you want to try and solve a murder mystery that brings a surprising twist to its end.

oh! … tidbits

A key to understanding some of the backstories to the locations and shrines in this film follows:

Nihonbashi is a world-renowned business area in Tokyo, Japan. The area was a large commercial trading market during Japan’s Edo period. The bridge filmed for the production first became famous during the 17th century as the Eastern terminus for the Nakasendō and Tōkaidō roads which ran between Edo and Kyoto. Initially a wooden bridge, the Meiji era, it was replaced by the larger stone bridge which still stands currently.


The area surrounding the bridge was burned to the ground during the massive March 9-10, 1945 bombing of Tokyo, considered the single largest air raid in history. Despite careful maintenance and restoration, one area of the bridge still has scars burned into the stone from an incendiary bomb. It is one of the few traces left from the firebombing that levelled most of Tokyo.


In Japan, the Shichifukujin (Seven Gods of Good Fortune) have been worshipped as deities that bring luck. These seven gods are Ebisu, Daikokuten, Bishamonten, Benzaiten, Fukurokuju, Jurojin, and Hotei.





wings of kirin Kirin no Tsubasa Gekijōban Shinzanmono abe hiroshiNihonbashi is also the location of the Suitengu Shrine featured in the film. And around the famous Suitengu Shrine are the other six shrines of the Seven Deities of Good Fortune (Shichifukujin).





wings of kirin Kirin no Tsubasa Gekijōban Shinzanmono abe hiroshiThe Yagenbori Fudo Temple is the Tokyo offshoot of Kawasaki Daishi (Heikenji Temple), a Buddhist temple known for warding off misfortune, which during the Edo period was one of Tokyo’s three major temples enshrining the Fudo deity.





wings of kirin Kirin no Tsubasa Gekijōban Shinzanmono abe hiroshiThe Fukutoku Shrine is a historic shrine that has stood in Nihonbashi since before the mid-9th century. Warlords such as Minamoto no Yoshiie and Ota Dokan, as well as Tokugawa Ieyasu and Tokugawa Hidetada, were among its patrons and visitors. The shrine is also called “Mebuki,” or Sprouting Shrine, a name taken from an anecdote that buds sprouted on its main gate, made of sawtooth oak.



wings of kirin Kirin no Tsubasa Gekijōban Shinzanmono abe hiroshiThe Ogannonji Temple was said to have been constructed here in Ningyocho in 1880. The statue of Kannon, the temple’s principal object of worship, depicts only the head, which measures 170 cm in height. It is unveiled to the public only on the 17th of each month. Given its location in Ningyocho (Doll Town), it is also well known for offering memorial services for dolls.


A gryphon iwings of kirin Kirin no Tsubasa Gekijōban Shinzanmono abe hiroshis a legendary creature with the body, tail and legs of a lion, the head and talons of an eagle. As is the case of the gryphons on the Nihonbashi Bridge in Tokyo, sometimes gryphons are winged creatures, typically with eagle wings, but I have seen some with dragon-like wings. The lion’s body and the features of the eagle bring together the power of the king of the animal kingdom and the king of the bird kingdom.

Origami Tsuru (paper cranes) feature in the film. In Japan, the crane is a mystical or holy creature. It is believed that an ancient Japanese legend promises anyone who folds a thousand origami cranes will be granted a wish by the gods. Thousand Origami Cranes (Senbazuru) is a group of one thousand origami paper cranes held together by strings. In some stories, it is believed that the 1000 cranes must be completed within one year and they must all be made by the person who is to make the wish at the end.

oh! … soundtrack

oh! … gallery

oh! … trailers

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