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The Adventures of Yoko: Road to the Agency Star (or known simply as Road to the Agency Star) is a 2003 English-language Bangladeshi-Japanese musical adventure film starring Nana Mizuki, Usha Khanna, Mamoru Miyano, and Eriko Sato. It was directed by the award-winning Noriko Matsumiya as her directorial debut[1] and the story was written by Naoko Takeuchi (the artist who behind the Sailor Moon franchise) and Shakib Panna. This film was based on the 1998 musical novella The Attraction Adventure of Yoko Takashima by Takeuchi herself. This film is also known as The Attraction Adventure of Yoko Takashima: Start! Performance for the New Star (Japanese: 高島陽子の魅力:スタート! 新星のパフォーマンス, Hepburn: Takashima Yōko no Miryoku: Sutāto! Shinsei no Pafōmansu) inside Japan.

Jointly produced by Super Talkie International (now Super Talkie Pictures, who behind Eri Naam Dosti/Ties Never Die from 2000) of Bangladesh and Japan Media Group of Japan, this was the first movie from The Adventures of Yoko movie trilogy. It was premiered on November 27, 2003 at the MetLife Dome, and then finally released generally a day later in Japan. It was a commercially successful film from Super Talkie International with over $150 million gross against the budget of $2 million[2], making the film one of the highest grossing films from Starchild. Critics received the film its positive to mixed reviews, as well as the voice actress and singer Nana Mizuki's miraculous performance and the film's storyline and characters, as well as from her fans, but critized for the visuals. It is considered to be the successor to the 1997 TV series The Adventures of Aya, although this series was based on the 1988 original video animation Harbour Light Story from Fashion Lala.

The Adventures of Yoko: Road to the Agency Star was selected by the Library of Congress for listing in its National Film Registry on 2014 for "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant". On late September 2018, the official Nana Mizuki fan club, S.C. NANA NET, took over the rights to the film after 20th Century Fox losing its rights to the film and its franchise.[3][4][5].

Plot

The film starts at the morning on the Times Square at Manhattan, New York, the opening note says as you can see:

"New York City, 7:45 AM. People love to see the famous stars on the Times Square of New York. They liked their performances of the history of music, but they wanted to see the live again. But the one girl who travelled to the USA but she thought that her jewelery and treasure are missing..."

Yoko Takashima (played by Nana Mizuki), a Japanese foreign girl who is a tourist, seems to be confused about her missing jewellery and an diamond treasure after going a trip to New York, which are from her home. Her family thinks about her jewellery must be stolen by the burglars. However, to get these back, Yoko Takashima, for her best performance ever, must dance and compete for her glory and legend! After thinking, she went to the theater and met the manager, Josh Barker (played by Kimmy Katkar), said that Yoko must dance and compete the dancing contest to become the "agency pop star". Her family should wait until Yoko cames back.

She went back to her family, but however, her mother Sultana (played by the Indian legendary musician Usha Khanna) had a bad feeling about the audience. Yoko and her family went into the hotel. Later on, Emiko Hayashi (played by Eriko Sato) met Yoko at the hotel, said that Yoko seems to be confused about her missing jewellery and treasure, and let her to be stay gold. Yoko's father Hiroto (played by the J-Pop singer and voice actor Mamoru Miyano) said that Yoko will get this prize when she finished, and after that, Yoko and Emiko teamed-up together to work-out their best to sing and dance at the theater! In doing so, They set up her duo YokoEmi, and wore their school idol outfits at the theater's changing room, as well as meeting her friends, and the announcer James Synchell (voiced by Crystal Stainton) said that the dancing will start in ten minutes. Thus, Yoko and Emiko's idol adventures begin!

The staff of the live told them to not to do something weird, and their song started. Yoko and Emiko seems that they are happy about getting landed on their role of idol singers, and they ended with they will return tomorrow. Yoko and Emiko returned to their hotel and Yoko's parents cheered at them for their debut. They did considered YokoEmi 'the newest idol duo'.

At the half of the movie, the Evil Entertainment Overlord, known as the Parade Raiders, is planning its murder to Yoko Takashima, who became a idol a hour ago. They hated her because the leader doesn't want idols to do a "dance", but his members should raid the Times Square by shooting people. One of the members said that they don't want to kill themselves and people, but going to kill crew and managers of the theater.

Meanwhile, Yoko and Emiko, whom are in their hotel room, said that they meet each other tomorrow, so Yoko said Emiko a "really good night". Emiko goes to her room, and Yoko goes sleep on her hotel room. On the late morning, Yoko wakes up and tells her parents that she wants to get her missing ones back for today, but her parents warned Yoko about the unknown terrorists are invading the city!

The members of the Parade Raiders went into the Times Square at Manhattan after they accepted its plans, ruining the people's lives at the afternoon. Instead of killing the staff of the theater, they killed citizen people of the Times Square. Some are partially killed, and some are injured. They managed to escape from being arrested by the police. After this, the banner "THIS IS A STRONG CRIME SCENE, PLEASE DO NOT ENTER TIMES SQUARE UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE" has put in by the police, as they clean its road and building up. Then the policewoman just say that everything is going to be clear out from the attackers shortly.

Yoko's parents saw the news that something went wrong within the Manhattan, and decided to call Yoko to stop them. To keep the Parade Raiders out from the city, Yoko and Emiko, after wore their idol outfits along with her friends, must fight against the Parade Raiders, as well as its leader, Mangla Hamala (played by Rajesh Kumar). Yoko and Emiko quickly defeated him with their bats, and the Parade Raiders are abolished for good (by sending them to the jail).

At the end of the movie, Yoko and her parents and friends are looking for the next trip on the ship, as the sun sets. They are saying goodbyes to the people they saved until their next adventure starts...

Cast

The entire cast of characters according to the ending credits of the film:

  • Nana Mizuki as Yoko Takashima and Nana Miyazaki
  • Usha Khanna as Sultana Takashima, Yoko's mother
  • Mamoru Miyano as Hiroto Takashima, Yoko's father
  • Eriko Sato (as Erika Sato) as Emiko Hayashi, Yoko's best friend
  • Mariya Takeuchi as Subaru Kinoshima
  • Inori Ishaque as Haruko Oshima
  • Shakib Khan as Susumu Oshima, Haruko's uncle
  • Inori Minase as Yuko Hayashi, a child star from the theatre
  • Sumar Aka as Vikram Razi, an Indian executive in-charge of the agency
  • Nana Patekar as Jahami Khan
  • Kaori Kumi as Oko Komatsu
  • Crystal Stainton as James Synchell, the announcer for the dance challenge (voice-over)
  • Jack Matterson as Chuck Johnson
  • Ichika Naegi as Inori Razi, Vikram's daughter
  • Rajesh Kumar as Mangla Hamala, the Parade Raiders' leader
  • Hibiki Miyasaki as Emiko Shednam
  • Hiromi Ito as Nang-Kum Jueng
  • Yuko Oshima (AKB48) as Anna Miyamoto
  • Alice Caseline as Emma Drecker
  • Laurence Olivier as a man in Yoko Takashima's flashback
  • Lauren Misker as a woman in Yoko Takashima's flashback
  • Yui Ogura as Riko Takashima, Yoko's daughter
  • Kimmy Katkar as Josh Barker, the agency manager

The following cast of characters that are uncredited:

  • Steve Martin as John Powell
  • Peter Marshall as Mark Powell
  • Richard Prelly as Laurence Powell
  • Richard Dawson as an live cameraman
  • Barbra Streisand as an sound mixer
  • Rich Fields as an live director
  • Noriko Matsumiya (the film director) as an photographer
  • Yukari Tamura as Mirai Misumi
  • Rica Matsumoto as an policewoman

Production

The production development started on December 2001 when Naoko Takeuchi asked the staff members at Starchild to do the movie version of her novella The Attraction Adventure of Yoko Takashima.

Announcement

The Adventures of Yoko: Road to the Agency Star was announced on the 2002 International Japanese Film Carnival at Nippon Budokan, when Nana Mizuki starred on her first film Bonfire Killers, and she wanted her next one.[6][7][8] The film was completed in a year.

Storyline

The Volume 2 of Nana's Magazine had the early stages of The Adventures of Yoko: Road to the Agency Star where the story is being written as revised version from Naoko Takeuchi's novella. Naoko said that her novella will be continued to have its spin-offs, after she finished revising it.

Naoko Takeuchi and the Bangladeshi writer Shakib Panna together worked to make the film's storyline on late 2002 at Bangladesh Film Development Corporation to make the Japanese adaptation of The Adventures of Aya, but Starchild wanted them to have a big deal for Nana Mizuki. In doing so, the adaptation became The Adventures of Yoko.

Actress Nana Mizuki said:

"I believe that I'm thought my story is being made by the producers of my film. The Japan Media Group hired me to do my best to my fans, and I was excited for getting my role for Yoko! I throught that my dreams made me so happy that I came here to America! That was NANA-tastic!!"

Casting

Bangladesh Film Development Corporation wanted Kokoro Minajima to cast her role as Yoko Takashima, but due to her ongoing conflicts with her film The Genius Eagle, they wanted Nana Mizuki to cast instead. BFDC also wanted Super Talkie International to start their co-production operations with Starchild to join Usha Khanna, Mamoru Miyano, and Eriko Sato to cast their film roles, thus starting their stardom. Also, the casting director Salim Ahmed wanted someone to join the film as their cameo roles' appearance.

Nana Mizuki's role for Yoko Takashima became her another breakout character behind the Naruto character Hinata Hyuga, ahead the Lyrical Nanoha character Fate Tesstarossa-Harlaown, and ahead Maximum Blue: The Magical Rolling Girl main character Aoi Kimoto/Maximum Blue.

Music & Sounds

USA Movie Soundtrack Cover

A Swedish composer Ericka Johannson (better known as Ericka Holland), who was the music composer for the 2000 Swedish film The Phantom Minder, performed its music for the film. These are released on December 1, 2003 as Road to the Agency Star: Original Soundtrack from the Musical Movie. Also, there are some songs which were sung by Nana Mizuki on this soundtrack.

The closing credits theme is "Koishiteru..." (I'm Doing My Love...) by Nana Mizuki, who acted her lead role for the film. This song is included on her eighth single "still in the groove" and third album DREAM SKiPPER. Nana even used her song "What cheer?", which also from her album, for the film's finale segment (final battle against the Evil Entertainment Overlord). "Koishiteru..." (I'm Doing My Love...) was also used as the trailer song for the 2019 Friends Forever mini-special The Dylan and Patricia's Eternal Love with King Records and Walt Disney Records[9].

The sound effects were provided by Noriko Sato and Saeko Inagaki of the Sunrise Sound Services fame, with some of the sound staff members were uncredited, due to the low budget of the ending credits.

Home media

The Adventures of Yoko: Road to the Agency Star made its first VHS release when Raymond Benelux recorded ilegally for VHS on 2003 with French voiceover. It made its official release on VHS and DVD on October 6, 2004 by 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment in the United States, and Starchild in Japan.

In 2011, it was released on DVD and Blu-ray by 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment. In 2018, it was released again, but by S.C. NANA NET due to Fox lost its rights to the film.

Trivia

Enhanced Version

The enhanced and revised version with missing material footage was made in late 2019 as The Adventures of Yoko: Road to the Agency Star -re:ATTRACTION- by The Florian Film Project, Project Dreamin' Believers, and innocent starter motion pictures. This version was directed by Noriko's her younger sister Patricia Matsumiya, but due to an ongoing COVID-19 pandamic at the United States, they released as a direct-to-video and web video instead. It was released on November 27, 2020 as a DVD/Blu-ray Disc by Project Dreamin' Believers.[10]

Release in Bangladesh

Due to being co-produced by Super Talkie International and Japan Media Group, The Adventures of Yoko: Road to the Agency Star was released in Bangladesh by S.S. Productions Limited on December 9, 2003 with Bengali subtitles. This is available only as its 35mm print. Shabana translated its entire texts in the Bengali language, but not dubbing into Bengali for the movie.

Release in United Kingdom

Midnight Film Distributors, one of the British distributors for the foreign films, edited the film to alter the scenes, as well as the music, opening note, and ending credits. They released the film on January 21, 2004, which was Nana Mizuki's 24th birthday, in the United Kingdom.

Kokoro Minajima Memorial

The film's beginning text has a statement that Road to the Agency Star is dedicated to an recently-deceased actress and model from Saitama Prefecture, Kokoro Minajima (see below), born on July 6, 1969, who inspired and promised Nana Mizuki (who was 14 years old at the time) to be intended to have her role for the lead character in the 1994 Japanese adaptation of Around the World in 80 Days, and directed the film, after falling accidently from a helicopter during her vacation trip to Mt. Fuji on July 5, 2003, one day before her 32nd birthday, and the falling accident took her life.[11] The producers of the film gave her a memorial, but this also appears on the next two movies, The Dancing Agent and Sailor Summer Vacation. Her sister, Marisa Minajima, directed the special, Miraculous Clip Party!, from 2019. Kokoro Minajima gets also memorial on the 2003 film The Genius Eagle.

Lawsuit against S.S. Productions

The case was started when Starchild saw S.S. Productions doing a Bengali subtitles for the film without Nana Mizuki's permission in 2003. S.S. Productions CEO Shabana had the decision that she don't like making her films, but doing an film distribution for all of the Japanese films. Nana Mizuki told Shabana that the Bangladeshi film distributors don't distribute all of the Japanese films, including Road to the Agency Star, but she thought that Shabana was an producer. Therefore, they reached a case after Starchild contacted the Japanesae government before they broke out, as the Chief Justice said that distributing Japanese films in Bangladesh is allowed, but not musical films. After the decision against Shabana and between Starchild and S.S. Productions, Nana Mizuki won the case, and Shabana decided to stop distributing Japanese films[12]. The last film that S.S. Productions distributed was The Dancing Agent, in 2005.

Awards

The film was nominated for the several awards. The Adventures of Yoko: Road to the Agency Star won the following eleven awards on 2004:

61st Golden Globe Awards

  • Best Actress: Motion Picture Comedy or Musical - Nana Mizuki
  • Best Supporting Actress: Motion Picture - Eriko Sato
  • Best Director - Noriko Matsumiya
  • Best Screenplay - Naoko Takeuchi (Shakib Panna was absent from the ceremony)

8th Golden Satellite Awards

  • Best Actress: Musical or Comedy - Nana Mizuki
  • Best Director - Noriko Matsumiya
  • Best Screenplay: Adapted - Naoko Takeuchi and Shakib Panna

27th Japan Academy Film Prize

  • Director of the Year - Noriko Matsumiya
  • Outstanding Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role - Nana Mizuki
  • Outstanding Achievement in Cinematography - Mamoru Miyano (James Stainton was absent from the ceremony)

9th Critics' Choice Awards

  • Best Director - Noriko Matsumiya

Following winning her Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Comedy or Musical on 2004, Nana Mizuki gave her happier speech during the ceremony, spoken entirely in English:

"Thank you very much my fans, and thank you Jennifer Aniston. I am Nana Mizuki. Remember me? As I came here from Japan, I was inspired by Naoko Takeuchi's writing skill and attitudes that make me so excited, and I stepped in for getting my award for the first time! Over five years, I was a popular newcomer in the Japanese voice-acting and music history. My first character I voiced was Chisato from the Japanese game NOëL ~La neige~, which proved to be the breakout that make me sung for that character! I want on the radio station and tell the staff to make my first radio show called NANA CHANNEL which is good enough! When I was young on the eighties, I'm being selected by the presenter to sing the covers for the compete for some prizes, and winning the prize that makes me REALLY happy! My singing career is about to become epic when I released my first single on the end of 2000, and the latest was "still in the groove". I am not good enough at learning about how to sing together with my friends, but somehow, I went on the Bangladesh studio to tell its staff "how to make its epic movie". Through I was a enka singer on the nineties, I left my former music agency because of what my enka teacher make me so angry for what the sexual harassment got worse! Did you like my music, and remember things for my past years? When King Records hired me as an singer after I left it for good, I was strongly inspired by my singing ones from the eighties! Today, in honor of my movie Road to the Agency Star's first award, I did my best when I was selected by my agencies, except for Sanko Music. My ending music is MUCH better when the other ones. Because of this, I'm so joy when I came here on the ceremony! Thank you so much to my fans, and Jennifer Aniston too! I love everyone else in Japan, and I will do my best for my love! Goodbye, and god bless you all!"

Gallery

Nana Mizuki filmography before The Adventures of Yoko

  • International Workers (1999, with Pat Sajak)
  • Bonfire Killers (2000)
  • Perfect Blue: Conflict (2002)

References

  1. "Complete Filmography" Project Dreamin' Believers, 2021.
  2. "Super Talkie International's The Adventures of Yoko: Road to the Agency Star". CSS Film Database, 2004.
  3. "TCF lost its rights to Adventures of Yoko franchise after NM7 fans wanted to watch" Time, September 27, 2018.
  4. "S. C. Nana Net strikes on 20th Century Fox after losing the franchise" Accord News, September 28, 2018.
  5. "S.C. NANA NET GETS HER OWN 2003 MOVIE" Aoi Iro Translations, September 28, 2018.
  6. "Newcomer Nana Mizuki Strikes Again on The Adventures of Yoko Trailer" Kanto News, 2002.
  7. "Nana Mizuki announces her next motion picture in the next year" News Around the World, 2002.
  8. "Adventures of Yoko Takashima Announcement 2002" K-MEDIA93 at YouTube, 2008.
  9. "El Amor Eterno de Dylan y Patricia (2019) (Trailer Oficial 2)" Amor Eterno/Eternal Love at YouTube, 2020, now deleted.
  10. "INFORMATION" Project Dreamin' Believers, 2020.
  11. "Who is Kokoro Minajima?" CSS Film Database, 2009.
  12. "The Adventures Of Lawsuit Finale: Shabana loses And Mizuki Nana Won!!!" RobertHigh's Archive, 2005.
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