News & Reviews
May 26, 2006 - Britain's Neo magazine chimes in, calling Agitator "an easy, yet comprehensive read that leaves no stone unturned in the director's vast and varied career."
April 24, 2006 - Twitchfilm is the first to cover the brand new, expanded and revised edition of Agitator:
"One of the first critics in the world to take Miike seriously, or indeed as anything other than a low budget gore hound, Mes has put himself in an excellent position to take us through Miike's entire life and working history [...] Agitator is essential reading for anyone seriously interested in Miike's work."
March 2006 - Agitator goes into its third printing! This brand new, revised and expanded edition of the widely praised book features more pages, fully updated DVD release information, new stills and photographs, and a colour section that has doubled in size! Available now, so what are you waiting for?
April 2005 - The mighty Olaf Möller reviews Agitator in the pages of Cinema Scope magazine:
"Agitator: The Cinema of Takashi Miike is a sturdy, very well researched, and solidly argued auteurist study that in some respects dares to counter its designated audience's expectations - Mes forcefully stresses Miike's humanist side while most others try to sell him as this ultra-nihilistic weirdo. Which makes it as solid a foundation for a subject as there ever was, and praised be it."
30 March 2005 - And the last word on Agitator goes to AtrocitiesCinema.com.
1 October 2004 - Read a new interview with Tom at 2ndname.com
27 September 2004 - Tom's personal favourite Miike film, Young Thugs: Nostalgia (Kishiwada Shonen Gurentai - Bokyo), will be released on October 26 in the USA and in November in the UK, courtesy of Artsmagic DVD. To call it highly recommended would be an understatement!
31 August 2004 - Today Artsmagic DVD releases Takashi Miike's Black Society trilogy in North America. All three films (Shinjuku Triad Society, Rainy Dog and Ley Lines) contain a full-length audio commentary by Tom Mes.
27 August 2004 - Read a brand new interview with Tom Mes at Screaming Stoner Video.
11 March 2004 - Author Tom Mes will be a guest at the Nippon Connection Festival in Frankfurt, Germany, from April 14 - 18. He will hold a lecture on V-Cinema and take part in a podium discussion about Japanese cinema.
9 March 2004 - Mark Schilling reviews Agitator in Cinemaya:
"A book on Takashi Miike's career may seem premature -- the man is still in his prime and releasing a new film every other month, but Tom Mes makes a good case for such a survey in 'Agitator - The Cinema of Takashi Miike.' Covering Miike's first 49 films, as well as TV series and other miscellaneous work, the book views Miike as, not simply a wild man and agent provocateur -- his current reputation in the West -- but an auteur with continuing themes and concerns, who deserves more serious attention than he usually gets. Essentially a director-for-hire, who usually shoots the script he is given on an impossibly tight schedule, Miike has nonetheless managed to produce film after film with a distinctive blend of sex and violence that is blackly funny, bizarrely imaginative and, yes, outright revolting. ("Ichi the Killer" has some of the best examples of the last quality, but there are many others.) Mes's scene-by-scene analysis details exactly how Miike achieves -- or occasionally fails to achieve -- this mix. Also, instead of falling into fan boy raving, Mes quite clearly separates the gold from the (mostly early) dross. If anything, he overdoes the close analysis on slight genre product that can hardly bear the critical weight. Complete with a biography, career interview and detailed filmography, "Agitator" is an extensively researched, cinematically literate, highly welcome addition to the slim shelf of books on contemporary Japanese films. And in ten years I'm sure we'll see another volume by Mes on the next fifty Miikes -- give or take a couple dozen."
23 February 2004 - Agitator is now in its second printing. The first print run sold out in less than seven months. The hardcover will not be reprinted and only a few of the 500-copy limited edition are left. Grab yours now at http://www.fabpress.com!
19 November 2003 - Chuck Stephens reviews Agitator in the November/December issue of Film Comment:
"For the past couple of years net-savvy fans of Japanese cinema have been amply rewarded with the sort of smart and ever-up-to-date website they deserve: midnighteye.com. The brainchild of writers and researchers Jasper Sharp and Tom Mes, midnighteye.com tracks both the new generation of Japanese auteurs and their past masters, and looming large among them is speed-demon Takashi Miike.
Given Miike's tendency to churn out four or five new films a year, and with 50-some features already to his credit, a book-length analysis of the gory glory of his oeuvre has been long overdue. Not anymore: Mes has risen to the occasion with Agitator: The Cinema of Takashi Miike (FAB Press), a passionately argued, jargon-free overview of all of Miike's work, from his apprenticeship to Shohei Imamura and his obscure V-cinema beginnings, straight through to the reworkings of 70's yakuza classics he was churning out last year.
Highly recommended, Agitator assembles 400 pages of biography, copious illustrations, wide-ranging insights, a lengthy interview with the director, and Miike's own production diary from the set of Ichi the Killer. Seems a little of Miike's hyper-paced work ethic has rubbed off on Mes as well: he's got a second book (on New Japanese Cinema) readied for publication, and is already hard at work on a third."
7 November 2003 - German review site Ikonen calls Agitator "the essential text on Miike so far [...] the reader will come to know even the least known and obscurest productions of this director's huge oeuvre."
22 October 2003 - Subscribe now to the mailing list of ace German film distributor Rapid Eye Movies for a chance to win a free copy of Agitator!
(Rapid Eye Movies released Takashi Miike's Dead or Alive, Audition, Visitor Q and Graveyard of Honour in Germany)
17 October 2003 - Agitator gets the KFC Cinema treatment:
"Tom Mes of Midnight Eye has done more than just written a book about Miike, he's created the very Bible of Miike's life. Get cracking kids, Agitator: The Cinema of Takashi Miike is a book you can't be without. Score: 5/5"
26 September 2003 - Holland's number one horror magazine Schokkend Nieuws takes a close look at Agitator in its September issue (#60):
"a book that dispenses once and for all with the notion that the Japanese director is sufficiently defined with the words hype or fad."
23 September 2003 - Agitator is reviewed at Gorezone.net:
"It's pretty incredible to think that Mes might actually be the only person who has seen all of Miike's work. Most of them were released only on VHS, without English subtitles and are now out of print [..] This is an amazing book that all Takashi Miike fans and readers interested in Asian cinema should get now!"
17 September 2003 - Julien Sévéon in French 'Quotidien du fantastique' Mad Movies:
"There is no denying that Agitator offers, for the very first time, a complete overview of Miike's at the very least iconoclastic oeuvre. What's more, the book also gives us Miike's excellent and passionately written diary of the shooting of Ichi the Killer. Essential reading for those
already interested in Miike and those who wish to learn more about him."
16 September 2003 - Listen to Gilles Peterson at BBC Radio 1, Wednesday the 17th at midnight for a chance to win a copy of Agitator!
16 September 2003 - Attention shoppers in Japan: Agitator is now also available through Kinokuniya.
13 September 2003 - Moriarty of Ain't It Cool News raves about Agitator:
"AGITATOR: THE CINEMA OF TAKASHI MIIKE, by Tom Mes, is an impeccably researched and exhaustively thorough look at one of the single most vital
forces in international cinema right now. If you need some sort of credibility check regarding Tom Mes, just follow this link and check out all the exceptional work he's done on the Midnight Eye website. This guy knows his stuff, and reading AGITATOR will make you feel like an expert as well. Part of the kick is finally hearing Miike speak about his films, unfiltered. His production diary for Ichi the Killer is incredibly entertaining and insightful, and really does give you a glimpse at what it is that attracted Miike to such heinous source material."
10 September 2003 - An extensive review of Agitator by MJ Simpson can now be read at The Alien Online:
"A labour of love which opens up a whole new realm of film studies, Agitator sets an amazingly high standard for future Takashi Miike critics and scholars."
9 September 2003 - UK action movie magazine Impact reviews Agitator:
"Agitator: the Cinema of Takashi Miike is a massive 408 page book on the work of the maverick Japanese film director. This is actually the first book to cover Takashi Miike's work in depth and is illustrated with numerous black and white pictures and eight pages in full colour. One of the highlights for me has to be Takashi Miike's somewhat bizarre and amusing production diary for Ichi the Killer, which only confirms the suspicion I've had for a long while that Takashi Miike is barking mad!"
5 September 2003 - Hotdog magazine (UK) reviews Agitator:
"The first book on the ultra-prolific Takashi Miike, a director who has produced over 50 films since 1991. Mes' book is a detailed chronological trawl from the early straight-to-video releases to the international acclaim of the gut-splattered likes of Audition and Ichi the Killer. The two chapters on his films are bookended by an analysis of Miike's themes, a short biography, and an exhaustive interview. The highlight though has to be Miike's bizarre production diary for Ichi the Killer, originally serialised in Japanese film magazine Cut. The diary only gains from translation, with Miike voicing his philosophy on everything from casting to semen. (****)"
2 September 2003 - French film magazine Pur Ciné calls Agitator "Un must have."
1 September 2003 - Agitator is reviewed in the September issue of Empire (UK):
"Ever since Audition opened Western eyes to Takashi Miike, attention has been focused almost exclusively on the violent content of this most prolific director's work.
This exemplary volume goes beyond the initial shock factor to broaden and deepen readings of every one of his movies (to the end of 2002).
Not only does Mes look across the films thematically, he looks into them individually, contextualising each review with biographical chapters, Miike's Ichi The Killer production diary and a career-spanning interview. A thorough, passionate and expert analysis. (*****)"
29 August 2003 - Hardcover versions of Agitator are shipping now!
24 August 2003 - The New York Post calls Agitator "Bloody good".
18 August 2003 - Jonathan Clements on the Sci Fi Channel UK website:
Hot on the heels of Sci-Fi's Asia Extreme season, Fab Press bring you Agitator: The Cinema of Takashi Miike, a truly exhaustive guide to the fifty-plus movies made in the last decade by the director of Ichi the Killer, Audition and The Happiness of the Katakuris. Complete with interview, set diary, film-by-film commentary and details of international DVD availability, the book by supreme critic Tom Mes follows Miike's career from his early days as a little boy blowing up frogs for fun, up to his modern-day penchant for shooting people's intestines out, cutting off feet with piano wire, and shooting darts out of unlikely orifices. At least all his contemporary activities are just special effects. Not so sure about the frogs, though."
14 August 2003 - Agitator is now also available through Amazon.com and Amazon Japan.
31 July 2003 - Agitator is reviewed in the August issue of Total Film (UK):
"The first book to be published about Japan's bad-boy helmer is a delight. Beginning with a biography - it's no surprise to learn that the director spent his childhood blowing up frogs with firecrackers - Tom Mes then takes us on an incisive journey through Miike's filmography. And we're not just talking celebrated cult films like the Triad Society trilogy, Dead Or Alive series, Audition or Ichi The Killer. Mes also unearths all the straight-to-video flicks that Miike made before notoriety beckoned.
With direct access to Miike, a complete movie history and an afterword from Shinya 'Tetsuo' Tsukamoto, this is exactly what his fans have been waiting for. And more. (****)"
Intro | News | Book Contents | Samples | Interview with Tom Mes