Movie-going, from Manila to Tokyo

"Patingin-tingin, di naman makabili
Patingin-tingin, di makapanood ng sine
Walang ibang pera, kundi pamasahe
Nakayanan ko lang, pambili ng dalawang yosi"

About twelve years ago, the song with the above passage became popular in the Philippines. It describes the lowly condition of someone who has little money to spend, even on simple things as going to the movies. As a student with a meager allowance at that time, I was able to relate well to the song.

Time passed and I began to earn my own money and relate more to the following song from the Eraserheads:

"Kung gusto mo ay
Manood ka na lang ng sine
Di ba huwebes ngayon
Baka may bago nang palabas"

Now, it seems I'm back to the old tune. Not that I cannot afford to watch movies in Japan, but because like what most foreigners in Japan think, the price of a movie ticket here is too expensive. The regular price is 1,800 yen (about 18 US dollars or 900 pesos). Perhaps this explains why the Japanese are less moviegoing and more of a video-renting people.

True, the available plasma TVs and home-theater systems in Japan are top of the class, but still, nothing beats the experience of watching on a widescreen especially highly visual films like the Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. This is why Cerg and I decided to watch it last weekend.

Transformers 2Transformers 2

And so we went to "Mycal" a 10-screen Warner Brothers theater located inside a shopping mall in the northern part of Tokyo. It's just a 3-minute walk from our apartment.

If you plan to watch movies in Japan, you may want to take advantage of the discounted rates on certain days. For example, in Mycal (and actually in most cinemas), the ticket price for the first day of the month (Movie day) and on Wednesdays (ladies day) is only 1,000 yen. In addition, the last full show, which starts from about 8:30 pm onwards, costs only 1,200 yen. Cerg and I watched the last full show. The mall is near our apartment so we didn't have to worry about the train or bus schedule.

Although there are some movies that premiere in Japan, many movies shown in theaters are released later than in the US. I think this is because movies need to be translated to Japanese. By the way, a few years ago, almost all English movies were played in their original audio track and Japanese subtitles (jimaku) were just displayed at the bottom of the screen. However, recently many foreign movies are being shown dubbed (fukikae) in Japanese so you should be careful if you don't understand Japanese.

We had the option of reserving tickets online but because two weeks have passed since the opening day, we just went straight to the moviehouse and bought the ticket there. The theater lobby looked like lobbies of theaters inside the malls in Manila, particularly that of SM and Glorietta. There were the usual ticket windows with the string line in front and the food stands before the theater entrance.

We got in line and waited for our turn to get our tickets. We saw a Filipina also waiting in line. When we reached the ticket window, we were asked for the movie we wanted to watch. Most theaters in Japan are reserved-seating so were shown the theater seat-plan and asked where we wanted to sit. Unfortunately, unlike in Glorietta, the seat-plan was not updated real-time so we had no way of knowing which seats were available or not. We just chose seats at the center and far away from the screen.

We entered the entrance to the viewing area five minutes before the scheduled time. We had our ticket checked at the entrance and we walked into the hallway and headed for theater number 7. It was a normal stadium seating and the seats were comparable to those in Glorietta. We settled in and incidentally, we were seated next to another Filipina. Small world!

What we like about Japan is that it's clean and the theaters are no exception. In the clips shown before the feature film, we learned that Mycal has an air-cleaning system and that this type of system is the first in the world.

The show started first with a Looney Tunes reminder to turn off the cell phone. There was also a warning about movie piracy. Then, there was a preview of upcoming movies such as Hachi (starring Richard Gere), Amarfi (a Japanese movie) and 2012. The movie 2012 looked interesting.

When the main movie started, everyone became silent. The politeness of Japanese is clearly expressed even inside theaters. Although they laugh when the scene is funny, they try not to laugh too loud.

As for the movie itself, we were very satisfied. The soundtrack and the story were good. The little decepticon robot which became the pet of Megan Fox was hilarious.

We left the theater while the credits were being shown. Outside the theater, we passed by the already closed shops of the mall and we headed towards the exit.

Overall, the experience was good and reminded us of our days in Manila. We look forward to our next date at the movies.


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