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Ultra-Violence of 'World of Kanako' Stirs Japanese Box Office, Online Uproar

TOKYO - "Confessions" director Tetsuya Nakashima's latest hyper-violent drama "The World of Kanako (Kawaki)" has stirred up a storm of controversy since its June 27 release in Japan.

Slapped with an R-15 rating, meaning than no one 14 and under can see it, the pic stars Koji Yakusho ("Memoirs of a Geisha," "13 Assassins") as a former detective with a hair-trigger temper searching for his missing teenage daughter, whose "model student" image turns out to be a sham.

The hero's outrageous behavior, from violent rape to attempted vehicular homicide, has prompted a flood of critical comments on message boards and social networks, especially when theaters offered a special student discount to encourage more teens the daughter's age to see the film. "This is a film that shouldn't be shown to students," one commentator opined.

In reaction Nakashima has issued a statement saying "I'm really sorry if (the film) is too grotesque." However, he also defends his over-the-top treatment as a continuation of themes he dealt with in 2010 smash "Confessions."

In that pic a middle school teacher (Takako Matsu) takes slow-burning revenge against two students she believes killed her toddler daughter. The pic earned $38 million in Japan, making it the 7th highest-earning local film for the year, and it topped the box office in other parts of Asia. "The human feelings of love and hate are not always so far apart," Nakashima explains. "'Kanako' is a film I felt that I had to make."

"Kanako" has its fervent Internet defenders, as well as paying fans.

Opening on 303 screens with Gaga distributing, it earned $1.1 million on 83,400 admissions for the June 28/29 weekend and entered the B.O. chart at number four. It now looks likely to finish with about half the take of "Confessions," though the online uproar could push this total higher.

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