REVIEW: A Ghost of a Chance (2011)

A defense attorney finally finds a witness that can prove her client innocent. The problem is he’s a 500-year old ghost.

By Raymond Arcega
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A Ghost of a Chance

Original Title: ステキな金縛り
Year: 2011
Country: Japan
Language: Japanese
Genres: Crime, Mystery, Comedy
Director: Mitani Koki

Hosho Emi (Fukatsu Eri) is a down-on-her-luck defense attorney who can’t seem to rack in any victories in court. After her latest loss, her boss, Mr. Hayami (Abe Hiroshi) gives her one last chance with a case that, to her “luck”, nobody wants to take. It’s a strange one of a man (KAN) accused of murdering his wife (Takeuchi Yuko).


However, what makes this case strange is the accused’s alibi. At the night of the murder, he was stuck at an inn deep in the mountains due to kanashibari, or temporary paralysis. On top of that, he claims he couldn’t move because the ghost of a 500-year old warrior sat on his chest the entire night.

Hoshi makes a trip to the inn where the accused spent the night to investigate. Convinced by the innkeepers to stay the night, she also experiences paralysis, only to wake up to see the ghost of the warrior, Sarashina Rokubei (Nishida Toshiyuki) sitting on top of her chest.

After coming to terms with that he really is a ghost, Hosho gets a crazy idea and convinces Rokubei to testify in court in the defense of her client. Rokubei agrees, as he can’t stand to see someone falsely accused and punished.


Fukatsu Eri is one of the most talented actress in Japan, and just before the release of A Ghost of a Chance she received acclaim for her part in 2010’s Villain. Proving her versatility, her role as Hosho Emi is the total opposite in every way imaginable. In A Ghost of a Chance, Fukatsu is ditsy, energetic, colorful, and lovable.

However, she isn’t the only one who deserves attention. Nishida Tokuyuki is another veteran actor in Japanese cinema, and is absolutely hilarious as Rokubei. His character is an interesting one; he not only is a ghost that acts silly around the people who can’t see him, but is also a character whose language and mannerisms are displaced in time. Nishida adds the kind of cute hilarity often seen in anime.


Topping off this star-studded cast is Nakai Kiichi, who plays prosecutor Osano. Nakai proves to be a great asshole, serving as the wall that Hosho and Rokubei must climb over. The interactions he has with the two leads are very fun to watch. He’s so great as an asshole that the audience might forget that he isn’t the antagonist in this twisted story.

As with a typical Mitani Koki film, there are many famous and familiar faces. The supporing cast includes Abe Hiroshi, Takeuchi Yuko, Kohinata Fumiyo, Asano Tadanobu, Kusanagi Tsuyoshi (from boy band SMAP), and more. Despite having a large ensemble cast, Mitani is very good at making sure the story stays on track. The proof is in his other great films, such as The Uchoten Hotel and The Magic Hour.


We do, however, forget the film is not about the hilariousness of Rokubei and Hoshi, but the truth of a murder case. The film plays with that detour and actually acknowledges it in the form of the accused complaining that everyone has forgotten about him.

The wild variety of characters, and especially the story, will remind viewers of popular video game series Gyakuten Saiban (known as Ace Attorney in English language versions). Both film and game feature a clumsy defense attorney, a cool prosecutor who’s a bit of a dick towards the hero, a variety of wild characters from every realm of randomness, and a mystery that will make you want to know what happens next.


A fun and ridiculous story, filled with characters who fit right in, A Ghost of a Chance is a film that will make you smile every step of the way.

Watch this film…

…if love the kind of crazy antics that can only happen in a Mitani film.

About the Author

Raymond Arcega


Follow Ray on Twitter and chat with a fellow cinema nut. He also tweets about tokusatsu, assorted geekery, and life and adventures in Japanland.