In This Corner of the World

The 40th Japan Academy, the best film for Animation of the Year was awarded to “In This Corner of the World.”  I bet whoever was watching the ceremony on TV like me must be surprised to know the winner because one of the candidates included “Your Name,” the animation film which made a huge hit all over the world last year. 

I did not know much about this winning film, so I rushed to a movie theater to watch “In This Corner of the World” the next day.  The film-making project started by making a sample promotion film for the first 6 years.  The team used a cloud funding, a new grass-roots movement to save an initial money of 20 million yen.  After putting pieces of tiny effort together, the project ended up being a big success as a motion picture so as to draw lots of audience because it made them impressed.  I think it has a significant meaning that this film was supported by so many people this year, in 2017.

The movie focuses on a new young wife, Suzu, who is cheerful and dreamily but lives bravely.  Her everyday life is so charming that it makes audience laugh and draws tears.  This movie is dealing with a depressing theme and yet it shows what it’s like to be living during a war in such a manner that those who don’t feel like watching, so-called, ‘war movies’ can still take it in. 

I felt relieved at the last scene of the movie where it focused on Suzu who determined to survive the postwar life cheerfully and bravely as she also determined to keep a good relationship with her family and kind people around her. 

Above of all, this movie described in fine detail how happily and actively the local people used to spend each day in Hiroshima before the atomic bomb was dropped.  It was completely different from the present landscape of Hiroshima, where the Atomic Bomb Dome stands lonely.  The fact that Hiroshima used to be so full of life and animated place touches the heart of audience.  The fact includes the beauty of Hiroshima before it burnt down that no one has never talked out loud. 

Precise and enormous historical investigation enabled to reproduce the warmth of people and their happy life.  I cannot help admiring so much effort that the team had invested.  If you watch this movie again and again, I became to realize some tragedies are hidden in the movie. 

“The school girls heading toward the factory may have died…” 

“The red-light district in Kure area turned out to be burnt-out ruins, so did the prostitute who talked to Suzu in the movie die too?” 

“What about Suzu’s childhood friend who came to see her, the one in the Navy; did he survive?”

“What about her mother and sister who were living in Hiroshima City?”

 As we look into what lies behind the scenes, we tend to find something more significant.  This movie, “In This Corner of This World” and its original work in three comic books are both worth watching and reading.  I sincerely recommend this movie so many people will have chance to know what was normal during the war time that we did not know.

Korean Movie, “Asura”: The City of Madness

For some reasons or other, though I do not care much for so-called violent movies like “Outrage” directed by Takeshi Kitano, I ended up in watching this Korean movie, “Asura.”  This may be because there are many great aspects of Korean movies.  First of all, great quality of motion pictures.  The four main actors play their roles with very unique, well-honed talents.  They act tremendously well.

I even wonder if we have any great actors like them in Japan.  This movie depicts dirty human relationships that are intricately intertwined among the four main characters: a corrupted mayor who controls the entire town, a crooked cop who covers up for the mayor for dirty money, a scoundrel prosecutor who wants to arrest the mayor and the cop, and an ex-rookie cop who used to respect his senior detective but gradually steeped in evil working for the mayor.  The exquisite script has surely enabled each character to perform its role successfully.

Violence itself may not be so different from Japanese movies but this movie thoroughly depicts conflicts, weakness and foolishness of human beings that led to the point of violence.  Good persons do not appear in this movie; not even a single one which is a distinguishing feature of this movie.  All the characters are bad, evil against evil, violence vs conspiracy, betrayal vs threat; all those conflicts are sad.  But maybe because of the great performance of actors, audience will find themselves at the end of the movie that they are not feeling clouded but rather realize how refreshing entertainment this movie was.

The four actors of leading characters play different roles in the movies they were featured.  They devote all their energy to act each time, which makes me moved every time and that’s why I don’t get bored.  No matter how seriously I explain, I cannot fully transmit my enthusiasm unless you watch this movie.  My favorite actors are Hwang Jung-min and Jung Woo-sung.  They’ve acted in many other movies and performed in different roles and I’m sure they will continue to, which is why I cannot miss.  My words are not good enough.  I just want to recommend many of you to watch this movie at the theater.