Home Diary / Family Diary / Katei nikki (1938)

In general, Japanese movies looked at the contrast between the traditional arranged marriage and the marriage for love through the story of a woman. Though based on a novel by a woman, Shimizu’s Home Diary approaches the issue through the lives of two male college friends. Shuzo (Shin Saburi) is first seen saying farewell to … Continue reading Home Diary / Family Diary / Katei nikki (1938)

Poem / Uta (1972)

The post-Shogunate end of the “Old Japan” has been overtly treated in many ways in many different movies and might even be seen as a running theme under the surface of almost every movie made in the country. Seldom has the topic been treated so openly and yet so obliquely as in Poem, which spends … Continue reading Poem / Uta (1972)

Sailor Suit and Machine Gun / Sera-fuku to kikanju (1981)

The yakuza movie template developed in the 1960s is so rigid that it paradoxically becomes extremely flexible, as the American Western did in the 50s and 60s. This makes it almost impossible to satirize it. Yakuza themselves can be satirized, as Juzo Itami later found to his physical danger, but not the yakuza movie, which … Continue reading Sailor Suit and Machine Gun / Sera-fuku to kikanju (1981)

At This Late Date, the Charleston / Chikagoro naze ka Charusuton (1981)

Even by the eighties, the war had not faded from Japanese consciousness and there was still a great deal of survivor’s guilt, which Okamoto manages to turn into the often hilarious At This Late Date, the Charleston. After an attempted rape, Jiro, the second son of a wealthy family, is thrown into a jail cell … Continue reading At This Late Date, the Charleston / Chikagoro naze ka Charusuton (1981)

Battle of Port Arthur / Hill 203 / 203 Kochi (1980)

The Russo-Japanese War is little known among Americans and famous among the Japanese primarily for the great naval victory that utterly destroyed the Russian Baltic Fleet which had sailed round the world to re-inforce the Pacific Fleet that had been severely mauled in earlier attacks. Hill 203 depicts the ground campaign that was a horrendous … Continue reading Battle of Port Arthur / Hill 203 / 203 Kochi (1980)