I am not NIHONJIN

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English / 日本語

Maybe there is something inherently unfair about critical discourse on the 2006 film I Am Nipponjin 『I am 日本人』 — written by conservative actor and politician Morita Kensaku and starring half-Japanese JJ model Christina Morimoto (not her real last name). The film has few redeeming cinematic qualities nor did much business at the domestic box office. The ideological message is so strong, however, that it opens itself up for analysis as piece of popular political art.

The plot of I am Nipponjin concerns a young third-generation, Japanese-American girl named Amy Watanabe. Her father is a “cowboy” living on the West Coast and oddly speaks broken English, despite the fact that most second-generation Americans have fully native linguistic abilities. Even stranger, however, is that Amy describes her robotic blond mother as simply “the love of my father’s life,” which is exactly what you would say about your mother if you were a character in a movie written by someone who has no idea what it is like to be a biracial female growing up in the United States.

As part of a year-long study abroad program, Amy moves to some dingy town in Chiba to live with her uncle and the cast of characters around his small neighborhood grocery. Upon arrival, Amy already speaks Japanese, but since she is not fully racially Japanese, it is of course an impossible pidgin of English adjectives, archaic kabuki expressions gleaned from videos, and difficult contemporary Japanese lexemes. Even in Japanese sentences, everything is “wonderful” with this girl — as if she could not possibly learn the equivalent words すばらしい (subarashii) or 素敵 (suteki).

The film title may suggest that the story tackles Amy’s “identity” issues of being a biracial, binational woman, but there is never really much debate on her status. She is clearly “foreign,” and calls herself gaijin very regularly. At the end, she may declare, “I am 日本人,” but this is meant to be pep-rally metaphor — like when politicians say, “I know what it’s like to be poor.”

Although I have taken the last three paragraphs to describe the main character’s background, Morita has little use for Amy as a dynamic protagonist. She is first and foremost a rhetorical device, charged with the role of shaking the Japanese characters out of complacency. First arriving in Japan, she is overjoyed to see constructs like reigi (礼儀, ritual politeness) in action. She soon succumbs, however, to a serious crisis: contemporary Japan is not Japanese enough in spirit. A total nerd with an impeccable sense of pentatonic melody, Amy is shocked to find herself the only young person singing the (controversial) Japanese national anthem “Kimi ga yo” at her school’s entrance ceremony. She is further mortified by all the rude behavior of Japanese youth — gabbing during lectures and eating on trains.

Amy’s binationality is critical for Morita’s functional needs. Neither a purely foreign visitor nor a Japanese person would work for this story. For Morita, the Japanese racial link implies an automatic comprehension of/compassion towards mystical Japanese ideology, and her American side allows the character to ruthlessly confront fellow students about their misdeeds and flawed morals. This combination allows Amy to be an obnoxious activist, but all for the cause of Japanese culture. So Amy spends most of the film constantly and repeatedly demanding answers from her peers on the decline of society. Even after a long day of browbeating her university friend for liking a rich and attractive boy solely for his money (rather than a shy boy who deeply likes her), Amy still finds the time to lecture a young girl down the block street on showing her father more respect.

There are surely many foreigners who come to Japan and embrace traditional values with more gusto than the natives, but something is unrealistic about Amy’s perfect adherence to the conservative line on contemporary Japanese society. Her laundry list of concerns would overjoy the nation’s grey old men: Japanese youth have lost respect for their elders and lack “yamato damashii.” Japanese men need to relearn the warrior ethics of bushidō. Most of Japan’s social problems can be remedied by the teaching of martial arts like kendō. The Japanese flag should be proudly displayed at public events. Everyone should sing the national anthem. In the last two cases, Morita lets Amy rationalize these beliefs through her American upbringing: if the U.S. can find pride in the flag and “The Star-Spangled Banner,” why can’t the Japanese partake in their parallel customs? She even goes as far to translate the Pledge of Allegiance into Japanese and have it read out loud to her class to inspire them.

Amy’s line of argumentation could be lifted straight out of everyone’s favorite Japanese conservative diatribe The Dignity of the Nation 『国家の品格』. While Morita does make a good point about the normality of flag worship and anthem incantation in nations that claimed victory at the end of World War II, he is a bit sneaky to have these things come out of non-Japanese Amy’s mouth — like reinventing de Tocqueville as a sock puppet. Although Morimoto is pretty adorable, the script reduces her to a right-wing robot with a nationalistic wizard feeding in dialog from a remote control off camera. One of the more grating examples of Morita’s unsubtlety is Amy’s unwavering pronunciation nippon for 日本, which is technically correct and not necessarily “nationalistic,” but certainly conspicuous in this day and age.

The film’s direct ideological message may be clunky, but is ultimately dwarfed in magnitude by the dozens of painful cross-cultural clichés. When Amy arrives, the Japanese characters worry about their “slurping noises” while partaking in soba noodles, only to be reassured by Amy that these sounds are crucial to the soba experience. Is there a joke about how foreigners hate natto (fermented bean curd)? You better believe it. Certainly, it’s not like Morita and his director are up on contemporary aesthetics to start with: I very literally went into a ten minute laugh convulsion during a scene in a rock club where a cheesy synth-driven band play fusion rock perfectly reminiscent of the demo song on late ’80s Japanese keyboards.

I would argue, however, that the melodrama, terrible humor, and lack of style are inextricably linked to Morita’s Japanese conservative ideology. The jokes and politics of I am Nipponjin are quintessentially provincial: whether or not cosmopolitans and internationalists are deluded with their own self-justifying myths, they would never think to make that kind of natto joke. (Itami Juzo’s incredible Tampopo, for example, was able to touch similar issues of cultural convergence in the culinary sphere with much more subtlety and humor.) Although Fujiwara Masahiko may claim an erudite worldliness to his intentions to shed “modernity” for Japanese “tradition,” Morita’s patriotism shares the down-home, value-oriented dispositions seen in the lower middle classes of other developed nations — the belief that the past was always greener and society has lost its moral direction. Replace “bushidō” with “evangelical Christianity,” and Morita’s conservatism is eerily close to what you see in the American Midwest or South. (In both cases, as well, the ruling elite espouses this “down-home” moral ideology to bolster their own power, hide their undermining of the believers’ economic base, and brew jingoism to justify military action.)

The ideology of I am Nipponjin is nothing new for Japan nor elsewhere. I would argue though, however naïve or insensitive this brand of conservatism may be, it is not especially “dangerous” in the way that the currently trendy “Japan goes neo-nationalistic” narrative suggests. Although not blessed with a particularly international worldview, the movie is not “xenophobic”: hard-working Chinese and Thai students are portrayed sympathetically, for example. Much discomfort with the film’s political view may be ultimately aesthetic bias against lower middle class provincialism — especially combined with the paranoia that all Japanese conservatism is one goose-step away from pre-war jingoism. While I personally have reservations about the U.S. Republican Party’s and (Ex-)PM Abe’s positions emphasizing morality over reality, the empty cultural solutions to complex modern problems look rather quaint these days when compared to the destructive results of Bush’s neo-conservative radicalism. Advocating aikidō probably would not do much for the collapse of the family, but would definitely result in fewer civilian death than the invasion of sovereign nations.

Conservative moral remedies may fail in real life, but they pan out in the movies written at the hands of conservative entertainers. Amy basically saves the uncle’s small Chiba shōtengai (shopping street) through mobilizing teens to organize a local matsuri (festival). One-time delinquent ingrates chattering away on their stupid cell phones suddenly bow down to Amy’s constant berating and volunteer hundreds of hours toward community restoration, again proving adults’ fantasy that their children are one speech away from embracing conservative values. (By the way, the rich boyfriend with a car turned out to be a two-timing asshole with a pregnant girlfriend, and the shy boy waiting in the wings turned out to have powerful public speaking abilities. Spirit defeats materialism again.)

By the end of the film, there is no doubt that Amy’s bushidō missionary work has forever changed this one small section of Chiba. Amy remains a foreigner, of course, but a perfect one: she comes ashore to strongly remind the Japanese people of their ideological roots and then promptly returns home when the mission is accomplished.

2006年に公開された映画、『I am 日本人』の批評的デイスコースを展開すること自体どこか根本的に不公平なのかもしれない。保守的な役者そして政治家として知られる森田健作が原案・企画・製作を手掛け、お馴染みJJモデルであるハーフの森本クリスティーナ(苗字は芸名)が主演を勤めた今作品は、映像面でもこれといった特質も少なく、興行成績もパッとしないものだった。けれども、この映画の明確なイデオロギーが盛り込まれたメッセージからして、この映画が一つの政治的なポピュラーアートとして分析されることは避けられないであろう。

『Iam 日本人』はエミーという日系3世の女の子が繰り広げる人間ドラマ。彼女の父親はいわゆる「カウボーイ」で、日系2世の人達は普通英語がネイテイブと変わらないということにもかかわらず、かたことの英語を話す。さらに不可解なのはエミーが無関心なブロンドの母親のことを、「お父さんの最愛の恋人」と素直に紹介するところである。母親についてそんな風に言えるのは、ハーフの女性としてアメリカで育つことがどれほど複雑であるか全く分かっていない人が描いた映画の主人公だけだろう。

学校の留学プログラムの一環として、エミーは千葉のすたれた町に住むおじさんと、彼が経営する近所の八百屋で一年間多くの人物と遭遇しながら過ごすことになる。帰国後すでにエミーは日本語が話せる設定であるが、完璧な日本人ではないので彼女の 話す言葉は英語混じりの日本語、ビデオで聞いた古臭い歌舞伎用語、そして難解な語彙がめちゃくちゃに入り交ざった混合語。おまけに彼女の決まり台詞は「ワンダフル」。そんなに「すばらしい」とか「素敵」という日本語を学ぶのが難しかったのか。

題名からして映画はエミーのハーフの女性としてのアイデンテイテイーを題材にしているかと思うけれど、彼女の身分は最初から明瞭だ。エミーは明らかに「よそ者」であって、彼女自身自分を「ガイジン」と何度も称する。最終的に彼女は『I am 日本人』と宣言するようになるかもしれないけれど、それはただの浅はかなスローガンに過ぎない。そう、まるで政治家が「貧しい人たちの気持ちが分かる」とよく言うのと同じように。

これまで主人公の背景を紹介してきたわけだけど、森田にとってエミーはストーリーの主人公としてそれほど大切ではない。彼女はまず修辞学的な表現であって、その役目は無頓着な日本人達の目を覚まさせること。日本に降り立ってすぐ、彼女は礼儀というものを目にして激しく感動する。でも、そんな喜びもつかの間ですぐに大変な事実に彼女は気づくのだ。現代の日本人達は日本人の精神というものを忘れてしまっている!そしてかなりのオタクといえるエミーは、入学式の時に生徒達の中で自分だけがあの音階が極めて難しい(そして因習的な)日本国歌、君が代を熱唱しているのに気づき驚く。さらに彼女は日本の若い子達の授業中のお喋りや電車での飲食などといったお粗末な態度に愕然とさせられる。

エミーがハーフであるということは、森田にとって重要な機能を果たしている。彼女が純粋な外国人の観光客、または日本人であったらこのストーリーは成り立たたなかっただろう。森田にとって彼女は日本人であるから日本への繋がりがあり、それは必然的に彼女が神秘的な日本のイデオロギーを理解していることを意味している。反対に彼女のアメリカ人という面は、クラスメート達の非行やモラルの低下をとやかく言う権利を彼女に与えているのだ。このコンビネーションこそがエミーを不愉快な活動家にしているが、それもまた日本文化向上の為と片付けられる。というわけで、エミーはこの映画の大半を、日本社会の低迷の理由を問い詰めながら過ごしているのだ。外見のよさとお金持ちということだけで男の子を好きになってしまった女友達を一日中説教した後も、彼女は帰り際に近所の小さな女の子に父親をもっと尊敬するようにと説教するほどの元気があるのだ。

確かに日本を訪れる外国人の多くには、日本人よりよほど伝統的価値観を重んじる人たちがいるだろう。けれども、エミーの日本社会の保守派への完璧な忠誠心はどこかリアリテイーに欠けている。エミーの長たらしい心得の項目は、日本の年老いた白髪おじさん層をさぞかし喜ばせるだろう。やれ、日本の若者は年配の人たちを尊重する気持ちに欠けていて「大和魂」をなくしている、日本男子は武士道の心得たるものを勉強しなおす必要がある、日本社会の病の殆どが武道や剣道などといった伝統文化を教えることで治療できる、そして公共のイベント場には必ず日本の国旗が掲げられるべき、などなど。特に最後の二つに関しては、森田はアメリカ人として育ったエミー特有のロジックを持って弁護させている。アメリカ人が自国の国旗や国歌を誇りに思っているように、日本人もそうあるべきだと思わない?というのが彼女のスタンス。さらに、エミーはアメリカ国歌を翻訳して、クラスメートを感化するためにそれを教室で朗読までするのだ。

こういった論述はまるで現代日本に対しての保守派による酷評をまとめ上げた本、『国家の品格』からそのまま抜粋したかのようだ。確かに、森田は第二次世界大戦で勝利を掲げた国々では国歌や国旗の崇拝が普遍的に行われているという点に関してはいい点をあげている。けれども、日本でもそうするべきというアドバイスを日本人でないエミーに言わせるのは、ちょっとずる賢い。森本クリスティーナはとても可愛らしいが、 彼女 はまるで舞台裏から国粋主義の魔法使いにリモコンで操られている右派ロボットのようだ。エミーが日本を「ニッポン」と発音する点などは、森田のあまりにもあからさまな魂胆の表れだ。ニッポンという発音は正確にはナショナリズムではないけれど、今の若い子が現実にそう言っていたら普通ちょっと目立つのではないだろうか。

映画のイデオロギー染みたメッセージはあまりにもぎこちない。けれど、映画に登場する異文化交流お決まりの場面の数々に比べればそれらは別に大したことは無い。エミーの帰国直後、日本人キャラ達は彼女のまえでそばをすすることを拒むけれど、すぐに彼女に大きな音を立てて食べるのはそば特有の文化だと言われてほっとさせられる。そしてあたりまえのように映画には外国人の納豆嫌いのジョークも組み込まれている。森田や本作品の監督はだいたい初めから現代日本の美的センスなどまったく認識していないのだ。まるで80年代後半にヒットしたようなキーボードのフュージョンロックを安っぽいシンセバンドが披露するクラブシーンには10分ほど爆笑させられた。

しかしこのメロドラマ、最悪なユーモア、そしてセンスの悪さこそが森田の日本に対しての保守主義イデオロギーを補っていると解釈できるだろう。『Iam 日本人』の政見やジョークはどれも典型的に田舎じみているのだ。国際人や都会人ももちろん自己満足な信念に浸っているけれど、少なくとも彼らはこういう類の納豆ジョークを飛ばしたりしないだろう(例えば伊丹十三の傑作である映画『タンポポ』は、似たような食生活上での異文化交流を、鋭敏さとユーモアをもって描写している)。

藤原 正彦は近代化より伝統を選ぶことで世俗的な博学を主張しているけれど、森田の愛国心は先進国の低中産階級特有の素朴で、モラル中心的な世論を共用しているといえるだろう。これは、昔の芝は今より遥かに青く、現代社会は低迷しているという信念でもある。「武士道」を「福音主義的キリスト教」に置き換えれば、森田の保守主義はアメリカ中西や南部の地域でみられる感覚に怖いほどに似てくるだろう (どちらの場合も、権力を保持するエリートクラスは自分達の権力をより強調する為にこの素朴なイデオロギーを応援し、実は低中産階級の経済土台を侵食しているということを隠しているのだ)

『I am 日本人』のイデオロギーは日本、そして他国にとっても決して新しいものではない。それに、こういった種類の保守主義がどんなに単細胞で鈍感であるとしても、最近トレンデイーな「日本のネオ・ナショナリズム化」と同じくらい「危険」であると思わない。国際的な感性をもった映画ではないけれど、この作品が外国人に対して排他的でないことは確かだ。例えば、勤勉な中国人やタイ人の生徒達の描写などには同情さえ伺える。この映画の政見に関して不快感を覚えるとすれば、それはなによりも低中産階級にたいしての偏見を感じるからだ。さらに日本の保守主義というものは、いずれ戦前の好戦的愛国主義へ逆行していくのではないかという疑念を持ち、不安を覚える。アメリカの共和党や(元)阿部首相の現実よりモラルを主張したがる態勢に対して僕個人は政治的反感をもっている。でも、現代社会の複雑な問題を文化で修正しようという曖昧な心得は、新保守主義で過激主義なブッシュ政権がもたらした破壊的な結果に比べれば可愛いものだ。国が合気道を進めたとしても現代家族の崩壊を止めることはできないけれど、独立した国家を侵略するよりは民間人への死亡率が遥かに低いだろう。

保守主義なモラル救済法は現実では成功することはないだろうけど、コンサバ芸能人の手によって書かれた映画の中ではうまくいくようだ。最終的にエミーは友達と一緒に近所のお祭りを通して小さな千葉の商店街を経済難から救うのだ。最初は授業中も携帯でしゃべり続けていたような恩知らずな非行少年、少女も、瞬く間にエミーのお叱りに服従し、何百時間でも町おこしのためにボランテイア活動に励むようになるのだ。こんなのはまさしく現代の子供達は少し話し合えばすぐにでもコンサバな価値観をもってくれるという大人達のファンタジーに過ぎない。(ちなみに、あのリッチで高級車を乗り回すボーイフレンドは妊娠中の彼女持ちの浮気者で、引っ込み思案な男の子の方は実は公共演説がうまいということが最後には発覚する。またもや物欲は強い精神には負けるという保守的な展開だ。)

映画の結末では、エミーの武士道宣教師としての仕事がこの千葉の小さな地域に永遠の変化をもたらせたことは確かだ。けれども、最後まで優秀な外国人のままのエミーは、日本人に日本のイデオロギーのルーツを思い出させるという任務が完了すると、直ちに故郷へと帰って行くのだった。

W. David Marx (Marxy) — Tokyo-based writer and musician — is the founder and chief editor of Néojaponisme.

Marie Iida is a freelance translator living in Yokohama. Her work has appeared in Studio Voice, Esquire Japan, and Vogue Japan. She blogs at luxelonesome.blogspot.com.

23 Responses

  1. Jrim Says:

    Well, I guess I won’t bother watching that one, then…

  2. M-Bone Says:

    Fascinating review, very good context.

  3. W. David MARX Says:

    If you are wondering why I saw this movie in the first place, I have three letters for you: ANA. Then I have two words for you: in-flight movie.

  4. tomojiro Says:

    Morita Kensaku directing a movie?

    Ha, that itself is already a joke.

  5. Aceface Says:

    Wait a minuite.You mean All Nippon Airways showed “I am Nihonjin” in the International flight?

  6. W. David MARX Says:

    They indeed did. It was not the only option, but it was AN option.

  7. Aceface Says:

    “Come fly with me,Come fly ALL THE WAY”,Huh?

  8. W. David MARX Says:

    I am apparently the only one to have ever seen this film.

  9. Aceface Says:

    You could also be the only one in the country who not only bought “The Dignity of the Nation”but actually read it through and remember the content.

    You know that I’m a Japanese conservative and I couldn’t even finish the second chapter.I bet thousand of copies are either being left on the baggage rack of the Chuo-line or now heading to the counters of BOOK OFF.

  10. M-Bone Says:

    There are indeed lots of copies of “Dignity” at BOOK OFFs.

    I would certainly have seen this film if I had seen it advertised, heard about it through my usual movie channels, seen it at a video store, etc., but I didn’t.

    Was it “on demand” on ANA or did they just show it?

  11. W. David MARX Says:

    ANA has a nice user-controlled “demand” system instead of the cheaper “continuous rolling” movies you get on U.S.-based airlines. (Sorry, I can only speak for Economy Class.)

    ANA is nice in some respects, but I am not sure why people think it’s nicer than KLM where you get ALL YOU CAN EAT FREE CANDY BARS and 100s of choices for on-demand movies. Also, stop putting boxes under the seat. The leg room is terrible as it is.

  12. Adamu Says:

    Hey, I read that book too!

    If Dignity was such a yawn, why do I keep hearing rehashes of its arguments every so often from oyaji and Japanese TV? Many people might have shrugged it off, but much like Michelle Malkin I think it reached and edified the right audience (or they just think the same sort of stuff anyway I guess). Need proof? A Japanese/English side-by-side translation edition (“use this to tell foreigners how special Japan is!”) is now available next to those “why does Japan have four seasons and celebrate the cherry blossoms?” sort of books.

    On that movie – it sounds freaking awesome, like how the Bad News Bears go to Japan and learn how great America is after all. It sounds like it falls into that Dignity category of reactionary conservatism wrapped up in sophistication and status. I can see the idea for this movie forming independently and simultaneously in the minds of drunken oyaji (I bet if a hot Japanese-American half chick came here she’d see how much better Japan could be)

  13. M-Bone Says:

    I don’t think that “Dignity” has a single original point – it is a summary of lame conservative complaints (there are some legit ones) and thus is rhetorically useful for half-brain dead people. It is not nearly on Michelle Malkin’s level, however. Really kinda tame compared to the American “harpy right”. If memory serves me correctly, “Dignity” is all about how great Japan traditionally has been compared to how it is now. Malkin’s writing seems to me to be more along the lines of “America is great and can do no wrong, just compare it to countries A, B, and Canada ($%#^ing commies) that are crap and/or barbaric.” Big difference in the rhetorical foundation. “Dignity” is still full of ^#%@ in its jingoism, but at least it is not abusive nationalism (like, say, “Manga – Chugoku Nyumon”). Of course, I was virtually asleep when I read parts of it so I could have missed some snide digs at China or something….

    In the end, however, the utter failure of “I am Nipponjin” to generate any buzz whatsoever is really quite striking. Something tells me that it ended up on ANA as part of a package from its distributor, same reason I end up watching Tsuri-baka every time that I’m on a bus.

  14. W. David MARX Says:

    I get a sense that ANA content is all decided through organizational relations (like almost ALL content selection in Japan). The music choices last Spring once oddly featured some prominent display for Hitomi Shimatani and Yuki Koyanagi, who are basically nobodies these days except that they are in Burning Production and ANA clearly owed them a “favor.”

  15. W. David MARX Says:

    It sounds like it falls into that Dignity category of reactionary conservatism wrapped up in sophistication and status.

    I thought I made the point that it wasn’t sophisticated.

    (I bet if a hot Japanese-American half chick came here she’d see how much better Japan could be)

    She is more “adorable” than hot. An oyaji is not going to lust after her.

  16. Aceface Says:

    “If Dignity was such a yawn, why do I keep hearing rehashes of its arguments every so often from oyaji and Japanese TV?”

    “Dignity of the Nation”was sold becuase of the title,not the content.Just like “Japan that can say No”or “Walls of Baka”.I don’t think those conservative message hardly reached the audience.

    You know there is now a book called “Dignity of Woman女性の品格”from坂東眞理子Bando Mariko,ex-chief at the cabinet gender equalization planning bureau and ex-consulate to Brisbane and ex-bice governor of Saitama.This week there is a doc on NHK BS that Bando going to Norway and meet Norweigian minister of Gender equality and talk about perticipation of woman in the society.
    Now she can’t be neither oyaji nor conservative.

  17. W. David MARX Says:

    We have a piece on 「女性の品格」 in the works. Stay tuned.

  18. Kim Jong-il Hater Says:

    Nothing beats Red Dawn when it comes to conservatism in movies.

  19. r. Says:

    sitting here enjoying indulging in a cheap-but-good one tonight…ah, the whimsical connections between the interplay of the kanji in the author’s and the star’s last names.
    and yes, every neo-con japanese politial pundit probably WISHES he had his “de Tocqueville as a [sexy-cute] sock puppet”…but instead of a more didactic “punch and judy” application, here, this movie seems to have more of a “mr. garrison” feel…
    magnification, intensification…mr. hyde and mr. hyde-er.
    i can just imagine morita trying to pick this girl up in an existentialist bar: “僕の「本」を正して、baby!”
    probably enough of a linguistic/ideological rosetta stone to be the biggest “tell” in this whole situation.

    but she snaps it up, hook, line, and sinker, just like morita is expecting us (who are “us”?) to. that goodness for fiction.
    but when fishing, the first rule is that the bait must hide the hook. and i think this is one reason that david balks at what morita is dangling in front of us.
    as long as david continues to remain “the one that got away” his blogging will entice.

  20. r. Says:

    david gets the official “ikea-boy award for outstanding adj. use” for his command of the word “nice” in the following comment:
    http://neojaponisme.com/2007/09/24/iamnotnihonjin/#comment-161

  21. W. David MARX Says:

    Hey, look who’s back!

    I realized just now that I have never actually been to an Ikea store.

  22. Jrim Says:

    Weird as it might sound, when this film first came out, there was actually a bit of a push to promote it in the English-language media here. I was working at Japanzine at the time, and even got sent a video of the movie (which sat untouched on a shelf for the next 6 months, and eventually got chucked). I never covered it, but I remember a story appearing in Metropolis.

  23. Joseph K Says:

    Wow, I really didn’t think I’d get to the end of the comments and be the only other person that has actually watched this film.

    I watched it because I read a glowing review by a guy who obviously related to the central character’s experience, and found justification of his feelings for Japan in the film. By the time I recently had the opportunity to see it, I’d pretty much forgotten his review besides it being positive.

    There was a lot of amusement to be found in the way it portrayed society, especially in the blanket way it referred to American ideals and lifestyles, and the extremes it went to to show ‘what’s wrong with Japanese people these days’. As in a scene on the train (maybe the only scene to take place on a train), with every manner usually listed on posters or etiquette guides being broken at once.

    The subtext that she is supposed to be partly Japanese, and yet is never treated as even remotely so, and as you say, so frequently restates her foreigner status, was probably the most blatantly right-wing message that I picked up on.

    After reading the greater background you provide, the confusion I felt throughout the entirity makes sense. I could barely correlate anything presented on screen with anything I had experienced myself while at university or in day-to-day life here…