Transgression of the Sexual Taboo in Nagisa Oshima’s “In the Realm of the Senses”

  The concept of “obscenity” is tested when we dare to look at something that we desire to see but have forbidden ourselves to look at. When we feel that everything has been revealed, “obscenity” disappears and there is a certain liberation. When that which one had wanted to see isn’t sufficiently revealed, however, the … Continue reading Transgression of the Sexual Taboo in Nagisa Oshima’s “In the Realm of the Senses”

Reunions on Christmas Eve in Satoshi Kon’s “Tokyo Godfathers”

Satoshi Kon's wonderful anime depicts the Christmas Eve of three homeless bums (self-proclaimed) who listen to a public sermon and watch a play celebrating the birth of Christ, so they can eat afterwards. One of them, Gin, says: “Joy to the world, food has come”. Soon, they find a baby in the trash, and the … Continue reading Reunions on Christmas Eve in Satoshi Kon’s “Tokyo Godfathers”

5 Japanese Movies Filmed in the Spirit of Junichirō Tanizaki’s Beautiful Essay “In Praise of Shadows”

In a 1951 letter to his editor, while explaining his Silmarillion, J.R.R. Tolkien writes: “As far as all this has symbolical or allegorical significance, Light is such a primeval symbol in the nature of the Universe, that it can hardly be analysed. The Light of Valinor (derived from light before any fall) is the light … Continue reading 5 Japanese Movies Filmed in the Spirit of Junichirō Tanizaki’s Beautiful Essay “In Praise of Shadows”

Neo-futuristic Combustible Decadence in “Akira”

I found Akira, a landmark animated film which introduced the Japanese animated films to the Western audience, to be an eclectic mess. During the first and even the second watching of the film it seemed that way. Later, as I managed to put the pieces together (and some parts of the film are fragments of … Continue reading Neo-futuristic Combustible Decadence in “Akira”

I Am Who I Am! – Identity Fragmentation in “Perfect Blue”

Satoshi Kon is arguably, alongside Hayao Miyazaki, the most important Japanese director of animated films. Perfect Blue is his first film and this directorial debut can be compared to David Lynch’s Eraserhead due to sheer boldness and far-reaching artistic vision. The film begins with a show staged for children featuring a Japanese version of Power … Continue reading I Am Who I Am! – Identity Fragmentation in “Perfect Blue”

Mizoguchi’s “Sansho the Baillif”: Karl Marx in Heian Japan

Kenji Mizoguchi's Sanshô dayû is based on a folk tale taking place in the Heian period; Chinese and Buddhist influence, as well as the one of the Imperial power were at their summit. Mizoguchi is one of the greatest Japanese directors who created during the period of Japanese cinema which may very well be called its … Continue reading Mizoguchi’s “Sansho the Baillif”: Karl Marx in Heian Japan

Bloody Code in the Classic of Japanese Cinema “Harakiri”

Masaki Kobayashi’s Harakiri belongs to the jidaigeki genre (period piece). It follows the period shortly after the battle at Sekigahara and the establishemnt of the Tokugawa shogunate (1630). The film begins with a short exposition by the official of House Iyi, who talks about the everyday life of the samurai warlord. It is a perspective … Continue reading Bloody Code in the Classic of Japanese Cinema “Harakiri”

Other-worldly Environmentalism in Miyazaki’s “Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind”

From the very first scene of Nausicaä we can see that we are in a place of magical beauty. The trees, a windmill and the surroundings are coated in what looks like a spider-web or frozen snow; the flakes are falling around a man riding strange creatures, wearing a mask, looking bird-like. The man breaks … Continue reading Other-worldly Environmentalism in Miyazaki’s “Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind”

Hirokazu Kore-eda’s “Like Father, Like Son”: Nature or Nurture?

Hirokazu Koreeda's Like Father, Like Son explores the meaning of the proverb in the film's title and whether it can be the justification and the solution to the tragic choice characters in the film are forced to make. Ryota is a workaholic and a successful businessman, hardly spending time with his family; his wife tells him … Continue reading Hirokazu Kore-eda’s “Like Father, Like Son”: Nature or Nurture?

Tears at a Noh Play in Yasujirō Ozu’s “Late Spring”

There is a certain sadness that permeates Ozu’s films, of the passing of time and an era; of transience, of a time that will be long gone, but needs to be preserved. This is most particularly true for his so-called “Noriko Trilogy”, which stars Setsuko Hara, Ozu’s muse; Last Spring is a part of the … Continue reading Tears at a Noh Play in Yasujirō Ozu’s “Late Spring”