Talk of the Town Tora (Tora-san 22)
(Available on Japanese Netflix)
Why not begin at the beginning?
Well, when you're 50 years late to the party, everything is new, and when you get a recommendation from one of the greatest writers on Japan, himself over 20 years in the grave, you take it.
Does that need an explanation? Well, just this last month Alan Booth's seemingly long lost writing (newspaper articles, and some long out of print books) were collected and released. This Great Stage of Fools, along with Booth's other 2 books will surely be reviewed here by the end of the summer, so I'll leave this as a little tease of that, but just mention that Tora-san 22 was one of the films reviewed in this anthology, and it got me thinking.
This is a time when I want to dive into the past for at least a while. Not just Tora-san, but any Japanese movie that I get recommended. Not to get to deep into it, but I may assume that there are those out there who may agree with me that these are the kind of days when watching old movies, and avoiding English news and TV might be the secret to keeping (or grasping to bring back) my sanity. Also, though I still find reading Japanese books to be a chore, watching movies is right about my level.
However, my language still isn't perfect, so don't count on these reviews for your book report, but instead for recommendations for you too.
So, with the long interlude to this first of what I hope will be a weekly addition to my focus on books, here we go.
Tora-san, a lovable fool, returns home, and gives the distinct impression that he is a man who often does this kind of return. He meets there his younger sister along with her family and the aunt and uncle who helped raise them. They run a Dango shop (a type of Japanese chewy rice snack on a stick).
The plot, or what there is of it, is that the younger sister's father in law seems depressed and Tora decides to follow him on a little vacation and try and cheer him up. The old man (in one of those... hmmm... I know you don't I... ahhh, you are Takashi Shimura, or Seven Samurai, Ikiru and Godzilla) advises Tora to spend time traveling, studying and meditating. Tora dives deep into this, for the five minutes until he meets the new waitress hired at the Dango Shop and then immediate fakes a heart attack in order to cancel his trip and be near this beauty. It appears obvious from all surrounding Tora that this is not the first time such love has struck our fool, and as always, it won't end too well.
As expected, this was a cute, sentimental, quiet comedy, with some bursts of laughter and anger, and often both together. It was most interesting to me that the anger felt more important to me than it appeared to mean to the characters. As if I was being too sensitive to regular human emotions... maybe I am. But seeing such changes to society is part of this journey, and doesn't distract much at all.
So, recommended. It's cute, it's happy, with some beautiful scenery in and out of Tokyo. And, not one mention of Russia, collusion, PC culture, racism... oh, maybe I ruined it. I hope not.
Comment below if you have, or get a chance to watch this or any of the Tora-san movies.