My thoughts on the Japanese films I’ve watched recently.
Beck is based on a manga series of the same name. The story revolves around Koyuki, a kid just going through the motions of living until he discovers rock music. As the story progresses Koyuki gets more involved in the music world and eventually joins a 5-person band called Beck. The band goes through a lot of ups-and-downs, thanks in no small part to their leader Ray Minami, and the movie concludes with them giving a performance at a music festival in Japan called Grateful Sound.
I was disappointed with the movie, but I should mention that I had read the manga. The main thing that bothered me was the haphazard progression of the film. The amount of material they were trying to cover in the move was rather vast, but rather than dropping plot points, they decided to compress them; this caused some problems. For one, a lot of the major plot points revolve around aggression in the band. However, since they had to compress the film, it gives the idea that the band is constantly fighting. While this isn’t necessarily bad, it makes Ray just seem like a total dick for the majority of the film. This is made worse by the fact that the film had to cut out the reasons for his rage, so he is essentially yelling at everyone in the band for no reason.
Another one of the problems with the film is that Koyuki doesn’t sing. In the manga, Koyuki is famous for having an excellent singing voice; but rather than find someone who can sing well, the director decided to mute all the scenes where Koyuki sings. As an added bonus, random effects involving the sky and various landscapes are spliced in. While I can understand the thinking behind this, it really kills the flow of the movie, especially since the sounds gets muted partway into a song. So there they are on stage, playing some pretty good music and then BAM, silence and a close up of a guy opening and closing his mouth. Awesome.
I should mention that Captain Crunch, who hasn’t read the manga, said he enjoyed the movie.
Umizaru is a movie about a group of people going through training to become divers in the Japanese Coast Guard. Umizaru stands for “Sea Monkey”, and is the term locals call the trainee divers. The movie isn’t bad, but it’s very generic; think of any buddy/training movie you’ve ever seen and you know what happens in this movie.
Plot outline: Guy goes into training, has some kind of dark past but is super awesome at whatever they’re training at. Guy meets dude that isn’t good at training but has lots of heart, learns lesson about helping people. Dude not good at training dies trying to fulfill ideals, everyone sad for a bit. Guy feels responsible/guilty for dude’s death, has to overcome it to become more super awesome. At end of movie guy overcomes fear and saves the jackass everyone hates. The jackass has an epiphany as well and everyone is super happy. THE END.
Oh right, and somewhere in there the guy gets lucky with some girl and they also end up super happy.
Fly, Daddy, Fly
Fly, Daddy, Fly is the uplifting story about a salaryman and his quest to beat the shit out of a high school kid. Yeah you heard me, you got a 30-something-year-old on a mission to beat up a teenager. I could say more but honestly, if you aren’t sold at this point you probably shouldn’t watch the movie.
And we should stop being/never become friends.