Japanese Film Festival, Kuala Lumpur, Day 3

Hayabusa (はやぶさ)

Tsutsumi Yukihiko


An aspiring astronomer is scouted to assist in the research and deployment of ‘Hayabusa’, a probe which aims to reach the asteroid ‘Itokawa’, collect dust samples and bring them back home.

While watching Hayabusa I started to think, “besides astronomers and die hard science boffs, is anyone going to be interested in this?” I freely confess that I didn’t understand half of what was said, not because it was in Japanese, but because they don’t lighten up on the lingo for the viewer. The film reminded me of Werner Herzog’s The Great Blue Yonder which uses real scientists to explain the ideas of the story. I enjoy films like this. Mostly because I like watching people doing the things they are passionate about. Most people could never understand why a person would dedicate their life to doing something that seems a great waste of time, but these people couldn’t care less, and I find that inspiring.

The film’s focus is an awkward astronomer, trying to finish her thesis and become a real scientist. She becomes involved in the ‘Harabusa’ mission and we become involved in all the workers and their passion: to complete the mission successfully. She has doubts about her life, where it is going and if she is doing what she really wants to do, much like us all. This film is certainly not for everyone but it has a wonderful message and is a story worth telling. It won me round.

Wonder Child

Hagiuda Koji


Wao spends his days practising the piano in his room. His dream is to enter a music school. One day he meets a young girl called Utaa. Unlike Wao who must train incessantly (much to the annoyance of his neighbour) Uta is a genius who could read music before she could speak. Though she has talent to spare her hunger to play is waning and she harbours a feeling, a prediction for the future which could smother her passion completely.

The best thing in the film is when the actors (who seem to be playing themselves, but may not be) are playing. It is a pleasure to watch people do something so well, especially if it is something a beautiful as play music. Sadly the film itself is not as passionate. It is a familiar story told without much spirit and while the girl Uta (Narumi Riko) is quite magnetic, she can’t save the film seeming an hour longer than it was.

ALWAYS-Sunset on Third Street 3(ALWAYS 三丁目の夕日’64 Always Sanchōme no Yūhi ’64)

Yamazaki Takashi


1964, all of Japan are gearing up for the Tokyo Olympics. Buildings and highways are being constructed, and excitement is very much in the air. Through all the change and ruckus, the people on Third Street continue to be as eccentric and vibrant as ever.

This film, the third in the Third Street series, has an appealing, harmless and unoffending nature. It is an optimistic film and its positivity is mirrored in the social climate of the country at the time. Around this time, Japan was at the beginning of their modern prosperity; people starting businesses, doing well for themselves, starting families and being able to think about their futures. Prospering. These characters are seen as the first generation of post war Japan who don’t have to carry their past evils along with them and the film carries this optimism throughout.

The film is played VERY broad. The characters (especially the car mechanic) are pretty much caricatures. If this sort of thing doesn’t bother you, then it’s easy to become swept up in the community’s struggles, hopes and glories. There are at least four endings in this film and it could have been better if it ended on, say, the second but only a real cynic couldn’t appreciate this simple and sweet story. Good for kids and their parents alike.


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