Usagi Drop: on the Yukari and Daikichi non-romance

October 13th, 2016

You read that right.

I think the manga ending was great.

B-b-but muh incest!

It’s probably because I’m an abnormal person, but I think the second half of the manga wasn’t bad. To me, the manga was short from being a masterpiece because of one relationship: it’s the one between Yukari and Daikichi. I could understand most of the other characters’ thought progressions, but I couldn’t logically understand why a mutual love has to be let go of, especially when there are no hindrances.

But then I thought more about it, and realized that Yukari was trapped between her love for her son, and her love for Daikichi. As a parent, she chose Kouki. Because if one thought about it, Yukari pursuing a relationship with Daikichi and accepting his offer of marriage will also mean that Rin and Kouki have to live together in one household, and as siblings. Both Daikichi and Yukari wished for Rin and Kouki to be together, which is the primary reason that they haven’t become anything more than good friends in all the time that has passed.


When Kouki messed around with Akari and his life, however, Yukari still couldn’t accept Daikichi’s feelings, especially because she’s also grown to love Rin as another family member. Think about it: Yukari couldn’t bear the thought of Kouki hurting Rin and Daikichi in the process. She loves her child, but she loves them too.

When Rin finally got over Kouki’s inconsistency and irresponsibility, Yukari still couldn’t accept Daikichi’s feelings, because it would again show that she put her happiness above her child’s. Daikichi also understood that it wouldn’t work if they were both happy yet their children would be suffering: Kouki would be suffering from an unrequited love, and his rejection would resonate every time he’d see Rin in their house; Rin would probably seclude herself even further from the world.

It would never work.

So as painful a decision it was for Yukari, she had to make it for the sake of the other important people in their lives. Do I think she loves her new husband? She does, but she doesn’t love him as much as she loves Daikichi. When one sees what Daikichi has done for her and for her son’s life in all the times she’s been down, one realizes that it would be hard to surpass what Daikichi did. She just loves her son more.

Kouki is one of the main reasons why I don’t want children. You can strive all you want, but if you have the misfortune of giving birth to a piece of shit like him, you’ll end up losing against life. He single-handedly destroyed the realization of the best possible relationships just by being a piece of shit. He couldn’t man up for Rin; he didn’t do enough for his mom; and he couldn’t even give Daikichi the woman of his life because he was such a turd.

That just really makes me sad.

Shimoneta: a masterpiece hidden inside dirty jokes

October 9th, 2016


Ever since I went over to the dark side, I knew that anime had something more for me than magical fights and Pokemon. I knew it when I became emotionally invested in the heroes of Gundam Wing. However, all my parents saw were robots fighting. I needed to prove to myself that anime was much more than these desultory generalizations.

Guess what? In the next year, I watched Elfen Lied. That in itself was enough to destroy most presumptions about anime: it was visceral, violent, and mature. A few months after, I stumbled upon Koi Kaze.

It’s already been twelve years, and I still haven’t seen any medium with a more realistic and better presentation of incest. I’ve watched the series twice, and the OP remains to be among the best pieces of music I’ve heard.

Thence on, I was attracted to off-kilter, heteroclitic anime. Although I could still enjoy series like Bleach, I would watch a lot more josei and seinen series. I’ve discovered masterpieces such as Tatami Galaxy and Honey and Clover, and great anime such as Kemonozume because of this predilection.


I didn’t expect much from Shimoneta. I was going to watch a raunchy series, and probably place it at the back of my mind after I’ve watched it.

And I was horribly mistaken: Shimoneta is a great anime.

The World of Shimoneta

One of the best things about Shimoneta is how the author constructed its world. Japan has become the world’s most ‘moral’ country because it has prohibited everything that has anything to do with sexuality. It’s like a reverse Brave New World: instead of bombarding the people with pleasure to control them, everything sexually pleasurable is removed in order to control people.

I honestly thought this would be a good solution to the overpopulation plaguing the Philippines. People think too much with their lower bodies than with their brains, and as a result the country is rapidly being overcrowded with unwanted babies and idiots, while I’ll be a wizard in a little over a year. Part of Shimoneta’s brilliance is that it shows that the removal of one’s sexuality is not the answer: Tsukimigusa Oboro and Anna are even more depraved individuals than the protagonists because their lives are devoid of their sexuality.

In a previous write-up, I wrote that Shimoneta was 1984 meets American Pie. Although that roughly approximates the series, there’s more depth within.


The whole series starts when Okuma gets admitted into the most moral high school in the country. He sought to be admitted into the prestigious institution because he admired the kindness of his senior, Nishikonomiya Anna. Because he has knowledge about sexuality (since his father was a ‘terrorist’), he ensconces himself in the Student Council with Ayame Kajou, Goriki, and Anna.

Ayame Kajou is the series’s deuteragonist. She saves Okuma from being imprisoned by ‘terrorizing’ the people with pornographic pictures. Nevertheless, she is in the student council because she and Anna are best friends. Her motives are gradually shown as the series progresses (alongside a lot of raunchy jokes), and they are noble.

Commentary (spoilers)

Shimoneta is a brilliant series.

It’s a great series because it creates a dystopia that posits more problems than solutions if sexuality is removed from the world. One of its most tragic victims is Anna.


Prior to her accident with Okuma, she was a Yamato Nadeshiko: she’s the Student Council President, at the top of her class, and is very attractive to boot. Because she has no knowledge about her sexuality, however, she transmogrifies into a nymphomaniac after being saved by Okuma from stalkers (and kissing her accidentally).

It would be easy if Okuma was also a sex fiend: after all, he’s admired Anna for so long. Because Okuma is, ironically, also a decent guy with a perverted mind, he gets more and more turned off from her advances.

People say that it was improper of Okuma to invite his stalker to his house. There are, however, some sacrifices to be made for the better good: Okuma was already firmly entrenched within SOX and he had to inspire Otome for her to be able to produce erotic art they could use as weapons. If I recall correctly, he also didn’t know it was Anna (since Anna was avoiding him when they were in school).

Anna’s tragedy is the tragedy of not knowing about herself, or her sexuality. Kajou alludes to that by saying that Anna didn’t know how to differentiate love from lust: Anna was lusting after Okuma (and did so unhealthily), but since she didn’t know one iota about her own sexuality, she considered it all as love. And because Anna had a skewed perspective toward righteousness, she merely interpreted that ANY ACTION pursued for the sake of ‘morality’ was the right thing to do.

Her sexual repression also triggered a psychotic streak within her: she wants Okuma all to herself, but doesn’t even know that she’s raped him more than once, all in the name of her ‘love.’

A little knowledge is a dangerous thing, indeed.


I like Kajou, because she reminds me of myself. I know a lot about psychology and sexuality, but I don’t really have much real-life experience. I have noble intentions, and wish to carry them out, but I also have a potty mouth to go with it.

She’s suffered because her dad was implicated in a crime he didn’t commit, all for the sake of pushing forth the anti-sexuality laws that were to govern Japan. As a result, she has a properly modulated schizophrenia: she appears to be prim and proper while at school, but is actually the terrorist leader of SOX.

I think I loved her epiphany in the 11th episode (the final episode was more of an excursion than anything): when all was said and done, Okuma was always there for her, and she was always there for Okuma when he needed her the most (although she couldn’t do much when it came to Anna). For someone repressed differently, to be able to say she loved someone as much as she loved dirty jokes showed that Okuma also meant the world to her.

I love romances that arise from a story not focused on it. It keeps the romance devoid of too much drama, but actually livens up the story. So I’m a solid fan of Okuma and Kajou. They deserve each other. 🙂

Yeah, she's in love.

Yeah, she’s in love.


I won’t comment at length about the daddy issues, or that ostracism. That’s capably tackled in other anime, and by other bloggers.

It’s about his love – and Anna’s toward him, tangentially.

Love is not based on effort.

You want cold water. I fan the cup a million times, but someone walks by with ice for you. You have these expectations, and I work with blood and sweat (and love nectar) to reach them. Someone else came by with what you’re actually looking for, and so you go with them.

This is precisely what happened among Anna, Okuma, and Kajou. Okuma thought that he aspired to moral perfection in order to step out of his father’s shadow. It’s a sort of father complex: all we really see as viewers is Okuma’s father treating him like a father should, but leads to Okuma being ostracized for his father’s beliefs. What he actually desired was to be accepted for who he was, and Kajou did, warts and all.

And no matter what Anna does to show her ‘love’ for Okuma, he doesn’t reciprocate – because Kajou was whom he needed all along. At this rate, they’ll also end up together. Kajou already confessed.


Watch this for the sexually-loaded, promiscuous jokes. Most people would already be content. I hope, however, that with this post, people will take Shimoneta to be an anime much more than that. It may not be as a good a series as Tatami Galaxy, but it’s a masterpiece to me nonetheless.

Watch it, especially if you’re open-minded.

Honeymoon Salad: one of the best

September 25th, 2016

This is in my top three manga of all time. Honeymoon Salad really is, to me, that good. I advise people who do plan to read this series to read Baby Leaf first, however. Baby Leaf is the prequel to Honeymoon Salad, and introduces one to the reason why the three main characters live such initially tragic lives.


‘There’s no way to make a clean end of things of things. At this age, I’ve finally realized that,’ quipped Minori, the male protagonist of the series, at the very first chapter. It’s insinuated that he has problems ejaculating because of the psychological trauma his first girlfriend gave him when she left him out of thin air.

In short, shit’s happened in his life, and the primary reason is the girl who left him. The great thing about this series is that while all three characters are broken, being together with each other allows them to function the best that they could. Read the rest of this entry »

Umi no Misaki: the anti-harem

September 19th, 2016

Umi no Misaki is surprisingly good. While, of course, it doesn’t rank as well when compared to universally-acclaimed series, it’s among the top three in all the harem series I’ve read. It’s also just a really good manga. There are many reasons as to why, but I think the foremost is that it turned the usual cliches of harem series on its head while delivering a wonderful story, to boot. The harem, ultimately, is a necessary choice within the manga’s universe.


First, Goto Nagi as a harem protagonist is someone who has balls. He’s a guy that I think most men should aspire to be: while sexual intercourse is never far off in his mind, he consistently tries to understand and appreciate the women he’s with – and he plays no games with them. In fact, he’s a mensch for holding himself back from the women who surround him. A common trope in harem series is a protagonist who is chased by the women for no reason other than inscrutable attraction, and this protagonist is often spineless until the very end. We’ve seen this type from Love Hina to the recently-ended Nisekoi.

Nagi isn’t such a character. The women grow to like him because he is a genuine and kind person. As the manga progresses, the women do just as much initiating as he does once each of them are comfortable in their relationships among themselves. And ALL of them follow through.

Second, it’s a manga that’s not merely a game of ‘who will he pick?’
As the manga progresses, the central conflict alluded to, even in the earliest chapters, is really the clash between love and duty. The maidens understandably all fall in love with Nagi, but their raison d’etre, or their deontology, is primarily to the island that has borne them and provided them with such responsibilities. At the end of the manga, this is what ALL the maidens, as well as Nagi, are striving to overcome. When a manga series reminds me of Immanuel Kant, I know that that manga series is good.

Finally, the series appropriates and transforms the harem ending into a necessity. While most of us expected Shizuku (the first girl he saw) and the one Nagi has the most ‘experience’ with end up together, it is subverted by the deep responsibility each girl feels towards her role as Cape Maiden. When what happens behind the Dragon Ritual is revealed to Nagi, he decides in such a way that only true heroes can – outside of the box, and fucking destiny along with it. Chapter 116 reveals the depth of thought Shizuku gave into her decision, and is the climactic point that leads the reader to the ending.

Frankly, while I would have liked a timeskip, I was glad the author didn’t cop out and ended the story on a positive note in the present time. Each one of the maidens were drastically changed by Nagi, but the ending shows one that they could go through it together. (The fact that Nagi has great endurance was a great Chekhov’s gun for the manga’s end.)

I highly recommend it.

P.S. I prefer Soyogi because she has similar characteristics in women I like, but I’m totally fine with how the series ended.

Love in the time of anime harems

July 31st, 2016

I’m going to be 30 years old in a few years. I can no longer call myself young, except with the words ‘at heart.’

I still like anime.

Back when I was half my age, anime was the way I coped with the stresses of high school. I made a few friends by shamelessly bringing series to class, and sharing it with friends. Outside of my studies and anime, however, I was a horrible person. I thought I was really intelligent, and thus had the right to be an asshole to everyone else.

As I grew older, however, my tastes changed, but it was in college when I finally discovered the type of series that I really liked. I enjoyed mecha series, and I occasionally enjoyed shounens, but what I really liked were josei romances.



When I was seventeen, I didn’t really care about women. Coming from a family that’s situated in the lower-middle class, I had to work to maintain my scholarship. Then I discovered Honey and Clover. Even though I watched it ten years ago, I’ll still gush about the series as fervently because it taught me the complexities of being in relationships with people without actually being in one.

I admired Takemoto, who was upright despite all the pitfalls life had in store for him, and tried to be as much as a gentleman as he was (although I failed, because Takemoto is that awesome). But Honey and Clover was the gateway series for me because it paved the way to building up my empathy towards others.

I still have a small amount when compared to most people, but having that seed was a start in order to become a better person. I thought that my fondness for mature romance would end with H&C.

I was wrong. In 2010, Tatami Galaxy was shown, and it remains to be the best series that I have ever seen. Why? Because Watashi was me. I was an asshole to men and an asshole to women, but I never accepted that I was the root cause of the bullshit that happened to my life. I never had the passion for medicine because I didn’t really want to be a medical doctor. Having seen that series, however, made me realize that I have to own up to my past and live in the present in order for me to progress in my life. I’m still far from what I want to be, but at least nowadays I’m earning and helping in the family finances.

I stayed away from anime in the years immediately succeeding that because I had to be licensed as a medical doctor. Two series that I watched this year has inspired me to write a reflection of my life and anime, however. The first was Oregairu, which had reminded me again to be true to myself. (There was also a lot of self-insertion in Hachiman: I was aloof, I didn’t care about society, but I wanted and want sincerity in the few people I consider as friends.)

I think Yukino will probably end up with Hachiman. Because I realized that it’s not just about the female protagonist. There must be cohesion between the two.

It actually surprised me how far in terms of maturity romance/harem anime have arrived. Back when I was younger, there was Love Hina, Chobits, and DearS. They were great anime series for wish-fulfillment. Outside of Chobits, however, they merely pandered to their viewers (who were usually social outcasts and reveled in the idea of being surrounded by attractive women).

Anime has clearly evolved, because even the oft-maligned harem genre has manifested impressive signs of maturity. I’ve already mentioned Oregairu, but I wrote this post because of Saenai Heroine no Sodatekata.

This series actually features a hardcore otaku as the protagonist. He is unabashed and unashamed of his hobbies, leading people to recognize him as the three pillars of their school. (He reminded me of my high school self.)

In subversion to the common tropes in harem series where the girl he ends up with is the girl who has been his enduring childhood friend or the girl with the BIG everything, his heart is with a quiet and unassuming lady who is always there for him.

I admire this direction of harem series, because I believe love is not a competition between the biggest chests. It does not award the sluttiest woman, and clearly some friendships just stay as friendships. Love is cohesion. It is being attuned to the other person’s needs and wants, and them responding to your needs and wants as well, persistently, consistently, and for the rest of both of your lives as well. Both people have to work hard for it to work. Being physically attractive definitely helps, but it is not the be-all or end-all of love. So when I see Utaha or Eriri being shot down occasionally (more of this happens in the LNs), I feel contented because even a harem series has more accurately approximated love in the anime medium. Love is not a one-night stand. It is a constant grind, and from what I can see, only Megumi really put in the work. I’m happy that Tomoya’s slowly seeing that.

And I’m happy that,just like harem anime, I’ve also grown a little bit more mature to see what these protagonists see, too.

Prison School c. 209-211 impressions

April 3rd, 2016

I tackled the character development of Mari with regard to her misandry in my last post. Although Mari is still, quite definitely, wary of men, she recognizes Kiyoshi’s ability and has grown very reliant on him. He had literally died during chapter 209, because Hana, in an act of desperation, not only exposed him wearing panties: she also exposed his penis in fron of the school’s thousand girls. The same chapter established that Kiyoshi’s heart belongs to only Chiyo: he bemoaned during his death that he couldn’t tell her he liked her. There are no other women in his life, and this was supported by the fact that in his resurrection the following chapter, the rest of the women he knew were merely breasts to him.


Chapter 209 ended very bleakly. Kiyoshi has just died, while the only person Kiyoshi loves called him a disgusting pervert. Akira Hanamoto, being a masterful writer, however, turns it all around in the succeeding chapter. Chiyo greatly respects Kiyoshi because she believed (and was partly right) that the panties were all his plan to throw the Kibasen into chaos. Mari manifests her intelligence by performing precordial thumps on Kiyoshi, who eventually comes to his senses exhibiting quirky behavior. He has become Death, the destroyer of worlds: his exposure ensures that he will be seen in the school as a pariah, and my interpretation is that he goes on simply because in a previous chapter, he asked for Mari’s blessing with regard to Chiyo, and she acceded to his request. In addition, since despite his perversions he has a heroic nature, he plays with the boys who wish for the reinstatement of the wet T-shirt contest. His resurection brings about his fearlessness. I think that his ‘Let us go,’ simply means that he wishes to go all the way for Mari and for the boys’ sake: like Mari, he no longer has anything to lose as well. Besides, as he’s assured of Chiyo’s sister support, he just wishes to complete his task.

211, I think, is the nadir of his social reputation. Not only is he unable to put his penis inside the striped panties, he is actually empowered from it. Kate succinctly and accurately interprets their condition: even if the USC will win, they will no longer demand a following. Mari has fallen from grace, and Kiyoshi’s hijinks will be inexorably connected with her.


I don’t know what to expect anymore. It will definitely be a Pyrrhic victory for any side, but I can’t see Kiyoshi and Mari escaping from prison this time.

Mari x Kiyoshi: pictures paint a novel

March 17th, 2016

I have committed a grave error against Mari in my write-up yesterday. Redditor necktie_13 mentioned that most of Mari’s reactions with regard to Kiyoshi were unspoken, and that led me to a gaffe in analysis. Because I’m very used to textual analysis, I didn’t pay too much attention toward Mari’s facial reactions in regard to Kiyoshi. However, Mari’s interaction with him have gained a considerable amount of softness. Prior to even the incidence between them with the snakes, Mari subtly has already modified her perspective towards Kiyoshi during their conversation in chapter 112.


Instead of berating Kiyoshi, she understands that he was truly trying to help Meiko as she fell off the ladder without any intention of harassing her.


Another notable interaction between the two of them occur during the chapter with the snakes (chapter 120): while he was bitten by a viper, Mari was actually reminded of her father with Kiyoshi. Despite the fact that their relations have soured during her time in Hachimitsu, it’s undeniable that her perspective of males is being slowly rehabilitated because of Kiyoshi. Chapter 118 also shows her being visibly flustered at the thought that (surprise!) not all men are out to only have sex with or use women.


Her flustered appearance is once again repeated in chapter 121, when Kiyoshi vows to save her above himself.


Her emotional investment in Kiyoshi percolated through the next few chapters until chapter 124, where she slaps him because he wanted to grope her before dying as he believe he was poisoned. This was no longer the distant Mari, aloof from all men. She felt offended — more importantly, however, she asked Kiyoshi for forgiveness because she had started to understand him, not as a piece of garbage, but as a person.


She becomes more willing to have physical contact with him, even if that were because of a reward.


By chapter 129, she smiles openly in front of Kiyoshi.


Later on, in fact, she once again loses her composure when Kiyoshi attempts to send a message to the men.


She blushes for the first time while asking forgiveness from Kiyoshi a second time in chapter 131. When we are embarrassed with the person we treasure, we blush. People don’t blush towards people they don’t take emotional stock in: people blush towards people they give a damn about.


And, of course, after affecting her escape, she speaks to Kiyoshi in chapter 166. Her perspective of him has clearly transformed: he is at the very least a good friend, but it seems that he may become so much more. Particularly telling is the ninth page of their conversation: instead of ‘we,’ she rephrases her answer toward Kiyoshi: ‘once this battle is over, take me out to eat some delicious yakiniku, Kiyoshi.’


When Kiyoshi touches her breast in chapter 204, she doesn’t even react in an overly violent manner. She slaps him, but actually slaps him harder when he was fondling Meiko.

Finally, in chapter 205, both Hana and Mari affect shock when Kiyoshi tells them he’d confess to Chiyo.


She shows disappointment.

Hers is probably the slowest tale of love to develop among the three characters Kiyoshi has had protracted interactions with, but it’s also equally tragic as Hana’s. They started off being biased against him, yet despite that he proved them wrong and showed them his propriety every time. While she still has to overcome her misandry, it’s clear that the snow queen’s heart has already melted. Sadly, her king is in love with her sister.

Transactional psychology in Prison School, or, why Chiyo will win

March 16th, 2016

I. Introduction

It has been more than six months since my last anime-related blog post. I have as much consistency as a schizophrenic does with his thinking. It’s been a few years since I have written volubly regarding anime. I’m not making any excuses: it’s not as if it’s surprising that working as a medical doctor takes a lot of time away from writing and enjoying anime. I’ve never really stopped watching anime, although I do it sparingly nowadays. I was still able to watch Zankyou no Terror recently, and while I planned a write-up on that one, it never really materialized because of its disappointing ending. I just think it would have been a better anime if it focused on Nine and Twelve and the girl in their quest for truth rather than introduce a confounder into the series which is counterproductive because the series is short at only 12 episodes.


I wasn’t as passionate with that series as this one that I just finished watching. I have spent the better part of two days devouring everything I could on Prison School. I came for the fun and the tits, but I stayed for the story: I say this with a straight face because the story has great insight on abnormal psychology. I am heavily invested in this series: I recall it was when Tatami Galaxy aired that I was this involved with a series, so it’s been a very long time. My only problem now is that I have to wait for the future chapters of the manga, although the chapter the manga is at during this article’s writing (ch. 208) is a great spot to elaborate my thoughts on the series. Read the rest of this entry »

Cure (1997 film): among the best horror films I’ve seen

October 25th, 2015

I’m not a big fan of horror films. I’m tired of the genre’s reliance on in-your-face spooks and special effects. I’ve watched Cure twice, however. It’s undeniably a horror film, but the events that occur within it are situated in the real world. It’s also a mentally-challenging thriller.

Other review sites had already summarized the events in the film, so I won’t do it again. Since the film is open to interpretation, however, I’m going to write about mine and corroborate it with evidence.

Spoilers are below.

I think that Takabe was never completely mesmerized by Mamiya. That’s one of the central questions of the film. Since I don’t have a psychology textbook with me, I used a bit of Wikipedia. Hypnotic suggestion is dependent on the person. While most of the killers in the filmed may have medium susceptibility to hypnotic suggestion, Takabe had shown a strong resistance to Mamiya’s suggestion.

This is the first time Takabe knocks down Mamiya's lighter.

This is the first time Takabe knocks down Mamiya’s lighter.

Most of the first half of the movie presented how Mamiya was able to hypnotize the people who eventually performed murder. He usually utilizes the lighter in a one-on-one environment to draw the murderers in. Barring that, as with the case of the female physician, he uses the person’s reflection and the sound of flowing water, but it takes significantly more time to totally mesmerize the person.

The second time that Takabe knocks down Mamiya's lighter while daring Mamiya to hypnotize him.

The second time that Takabe knocks down Mamiya’s lighter while daring Mamiya to hypnotize him.

On my second viewing I looked at the size of the water puddle on the floor to estimate how much time lay between the water dropping through the ceiling and the hall guard entering the room. Since the film doesn’t go out of its way to be supernatural, I believe that a puddle that size would probably take between thirty seconds to a minute to grow to that size. Takabe is also very immersed in his pursuit of the serial killer that he is resistant to suggestion: the picture of the room when the hall guard entered was Mamiya rolling on the floor with Takabe abruptly standing. Perhaps Mamiya was able to impress upon him, finally, the necessity of Takabe killing his wife in order to life his own life. I also think that when Mamiya mentioned Takabe helping him escape, I think he meant that Takabe knew Mamiya’s capabilities to mesmerize the hall guard yet left him alone despite that.

The water puddle has a small size. It was only less than a minute between the water pooling and the hall guard arriving.

The water puddle has a small size. It was only less than a minute between the water pooling and the hall guard arriving.

Mamiya, however, never completes the sign of the X before he is gunned down by Takabe. I think that the ending is Takabe’s conscious choice to become the next among the ‘missionaries’ who would tear away the veneer of society and expose the darkness in people’s hearts: he gets rid of his wife in the process, and seems to be an even more potent Mesmer than Mamiya ever was. By freeing himself, he also becomes the undesired cure for other people. To me, the Cure in the film’s title pertains to the release from civilization and society that holds us back from our deeper desires: ultimately, all of the murderers in the film wished to kill their victims, but they let themselves go because of the suggestion.

The X was never completed.

The X was never completed.

There’s a very good chance that this film will end up as one of my all-time favorites.

The Bad Sleep Well: or, Welcome to the Philippines

October 5th, 2015

I’ve written three drafts regarding this film, and I think all my drafts have failed. It’s so hard to put this film into words. But since summarizing the movie didn’t really help me, I’ll just write about my perceptions regarding the film and hope it’s sensible and cogent enough.

Akira Kurosawa has been known to be among the greatest film directors in the world. His greatest films are among the most imitated: Seven Samurai has been adapted into different films, and even an anime series. Yojimbo became Clint Eastwood’s Man with No Name. Throne of Blood was recognized by the preeminent Harold Bloom to be one of the best Shakespearean adaptations he has seen on film. Only Yasujiro Ozu is perhaps more revered by film directors and critics, and that’s even a coin toss.

I’ve watched Kurosawa’s Dreams about ten years ago, because it was required viewing by our tasteful English professor. I didn’t think much of it, although I thought it was a good film. While I’ve intended to watch his more popular films since then, I guess I didn’t really want to, as I didn’t prepare time for those.

It’s only been recently that I’ve used great movies to bond with my father. I guess I’ve been exposed to real life and medical cases for too long that I’ve forgotten to enjoy films that pique both the mind and the heart. What I had started with Friedkin’s Sorcerer I kept up, until I eventually stumbled into Akira Kurosawa.

I’ve had Throne of Blood on my PC for about six months. I just didn’t really want to watch it. I wanted to watch a more contemporary film made by him, so I waited until I discovered that Kurosawa made a loose adaptation to Shakespeare’s Hamlet set in the 1960s.

Its title was The Bad Sleep Well. The Criterion Collection certainly made it look attractive: its front-cover picture was a white building on a black background with a prominent red X on one of its floors.

The Bad Sleep Well

The only mistake I made when watching the film was that I watched it during night-time. It’s a film that takes its time with its build-up, so one needs to pay utmost attention with its conversations and character interactions: it’s not for those who enjoy the rampant shallowness and the anti-intellectualism that pervades Philippines today. Toshiro Mifune still stars in this film (Mifune starred in all of Kurosawa’s great films except Ran) but unlike his long-haired and bearded counterparts in Kurosawa’s samurai films he is clean-shaven and quiet as Nishi. This film shows that he is a masterful actor because he is equally able to present characters who are larger-than-life and violent as he is able to show brooding, quiet, and highly intelligent ones.

Mifune ditches the dirt and the beard and replaces the kimono with a suit, yet still acts extremely well.

Toshiro TBSW

The film is subtle: in fact, to me it’s been insidious. It’s the kind of film that one nods off to at times because of its deliberate pace but grows on the viewer after the ending credits have appeared. Looking back, it’s probably one of the best films I’ve seen this year. The opening scene is well-filmed: a momentous occasion such as a wedding of the daughter of the firm’s head is sullied by the suggestion of corruption at the highest levels of the firm. The press that covers the wedding is suspicious, but powerless.

The Bad Sleep Well is a 1960’s film, but it could have been alternatively titled ‘Welcome to the Philippines.’ The viewer first questions whether Nishi is a good or bad person. He crosses the line between good and evil too many times for the viewer to figure out until the film’s latter half. One, however, ultimately discovers his motivation and his struggle to be moral. Similar to Heneral Luna, however, the film ends on a somber tone: those who will good and do good are often buried in corruption and bureaucracy. The film has very strong historical bases, too: during the time of Stalinist Russia, it wasn’t those who were morally pure or idealistically noble who survived. Those who pandered to Stalin the best became his right-hand men. The sycophants survived, while the pure and ethical were murdered. The film was also extremely timely during its release: issues of deep-seated corruption pervaded the Japanese government during the 1960s as well.

It is a film I can recommend to very few people. It’s a film that takes patience and focus, both of which are in dearth in this time and age. It is a very rewarding film, however: first, it was done by Kurosawa; second, it’s a timeless commentary on the ills of society and sycophancy; and finally, it’s a damn good film with great actors.

The cake is a lie.

The cake is a lie.