Local nationalism and nonsense in Osaka with Princess Toyotomi

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No doubt historical science fiction is now popular in Japan. Last year, Ohaku depicted a woman-controlled Edo Japan due to an epidemic that decimates the male population. Men had become just as valuable as a male bee in a beehive. In the case of Princess Toyotomi, a time-bridge is open between the 17th century and the present day, and the last descendant of the Toyotomi family from Osaka who manages to escape from a bloodshed by Edo’s army happens to be a 14-year-old girl who lives as a normal middle-schooler in nowadays’ Osaka.

This apparent feminism a la japonaise is just a mirage, because both films, and especially this last one, actually show a men’s world and depict women as weak human beings willing to be protected by a paternalistic and hierarchical society. In Princess Toyotomi the absurdity of the three official accounting auditors from Tokyo acting like cool secret agents is rounded off by the only woman in the pack’s naïveté, bordering cute stupidity.

And if we add the nonsense of a hidden passage that takes to a Masonic-like Osaka Parliament and an actual Osaka prime minister who at the same time works at an okonomiyakiyasan (cheap Osaka restaurant specialized in Japanese-style pizza omelets), the nonsense reaches its zenith.

At least, on the way to the end we are given a tour of the Kansai capital, its streets, its commercial districts, its typical food, Namba, Umeda, Osaka’s castle and of course, the omnipresent Osaka’s obaachan, who are stereotypically reputed for being the noisiest and most frivolous beings in Japan. Ah, and I had forgotten the cross-dressing, so beloved by the Japanese, incarnated in a male teenager who insists on attending school wearing a girl’s uniform and is bullied by his yakuza-to-be classmates (for venues in Kyoto try Metro and one of its Rafflessia’s parties) .

This movie owes much to Alejandro Amenabar’s Abre los ojos, with those scenes of the city completely deserted and the characters drifting around in search of an explanation; and also to the old chivalry books (I guess Japan has many of their own) and the hero’s anagnorisis, representing an innate quality in the individual –usually a lost baby prince-, who even if raised by a commoner’s family, would be showing off his character’s nobility and would eventually be recognized as prince or king (in this case, princess).

As for the actors, Tsutsumi Shinichi can’t avoid his usual and congenital histrionics –take a look at Always-, and the young Okada Masaki and Ayase Haruka could well have remained as teenage magazine idols because acting is not for them. Only Nakai Kiichi, even in the schizophrenic role that has been punished with, shows some art.

To end this diatribe against the insult to the audience’s intelligence and good taste that this commercially successful movie represents, just a comment about its ideology: the apology to the difference and the cult to past glories contained in it is just an example of a ridiculous and local nationalism promoting tension among people even from the same country.

Though I spent a good time at the cinema.

El club de las cucarachas muertas

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Hace unos días una chica japonesa me habló de una extraño evento que tiene lugar en Osaka y que excita a partes iguales su curiosidad y su repugnancia. Me remitió a este vídeo de U-tube para estudiar mi reacción. No tengo especial fobia a las cucarachas -sobre todo después de haber vivido un año en la bonita y colonial pero infestada de cucarachas voladoras Savannah, en el americano estado de Georgia- pero he de reconocer que al ver corretear tal número de repugnantes insectos por entre los pixels de la pantalla, pude entender los sentimientos encontrados de mi musa nipona.
Aunque lo realmente interesante del asunto no son esos hemimetábolos blatodeos de cuerpo aplanado, sino el happening que envuelve a la caza y captura de los mismos. Un grupo de más de 100 jóvenes japoneses se dan cita en la estación de Kyobashi de forma periódica para preparar ese sórdido y macabro genocidio de cucarachas. Se han conocido a través de las redes sociales de Internet -tal vez Mixi- y parecen tener un corpúsculo de líderes pensadores y promotores de la idea; y muchos seguidores, teniendo en cuenta el número de visitas de dichos vídeos, incluyéndome a mí.
Sin duda, la creatividad de los japoneses en un mundo plagado de reglas -y cucarachas?- no deja de sorprenderme. ¿Será que son 引きこもりs u おたくs empedernidos, o simplemente chavales con ganas de juerga y de llamar la atención?
La reacción de la policía también es modélica: simplemente les piden que limpien el desaguisado que han montado y den un entierro digno y aséptico a las pobres blatodeas.
Un amigo profesor mexicano me explicó a mi llegada a Osaka hace algunos años que esta ciudad japonesa era diferente al resto de Japón, que según su opinión era como el Tercer Mundo japonés pero super interesante y muy divertida. Bueno, yo no creo que sea precisamente el Tercer Mundo pero sí que Osaka is different. 分からへん  笑

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