Minoru KawasakiHitomi TakashimaArthur KurodaShuji Kashiwabara
Nihon Igai Zenbu Chinbotsu
Medium: film
Year: 2006
Director: Minoru Kawasaki
Writer: Yasutaka Tsutsui, Masakazu Migita, Minoru Kawasaki
Keywords: Japan Sinks
Country: Japan
Language: Japanese
Actor: Kenji Kohashi, Shuji Kashiwabara, Masatoshi Matsuo, Cynthia Cheston, Blake Crawford, Avery Fane, Hiroshi Fujioka, Delcea Mihaela Gabriela, 'Hurricane Ryu' Hariken, Jon Heese, Ingo, Arthur Kuroda, Takashi Matsuo, Ian Moore, Kenji Motomiya, Takenori Murano, Ryoji Okamoto, Gregory Pekar, Dave Spector, Hitomi Takashima, Yasutaka Tsutsui
Format: 98 minutes
Url: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0844678/
Website category: Japanese
Review date: 8 December 2022
world sinks except Japan
To my surprise, I was disappointed. The film's idea is fantastic. It's a parody of Japan Sinks, released in the same year as a remake of the original and based on a 1973 short story by Yasutaka Tsutsui. He's quite a big deal in his own right, incidentally, being the author of Paprika and The Girl Who Leapt Through Time. Instead of being a disaster movie in which (spoiler) Japan Sinks, this portrays a world where every other country in the world sinks and so Japan gets overrun by English-speaking refugees from America, China, etc.
I also love Minoru Kawasaki's weird comedy films, although "good" probably isn't an appropriate word for them, and I need to catch up on his recent output.
Apparently, the original story's about nationalism and racism. The film's certainly going there, but en route it's making some questionable political points. China and South Korea have become grovelling yes-men, which is theoretically amusing given the childish and sometimes hypocritical Japan-bashing that both countries are prone to... but I wasn't amused when the film appeared to draw a line between that and their attitudes to the Yasukuni shrine where convicted (and in some cases executed) war criminals are honoured. On that issue, China and Korea are absolutely right and Japan's right-wingers can piss off. See also the refusal of Japanese emperors to visit Yasukuni.
There's also a scene where a Japanese couple eat whale meat, noting that all those pesky foreigners have stopped making a fuss about it. "Delicious, isn't it?" says one. Actually, no, it's not. I've heard that whale meat doesn't taste that great... and, again, here the film's waving the flag on questionable ground.
Then, in addition, I had to endure lots of foreigners speaking Japanese. I'm not saying my accent is perfect, but bloody hell. (It's likely that some of them had been living in Japan for years, could speak the language much better than that and were putting on that bad pronunciation, but that doesn't help.) Also, frankly, their English-speaking ability is sometimes even worse. There are limp parody versions of Bill Clinton (even though he'd been out of office for years when this film came out), Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bruce Willis, etc. Sigh.
I didn't like any of the film's characters. There's a painful Hollywood couple (Jerry Cruising and Elizabeth Clift) who introduce themselves with racist dialogue and never thereafter make it up to "tolerable", despite the film's determination to destroy and humiliate them in every way possible. "Jerry, can you live in a country with only yellow monkeys?" She's driven to prostitution and he becomes homeless. I never cared. Oh, and Elizabeth will display table manners too disgusting for credibility.
There are some Japanese reporters who basically stand and watch everything. One of them has an American wife and is heading for domestic fireworks as a result of his bigoted views.
In fairness, the film's clearly parodying racist views through excess. "They'd steal from us anyway." There will be a Foreigner Forecast on TV, which is exactly like a weather forecast except that it's talking about crimes committed by foreigners. The "We Love Japan" song made my jaw drop. Eventually, the government sends out black-clad assault squads to round up foreigners for deportation, which is presumably a death squad since everywhere outside Japan is sea. Those people being bundled into vans are going to drown... and the death squad's wall chart uses cockroach symbols to represent foreigners.
There's also some logical extrapolation of what would happen in this situation. Prices go through the roof as previously imported food is now unavailable, e.g. soy beans. Exchange rates go crazy. "As the cost of food went up, the cost of foreign women went down." English language conversation schools are replaced by Japanese ones for foreigners.
The film's not bad, I suppose. It's imaginative and lively. It's certainly never boring. That loony professor who can't answer a straight question is the film's best character by miles. He often made me laugh. "What's wrong with a small penis? Nihon banzai!"
Also, the ending's perfect. (It would have been more powerful had I liked any of the characters, though. Even that happy Japanese couple is a bit too smug "aren't you glad you'll be born Japanese" and picture-postcard for my tastes.)
Some of Kawasaki's silly comedies are family-friendly, e.g. The Calamari Wrestler or Crab Goalkeeper. Others definitely aren't, e.g. Ah! There Is No Toilet In This House. This one's almost family-friendly, despite the prostitution, but I probably wouldn't show it to my Japanese children anyway, because I don't think it's very good. I'd sooner watch it than any non-parodic version of Japan Sinks, though.