• Film
  • Animation
Critics' choice
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In a 50-year career, graphic artist Yoshihiro Tatsumi helped Japanese manga grow up, introducing dramatic, socially-aware subject matter intended for an adult readership. As an avid fan, Singaporean filmmaker Eric Khoo pays tribute with this unusual and intriguing Japanese-language animated feature, which threads a series of Tatsumi’s short fictions through a screen biography.

A sceptical counterpoint to the familiar narrative of Japan’s postwar regeneration, Tatsumi’s stories feature under-appreciated, sexually frustrated office and manual workers, sympathetic in outline yet seasoned with a zesty perversity that admirers of Shohei Imamura’s films will appreciate. Exploring subjects from post-Hiroshima guilt to a sinister simian alter ego, their thematic daring and imaginative fizz are served well by the detailed, author-approved visuals, yet the tension sags every time we return to the comparatively mundane real-life element – and the movie plateaus when it should build. The tense docu-drama framing of Paul Schrader’s ‘Mishima’ biopic, for instance, generated far more impact from its work-life blend. Still, if Khoo’s film doesn’t amount to more than its parts, more often than not those parts are vivid and arresting.

Release details

Rated: 12A
Release date: Friday January 13 2012
Duration: 94 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Eric Khoo
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