‘The World of Kanako’ Film Festival Review
The World of Kanako was covered as part of our Tallgrass Film Festival 13 (2015) coverage. For more on our Tallgrass Coverage, check out our ProNerd Tour Page.
Unremittingly violent, World of Kanako is not friendly or nice, but is something you will want to experience and watch over and over again.
Based on the novel by Akio Fukamachi, Tetsuya Nakashima’s Kawaki (which translates as ‘Thirst,’ but released overseas as The World of Kanako) and released last July in Japan, The World of Kanako follows Akikazi Fujishima (Koji Yakusho), a recently divorced former detective and currently a shell of a man. Fujishima stumbles and growls through the streets of Tokyo while the lines of reality and dreams blur and grow thin. Akikazi’s wife (Asuka Kurosawa) rings Fujishima, letting him know their daughter, Kanako (Nana Komatsu) had disappeared and cannot be found. A light of hope putters on for Fujishima to rekindle the flame for the family life he once had, so he begins to investigate and stumbles upon a bag of drugs found in Kanako’s room. Fujishima quickly realizes that his once beloved daughter may not be the good girl he had once thought.
Fujishima uses the disappearance of Kanako to go on an assaulting rampage, insulting and fighting with anyone who gets in his way. Sweaty, violent, and uncompromising from the get go, he never bothers to change his one increasingly bloodstained suit, although this doesn’t stop him from wandering about in the public. 10 minutes into the movie I think to myself, ‘Okay, I am on board with this.’ 15 minutes into the movie and I think, ‘What the hell did I just get myself into?’
There were times in the movie where I did not know what to feel or, in other words, what I was watching and seeing did not match with how I was feeling. Let me expand a bit more here: after seeing Fujishima get beaten to within inches of his life and stumbling upon a drug-fueled murder spree, to only moments later watching him run down police officers in his car while laughing hysterically, I was on a roller coaster of emotions. I didn’t know what to feel or what the director was trying to make me feel, if anything at all, so at some points it was hard to label the movie in a genre of any sort.
Despite this emotional roller coaster, the movie was done really well. In a sense, I felt like I was watching the Japanese equivalent of Pulp Fiction; I saw hyper violence and heard a groovy soundtrack, all coupled with tongue-in-check humor. Along with this, Nakashima ties in some Japanese animation in flashback scenes for one of the characters, which I thought was a nice touch and reminiscent of Kill Bill Vol. I. With these flashbacks, Nakashima breaks away from the linear style of directing. However, these flashback scenes ultimately create a disjointed cut of events and at times was a little tedious. Sometimes, I didn’t know what the movie was trying to accomplish. So, if there were anything negative I would say about the film, it would be the flashback of events.
Clearly drugs and their effects on society, both within the home and outside, is a clear theme in the movie. Like elsewhere in the world, drugs are becoming an increasingly difficult problem with the Japanese youth. In the film, it apparently starts in middle school; these young kids go to these crazy parties, get hooked on drugs, and destroy their lives shortly thereafter.
The movie ends leaving you with a bad taste in your mouth, but it’s the good kind of bad taste. The bad taste that you want to linger around for a bit and is definitely worth checking out. The World of Kanako comes to American theaters December 4.