A Kind Joke: Osomatsu-san, Episode 9B

Osomatsu 9B Screencap Jyushi & Girl

A recent conversation I had:

Q: So, this Osomatsu-san thing. What it’s about? I guess it’s the usual cute girls doing cute stuff, but with boys?

A (Me): It’s a show about thrash people being thrash and doing nasty things to each other. Some people did find that very cute, I guess. Also, top-notch poop and dick jokes.

And so, I settled to watch the ninth episode to get my usual fix of vicious black humor, only to be overwhelmed by genuine suffering and pain. Yet, it’s also a display of tremendous grace and warmth, of the show baring the heart that it really always has beneath all the snark, mean spirit, and gleeful mistreatment of its cast. When Osomatsu-san is at its darkest, it’s also at its kindest.

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(Personal) Best Japanese Films of All Time

I think it’s around 2010 when I started to seek out more global films beyond what I’ve usually consumed, and having been exposed to Japanese culture since childhood, it didn’t take long for me to hit up on the country’s output. Japan obviously has one of the finest cinematic pedigree in the world, with the likes of Ozu and Kurosawa frequently mentioned in the discussion of greatest filmmakers ever, and the country along with Iran has been my co-favorites as far as Asian filmmaking nation goes. The quality goes along with a relatively high level of accessibility, as you don’t need to be a film school student or an old cinema buff to appreciate the best of Japanese films; just a taste for powerfully melancholic media, perhaps.

With the caveats of my relatively brief experience and the many classics I haven’t seen yet (it’s a bit heavy on the more recent stuff as you could see), here are the stuff that resonated with me the most in chronological order. For variety’s sake, I decided to cap things at two films at most per director. It would’ve been very easy for Kurosawa, Ozu, and Kore-eda to completely dominate the list otherwise; therefore, consider my personal picks for those names as endorsements for their respective ouvre rather than just the particular film being mentioned. I also chose to include animated films here instead of the favorite anime list, because why not.

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In The End, Only Kindness Matters (Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 Review)

The main trio walking amidst the tattered black & white Tokyo landscape

Media depicting catastrophic natural disaster will always be one of the most unsettling things to me, simply because of how uncomfortably close they hit to home. In Japan alone, there had been numerous earthquake incidents before and since the airing of Tokyo Magnitude 8.0, with the most infamous one being the 2011 Tohoku incident, which costed approximately 15,891 human lives. While I’m not a Japanese resident, I do live in a similarly archipelagic state prone to the likes of earthquake, flood, volcanic eruption, and tsunami; the 2000s was particularly rough time for Indonesia, with at least four major disasters occurring in various parts of the country.

Hence, I approached Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 with some amount of apprehension, as well as a bit of suspicion that it’s going to be a tragedy porn. In the end though, I’m grateful for having watched it. More than an obvious statement on how vicious and unfair nature is, it’s a life-affirming show emphasizing the important things amidst all the chaos, destruction, and death.

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