Hiroshi Okuyama’ short film “Tokyo 21st October” usually screens as a companion piece to his feature film “Jesus”. Even though both deal with the topic of family, the whole idea of the dichotomy of rural and urban Japan, as well as the theme of faith is absent from the short film. However, Okuyama also focuses on the troubled relationship between two people, in this case a mother (Shinobu Otake) and her son (Ryo Shinoda), their struggles to communicate and their feelings about being (emotionally) apart from each other.

Another notable difference is the visual approach of Okuyama in his short. Using cutout animation, the rather static situation of two people sitting at a conveyor belt sushi restaurant becomes unique in many ways. Additionally, Okuyama blends this situation with fantastic, and rather ironic elements such as the figure of the waiter being a man-sized sardine.

Tokyo 21st October” is screening at Japan Cuts

In general, you will ask yourself the question what this film is about, what the point of this short feature is. Okuyama cleverly maintains a certain ambivalence in his story, while also showing the various instances of disconnect and miscommunication between the two people. We do not know the condition of their relationship, but the fact they do not face each other for the first half of the short, that one is glued to the display of his mobile phone and one tries to break the ice with remarks about the quality of the food, speaks for itself.

In the end, there is not much more to say about “Tokyo 21st October”. In just a couple of minutes Hiroshi Okuyama manages to give an insight into a relationship and the various obstacles in communication between two people. Supported through its visual approach, he points out the irony of the situation, the weaknesses of both character and the possibility of being able to connect once more, to move on together.

Ever since I watched Takeshi Kitano's "Hana-Bi" for the first time (and many times after that) I have been a cinephile. While much can be said about the technical aspects of film, coming from a small town in Germany, I cherish the notion of art showing its audience something which one does normally avoid, neglect or is unable to see for many different reasons. Often the stories told in films have helped me understand, discover and connect to something new which is a concept I would like to convey in the way I talk and write about films. Thus, I try to include some info on the background of each film as well as a short analysis (without spoilers, of course), an approach which should reflect the context of a work of art no matter what genre, director or cast. In the end, I hope to pass on my joy of watching film and talking about it.


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