World Cup Historic

Formed in 1917, the Samurai Blue only classified for the first FIFA World Cup in 1998, but since then, they never missed any edition. 2018 was their sixth participation in the tournament.

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Photo by ジダネ

Japan intercalated eliminations in the group stage with losing in the round of 16, never going further than that. In Russia, they almost did, but after opening 2-nill against Belgium, they conceded three goals and were eliminated in regular time.

They only reached the Round of 16 after playing an outrageous match against Poland and overcoming Senegal in the tiebreakers. I already explained it in the Senegal review, so if you want to know more, you can check the review of Ceddo available in the cards.

Prelude

The widower Kanji Watanabe (played by Takashi Shimura) is the Section Chief in the Public Affairs Department, a monotonous job he’s in for thirty years. He has only one son, Mitsuo (played by Nobuo Kaneko), married to Kazue (played by Kyôko Seki). The couple lives with Kanji and is anxious for his death, so they can get a pension.

Kanji lives an automated and monotonous life, from home to work, from work to home. His family life as equally crap, his relationship with the son has decayed beyond reparation.

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Akira Kurosawa

When he’s diagnosed with stomach cancer, his view of life starts to change. Keeping the diagnosis a secret from everyone, including his son, he starts searching for a spark of life.

His first attempt at finding a meaning for his tedious life is connecting with Toyo (played by Miki Odagiri), a young girl who used to work with him. Later realizing he has to find it within himself, not others.

Ikiru

Ikiru criticizes many things, the first, and most obvious is the public services, that contains problems like the bureaucracy with an absurd amount of useless paperwork and the escape of responsibilities, always pushing it to someone else.

We also can notice a lack of empathy for the people in need of these public services, like when the women asking for a reform of a swampy area for the construction of a park with playground, the bureaucrats are dismissive.

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Kanji Watanabe (Takashi Shimura)

Another point criticized is the decadence of the relationship between family, represented by Mitsuo and Kazue. The lack of father-son confidence between Kanji and the son Mitsuo reaches a point where communication is nearly impossible.

The settings where the public employees work helps with these critiques the movie is proposing. There are piles of paper everywhere, making the already tight space appear even smaller. And it’s not like the piles of paper are well organized, the place looks chaotic as well.

The movie is not all about critique, but also celebration of life, a contemplation of life and death. Kanji needed to look death in the eyes to start doing something with his life, realizing there is more to it.

Kanji Watanabe (Takashi Shimura) and a patient (Atsushi Watanabe) in the waiting room ikiru
Kanji Watanabe (Takashi Shimura) and a patient (Atsushi Watanabe) in the waiting room.

I think the meaning of life proposed in the movie is not preassigned at birth but something we have to find or give ourselves. In other words, we are the ones responsible for our own destinies and purpose in life.

With all these commentaries about life and death, the movie is quite melancholic, but also gives a sense of optimism, because of the way Kanji decides to live the remaining of his life.

Ikiru is a film carried with mastery by Takashi Shimura. He was 47 years old at that time, but he looks even older, which suited the role really well. His acting is flawless and conveys a huge amount of emotion.

Takashi Shimura’s acting is not the only thing that conveys emotion. Kurosawa’s skills as a director and as a writer are essential to construct such an emotional film. Combining it with the editing and the beautiful score, resulted in one of the most emotional works I can remember watching.

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Toyo Odagiri (Miki Odagiri)

Ikiru is not among my favorites Akira Kurosawa’s films, but only because he has several outstanding works. But still, I love it, it’s touching and has a great message for the viewer, I’m giving Ikiru 10 Moons.

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