Gojirathon Bonus 1: Always san-chôme no yûhi (2005)

G: plus 16 days

What is this, I hear you ask? Wasn’t I done with the Godzilla marathon until the next film comes out? Well. To tell you the truth. I have done some willful omitting. There are a few more productions where Godzilla creeps up. This is where I list them.

Always: Sunset on 3rd Street (2005)

Yes, there are more of them. If you look at the Toho-Kingdom list that I have repeatedly linked to in previous entries the Toho-produced films doesn’t actually end with Final Wars. What it ends with is a lesser known title for us western audiences. Always: Sunset on 3rd Street 2. So I would feel amiss if I forgot about watching it.

But then there was the issue of that title. It had a number on it. As it turned out. It’s the middle part of a trilogy of films that has won several awards in Japan. A film-series chronicling the misadventures of the local neighborhood of the titular 3rd street. So, being the completionist that I am, I couldn’t very well just skip right to the middle part and not really be up to date with the characters. So I start off with the first one.

The story follows a teenager who, due to a misread application finds herself in that neighborhood and all of what that entails. Or rather. It doesn’t really. I mean. We follow them. Yes. To and fro. But it’s not really any ones single story. It’s the neighborhoods. Not quite gelling in large chunks. And I’m pretty certain that large chunks could probably have been truncated out altogether. The acting, for me as a westerner who can hardly speak the language seldomly feels really natural. The acting is overplayed. And suddenly there’s a temporary shift in tone as the owner of the post-war car-repair-shop sprouts super-powers and nothing like it never really happens again to justify that. Is it un-eaven? Yes. Is it a sentimental mess of sugercoated sentimentality? I mean. Dear  crap yes. This is probably a 1950’s japan that is more alien to the ones who lived through the era if you showed it to them at the time than the science fiction stories that the young Yonnusuke writes as fanfiction. It bears all the hallmarks of a shmultzy and dreary studio-production where everything is there to feed of the nostalgia of elderly couples. But goddammit. Through all of that it actually almost wringed a tear from my eye. I am sorry. It won’t happen again! I swear to it on the manliest of Don Fryes that I will better myself. I am deeply sorry for that.

So, yes. I recognize that it surely isn’t the greatness that the film-critics have made it out to be. But. Just like with The Spirit. I just have to go with the old gut feeling. It was a nice experience and I can recommend it to those who aren’t too close to any form of diabetes-status.

On a technical standpoint it felt like the typical big budget Toho-production with nostalgia in its reticle. It feels a bit too constrained for my sensability. But I can forgive that. And while mostly convincing, there is something about the set-extension-work that always nagged me throughout as there is something there that makes me sense that they are effects-shots. Never felt real. Very little of it felt real in the film. But then again. I’m the kind of person who doesn’t really watch films to observe reality as it really is. That makes for extremely boring cinema. No. It should be heightened. To more or less of a degree it should be heightened.

Now, maybe I’ll see nr 2 tonight too if I get the picture done in time.

Be seeing you!

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