call it a last hurrah. Kazuhiko Yamauchi, Kawasaki’s world famous city council
candidate, has decided to throw his hat in the ring again. This time, he will
forgo the indignities of electioneering, running a bare-bones campaign as a
complete independent with no party support. He will also be the only candidate adopting
an anti-nuclear position in the wake of the Fukushima crisis. The result will
be another lesson in Japanese democracy, recorded in Kazuhiro Soda’s
documentary sequel, Campaign 2, which screens
tomorrow as part of MoMA’s 2014 Documentary Fortnight.
though Yama-san was successful as the LDP’s unlikely standard-bearer in the
special council election Soda followed the first time round, he soon resigned
his position, claiming frustration with the recalcitrant political system. Six
or so years later, the stay-at-home dad is giving it another go. This time he
is only spending money on the filing fee and the tightly regulated campaign
posters. Shrewdly, his closely resembles the poster for Soda’s original
he is not hiring loud-speaker cars or harassing commuters at transit hubs,
Yamauchi has a lot of time to chew the political fat with his old classmate
Soda. Frankly, in Campaign 1,
Yamauchi was cringingly obsequious, but the more experienced Yama-san has some
surprisingly acerbic commentary to offer regarding his colleagues. However, his
anti-nuclear platform is still not so well thought out, unless he is eager for
Japan to start importing massive tons of coal and fossil fuels.
course, Yamauchi is still the protagonist of Campaign 2, but Soda’s focus is wider. It is clear he is as preoccupied with the ways
the 3-11 disasters have affected daily life in Japan as Yama-san, if not more
so. Perhaps even more fascinating are his interactions with the politicians who
know him from their supporting roles in Campaign
1. In fact, New Yorkers accustomed
to Chuck Schumer will be absolutely flabbergasted to see politicians who do not
want to be filmed (shocking, but true).
the real takeaway from Campaign 2 is
not Yama-san’s anti-nuclear platform, but the shallow nature of Japanese
political campaigns, especially at a critical post-3-11 juncture. Bizarrely, an
apparent gentlemen’s agreement still holds, largely nixing candidate debates.
Basically, they just smile and repeat their names.
At one hundred fifty minutes, Campaign 2 could stand for some pruning here
and there. However, Yamauchi’s new found wit and attitude is a nice surprise
that does not come at the expense of his lovable loser likability. Like its
predecessor, Campaign 2 is another
eccentric yet serious look under the hood of Japanese democracy. Recommended
for political junkies and Yama-san groupies, Campaign 2 screens tomorrow (2/21) and Saturday (2/22) as part of
MoMA’s Doc Fortnight, with Soda present for Q&A both days.
Labels: Documentary, Documentary Fortnight '14, Japanese Cinema