has been a rough couple of years for cartoonists. Although young Kiyomi Wago
does not have a fatwah hanging over her head, her family banned her from
drawing horror manga, scapegoating her gory images for all their problems. Yet,
they constantly provide fresh inspiration with their ghastly behavior. Frankly,
they need another dose of manga humiliation as comeuppance for all their
acting-out in Daihachi Yoshida’s Funuke
Show Some Love, You Losers (trailer here), which screens during the 2015 New York Asian Film Festival.
parents recently perished in a fatal car crash, involving an adorable kitten.
Her spoiled older sister Sumika will not offer much consolation when she
finally makes it home. The family had been supporting her dubious acting
career, but she only has debts and burned bridges to show for her efforts. She
expects to continue dominating their half-brother Shinji, because of the
incestuous control she exerts over him, even though he is now married to his naïve
internet bride, Machiko. Unfortunately, Sumika still blames Kiyomi for
scandalizing the family when she won an amateur contest with the story of her
irrational attempt to murder their now late father. Needless to say, Sumika is
not ready to forgive and forget.
the way, Funuke is a comedy, more or
less. Yes, you could say it is a somewhat dark one in terms of tone. In fact,
Yoshida maintains an almost unclassifiable vibe, like Ozu mixed with Sirk and a
dash of John Waters and then launched on a grain alcohol bender.
may not fully understand the term “hot mess” until you have seen Eriko Sato as
Sumika Wago. She is a force, which makes it so rewarding to watch Aimi
Satsukawa’s Kiyomi learn to assert her inner Daria. It is subtle, yet
substantial arc of character development that she carries off quite well.
However, Hiromi Nagasaku might actually be too good as earnest Machiko. She
just makes you want to slap everyone around her. As a result, poor Masatoshi
Nagase and his character Shinji never stand a chance. They just get buried by
the stronger personas surrounding them.
In a way, Funuke
is an ode to the cathartic power of artistic expression—specifically
through manga in this case. Fortunately, it features a good deal of art by
Noroi Michiru that is striking in its own right and absolutely perfect in the
dramatic context of the film. At times, Yoshida’s adaptation of Yukiko Motoya’s
novel feels excessively mean towards Machiko, but its edge is impressive.
Recommended for manga fans who think the last good comedy to play at Sundance
was The House of Yes, Funuke Show Some Love, You Losers! screens
this coming Monday (6/29) at the Walter Reade, as part of NYAFF’s mini-focus on
Labels: Daihachi Yoshida, Japanese Cinema, NYAFF '15