Spring Cleaning in the Studio
Art, Escapism, and Despair
Folds and Fabric in Art
A Gift from the Netherworld
News for February!
Sinking of JapanMovie Review
by Georgette Tan
Genre: Drama / Disaster
Director: Shinji Higuchi
Cast: Tsuyoshi Kusanagi, Kou Shibasaki, Etsushi Toyokawa, Mao Daichi, Mitsuhiro Oikawa.
I'm feeling a little cheated. I picked this movie to review this week because the other movie I wanted to watch was going to be a cry fest. I just wanted to watch things go "BOOM!" I forgot that disaster movies tend to be tearjerkers as well.
The movie opens with a dramatic rescue, introducing three of the main players. Rescue worker Reiko (Ko Shibasaki) swoops down to save young Misaki (Mayuko Fukuda) and submarine pilot Tetsuo Onodera (Tsuyoshi Kusanagi) in the aftermath of an earthquake. A bond forms between the three. Since Misaki lost both parents, Reiko takes her home to her own family. She later invites Onodera to visit because Misaki needs his emotional support.
Meanwhile, the global scientific community discovers that a collision of tectonic plates under Japan will cause the archipelago to be dragged into the sea in under 40 years. The Japanese government appoints Saori Takamori (Mao Daichi) the Minister of Crisis Management and Disaster Prevention and plans are underway to migrate Japanese citizens to other countries.
Leading geoscientist and Saori's ex-husband, Yusuke Tadokoro (Etsushi Toyokawa), comes upon evidence that disaster will strike much earlier. In 338.54 days, to be precise. Most of the ministers refuse to take him seriously. As earthquakes, tidal waves and volcanic eruptions pound the country non-stop, Saori finds herself helpless and begging Tadokoro for a way to save lives.
Tadokoro's solution is to break apart the tectonic plates that are dragging Japan down. Various countries send their deep sea drillers to help plant the N2 explosives, but proceedings draw to a halt when the detonator (together with the submarine pilot and submersible) is lost.
Onodera is offered a job in England. He wants to take Reiko and Misaki with him, but Reiko refuses to abandon her country to its fate. Moved by her dedication, Onodera decides to retrieve the detonator, finish the job, and save Japan.
When Sakyo Komatsu's novel, Japan Sinks, arrived in bookstores in 1973, it's quite possible that bomb detonators had to be set by hand before running away as fast as you can on your own power. Unfortunately, this point cannot be updated along with the special effects because the entire conclusion of the story relies on it.
It's quite interesting that the lead females are strong characters working in very male dominated career fields, pulling their weight in the story and being the ones who protect instead of the other way around.
Nonetheless, I thought this movie was quite a feat. Japan hit upon another genre that can appeal to the mainstream regardless of language. Disaster is a bit more accessible. Not everyone is into supernatural horror, but Mother Nature throwing a tantrum is more plausible and much scarier than bumping into a ghost.
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