Thursday, March 31, 2011

Japan's obsession with food and small town nostalgia combine in "Ramen Samurai"

by Chris MaGee

It isn't just Japanese film that loves milking a tried-and-true formula, far from it, but we fans of Japanese film can see when the same old scenarios are getting trotted out, or in some cases being recombined to give the illusion of something new. The latest case of this is a new film directed by Naoki Segi that just finished shooting in Kurume, Fukuoka Prefecture.

Titled "Ramen Samurai" the story follows actor Dai Watanabe as as a big city ad man who return to Fukuoka after his father's death. It turns out his father ran his own ramen restaurant and now it is up to his son to learn the ways of his father's kitchen and take over the family business. In a bit of trick casting Watanbe also portrays his late father in a series of flashbacks, while actress Sayaka Yamaguchi plays the dual role of the wife of Watanabe's ad man and Watanabe's mother.

So with "Ramen Samurai" we not only have the formula of the Japanese obsession with cuisine that we've seen all the way back to Juzo Itami's "Tampopo", but we have the formula of the prodigal son from the big city returning to simple small town life after the death of a parent, and/ or after being recently laid off that we've seen before in Yojiro Takita's "Departures" and Yoshinari Nishikori's "Railways". Of course a formula can make a good film if done well, but there's always the danger of telling the same story over and over again. We'll have to wait until October 22nd when the film will get a release in Japanese theatres to see what the case is with "Ramen Samurai".

Thanks to Tokyograph for this news item.

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