Ookami Kodomo no Ame to Yuki + Tokyo Ramblings

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As mentioned, I went to see Ookami Kodomo last night.So, belatedly, here’s my brief review…

I’ll preface it by saying that I didn’t realize when I bought the ticket that the show was letting out at Midnight. This was worrisome as I had to think about the last train, as I had to make two connections to get back to the hotel.  So towards the end, as the clock ticked down, I was a bit on-edge.

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Dome at Tokyo Eki

On balance I rank the film probably a notch below Summer Wars, but at least on par with TGWLTT. I have a few issues with it, mainly involving the narrative flow. I think totoum was absolutely right in that I didn’t need to understand all the dialogue – it’s more visual poetry than prose, and I could definitely get the gist of it. The flip side of that is that the character stuff seemed to move pretty fast at times, without a lot of build-up. Sometimes I would have liked more dialogue to help understand what drove the characters to do what they did.

Visually, as narratively, I think it’s a real departure for Hosoda. A much simpler look and a much simpler film structurally, yet emotionally profound in many ways. Character designs were much more – with apologies – Ghibli-like. Hana (the mother) is what I would call a quietly heroic character. I found the ending quite powerful, though it’s one of those instances where I would have liked a bit more understanding of the journey a certain character was making building up to it. Maybe with the subs, that would have come through more clearly. 

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From Rainbow Bridge

As for today, I engaged in one of my most favorite Japanese activities – onsen.  I paid a visit to Ooedo Onsen Monogatari, or “Oh! Edo Rocket Onsen” as I think of it.  It’s that same mix of Edo-period setting full of modern anachronisms.  The baths are part of a complex with a miniature Edo village, complete with food court and entertainment, through which you stroll in yukata and bare feet.  It’s campy to the max, but fun.  Imagine a guy in full samurai regalia and topknot playing the entire horn section of Ravel’s “Bolero” one at a time and you have an idea how surreal the place can be.  But the baths are excellent, and that’s the main thing.  And let me tell you, the Japanese like their sauna hot – 80 C.  I have to build up to that.  If you have any self-consciousness about being a gaijin in Japan, an onsen or sento will test your nerves.  It’s a unique Japanese experience though, and not to be missed.

Wall o’ Nyanko-sensei at Character Street

Also got a look at the newly renovated Tokyo Station, which is really gorgeous.  It has a spectacular underground shopping complex complete with “Ramen Street” (rotating ramen legends from around Japan) and “Character Street” featuring 15 or so stored dedicated to character goods (mostly kiddie).  It was nice to see Bakuman getting some real love in the Jump Shop.

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19 comments

  1. d

    Due to certain reasons I did not watch this show. But the Rainbow bridge shot was nice. The TV station really reminds me of the science in Odaiba.
    Really like to know what that second picture was.

    P.S. Never been to Tsukuji. Any idea when it might close, if it does? (like how long after the decision is made that the shutters go down) I Want to take a peek before it does, if it does.

  2. It's going to be a while. There are some issues with Toyosu holding up moving it there.

  3. d

    Going to take a while = 1 year or half year?
    Usually slow in change but when the Japanese get down to business it can move pretty fast.

    I plan on visting in March 2013. And what is that place in the second picture. With all the pile drivers.

  4. Oh, that's Oedo Rocket Onsen with the shipyards behind it (Odaiba).

    I fully expect Tsukiji to be fully operational for at least a year.

  5. a

    Hey Enzo! I just want to say I loved what you're doing and that's one of my dreams so keep on sharing with us how the move to Tokyo is doing! I'm really fascinated about it! Thanks for blogging my favorite Animes (mostly because you recommended it! haha) Take care! and have fun!

    P.S. I had the best tempura there when I went on a tour, and everyone of my 40 people tour group agreed. I'll definitely give you the name of restaurant (it's a little family owned resto) once I remember it! or Ill just ask the tour who handled us haha

  6. S

    The weirdest thing for me was after loving the show, Durarara!! I went to Tokyo. Where did I go? Ikebukuro.

    It was strange for me to go there and EVERYTHING fit the environment portrayed in the series. I walked out and people were in little parties, socializing, playing music and just mingling. This was at 9:00 at night.

    Have you seen anything that you saw before in a show that you went "HOLY COW, that is spot on." I don't mean the Tokyo Tower or anything, but something that is not a staple of Japan.

    When I went to an onsen, I stayed in longer than my Japanese friends and they all called me more Japanese. I finished the night drinking tea while they had Cola. It isn;t just the water temperature that Japanese like hot…. everything hot served will burn your tongue at first.

  7. t

    For me it was the opposite – I used to live in Shibuya, but didn't get into anime until after I came back to the UK. Now every image of the Shibuya crossing, Hachiko or the surrounding area makes me go wow!

  8. K

    I wonder how I will think about Wolf Children in relation to Hosoda's other works. I actually felt The Girl Who Leapt Through Time was a stronger film than Summer Wars.

    I am hoping it will still be playing in Japan in December (and I can convince my friend who is not into anime to go to a film with out subs lol)

    And Nyanko Sensei. I'd probably have to control myself not to purchase everything at that stand <3 <3 <3 <3 <3

  9. e

    Interesting. I liked TGWLTT much more than Summer Wars (the characters and plot itself just 'clicked' with me so to speak) , in a way your impressions are quite reassuring.
    Onsen are among the things I'd really like to try if and when I manage to visit Japan. The hottest thermal water I've tried was closer to the 60 C range… not unpleasant – I felt like a piece of stew . A happy, gazing-at-snow-among-the-vapours piece of stew – but at first impact I remember jumping a bit XD.

    Nyanko-sensei <3

  10. a

    I agree! I never quite warmed up to Summer Wars, while The Girl Who Leapt through Time I adore adore adore. My expectation is that Ookami Kodomo will be better than Summer Wars but not quite as good as Tokikake.

  11. e

    @alualuna: leaping girl fan fellow !*hi-fives* We'll see if your expectations compared to TGWLTT come true, but otherwise we're quite in the same boat it seems…

  12. I think people got so hung up on the wild creativity in Summer Wars that they missed the real point of the movie, which was the extended family. That felt more natural to me than anything in TGWLTT.

  13. e

    @Enzo: I don't know. While I appreciated the virtual world details (or rather, recognized the level of care put into it and how colorful it was) it didn't really grab my interest the way it did in Real Drive or Dennou Coil for instance. In my case this might be partly due to a simple personal factor: I'm not a gamer. At best I like watching at the pretty graphics and wonder at costume designs and rendering, I might be interested in why other people are attracted to VR and/or games, but I totally lack the drive to play myself.
    The extended family thread on the other hand was potentially well up my alley – I've grown up in a big extended family myself, with all the pros and cons of the case – but I didn't enjoy the SW characters themselves that much :), whereas TGWLTT for me succeded in both the plot/themes and characters areas.

  14. K

    Agreed, I got the family aspect of Summer Wars and I really liked that about the film but the film was a bit too busy for me.

    What's the better film is of course subjective. TGWLT just spoke to me more. I really loved the main characters growth throughout the film.

  15. Just to clarify, it was the sauna at 80 degrees – not a bath. I doubt that would be remotely safe for humans.

  16. e

    Oops, reading fail. My bad.

  17. A

    I love Summer Wars. TGWLTT is not bad either. Don't know when Ookami Kodomo will be in North America…

    Teehee — how did it feel with going naked and bathing with a bunch of guys…? LOL…it felt pretty awkward to me at first, but everyone behaved pretty normally there — it helped ease the feeling that I just went with the flow. I have to say…I love it. All the fatigue was gone after the bath, and I had a very good night's sleep. I have never tried the outdoor ones…perhaps the next time when I visit Japan again…someday for sure.

    Thanks for the photo of the Character Street…love that Nyanko-sensei wall.

    ~Ronbb

  18. A

    Haven't seen the Ookami Kodomo movie yet. Hope to catch it soon as it seems to have an interesting story. I did however watched Summer Wars and TGWLTT and I gotta say while I enjoy both films, I like TGWLTT a bit more.

    I agree that the onsen baths is a must try if anyone is visiting Japan. I stayed at a little onsen inn in Hakone and it is quite an experience. I love it especially the outdoor onsen bath, with a view of Mt Fuji to boot. So quaint & traditional.

  19. a

    @elianthos the thing is I love Tokikake so much that it sets the bar really, really high. I just don't see Ookami Kodomo beating that because that's difficult for any movie to beat. Which isn't to say the Ookami Kodomo won't turn out awesome.

    I don't actually think Tokikake is perfect, but I just really connected to it. Generally like high-school set stories. Love the friendship between the three main characters. Love love love that 7+ minute 'frozen image' shot – when a silly story turns suddenly very serious and reflective and something else altogether. Tokikake was actually the first film I reviewed (not the first review I post on my blog, but the first one I wrote.)

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