A film that is not destined towards those that love action and thriller movies. “Tokyo Family” is a simple, small story full of tiny details that make it absolutely wonderful. I remember the times when I escaped watching this kind of movies, because I used to find them slow or boring, gladly that changed for myself and that’s all thanks to this kind of movies that go through life moments that could happen to any of us.
This version is based in Tokyo Story, a 1953 movie that sadly I haven’t watched, so I will stay with what I did see for now, and what this version brings to my mind.
There aren’t any big conflicts or crisis, just life itself and attitudes that portrait basically human nature. The amazing thing about this story is that, just like real life, nothing is like it seems at first. Why are we like we are, what things change when we grow older and how do we deal with work, children, love and age.
It might not sound very appealing, but believe me, by the way it’s told, it absolutely is. You will find despicable characters, other absolutely adorable ones and almost all of them will switch personalities in the little more than two hours that it takes for you to watch it.
Japanese family style is quite extraordinary if we compare it with our way of living, but in this case, being similar to the way occidentals live their lives, is part of what makes this family unique in their environment and the way they treat each other. You will notice that they sound and act like any other occidental family.
The day the elders come to visit the city, what do the family do with them, how do they feel, what are their real intentions. It’s a movie about life.
Starring in Tokyo Family Japanese Movie
Isao Hashizume (My Way of Life, I Wish, Railways) is Shukichi Hirayama, Hirayama’s family father with three grown up children, incapable of communicating his thoughts through the known standards, but at the same time with the capability of showing other interesting sides of his personality that make him a charismatic character.
Kazuko Yoshiyuki (The Love and Death of Kaoru Mitarai, Crossroads, Valley of Dreams) is Tomiko Hirayama, Sukichi’s wife and the most adorable woman on earth. She understands that patience and understanding are fundamentals in the happiness of a family. She adores her children and she keeps her husband in line so conflicts wouldn’t blow up, always caring about him and their children and also advising him for the best, always looking for harmony.
Masahiko Nishimura (Rock’n’Roll Housewives, The Floating Castle, Ramen Samurai) is Koichi Hirayama, the eldest son of the family. He’s a doctor and runs a clinic that is placed in the house’s grounds. Overwhelmed by his domestic issues, he tries to run his life with the family mandates, but because of his activities he stays away from his parents, his wife and his little children.
Yui Natsukawa (The Little House, I Wish, Still Walking) is Fumiko Hirayama, Koichi’s wife, and the one whose personality is really similar to Tomiko, she’s nice and helpful, and tries to do everything in her power to make everyone feel comfortable of visiting them.
Tomoko Nakajima (The Little House, The Buried Forest, Veronika Decides to Die) is Shigeko Kanai, Hirayama’s middle daughter, she runs a beauty saloon and her first impression is that she’s a woman that worries about everyone, even tho we will quickly realize that she’s a cheap woman that only looks for her own comfort and her despicable husband’s.
Shozo Hayashiya (The Little House, School Ghost Story 3, Ando Natsu) is Kurazo Kanai, Shigeko’s husband and the most unbearable character off all from the very first time. We could recognize that he stays true to his real self without trying to hide it, just like his wife does in the beginning, but the truth is that he’s someone that nobody would love to have in their family.
Satoshi Tsumabuki (The Little House, Tenchijin, Slow Dance) is Suji Hirayama, the youngest son of the family, a young man that works hard as a stage designer and who is happy just like that. The only really bad thing about him is his relationship with his father with whom he doesn’t seem to be able to communicate either satisfy his demands. They seem like they have a really bad relationship but, that’s mainly because they don’t talk.
Yu Aoi (Rurouni Kenshin, Vampire, Ryomaden) is Noriko Mamiya, Shuji’s cute girlfriend, and the last addition to the Hirayama family. She’s warmly welcomed by Tomiko who knows her son and knows that he has found a wonderful girl.
It’s a long movie without any frights, just the helpless life that might seem mute at first, but in the end is something that is absolutely familiar to us.
Highly recommended if you love life memories stories, if you’re looking for action then this is not the movie for you, but you might want to try the tiny piece of heaven that brings with it.