Sunday, November 02, 2008

[Animation Nation] Tachigui: The Amazing Lives of the Fast Food Grifters (Tachiguishi Retsuden)


The name Mamoru Oshii would be reason enough for me to want to watch his new animated offering, despite the rather plain omnibus movie he conceived with Kill! where his short was perhaps the only saving grace. But as always, don't expect the usual from him, and the Fast Food Grifters is exactly that - different, probably deserves and requires multiple viewings to appreciate the sheer audacity of it all, with a relatively rich story that touches base with his observations of Japanese society.

On the surface, it tells of the history of post WWII Japan through little episodes involving various "grifters", who get away at restaurants without footing the bill for their food. And the names of the characters can get quite colourful as well, starting off with an old man with an incredibly long beard, known as Moongaze Ginji, followed by uber-babe Foxy Croquette O-Gin, then Cold Badger Masa, Beefbowl Ushigoro, and the list goes on with Hamburgers, Frankfurters, and the likes. Each of them mirror different eras of history, and I suppose one probably requires a fair bit of background knowledge to fully appreciate the eras they represent.

Stylistically, it requires some getting used to though in its animation. Adopting its look from 2D photo realistic paper cutouts, you might call this a little bit cheap and lazy, if not for the attention to detail and vividness of the carefully crafted scenes. It's narrated throughout, so it plays out as if you're flipping a photo book with someone telling you over your shoulders just what is transpiring in real time. While it might surprise you a little with its style chosen, it loses its novelty fairly quickly, and soon you're left with only the story to engage you, which as mentioned, unless you do know a little bit of the background, it'll come through (at least to me) more like a glorified gastronomical journey.

Still, if you're looking for something different other than the usual themes and animation style, then this film might be something you're looking for.

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