Review of Tachigui: The Amazing Lives of the Fast Food Grifters (2006)

Moving picture, 104 minutes

Oshii Mamoru (writer-director).

Seen in 2019.

The philosophical significance of the strategies of a series of mythical Japanese grifters, from the immediate postwar period up to the 1980s.

A mockumentary. Oshii’s favourite motif of “stand-and-eat noodle masters”, in his favourite medium of “superlivemation”, in the style of his many asides: A humorously myopic, quasi-academic, historiographically muddled search for profound meaning in the cozy ephemera of everyday life. This one serves as a wry commentary on the likes of Little Boy (2005), running circles around popular pop-psychological interpretations of the war, the 1964 Olympics, the Anpo protests, Expo 70, Taylorism, Tokyo Disneyland as dreamland etc., all in stilted prose with barely-moving 2D cutouts.

A few brief moments are visually stimulating but the only real source of enjoyment is the grand sweep of the script’s navel-gazing Borgesian in-joke: Oshii and his buddies having a laugh. It’s a lot smarter than “Diddling” (1843), though the concept is similar. There are several ironic references to the pondus of a film director, and one of the ostensible period press clippings is actually a short presentation of episode 10 of the New Files OVA. This one is clearly just for the fans.

References here: Urusei Yatsura (1981), Musashi: The Dream of the Last Samurai (2009).

moving picture Japanese production animation fiction