Posted on 28 December 2009 with categories: Anime Reviews



Here’s one that surprisingly flew past the radar when it first aired. Furusato Japan (or Japan, My Homeland) really surprised me with what a powerful movie it turned out to be. Seriously, at first sight it’s just another one of those movies about grade schoolers, which starts out with slice of life and eventually introduce tragedy that the lead character has to cope with… and in a sense it is, and yet somehow this movie hit me more than most other movies with this premise.

I believe that the key is subtlety and realism. This is no story with the simple message of “war is bad, pity our lead character”, there is no evil bad guy running around, and neither is time wasted with a silly love triangle. There is no moe, no emo excessive crying. There is no unrealistic amount of tragedy, and the bad stuff that does happen is gripping, yet in no way exaggerated. This is a movie about the stuff that could have happened to anyone who grew up in japan in the 1950s.

This movie chronicles the lead character and the class he’s in, and it shows how they get shaped throughout the various events that happen in the movie. The development is realistic: the characters change, but only slightly and subtly. It’s a movie about forgiveness; about coming together and doing something instead of just letting time slip by.

The only part where this show isn’t realistic is when characters start singing. For some reason, every kid gets the voice of a fully trained professional singer. In real life, you’d hear them screaming at all sorts of pitches (I don’t want to know how horrible I sung during school musicals). However, in exchange the final parts of the movie are a joy to listen to. The finale in this movie is basically a long string of singing children. When you know the context that gets explained throughout the movie, it really turns into a powerful experience.

it’s really slice of life at its finest. This movie is so far away from anime cliches and stereotypes. The songs in this movie have great singers behind them. Its a really underrated gem.

Storytelling: 9/10 – Ah, the realism! The subtlety!
Characters: 8/10 – Simple characters that don’t try to pretend that they’re something they’re not.
Production-Values: 9/10 – Excellent songs.
Setting: 8/10 – Great depiction of Japan in 1956

5 Responses

  1. karry says:

    The fabled 85/100 strikes again !

  2. psgels says:

    Lol. Where were you during my past four reviews?

  3. Gottis says:

    This looks really interesting. (of course I’m still trying to locate the Barefoot Gen movies. It was one of the very first manga I ever read, translated to Swedish. O.o;; )

  4. mei says:

    haha. i only stumbled upon this after i heard KOKIA’s theme for it. beautiful song, wonderfully told tale of how the kids especially coped with life in war times.
    thanks for the review, psgels.

  5. Wow, very interesting review. Slice of life is my favorite genre, so I will definitively check out this movie… but I hope to watch it once I become fluent in Japanese hehe

    Thanks for sharing! :D

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  • Juno
    (Thursday, Apr 24. 2014 12:23 PM)
    The only time they ever get along seems to be during non-canon alternate universes made for fanservice, official or not.
  • Juno
    (Thursday, Apr 24. 2014 12:21 PM)
    Erm, no. They didn’t “get along” so much as Sayaka at least sympathized nicely with her. At least, until the end, when she basically swore never to sympathize with her again. XDDD
  • Juno
    (Thursday, Apr 24. 2014 12:20 PM)
    Another interesting point is that the character relations are pretty fluid, too. Characters can act differently toward each other in different timelines/potential futures. Rebellion actually solidifies Homura’s consistent feelings toward Mami and also that Sayaka just cannot seem to be on good terms with Homura… but even then, for a while, they got along pretty well until the end. XD
  • Juno
    (Thursday, Apr 24. 2014 12:17 PM)
    Madoka’s characterization seems pretty non-linear and only show up when necessary, so it’s definitely easy to see that they’re “dependent on the plot,” but there’s a ton of stuff there to piece the characters together into something coherent and solid.
  • AidanAK47
    (Thursday, Apr 24. 2014 11:55 AM)
    Madoka’s characters act pretty confusingly? I never got that. I always felt there actions were pretty logical in the first viewing.
    Though a second viewing of anything can help. Mostly because you know the main story so you can focus on the little details.
  • Juno
    (Thursday, Apr 24. 2014 11:27 AM)
    If anyone wants me to ask any specific questions, let me know. Funny enough, people are saying the same thing I’ve been saying for a long time–that multiple viewings help us understand the characters better. Because a lot of characters DO act pretty confusing at first, but upon a second viewing, after we know more about them, those actions make complete sense. Meaning that Madoka’s characterization is not linear.
  • Juno
    (Thursday, Apr 24. 2014 11:20 AM)
    Thankfully, derailment usually doesn’t happen with serious topics like this, so it’ll probably just die down over time when there are plenty of great answers and not a lot more to say, or go on for a very long time if there are a disparity in perspectives from different people.
  • Juno
    (Thursday, Apr 24. 2014 11:17 AM)
    On a very, very interesting note, I just asked one of the small communities of respectable Madoka fans to sit down and think with me about the potential flaws of characterization and development in Madoka, or why they may be perceived as flaws. I’m getting a lot of well-thought-out answers, so when the thread starts to die down (or derail, which hasn’t happened yet), maybe I’ll share the link here.
  • Juno
    (Thursday, Apr 24. 2014 11:15 AM)
    @Kenjeran: I keep hearing that Up has a really emotionally engaging short intro or insert or something. I STILL haven’t seen it yet, but that might be a potential example.
  • Emma
    (Thursday, Apr 24. 2014 08:36 AM)
    I must say Daimidalar, the breast grabbing/groping really bothered me actually in that one that I wouldn’t watch it.

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