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March 31, 2009

Tokyo Sonata: The Flip Side of Pop

Tokyo
A scene from the movie with actors Kôji Yakusho and Kyôko Koizumi.
Photo: tokyosonatamovie.com

by Julia Bainbridge

When I think of Tokyo, I picture fluorescent hair dye, pet dog robots, and slick, stylized cartoons. And I don't think I'm alone. We've heard Gwen Stefani praise fashionable Harajuku girls, we've flipped through Shoichi Aoki's Fruits and its images of Gothic Lolitas, we've snapped shut a supa kawaii Hello Kitty compact--it's all so sugar sweet.

There is no TokyoPop in Kiyoshi Kurosawa's new film, Tokyo Sonata. The closest this film gets to candy is a Jolly Rancher-colored janitorial uniform that the father character must resort to wearing after he loses his office job. After his firing, his family unravels more and more with each scene, the movie's images ultimately shifting to shacks and desolate shores. This is urban isolation. This is the pressure of saving face.

Check out the Tokyo Sonata Web site for a window into the not-so-cute Tokyo, and for show times near you. Mind you: There is a happy ending.

Further reading:
* "That Damn Mango Will Blow Your Mind": Adam Platt eats his way around Japan (Condé Nast Traveler, September 2007)
* "Tomorrowland": Simon Dumenco on Tokyo as the future (Condé Nast Traveler, May 2006)
* The new Peninsula in Tokyo was on CNT's 2008 Hot List

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