Review: Kisaragi


KISARAGI

The 2007 Japanese film hit Kisaragi has been on my to-watch list for far too long. I’ve actually seen nearly the entire film on Youtube, only for the video to be cut about thirty minutes into the ending. Convenient. Years later, that elusive ending is finally mine. Thus, a review:

Kisaragi tells the story of five hard core fans of local model Miki Kisaragi, who meet one year after her apparent suicide to commemorate her death. The five men met where fans do in this day and age – on an online message board dedicated to their departed idol. These strangers lock themselves inside a rented room for the day, clad in their mourning suits, bringing only their fan memorabilia, hazy memories, and chat room names as they try to uncover the truth behind Kisaragi’s sudden death. Let the party begin.

Five fan boys make a memorial party.

Five fan boys make a memorial party. Kisaragi (2007)

Comic relief sets the tone of the film’s first few minutes, which is quite fitting for its basic premise: five grown men coming together as fan boys to party the day away in celebration of a B celebrity’s death. Not much makes sense right there. But as each man’s story is peeled away like layers of an onion, breaking through their ridiculous Internet code names, the plot comes into its absurd life. Oguri Shun’s Iemoto, struggles to keep the mood light and eventually, to keep the peace in the room, serious in his assumed post as the party organizer and Miki’s number one fan. Yusuke Santamaria’s Oda Yuji is the gloom cast over them all, bringing his baggage of regret and suspicion that eventually triggers an avalanche of confessions. Teruyuki Kagawa is Strawberry Girl (Ichigo Musume), blamed as a pervert stalker who turns out to be holding in a much deeper secret. Keisuke Koide’s Snake, the party’s requisite imbecile, plays his own unexpected role in his idol’s last day. Muga Tsukaji’s Yasuo, the country bumpkin and Imbecile#2, reveals his own connection to Miki that trumps nearly all the others’ cards.

kisaragi2

The many faces of suspicion and denial. Kisaragi (2007)

The attendees play Sherlock, pointing fingers around the room many times as each hidden clue is revealed, each of them now believing that the suicide was actually murder. Once the violence and anger has subsided, Iemoto gathers all the clues on the table, and the five men piece together a probable yet ludicrous retelling of Miki’s last night on earth. Grasping for straws and all wanting to move on, they all accept this as truth. For now.

The movie left me unsure of its central theme. Was it a social commentary to Japan’s intense idol culture, or was it just the director’s brave efforts to tell a story within the limited confines of a small room and a day? In any case, the movie kept me at the edge of my seat, intrigued yet amused as each plot bomb is thrown, trying to dissect the farce from the tragedy as the story runs. The sparseness of the setting and the simple plot forced the movie to rely on its ensemble cast, and the talented actors did not disappoint, bouncing off of each other, whole and distinct in their separate characters.

Maybe the movie just wants to say that fans are as misunderstood as the idols whom they love. Maybe it wants to say that truth is merely a perception you believe today, and it can change again a year later. In any case, Kisaragi was a fun two hours of my life, capped so fittingly by what do you know, a song-and-dance number, idol-style.

Photo and video credits to owners.

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