Aug. 12th, 2009

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I had a nice solo day today: bought some manga, had some coffee, and watched a movie. I went to Movix at Lalaport Kashiwa no Ha (the one of two theatres I found playing the movie with subtitles, not dubbed in Japanese, wtf). No one I asked to come with me could come, and I didn't want to go all the way to the theatre in Roppongi cuz it's expensive and a pain or pay full price (every Wednesday is Ladies Day, all movies ¥1000!). So I went by myself and had a good time doing it.

I saw the press conference and previews for Hachi on TV on Sunday and the preview got me tearing up so I knew I would cry buckets. And I did. The only think I knew about Hachi was he waited for his master at Shibuya Station even after he died and there's a statue of the dog there and an exit named after him. Hachiko was Hidesaburo Ueno's dog, that he brought with him from Akita to Tokyo when he became a professor there in 1924. Hachiko would escort the professor to Shibuya Station every day and meet him there when he came home. One day, the professor died and never returned but Hachiko waited at the station every day from then on for nine years until he died in 1935.

This movie is actually a remake of a Japanese film called Hachiko Monogatari [The Tale of Hachiko] from 1987. Richard Gere stars as the professor and produces, and Joan Allen plays his wife. It's a fairly small cast, but the lead role is definitely goes to the Akita. It really made me want to get a dog! Maybe when I settle down somewhere in the future... I cried tons which is usually the mark of a good movie for me, but it could have been better.

I didn't really get Joan Allen's character and the music didn't really fit sometimes. There were some quite humourous scenes but the music kept making me think something dramatic was about to happen. They also took some liberties with the translation of the 5 lines of Japanese dialogue (which was totally dubbed) but I guess that's always a problem. However Richard Gere was great and you could really see the relationship he had with his co-star, Hachi.

Maybe someone who speaks better Japanese than I can explain this to me: I have always wondered why the dog's name is written half in katakana and half in kanji in Japanese (ハチ公) -- why is that? They kept switching between calling the dog "Hachi" and "Hachiko" in the movie which I didn't get because the professor never called the dog Hachiko. Just one of those little discrepancies I guess.

Even though I haven't seen the original movie, I think it's a fair representation of the Hachiko story for a Western audience. And the puppies are just freaking adorable!


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