Review: ネムリユスリカ (Nemuri Yusurika/Sleep) plus Q&A

17 thoughts on “Review: ネムリユスリカ (Nemuri Yusurika/Sleep) plus Q&A”

  1. Oy, just reading the review is disturbing.
    This totally looks like a much needed film, indeed. I can’t believe there were critics who actually walked out! Really? Aren’t they PAID to watch?
    Wow, talk about denial. In a way, it shows how we live in an anesthetized world. We don’t want to hear about the darkness of this world and are oblivious to the suffering of those around us. Sure, we are shocked when disasters or atrocities happen (or are revealed) but most of us don’t think further and prefer to drown ourselves in fun and light entertainment.
    Nemuri Yusurika certainly won’t impact much the Japanese society, but its very existence makes it all the more precious. I can’t believe such a developed country like Japan hasn’t all the assistance required to support and help rape victims. Well, actually no, I’m not that surprised, give the importance of face and honor.
    Recently in Morocco, a teenage girl of 16 committed suicide because she was forced to marry her rapist. Though this case sadly illustrates Morocco’s culture of silence in this matter and how the victim is always the one to be blamed (read: http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2012/03/15/a-rape-victim-s-suicide-proves-morocco-s-culture-of-silence-must-go.html) this time people decided to protest and raise their voices to counter this absurdity.
    One can only wish things can also turn for the better in Japan, without needing such a crime to be committed for people to wake up.

    1. I don’t think all critics are paid to watch – bloggers can sometimes get accreditation at film festivals, and they aren’t usually paid. But even paid critics I think could very likely walk out, because if they have a festival pass they might see 25 films in 3 days but only review a handful of them.
      There were a few people who walked out of the screening I attended, but they were probably just ‘average’ cinema goers.
      I found the Q&A extremely insightful (made me want to ask the director a zillion questions, but of course I was too shy… also I needed time to process the film), Sakaguchi explained a lot about how rape is viewed in Japan, how little support is available, etc.
      These films probably won’t do much to majorly impact Japanese society (though you never know: 도가니/Dogani/The Crucible did have an effect in Korea), but I think they matter. At least some people are trying to speak about taboo issue – and over time that may mean that more voices will be added, which is what WILL make changes happen. Also, I think for the victims it matters: for anyone that’s on the fringe of a society, whether as a rape victim or a transgender person (see Bokura no Mirai, another film just reviewed), something like this can mean a lot and make a difference.

      1. Hm, right I totally agree that even though it looks like this movie won’t have success, it does matter for the victims.
        And yes, the more people talk about it, the less taboo it’ll be (hopefully).
        By the way, I was intrigued by the fact that it was filmed by veterans directors.
        The simple fact that Sakaguchi dragged two retired guys in this project makes it even more interesting.
        I read your Bokura no Mirai review, and thought of Horo Musuko right away so I smiled when I read the part you wrote about it.

        1. The film was made on a super-mini-budget (which really surprised me: I mean, it doesn’t like like a big budget movie, but it also doesn’t look like a string-budget movie either!), within a matter of a few days. The director also told us a few tales about the ‘intensity’ of the filming, apparently the teen actress playing Natsume said she was ‘going to kill him (Sakaguchi)’ if he made her redo a particular scene (one that involves cutting her hair).
          These kind of movies are never very mainstream anyhow (unless they get some sort of big star involved… although at least with Nemuri Yusurika, they got that child pianist, Kobayashi Aimi, to play a small role, meaning a few more people will have seen it because of that).
          I like reviewing these kind of films that get too little attention… just to make sure something on them is available. And judging from the stats, over time they do rack up quite a few views… The equally peripheral Jooltak Dongshi, surprisingly and happily, is within my top-15-viewed-reviews, alongside Heaven’s Postman (oh the power of Jaejoong… :-)), Hoshi o Ou Kodomo, Studio Ghibli reviews and The Artist.
          I couldn’t help but mention Horo Musuko. In part, because I immediately thought of it, in part because if someone struggling with transgender issues happens to come across the review, I want to make sure I provide him/her with as many resources as possible because if you’re struggling in secret sensitive explorations of that sort will make an individual realise that they are not the only ones… Admittedly, it’s also my ‘teacher mode’ – ever since I taught at secondary school for a few years I think ‘if I had a student like that, what would help him/her?’…. And I’m not even teaching now!

          1. I guess the fact that there were such a team of experienced directors made it easier to use a tiny budget to the max.
            I like that you cover this kind of movie (I’m not speaking of the theme, rather the fact that it’s not mainstream), because well-known movies already have enough attention, and I also can feel that you really try to understand the subject and review it properly to teach your readers something. See, I didn’t know that you used to be a “teacher”, but I could feel your intentions 🙂
            Ooh, I’d have loved to have you as a teacher back then. If only there were more like you, thinking “what would help him/her?” I think school would be a better place.
            Just this little sentence could actually change a student’s life.

          2. Yeah… I’m this sort of person that doesn’t go a very straight path. That’s why I did uni… dropped out… went back to uni… got a job (teaching) for a few years… and went back to uni again (which is where I am now, but part-time and working mostly freelance on the side).
            Thanks for the praise… Part of it is because I want to understand films & their backgrounds thoroughly myself, and also because my academic field (comparative literature + translation) is related, which always means I’m picking stories apart, whether in book, film or drama form…
            I taught in a private school in Central America, in a culture that in many ways is conservative (big influence of religion) – and was fortunate that one of the subjects I taught (Theory of Knowledge) allowed a discussion of *anything*, which meant I purposefully threw in everything from homosexuality to Octomom to fair trade, to get students out of their little bubble and hopefully help some along the way.

    2. Just read the link about Amina… wow, very sad. What I don’t understand is why her family agreed to the ‘amicable solution’ – how is that AMICABLE to have your child marry its rapist?
      It’s the depressing that these things happen, that families, for whatever reason, do not stand up for their child in such cases and fight for it, regardless of the shaming it might mean for them within their community.

  2. Crap, I forgot to ask. There’s this banner on your blog featuring my dear Kase Ryo. Did you see “I Just Didn’t Do It” (Soredemo Boku wa Yattenai) ?
    Would love to read your views on it (of course, I wouldn’t mind LOTS of pictures of Kase ♥)

    1. I didn’t watch it… they did screen it as part of the same event (and with a Q&A if I remember correctly, I think they even had a luncheon or dinner event with the director that was open for the public), but I didn’t have money go see everything I wanted to see.
      I AM going to watch it though & review it, because I’m really, really interested in it. But it’ll be in a few months only – before, I have all the films from the film festival in Coventry to get through (5) and the Terracotta Film Festival ones coming up next week (another 5), plus the screenings from the Korean Cultural Centre (4 this month). So I’m not watching anything else until I’m through with my backlog of film reviews!

  3. I am a zoologist – entomologist and find it very intersting that currently some Japanese pieces of art have the names of strange insects in their titles. Another example is tagame, written by Kenzaburó Oé. The official translation into German of “tagame” is not correct. A “tagame” is no “Schildkäfer” but one of the strongest predators among the Japanese insets, the giant water bug Lethocerus deyrollei. Its raptorial legs resemble headphones which are an important utensil in the novel.
    One chapter shows us the fight of the hero against a “Suppenschildkröte”. Again this is a mistake of translation, because this animal is Pelodiscus derollei, the Chinese Softshell Turtle.
    So not only the tenacity of the family Chironomidae could be meant with “Yusurika”. The imagines can also symbolize weakness and ephemerality of young people. The fact that chironomid larvae live much longer than their pupae and imagines (up to an extreme of seven years in some arctic species) can also symbolize missing maturity.

    1. Thank you for your comment! I hadn’t come across the strange names for Japanese works of art involving insects – except for this film of course.
      I suppose the mistranslation is not all that surprising, it might be either the result of error (literary translators might not have that kind of specialised knowledge, although, at least for the title, one would expect them to put in some effort) or perhaps on purpose, opting for something more known or accessible to average readers – Suppenschildkröte, after all, rolls of the tongue much more easily than a Latinate name. It might also be the editor’s doing, rather than the translator’s.
      The inaccuracy in translation isn’t a surprise, but what’s more intriguing is the choice from the part of the authors, because it does open room for very interesting interpretations!

  4. Two corrections: Insects instead of insets.
    “Suppon” is the Chinese Softshell Turtle (Pelodiscus sinensis, not derollei)

  5. I did some studies and rote them down in publications of the “Gesellschaft zur Stärkung der Verben” – as I think partly a very interesting collection written mainly by Germans and a few Austrians.
    http://verben.texttheater.net/forum/index.php/topic,957.msg17650.html#msg17650
    “Hier noch eine kleine Ergänzung zu meinem Leserbrief vom 26. 7. 2006 (Zu ‘Tagame’ von Ôe Kenzaburo): Der Beitrag ist aber nur dann sinnvoll, wenn die wenigen chinesischen Zeichen nicht hinter öden Buchstaben-Zahlen-Pseudokodierungen verschwinden. Falls sie verschwinden, vergeßt meinen Text! Chinesisch zu schreiben, muß bei zeitgemäßer Kommunikation einfach möglich sein.
    Da las ich in irgendeiner Kritik, in Ôes Roman solle auch ein Mensch als Text begriffen werden. Nun können aber auf Chinesisch oder Japanisch Schreibende noch stärker verdichten als Europäer, weil auch viele Schriftzeichen selber kleine Geschichten erzählen. Ganz sicher ist das bei der Weichschildkröte (鼈: bie1, bzw 王八: wang2 ba) der Fall. Die phonetische Komponente des Zeichens (敝: bi4: abgenutzt verdorben, kaputt) zeigt ein Tüchlein (巾 jin1: Tuch, Schal, Handtuch – auf dem Kopf als eine Art Turban oder auch – über dem Schambereich – als hängendes Stoffstück am Gürtel getragen), das von irgend jemandem zerrissen, zerfetzt wurde (vier Löcher oder Fetzen). Darunter lauert 黽: min3, die Kröte. Als Gesamtheit ist das schon ein gutes Bild für eine räuberische, bissige Schildkröte. Hier wird aber auch auf jene rechtsradikale Gruppierung angespielt, die die ‘seidene’ Zartheit (auch der Seelen) junger Menschen zu zerfetzen oder zu beschädigen imstande war. Über den letztens schon erwähnten wang2 ba kommen wir freilich auch zur sexuellen Komponente. Hier könnte das Zeichen etwa eine grobe Entjungferung darstellen. Über die homoerotische Beziehung zu einem Besatzungsoffizier schrieb ich ebenso wie über die Liebe des alternden Gorô zu einem sehr jungen Mädchen. Die Weichschildkröte ist in der Volksmeinung eben auch ein Symbol für ‘ausufernde’ Sexualität. Wang2 ba, der ‘König acht’ ist jemand, der auf die achte konfuzianische Tugend vergessen hat (忘, wang4 heißt vergessen), die Keuschheit. – Der Kampf gegen die Weichschildkröte ist nicht nur eine Auseinandersetzung mit Kogitos Vater und mit der rechtsradikalen Gruppe, der dieser vorstand, sondern auch ein Kampf gegen Gorôs und wohl auch Kogitos eigenen Schatten. In krasser, wenn auch unbeholfener Brutalität (der Intellektuelle und die Gewalt) wird gegen das angekämpft, was auch schon, verschlüsselt und verfeinert, im Schriftzeichen steckt.
    Warum ich mich auf das Chinesische beziehe, da das doch ein japanischer Roman ist? Weil Ôe Kenzaburo davon schreibt, daß er/Kogito die Schildkröte allein mit einem großen, alten chinesischen – und nicht mit einem japanischen – Messer töten konnte. Heißt wohl auch ein bißchen: Liebe und gescheite Leser, mit Euren Deutungen: Ad fontes! Chinesisch! Hier hätte sich ein Kommentar empfohlen.
    Wiederholen möchte ich, daß sogar die ‘Lauerwanze’ (‘Tagame’) 田: tian2 (Feld, Ackerland, Ackerboden. Japan: Reisfeld) 鼈: bie1 heißt.
    Wäre vielleicht einmal interessant über die vielen Pflanzen und Tiere zu schreiben, die in einigen Ôe-Romanen wichtig sind.”

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